Monday, 28 August 2017

On blogging part 2 - Evolving & a Giveaway!

Update:  Congraultions Fiona @Celtic Thistle Stitches for winning the Giveaway!

I was talking to my friend L during the drive to Dublin about all things quilty. From planning our trip  to the see the Festival of Quilts, to all the things on the WIP list or the someday list, and somehow we got to talking about the fuzzy future, where are we going with our quilting? Scary topic!

We discovered that neither of the two us, in all the time we've been making, have completed quilts for our own bedrooms. (I did make a quilt for the spare bedroom but mum robbed it!) L has been making beautiful art quilts and really wants to make quilts for her kids bedrooms. I think that's what starts a lot of people making quilts - to have something really nice and personal, for our family and loved ones and eventually ourselves!

But if that's the case, why after so many years quilting , had we not just made for ourselves? I can't speak for L but for me, I think part of it is, I make to make, not for a particular room in the house, not always for an occasion or a particular person but rather to explore an idea, learn a new skill or take part in some community building like a swap or a QAL.  A lot of the content on my blog comes from that place of making to make.

Glow in the dark Darth Vader for a swap!

Some months ago, I was the guest speaker at a branch of the Irish Patchwork Society and we were talking about online trends, where to go for swaps and Quilt-A-Longs, Facebook groups and Instagram Hashtags and the blogs that I like to follow. I had some lovely discussions and some things struck home with me. One quilter said she doesn't like blogs as a lot have all gone too commercial now, another that she doesn't read blogs at all.  Anyone who was on Facebook was in lots of quilt groups and some were on Instagram and felt like me sometimes, blink and you miss it!

 Challenge with 2.5" squares
In a recent discussion about an online group I am involved with, our IT guru said, changes in social media are making engagement so much harder, with algorithms deciding on the content you see, trends away from reading blogs, and the Facebook factor (some love it, some hate it and some are there to see their relatives photos!), it has all left me pondering blogging again.

How to evolve and keep that core reason for blogging in the first place? And evolve we must.  Nothing ever stays the same and that's ok. The blogs I still love and have on my must read list are those that have grown with the quilter through the quilt making process. Those that like to explore, play and reflect on how a quilt came to be.
One of my quilts I think would've looked better with a different fabric choice!
My favourite spaces online, are those that walk that line between sharing and selling, coming down more on the sharing side of the line. In sales there is a saying, no one wants to be sold to but everyone wants to buy. People buy into your vision, your experience, your story, your authority and trust that you will deliver on that with a good product, be it a quilt pattern, class, Quilt-A-Long or link up party or even just a good old blog post!

People sell themselves everyday and it is only natural that our spaces online reflect this best foot forward kind of thing. Those bloggers that are full time quilters have to find a way to pay their way. I admire anyone who can make a career in this industry and don't expect free content with every post. So I've asked myself how do I feel about my blog and what do I want it to say?
One of my favourite simple quilts tops Big Bear, Little Bear!  
(some people see hedgehogs ... still don't get it.  They are bear paws to me!)
I discovered, surprisingly to me, how very protective I feel of my small sharing space. When I made my first quilt, I was the only quilter in my family and circle of friends. I started this blog to connect to other quilters, join in QAL's and Bee's and have made some truly lovely friendships through the writing process, here and through other quilt bloggers.

I must admit I've not had time to add much in the way of extras this year in terms of tutorials or free downloadable content as I have had exhibitions and guild work take over quite a bit of the sewing spare time so for the main this year, this space has not been the place for me to connect to other quilt bloggers as much as in the past and that is very important to me and something for me to work on.
Can't get more social than a Basset Hound!
I have never seen my blog as a commercial space but it has evolved over time to link to a shop with patterns I've published and a place for those interested in taking a workshop with me to see what I'm about.   But at the end of the day, this blog really is about connecting with other makers and recording what worked for me and what didn't.  While I don't want my blog to change its essence, it will continue to grow and evolve with me as I grow and evolve as a quilter. Resistance is futile!  I guess I have to get used to some changes!

So I've asked myself, how do I keep the personal and friendly feel of my little bit of the web and create a place to promote all that I have to offer in quilt patterns, workshops and other publication opportunities I'd like to explore?

The answer for me so far, is to create a new space and possibly through logo or branding link the two. I'm not quite there with it yet - it is a work in progress and a thought in progress as I work things out in my head! 
I've chosen a Square Space website and Crafty Corner Designs as the name. When I picked Charly and Ben's Crafty Corner it was a personal choice and named after the dogs! It is a really tricky thing to type into a search engine though!  At the time I started writing a blog I never expected that quilting would come to be so much more than a hobby to me.

I really love the exploration of design and colour and have so many ideas and things to pull into teachable items that it is quite exciting and I hope to continue down that path while sharing my ups and downs in makes and inspirations. My first real attempt at branding was to have my blog be a warm and friendly space with a modern traditional vibe to it so I chose the blue/grey colours with a vintage bicycle and Wilbur and Charly welcoming you to the brand.

On working on my Square Space website I was drawn more to the clean minimalist style so I have chosen a simple dog house with Crafty Corner Designs: Exploring Patchwork & Quiltmaking.
Modern Traditional is still very much where I live most of the time but I do like to play and experiment so I think this gives me some scope.  I am in the process of updating my released patterns to this cleaner format and have just written up Kenny in the same format too!

So the only decisions I have left to make are whether to move my blog or have both and link to each other as they both serve a different purpose.  I can only import my blog once to Square Space so it is a big decision to make. 
I have adapted the blog header to tie in with the website header so the branding looks the same if I choose to keep both.  I am reluctant to lose Charly and Wilbur, I guess since saying Goodbye to the real life Wilbur is still a bit raw so I have this version too. 

So many decisions to make in a blog!  What do you think?  Stay or go completely to Square space?  Minimal blog header or keep Charly & Wilbur?
My hearts at Home by Lynnette Anderson
And since I haven't had a giveaway in ages and if any of you have read this far you deserve a reward, so I'm giving away this fat eight bundle I picked up last week in Birmingham!  To win this bundle please leave me a comment telling me what your favourite blog to visit is and why!  Random number generator will choose a winner next Monday 4th September!


  1. It is a very tough decision on how to evolve, Ruth. And a line I know I am up against all the time. For me, maintaining several blogs would just mean that one would eventually get let go. That's just realistic and honest for how I would work. I don't mind a mix of business and life and everything else in a blog, but I probably wouldn't follow one that was business only. Just my 2 cents and thoughts for the day. It is all such a personal decision and it should really come down to what would work best and make the most sense to you. <3

  2. I don't know where you can get so much energy! I love to connect to the other people through blog but quilt along and swap are not my thing I realised. I like doing challenge which is a good stimulation. Other than showcasing my quilts I don't know where I am going with my blog and I don't know who is reading them. I just hope I get somewhere. Good luck with your new adventure!



    These are two favourites for me. I like that they make lots of different colourful quilts they are unpretentious and joyful blogs to read :)
    Emilyste7ens at gmail dot com

  4. I'm in Australia, so I will opt out of the giveaway,as postage is so darn expensive and it wouldn't be fair. But I did want to respond to your comments about sharing using different online modes. I've tried instagram and pinterest and Facebook re quilting posts. But my preference is strongly for reading blogs. I could spend a million words explaining why, but that isn't interesting. I know many people are shifting to instagram, and I understand why. But I find it much less interesting. I have no problems if a blogger is also engaging in commercial activities. It's a good fit and makes sense. As long as I don't feel every single post is about selling me something, that is cool. I really enjoy your blog and your posts, and I hope your commercial project succeeds really well. You are a great creative quilter 😀😊

  5. Honestly I scan the blog titles through Bloglovin each day and just pop in to the ones that catch my eye. I also look at quilt bloggers and do the same. You came up today. Love that Granny Square quilt.

  6. Exciting times ahead for you Ruth!
    I don't really have a favourite blog per se, but I do have several, like yours, that I always try to read and they are all personal to the blogger. I understand that craft bloggers have to make a living but I don't want to read blatantly commercial posts every time I pop by a blog :) I am sure you will get that balance right!

  7. Arriving here because of your IG post, I admit my blog reading is limited these days, though it is something I would like to change. I think I follow just too many blogs, and it is hard to know where to start reading at times. Though I do prefer to read blogs for a good (quilty or not) read, as opposed to a quick snapshot on IG. And then I often have to go and find my favourite people to connect with on IG because of the algoritm.
    I don't like FB much, though I post there too, but more to keep some of the family up to date.
    I do not follow some of the well-known quilters especially because they only focus on earning money, and I don't want to use my precious blog-reading time for reading advertisement for the blog author. I also tend to avoid the blogs with loads of commercial pop-ups, they mess with my (slow) internet. I will find the designers when I am looking to buy the next pattern/fabric/design etc.
    Like you, I am also considering what to do with the blog, and which way to move my quilting journey forward. I like what you have done with the branding, if you are not sure which way to go or what to choose, think of what you would (still) like in one, two, five years time. Will you then prefer to have Charly and Wilbur, or rather not?
    If you are moving your blog over, how will your more personal stories fit in with the overall feel of the site? Maybe it is possible to have a page/area on your site for more personal aspects?
    I think in the long run you will not be active on two separate sites, especially if both contain a blog of some sort. So then you'll have to choose whether you want to refer to old posts on a separate or the same site. In practice it will not really be much different, apart from the URL, which will be cleaner if you move the blog over.
    On the other hand, will you loose all your followers here if your web address changes?
    Okay, I've been going on long enough, you know now why I don't have enough time to read many blogs ;-)
    Good luck with the new venture! (and no, I haven't forgotten, I'll email you soon) x

  8. That was a fantastic journey to read. I like the new logo and the space you create. I have to say it looks grown up but that is what comes with gaining experience by doing. It will be a great adventure and I am looking forward to see where it takes you :)
    All the best A.

  9. I couldn't help but chime in Ruth :). I'm in a similar boat, trying to decide whether to continue with my blog or let it go. Haven't posted in months - the time just hasn't been there to devote to it, but I really don't want to abandon it altogether. Instagram is nice for quick pops of activity, but it's hard to share anything in depth. Facebook is so hit-or-miss because of the way they do algorithms, so a post may never even get seen by a lot of followers. There's just nothing like a blog post to share a project in depth and allow some of my own personality to shine through to readers. I think there are enough blog readers still out there for it to still be a relevant platform, at least for now. I wish you the best and look forward to seeing what you decide. I've enjoyed your blog and read it regularly even though I don't often comment (that time thing again!)

  10. I still read blogs for the sense of knowing the blogger. Even if we haven't met in person, I feel a connection with the bloggers I follow. My own blog is merely a place for me to share what I'm working on. Apparently I have a knack for of writing patterns and tutorials so I do include those, for whoever might be interested.

    The Lynette Anderson fabric collection is lovely but please do not include me in the drawing due to the expense of international shipping.

  11. One of my favorite blogs is Bonnie Hunter's blog. I love her annual mystery quilts and all the free tutorials she provides as well as her life adventures.

  12. A lot to think about there Ruth . For myself I craft and quilt for fun, not commercially . I don't expect anybody to come to me for a tutorial but I hope they do enjoy reading what I write . And when I read a blog I don't like it to be totally commercial . I don't like to feel I am being sold things and so many "new" designs are merely old designs rehashed .i like to feel s connection with the blogs I read. Having said that i always enjoy your blog Ruth and it is great to see you are developing it . I think two blogs would be too hard to keep up .

  13. Back again Ruth . Forgot to say one of the blogs I enjoy the most is quilting jet girl . I used to enjoy Canadian abroad and flying blind on s bicycle but unfortunately they don't blog now . My Fb I keep personal except to show my family my finishes. And Instagram is fun . I have always enjoyed both blogging and reading blogs. I have also enjoyed swaps and bees. But then I do it for fun not s living

  14. I am in the same boat too! I love blogging and being part of the wonderful quilting community. I hate to give up my blog name because I've been known as TishNWonderland since I was in college, it's a part of me. But on a business side of things, I feel like my journey is becoming a family affair (with David quilting as well) and feel like maybe that should be something separate from my blog. He tried his had an blogging about his quilting, but he's so busy with work, it's hard for him to find time to write about it. If we shared a blog, it might be easier. Just know, where ever your journey leads, I will still be right here reading and cheering you on.

  15. Reading about your changes / decusions/discoveries is another step along your quilting journey..good luck with it all. I also follow Blossom hearts quilts blog. Was part of her japanese fabric club whilst she was there.Bestablished wishes

  16. Hard decisions. Good luck with whatever your decision is. I do like the new blog header.

  17. For me there is no business side at least not at this point. But I do like the blogs that are personal as well as business. I think yours is one of my favourites and so is Yvonne's . Partially I think because I feel like I know the two of you through communicating back and forth. I love reading blogs but right now my personal life is so crazy and busy it's hard to keep up. Meadow Mist Designs is another I like.

  18. I love reading chatty blogs that shares a bit about the people behind their writings. Not necessarily just talking about quilts. I read you always and love the eye candy you share of your making as also others. And I like reading Olena too especially because of the way she shares the way she does each piece. Somehow even more than a tutorial this appeals to me. It also helps me in my own quilting. So keep blogging. You never know who is reading and who gets inspired!

  19. Ultimately this your decision is gonna be about what works for you. Keeping up 2 blogs seems like an awful lot of work. I still enjoy reading blogs the most. I do not use FB for any crafting and for IG I still haven't quite figured how to fully use it. Pinterest I do spend time on taking in inspiration gathering ideas.

    On some of the quilt blogs, the selling can really be an in your face annoyance but I do realize that quilting is a business for so many and the quilt blogging gives them a targeted audience.

    As you work through this, do what is gonna make you the most content in the end.

  20. It's really interesting to read your thoughts on your quilting journey to date and plans for the future and I like the ideas for your new website. Personally I would probably migrate the blog, just because it feels more coherent to have everything in one place. I read blogs much more than instagram, which is mostly eye candy for me, not really a place to connect (don't FB at all), and I don't really care what someone is making, if I find their way of talking about things interesting and engaging. I look forward to watching how things evolve for you.

  21. For me on a practical level, I think it all depends how it is optimised over at Squarespace. Blogs are pretty well rated with search engines, but if you have to do all the SEO yourself from scratch, it might take a lot longer for your blog to be discovered by new readers again. I have a portfolio site on Weebly, but my plan is to actually bring it to the blog (Wordpress hosted), so I'm doing the same as you essentially, but the other way round. The company I use for my hosting are verrrrry casually working on the change over which is supposed to coincide with the book-that-is-no-longer-a-book launch. I have a design, etc worked out. Excited to be evolving with you!


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