More on Knitblogs

My previous post on Rockin’ Blogs made me realize that my blogroll had become woefully outdated.  Very few of the blogs that I mentioned in the post were on my sidebar, which is silly because I obviously follow them.  I realized that my blogroll was stuck where it was more than a year ago when I entered the land of knitblogs.  Two things have changed since then.  First, I began to drift away from the “superstar” blogroll and more towards blogs with more modest readership.  Second, the pantheon of superstar knit bloggers has changed considerably in the last year or so.

Let’s look at the superstars first.  When I say “superstar” I mean the likes of the Yarn Harlot, Brooklyntweed and Grumperina.  Anyone who closely follows knitblogs has heard of them, if only because they’re listed on most blogrolls.  Also, they tend to link to each other.  Many of the popular knitbloggers have very similar blogrolls, all linking to the same group of… popular knitbloggers.  I don’t have any interest in making a statistical study of it, but it does seem that popular blogs only link to popular blogs.  Is this because “good” bloggers have taste that mirrors the taste of the blog reading public in general?  Or does earning a place on the sidebar of a superstar blogger confer a wide readership overnight?  See FemiKnitMafia’s experience being “Harlotized” as evidence that such a thing is possible.  When I first built my blogroll it drew almost entirely from this popular group, because I figured it was a good place to start. 

That list of “popular knitbloggers” as it appears on blogrolls all over doesn’t really make sense anymore.  Several of the superstar blogs have gone dormant for one reason or another.  Take the brightest star of all, Eunny Jang. In August 2006 she posted extensively on two brilliant self-designed sweaters and lots of beautiful spinning. She hasn’t posted at all in August 2007; she actually hasn’t posted to that blog since April.  I assume it’s because she’s been super busy editing Interweave and working on her design projects.  Purly Whites/Sundara rarely posts anymore, presumably because she has a hand-dying business to run.  Apparently bitter purl has a book coming out, which might be why she hasn’t posted since March.  The feed reader I use tells me that thousands of people still subscribe to these feeds, even though they seldom get updated.  I think it’s sort of silly to keep linking to inactive blogs just because they were popular and interesting once, so I removed them.   

So, why do I read the blogs I do?  What I look for, more than anything else, is knitting content.  I know that sounds self-evident, but it isn’t really.  I don’t really get Knit and Tonic, for example.  Wendy has a great sense of humor, and takes really neat pictures, but that’s not what I came for.  I want to see what people are working on.  Neat photography and a keen sense of humor are 100 times better when the subject is good knitting.  Take this post by Grumperina.  It’s just a post about socks, fer crying out loud.  But it is well-written, well-photographed, and about knitting.  Take the series that Cara from January One did about her mitered square madness. Once again, it’s well-written, well-photographed, and about knitting.

I look for the same things in the “mere mortal” blogs (no offense gals!).  Blogs with more modest readership are even more fun to read in my opinion, because the writers appreciate and respond to comments.  It feels more like a conversation that way.  It also feels like you actually get to know people.  It’s fitting that MLE was the one who called me a Rockin’ Girl Blogger, because her blog was the first one that I regularly commented on.  I think I might have first seen her on the Knittyboard, but I don’t remember.  I do remember that I began following her blog because of the kinship that I felt because we are both in our 20s, married, and named Emil(y/ee).  I kept following it because she has what I consider to be similar taste and skills.  It’s interesting to see what she picks to work on, because chances are it’s a project that I’ve considered too. 

Ha!  Are you all still reading?  Fabulous!  Thank you so much for making it through what must be my longest post ever.  There aren’t even any pictures!  I’m really curious about what you think of the knitblogging universe.  Do you tend to follow “superstar” blogs or “mere mortal” blogs?  What makes you decide to subscribe to a blog’s feed?  Do you bother commenting on a super-popular blog if you would be the 182nd person to do so?  Why is a peanut called a peanut if it is neither a pea nor a nut? 

Discuss.

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27 thoughts on “More on Knitblogs

  1. Reading your thought on this was really interesting. I definately read both the “superstar” blogs and the “mere mortal” blog, but I’ve never commented on one of the “superstar” blogs, mostly because me saying “I love the shawl/sweater/socks” isn’t going to mean anything if I’m the 300th person doing it.

    Either way, I read the blogs that I do because I like their knits and they have similar tastes to be. This can be really inspiring. So, Eunny’s still on my bloglines because I like her design aesthetic and if she does begin to post again, I’ll know (that way i don’t have to waste time going back to inactive blogs – keeping them on my bloglines doesn’t cost me anything.) Good photography also helps, things tend to look better in quality photographs than blurry snapshots (sadly I think mine fall in the second category). I know it sounds shallow, but it’s true. While I’m unlikely to ever knit a man’s cabled sweater, I keep reading brooklyntweed anyway because of his amazing photos. Of course, there are lots of “mere mortal” blogs out there with great knits and photos, but they are probably more difficult to find than the “superstar” blogs.

    I think I’ve rambled for too long, but basically: similar taste, decent photos and yes, good writing. I’m also more likely to subscribe to blogs where the writer’s in a similar age group to me. Of course, this is not always the case, but it’s often easier to relate to somebody at a similar stage in their life to mean, than somebody my mum’s age.

    (I think I’ve just agreed with you, but in a much more roundabout and less articulate way)

  2. I know what you mean. The Harlot really cracks me up, which is why I read her. But to me, smaller blogs are much more personal. There’s no way I’ll ever delude myself into thinking it’s a truly private conversation, or that everyone whose blog I read is my best buddy ever friend for life, but it sure feels a lot more like I’m talking to a real human being.

    About commenting on superstar blogs: I’ve been brought up to believe that my opinion matters. But if I’m writing the 453rd reply to a post, chances are I haven’t read any of the other replies, and what I’m saying is likely to be there already. It’s almost like talking into a void, which is not as appealing.

  3. Being the statistical geek that I am, I now want to do some sort of statistical study about popular blogs and links from them/to them… Not sure how well it would work, since bloglines is just one measure; and a lot of people set their subscription to “private” (although, you can still see numbers). Hmmm. Will contemplate and report back. Or not. Although a statistical geek, I’m also a bit of a space cadet, and easily distracted.

  4. Great post, it reminded me I haven’t updated my blog “furnishings” lately. I read both the superstars and mere mortals, though I started reading blogs a few years ago with the Yarn Harlot and branched out from there. If a post has 200 or more comments, it is unlikely I will add my comment unless I feel very, very strongly about the topic. That said, Batty has a good point about opinions mattering–I may have to reconsider my current practice.

    I enjoy the interaction I get from commenting on blogs with smaller readerships. Like you, I enjoy good writing and photography. If someone hasn’t posted in a while, I keep the blog on my Bloglines, just so I don’t lose track of them. I will remove a blog from my reading list but that doesn’t happen too often and it is usually due to significant lack of shared interests.

  5. Very interesting post. Thank you. And I appreciate that you enjoyed my mitered square series – I actually think you might be in the minority on that one. People get bored pretty quickly.

    My blog now has a fairly large readership, but not too long ago it was quite small. All blogs start out that way and I don’t think anyone specifically starts out with the goal of “superstar” (your word, not mine) status. In fact, if that IS the goal, I would think it would fail pretty quickly.

    Also, I appreciate every single comment that I get, even if I don’t have the time to answer every on personally. It takes time and energy to comment on a blog and I don’t take that for granted for a second. It’s also really hard to pull a post out of your ass on a fairly daily basis – with new knitting AND photographs AND something funny or informative or just plain not boring to say about it or life or anything at all. Not that I’m complaining, or even tooting my own horn, just stating that blogs are hard work. No matter how big the readership.

    As far as the blogs I read, while I have many of the larger blogs on my blogroll, there are just about 300 blogs on there. 90% of them are knitting blogs, a lot of them are my friends, but the majority are probably what you would consider “mere mortals.” I like a blog that looks nice – not too cluttered – designed well. I like beautiful photographs and great writing as much as the next person, but what I really love is the knitting. Do you have great knits? Knits that inspire? Knits that teach? Knits that engage? Then I want to read your blog.

    Thanks for stretching my mind this morning. I needed that.

  6. hmm, maybe because “peanut” sounds better than “pegume?” ok, i have no idea.

    i subscribe to a lot of blogs, but i recently weeded them out, actually. i was finding it impossible to get through my entire bloglines list every day and it was becoming a huge burden.

    i guess the ones that i’ve stuck with are those whose content i admire. i’m also a sucker for pretty pretty pictures. i’m less interested in life stuff or tutorials. i also am a skimmer, so i care less about great writing. and now i feel bad for saying that, but it’s true.

  7. At first I regularly read the “superstars” and only occasionally read the “mere mortal” blogs. But now, when someone comments on my blog, friends me on Ravelry or posts on a message board to which I belong, I always check out their blog. If I like what I see or if the blogger and I have something in common I usually subscribe. I am now up to 90+ subscriptions — most of which are those written by “mere mortals”.

    I recently updated the blog roll on my blog, highlighting some of my favorites, but it still does not represent all the blogs I read on a regular basis.

  8. I would say that I actually prefer to read “mere mortals”. Unlike you though, I look for knitting scattered amongst everyday chatter. I appreciate the well written posts as much as I do the rambling rants.

  9. Time to weed out the blogroll…I entirely agree with what you say about the stellar blogs –

    Smaller blogs are more appealling precisely because they are more participatory – as a reader, you definitely feel like an equal among equals. Reading the harlot et al there is always the danger that ones blog-reading persona shifts from that of appreciative critic to gushing fan. I suppose its that subtle difference between an audience and a market. The tone of the stellar blogs often tends too much towards the latter (at least for me).

    And you are right – knitting IS the point….but inspirational prose to go with the creative inspiration is good too. I have to say I avoid knit and tonic….

    anyway, this seems a good place to acknowledge the nice comment you left about my sweater. Thanks to this, I’ve found your interesting blog. I’ll keep reading.

    vive mere mortals

    Kate

  10. Initially? The ‘superstars’. It was the first ones I heard of and found. Since I started finding smaller blogs and making friends in the community though, I read those blogs far more often. I still enjoy the Yarn Harlot, but will visit now and again and catch up on her most recent things only. I don’t read Crazy Aunt Purl much anymore because she posts woefully little about knitting, and like you, I enjoy that the most.

  11. I read some of both types of blogs. I have to admit that I don’t really get Knit and Tonic either – it’s nice to hear I’m not the only one. But I do like her designs so I stop in at her blog occasionally.

    I like blogs that include some personal content along with good knitting content. I really appreciate it when a blogger gives a lot of detail about their experience with a pattern or yarn. For example, if you knit a particular size, I like to learn whether the ease was sufficient.

    I periodically go through my bloglines and eliminate blogs that haven’t updated in forever. I’ll also delete a blog if I find myself skimming through a lot of the blog’s posts. It’s usually a sign that I’m bored with the content or just don’t feel a connection with the blogger. Some bloggers get into ruts where they complain too much, which annoys me so I stop reading.

    I guess the most important things for me are quality content and photos without too much complaining.

  12. I like blogs with good pictures. Unfortunately, this usually (but not always) means the blogger could afford a pretty good SLR camera. This will probably go as a mark against me but I stare at the pictures for a long time and IF it looks like something I’d like to make then I read more carefully. There are exceptions to this (obviously I read your post:o). I like reading knit blogs from hawaii because it reminds me of home and I can relate. Also, I tend to read more craft blogs than knit blogs. I tend to lurk more than comment regardless of the whether the blog is well-read or not.

    One thing I’ve noticed is that blogging can become a bit like television watching. There’s so much stuff out there, and patterns, that sometimes I think it’s actually stifling my creativity because I can just google a pattern instead of making one myself. But on the other hand, I love having access to so many great, chic, cute patterns!

  13. Great post, Emilee. I agree with what you said–I also look for good knitting content and nice pics. I’ve been meaning to update my blogroll for ages, because right now they are only pretty big blogs. I do still read all of them on a regular basis, but I read so many more. I don’t like a lot of clutter, though, so until I can figure out how to do the “Click for blogroll” thing (like on Grumperina’s site), things will stay the way they are.

    That being said, I very, very rarely comment on the big blogs. I know (from experience!) that people who don’t get comments very often really appreciate them, and will respond. It feels cozier that way. Cozy is good.

  14. Wow, that is so true!! I’ve noticed that so many of the “superstar” blog until they get a book deal, become a mag editor, etc. and then once that happens, they completely ditch the blog that got them there in the first place. Not all of them do that and I still read those but I do find it silly to keep a subscription to blogs that are only updated every 4 months. And, I got to say that I never comment on superstar blogs, it just feels so impersonal when you’re the 88th commenter.

    I definitely appreciate good knitting content too. It’s just so helpful to read about a “real” persons experience with a pattern or yarn that your haven’t tried yet.
    Good discussion for sure! I’m glad you actually put it into words because I had been thinking about this recently myself and am glad to know I’m not the only one.

  15. Funny, I’ve been thinking the same thing about the feeds in my google reader lately. Some are just not doing it for me anymore, but I find the some of the blogs I’m finding on ravelry are fabulous and much more interesting (like yours for instance)

    As a mere mortal blogger myself I struggle to keep the blog interesting enough to people who don’t know me personally to get a big, consistent, readership. Sometimes I feel like keeping the blog at all is a chore, but then I remember that my whole intention of bogging in the first place was for my family and friends who are all over the world to keep up with my goings on, So I’ll be content as a mere mortal 🙂

  16. I’m glad you found my knee-high post interesting! I would urge you to check out my blogroll – it certainly contains some superstars… but its main point is to link to blogs I really love, superstar or mere mortal. 100% of them “float my boat,” so to say 🙂

  17. I read a lot of blogs, or more usually, skim them. Both the famous and the not-so-famous get the same treatment. 🙂 But I look for interesting projects, nice yarns, displayed well. Good photos are important. If it’s too blurry to tell if it’s a sock or a kid, then there’s not much point, but they don’t need to be professional quality. Clear writing is important. For me, content is the deciding factor in whether I add someone to my list. I know some people like all the personal diary type stuff, but as cute as the kids are, I don’t need to see a thousand of them. Give me good knitting, with the yarns properly described and the patterns noted, and I’ll likely come back. I only comment if I have something to say. Like the other commenters have said, the 300th “Nice job” gets a little meaningless.

  18. Sorry, I just wanted to add that I am much more likely to comment if I notice that someone doesn’t have a big readership and they have done a good job of something. If they’ve taken the time to make a decent post about it, that should be recognized.

  19. I’m glad you posted this, since it’s been something I’ve been thinking about this week. There are some big name blogs that I love and others that just don’t appeal to me. I’m basically a photo ho so if there are good pictures, I’m there. I also look for meaningful comments about patterns, technique. If the blogger only posts to talk about how she hasn’t posted in ages and probably won’t post for a while yet, I unsubscribe. I try not to blog when I don’t have anything to say and I appreciate other bloggers who do the same.

  20. Thoughtful post, and something that seems to be on a lot of people’s minds.

    I like to surf around the rings every now and then to find new (or new to me) blogs that interest me. I look for good writing and photos mostly, but I also like to learn a little about the person behind the blog. I do read some blogs that seem to be strictly knitting content, but most that I read include a lot of personal content as well. For example, if you look at mine today, you’ll see a sentimental post about my pets, but most of the time it’s all about my knitting.

    I’ve started commenting more on the blogs that I read because I’m looking to be a part of things and to have friendly interactions that I don’t get in my day to day life since I work at home. However, I don’t normally comment on the popular blogs who have 100s of comments – it just doesn’t seem necessary (unless it’s a Happy BD or congratulations) because I usually don’t have anything new to add. It does bug me when I comment on blogs and don’t get responses, especially when the blog gets very few comments anyway (I don’t expect people with more than even 20 comments to respond to me all the time – I am understanding of the fact that it takes time). I think that most of us are out here for discussions and interactions and if someone isn’t responding to my comments, then I don’t continue commenting and sometimes stop reading their blog.

    Finally (whew! are you still with me?), when someone takes the time to comment on my blog, I normally add them to my list of blogs to read even if it’s one that I wouldn’t usually read. It just seems right.

  21. Almost all of the blogs I read are those of “mere mortals”, and there are definitely more than a few of the superstar blogs that I started out reading and have now weeded out. I never comment on the superstar blogs. I also enjoy building a friendship with people, and I think that these online friendships can sometimes be as strong as any “in real life”. These are people who “get me” and what I do, and inspire me with the great knits they’ve chosen to share with me. I get really excited about patterns, more so than yarn, and I find the best patterns through my blog visits. I also read a few blogs written by people that I just like – they are just *nice* or I have something in common with them (age, profession, etc.) I used to add everyone to my blogroll if they commented on mine, but I had to do some clearing out lately b/c I would never have time to actually knit, if I wrote/read blogs all day. It is a serious time balancing act for me!!

  22. I read blogs with wildly different levels of readership. I work at home, so I like to have new things popping up on Bloglines fairly frequently. At the same time, I don’t like it when I have so many blogs on the list that I can’t remember who people are. So I try to balance between finding new people to read and weeding out blogs that don’t make the cut. Sometimes I’ll subscribe to a blog for several months but still not have any sense of who the person is who writes it, and then I’ll often unsubscribe.

    I like learning about the personalities (which is not to say personal lives, necessarily) behind the blogs, though sometimes after I read one for a long time I discover personality differences that make me decide to disengage. I read the Yarn Harlot, for example, because I like Stephanie’s blogging voice. I don’t usually comment or read the comments on her posts because I don’t see anything to gain from doing so. I’m not going to name names about who I don’t like, but I’ve certainly decided that some bloggers were too persnickety for me, or too caught up in swooning over their uncontrollable need to buy yarn, or too much with the cat or baby pictures.

    As far as content goes, like you, I also like good pictures and fantastic finished objects. The two go together for me — if I can’t see what it looks like in the picture, there’s not much point to the picture. And since I am particularly interested in sweaters, I like to see people knitting great sweaters, particularly when they design their own.

  23. Great post. I wish I could weed out my blogroll. I feel guilty every time I delete a subscription though. I rarely do it. People have told me they go to my blog to find links to other blogs. I sorta feel a responsibility to keep it as it is and add to it more. It’s overwhelming and stressful to me though. I can’t comment from work, nor see pics – and that’s when I have the time for it more often than not. If my blogroll were smaller I could manage keeping up and commenting better. But if I were to subscribe to all the folks that subscribe to me, my blogroll would be twice as stressful. *sigh* And I do read most of the “superstars” as you call them. Mostly for the humor, but in brooklyntweed’s case the pics make me come back time and time again.

  24. Catching up!

    Great post for thought and discussion – My blogroll is a work in progress, and started out with some of the more popular bloggers that I enjoy… Over time I’ve tried to morph it into something more personal – bloggers that I’ve “met” or converse with; those where I comment on a regular basis; and those that I think are talented knitters and/or writers – there are a couple locals on there too. Now I almost actively try to keep it to “mere mortals”. Honestly, there is so much talent out there, it’s overwhelming and I love to be inspired. I also love to watch knitters grow (myself included) – very fun.

    My subscriptions are another matter entirely – I have FAR too many. Mostly because I’m afraid of missing any amazing knitting. They are organized however – the ones I admire, “superstars” and non, but rarely if ever comment because although I know that they appreciate it, I do tend to feel that if I’m the 150th or 500th commenter that it’s a moot point. I also really enjoy the conversation aspect of the blogs – even though I was a lurker for a long time, and even though I started my own blog without really any intent in that area – but then I started enjoying other blogs more and letting them know when I appreciated their work, and recieving comments in return. There’s also a “friends/contacts” folder of those that I comment on & converse with. There’s the farm blogs that I love that have their own separate category, and the locals with theirs as well. And then there is everything else in one big folder – a couple hundred I bet, but these I check on a random basis when I have the time. Some migrate into my other folders over time and some drop out. I’m a big fan of feeds, though I usually click through to the actual blog anyway, that way I can keep some of the rarely updated blogs out there, and not lose any time actually checking them for new content. I won’t tell you how recently I learned that you could do this 😉

    I like being a “mere mortal” 🙂 I get a few comments, but not so many that I can’t keep up with them. It’s manageable and I can answer them all – I’ve met some pretty amazing people this way and finally really started to see what this online community is all about. I think that I have learned more about knitting in the time that I’ve been reading and blogging than I did in the previous time, I’ve enjoyed writing about my knitting and non-knitting adventures and documenting what I’m up to. Although I think promotion is good from the designing standpoint, I don’t have any ambitions to be a “superstar” knitblogger – too much pressure, I think 😉

  25. Thank you for such a thoughtful post. Like others, I started subscribing to the well-known blogs, but have deleted my subscriptions to most of them. Some of my favorite blogs are knitting heavy, and others are not, but if I have similar tastes in knitting, or other interests in common, I’ll keep coming back. I’ve been introduced to new books or plants for my garden along with new patterns and yarn that way.

    Things that will cause me to unsubscribe from a blog are pretty much what others have mentioned: post after post of complaints (bad things happen to all of us, and we need support from our knitting friends when they do, but I’m talking about those who complain all the time about everything). People who constantly post “no new knitting to show” and then lots of meme/quiz results as filler (the knitting memes are fine, but the ‘what harry potter character are you?’ ones don’t tell me anything about that person or their knitting), and finally, people who use their knitting blog as a political platform. I don’t feel it’s the place to post personal opinions as someone is bound to be offended or disagree. That is best left to private emails.

    I enjoy your blog as you have a good balance of knitting projects and personal stories. We can get to know you a little and also learn a lot!

  26. Great post. I do read the “super stars”, but I also read others as well. I enjoy them all. I enjoy seeing what everyone is working on and I feel that each and every one of us has something to share with each other. The “super stars” started out as little guys once, just like the rest of us and that’s pretty much how I look at them. I try and look past the fame and just enjoy the knitting. Not to mention that I’m constantly amazed at how lightening fast some people are at knitting!

  27. My blogroll is mostly friends, or blogs I’ve found interesting–I’ve got a couple of Australians, some East Coasters (I’m a transplant who wants to go “home”)–no superstars. I do read some of them, though, and I’ve left a couple of comments when I had something “new” or “real” to say. I’ve even gotten emails back from them, which is nice. PS–I survived law school, so I’ll have an idea of what you’re going through — good wishes to you!

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