You guys had so many useful, funny, practical, nice things to say in this year’s reader survey! I’ve got a mess o’ charts coming at you in this post if you’re curious to see what everyone had to say on the multiple choice questions, and below that you’ll find my answers to some of your burning questions that may or may not have to do with my sometimes-orange hair, book recommendations, favorite needles and hooks, and my caffeine intake.
Before we dive in I want to say a big thank you. Not a single one of you was mean in this survey – even the criticism was all worded very respectfully! With over 100 responses, I feel very lucky to have such kind people engaged in the Hands Occupied community. Like many bloggers, I’ve run into haters here and there, but not today! High five, Hands Occupied readers!!
I’ve distilled the main questions/themes of your responses to the Ask Me Anything part of the survey into the following headings. If I’ve got any follow-up questions for you based on these responses, I’ll put them in italics at the end of each of my answers. If you’ve got more ideas for me, which would be fantastic, please leave a comment with your ideas! :) I’ve got a few ideas for how to make your suggestions happen, but you guys might be envisioning something totally different and I’d love to be writing about the things you’d like to see.
What are you reading?
I just realized – I should totally let you guys know who I am on Goodreads (and feel free to friend me if you like). This is me! As a teen librarian, I read a lot of teen books, of course. With all the knitting/crafting/blogging I do, it is hard to find time to read much else, though I do love a good narrative nonfiction read when I can find the time. I lead a monthly book discussion for teens at my library, so I read a book a month for that. I’m a member of a book group of teen librarian peers, and our goal is to read as much newly published teen fiction to help recommend it at our libraries, so that’s at least a book a month too. Recently for fun, I’ve been reading the entire Harry Potter series for the first time as an adult. I was the same age as Harry when the early books were originally being published in the US, so I first read that series each time one came out, from age 11 through college. That’s been a fun little reading challenge to shoehorn in among my other more-required reading.
How do you read and knit?
Audio. Books. I’m hardcore on team audiobooks + knitting. It’s the only way for me, but I did come across this article on reading books recently that sparked some useful suggestions for traditional reading while knitting on the Hands Occupied Facebook page last week.
PS: Since audiobooks take time to produce, that teen librarians book group I mentioned is a hard one. I get advance copies of books to read, but since they’re not audio, it’s super hard to keep up. My plan is to experiment with listening to a robot voice screen reader on the next one to see if I can stand it and be able to read more newly published books and keep up with my superstar reader peers.
Tone & style
The general consensus seems to be that you guys like these things:
- I’m not too wordy, which is a good thing.
- I should only share what I’m comfortable with, though you do love my personal posts & stories when I do share them.
- Many of you (and this is verbatim) “wouldn’t change a thing.”
- My blog pattern formatting is done well.
- I’m entertaining and/or funny.
Sorry to write that bullet-style like a robot, but that seemed to be easiest. Do you heartily agree or disagree with anything you see here? Anything to add?
Picks of the Week
There were a couple suggestions for how Picks of the Week is laid out and works. And since this is a series you guys love almost as much as knitting patterns (see graph above), I’ll start by saying you have my attention with your suggestions on this. First off, I’ll try to include more photos of the projects featured so there doesn’t have to be so much clicking back and forth to see the projects. Sometimes, even when there is a really amazing knitting or crochet idea to share, the quality of the photos isn’t necessarily where it would need to be to make it on Hands Occupied, but the idea or pattern is creative, well executed, or simply good. Believe me, I know how hard photography is, but for the quality standard I’m going for on Hands Occupied, not every photo will make it onto the blog. The other practical consideration is simply that I work late at the library most Thursday nights, and then open it again first thing the next morning so I can’t always stay up late working on blog posts, particularly on those days. And since those are a best-of-the-week post, I want to wait until Thursday night to round up favorites to see as much of what the week has to offer as I can. I hope you guys understand!
Now, for links. About six months or so ago, I changed the style of linking I used on this blog. I switched from having links in my posts, whether they be to other Hands Occupied content or whether they link to external content, open in a new window/tab to just having them open. This is an issue that web designers have debated for years. I used to have them open in a new tab thinking it was better for making sure people got back to my site. However, I made the switch because it’s easier for a user to hold down the control (Windows) or command (Apple) key while clicking a link they want to open in a new tab than it is for a reader to override a link that is programmed to automatically open in a new window. Specifically you can’t do anything about it. I would rather teach readers the internet-life-hack of holding the control or command key when you want to open a link in a new window or tab than to take away your ability to decide how you navigate the internet. If you’re curious, this is a good summary of the arguments for and against programming links to open in a new tab.
Here’s a good sample of what someone said regarding personal projects (note, what they’re talking about is different than personal posts/anecdote type posts), “I’d love to see more of what you’re personally working on (surely there are some projects just for you, that aren’t a pattern for the blog?)”
A lot of my non-blog knitting these days has been consumed by design work for magazines and things, but I’ve got a couple of ideas for how to write posts about this. Can you let me know if you have any suggestions or samples of posts other bloggers have done featuring personal knitting that you particularly like?
How do you stay organized and don’t get overwhelmed by the stash monster?
As this questioner said, “It’s bad when you feel overwhelmed by a hobby.” I couldn’t agree more! I have several thoughts on this one that I want to contemplate for myself, plus my office isn’t particularly organized at the moment. So I think I’ll put a pin in this question and save it for a spring cleaning post and motivator to get my stuff and my thoughts organized before I start spewing half-baked wisdom. Person who sent this question: Feel free to email me, though, if you want to chat about this sooner. My email is handsoccupied-at-gmail-dot-com. :)
I love the newsletter!
That’s a nice one to hear – my email subscription list is only about a year old, but it’s growing every day. If you’d like to get on it, there’s a box below each post and in the lefthand sidebar of this blog where you can sign up. If you’ve got suggestions for things you’d like to see in the newsletter that maybe haven’t been in there yet, let me know.
Supplies, Supply Sources
What kind of needles do I use? – It varies. Sometimes I’m all about the super affordable bamboo DPNs that you can get at JoAnn’s. Sometimes I will only touch my fancy Addis or Knitter’s Pride. I think I’m going to start posting about different yarns, needles, and notions I’m working with – maybe not a review necessarily, but something to let you know my tools of the trade since this question came up a lot in your ask-me-anythings! Would you like this? Hate it? Any ideas for how you’d like to see these done?
I’m not sure yet how posts will look, but some people would like to read about how and why I choose my patterns/yarns/colors, how I brainstorm, and what makes me tick creatively. I think this could make a nice series. What do you think? Any ideas for how this could look too?
Most of you would be down to read about my dogs at some point. Yay! Team pets!
More orange hair. (So cute!)
Thanks! I think I might do orange hair again some day because it was kind of fun looking like a real-life cartoon character (think Judy Jetson). There are only three things holding me back from always dying my hair fun colors: photos looking dated really quickly (like, wasn’t her hair just blue?), it’s a lot of frigging work to keep up unnatural colors, and how differently people treat me when my hair is a different color. I’ve had tattoos for ages, but I was completely shocked at how having orange hair got me so many stares. Especially with the amount of people rocking pastel hair right and left, I didn’t think I’d get any response other than people who saw me every day. Literally, and I don’t think this was just in my head, people were not as nice to me as they are when I’m blond. I couldn’t believe it! It was honestly kind of a disappointment-in-humanity moment for me. That may sound dramatic, but I can’t underemphasize how shocked I was by the change in day to day interactions. I mean, it’s not like I got a facial tattoo, you know?
Long story short, thanks to the lady who liked my orange hair. I’ll have to do it again some time, haters be damned!
I love your energy, how many coffees do you drink?
My husband said to answer this one, “Zero, suckers!” But I told him that’s rude. :) Seriously though, I stopped drinking coffee at the end of last year. I made the switch to tea and limited myself to a single tea bag I use over and over. The one time I had a cup of coffee at a friend’s house since cutting it out, I was tweaked! I even said to her, as I couldn’t stop motor-mouthing or sit still, “I think this is what being on drugs feels like.” I guess I’m a natural spaz – hence all the knitting, reading, and tea to calm me down!
Congrats if you read this whole thing! I hope this helps with the burning questions, and again, thank you for the feedback! MUCH appreciated. :)