Exactly 10 years ago at almost this time of day, I sat down at my computer to write the very first entry on this blog. I had no idea what I was doing, it took about five hours, and I called Ken about nine times to ask him how to do things. He’d given me the blog as a gift, a way to talk to other knitters, and to be part of the growing knitblogger community – but he was pretty honest that it was also a bit of self defense. A way of getting me to talk to other people about knitting and maybe lighten up on the topic with him a little. Free up some of his spare time. Joe had given me a laminated sheet with some basic HTML on it, but it wasn’t really helping. I somehow finished that first post, and I sat there, and I pushed the button that said "publish" and then I waited. I don’t even know what I was waiting for. Whatever was going to show up, I guess. I hoped something did.
Ten years ago, I was a mum (mostly) at home with my kids. I was working as a birth doula, a childbirth educator and a lactation consultant and writing on the side to help make ends meet, and I had a book deal for At Knit’s End. I was about to become a writer, but I wasn’t one yet. The book deal came before my blog, not because of it. Knitlit, the first time my writing was ever in a book, would come out in February of 2004, but the day I posted the first entry to this blog, I’d never been part of a book. Joe had won a Juno, and thing were looking up for him – he’d decided to build his first studio. The girls were 14, 12 and 9, we were sitting on the edge of the most amazing ten years of parenting – watching girls become women. We had no idea what we were doing. I’d never been on a plane by myself. I’d actually barely been on a plane.
Hank was three, almost four.
Ten years ago there was no Twitter, no Instagram – heck, this blog started before there was a Facebook, or texting, or smart phones. Ravelry wasn’t even a twinkle in Jess and Casey’s eyes yet. Short of meeting them on the Knit List (remember LISTSERV? Oh, how I struggled with those commands) the only way to hang out online with other knitters was a wide and vibrant blog community. Amazing days for knitblogs. Amazing days.
Here I am, ten years later, and so much has changed. Joe owns a proper studio, one where I didn’t install the insulation on a Sunday afternoon. Our daughters are all old enough to vote, and our nest is emptying. There’s a chance the laundry will come within my control in the next few years. I’m decidedly a writer, I think, and maybe it’s fitting that this 10th Anniversary post comes to you from an airport in Vancouver as I travel to Seattle to sign galleys and talk with booksellers about my eighth book. (I can’t believe that’s even possible. Any minute now it’s going to turn out I hallucinated at least three of them and you’re all being kind not to say anything.) Over the years Ravelry and Facebook have taken the place of many blogs, feeding knitter’s need for connection without a needing a blog, and many bloggers have taken their daily updates and thoughts to those platforms. There’s knitters on Ravelry who don’t read any blogs at all, and so many of us have moved, changed or stopped. Not all of us, for sure, but the herd of us has shuffled off – dispersed, but not diminished.
I haven’t, There’s a lot of perks to writing a blog – especially the way I have. For ten years, I’ve written this blog without a single sponsor or advertisement. I’m proud of that on some level, not because I think it’s crappy to monetize a blog, I think there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it, and I bow my head respectfully in the direction of my peers who’ve found that blogging lets them earn a living and care for their families, but when I look at the body of work I’ve assembled here (almost 2000 entries) I can look at it and know something. Every word was uninfluenced. If I didn’t say something I was thinking, it’s because I thought it unkind, unfair or stupid, not because it didn’t fit with the values or business plan of someone I was working with. If I said I liked a product, it’s because I did. It gives me pride, not because that’s a noble thing to do, wool knows that advertising and sponsorship are a totally valid way for modern writers to make all this work pay off, but because has meant that for ten years, what you have found here is just me. All the opinions and ideas and mistakes… for better or for worse they were all mine, and what I thought was a smashing idea at the time, and I regret (almost) nothing.
I’ve given a lot to the blog over the years. The time, the money, the energy, and I can tell you that there have been a few painful consequences of maintaining it. (Buy me a beer someday. We can talk about the dark side) but there’s something I can tell you about the choice to wake up almost every day for ten years and give this blog another hour of my life.
It has been, over and over and over again, one of the best decisions I have ever made. This blog has strengthened my marriage, helped me maintain relationships within my family, made me some of the best friends I have ever had, and made me a better mother. It’s been a tremendous help to my career, opened my mind to so many ideas, reassured me every day about the decency and intelligence of the world around me, and it’s even gotten me some really great yarn. It has given me far, far more than has ever been asked of me, and I am a lucky and grateful woman who can’t believe her good fortune.
I was on the phone with a friend yesterday, and we were talking about new mums, and what they need, and then we started talking about old mums and what they need, and then we realized that it really didn’t matter who we were talking about, or even what they were doing. There’s one thing that changes everything, one magic thing that you can have in your life that greases every wheel, eases every transition, supports you though every crisis, and reinforces your success and confidence. One thing that every person on earth does better with in every area of their life… and it’s a community, and some people find it a church, and some people find it in club, and however bizarre or unlikely or improbable, I have found it here, in a knitting blog that talks too much about other stuff to totally qualify, and I want you to know that I will never, ever be able to properly or wholly express my gratitude for that gift. My life has been changed by a knitting blog, and you can tell anyone you want that I said it.
It’s been an amazing ten years, and as you read this, we’re preparing to reboot the blog to a new platform to solve most of our problems. Comments are back up, but you’ll probably notice some glitchiness, and that’s what it’s going to take to keep the blog going for another ten years. (What anniversary is that? Hopefully something better than tin.)
Thank you for all you’ve given me and my family. To butcher a Robert Frost quote: We’ve taken the road less travelled by, and it has made all the difference.
I love you all.