Blog Gem - Song of the Stitch
Yay, it's time for another Blog Gem and this month I'm super excited to share the beautiful, talented face behind Song of the Stitch. I had the great pleasure recently of spending time with this lovely lady at Blogtacular, both on the photowalk and at the conference. She is such a friendly, down-to-earth and inspiring person that I was properly welling up on saying goodbye. So, I'm very happy to be able to share this interview of the story behind her wonderful blog...
Hi there, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi there, my name is Lizzy, and I’ve been running wild on the internet for the best part of the last seven years! Starting my first blog (I’ve had three over the years) lead me down a very different career path to the one I originally planned. Back in 2010 I was set on becoming a scientist, working away on my PhD, and writing a fashion blog in my spare time as a bit of a creative outlet. By the time I finished my PhD an academic career no longer seemed like the thing for me. But blogging turned out to be the perfect fit, and I quickly settled on science communication as a way to combine my various disparate skills.
Towards the end of 2016 I was working as a journalist, covering all things to do with human genetics and health, when I found out I was pregnant. I’m now on maternity leave, with just a few weeks to go until our Little Bub makes his appearance, and I’m planning what comes next! I’ve spent the past few months of freedom reconnecting with my personal writing through my blog Song of the Stitch, and taking some time to enjoy and be inspired by the incredible online creative community.
Where do you blog and what is that space like?
I tend to blog all over the house! More often than not I find myself following the passage of the sun. In the mornings our east-facing kitchen is flooded with beautiful sunlight, so I’ll set up camp at the table with my coffee and toast to make plans and scribble ideas. Towards the afternoon I’ll move to an armchair in the sitting room, and if the weather is good I can throw open the windows and enjoy the garden at the same time.
If you had to take only one tool to a desert island, what would you choose and why?
Not quite a desert island, but I spent quite a bit of time working in the jungle during my PhD (studying insects, very exciting!), and the one item that was endlessly useful was the multitool that my Dad gave me one Christmas. Several different knives, a saw, and even a set of pliers. In other words, everything I would need to set up camp, make a hammock, and break into a few coconuts.
How do you get inspired to blog?
I have to close my laptop and put my phone down. It’s very rare that inspiration will strike while I’m glued to a screen! If I’m up and about and doing something, that’s when inspiration will strike, and I just have to make sure I have a notebook on hand to capture as much of it as I can. As a result I try to build as much offline time into my schedule as I can, whether that be a quiet hour with my crochet or time to read a favourite magazine. Being outside gives my creativity a kick unlike anything else. If I need photography inspiration I need to go foraging in my beloved tangle of a garden, and nothing clears my head and focusses ideas like a long walk.
What top tips would you give to anyone starting a blog?
No website, and certainly no blog is a finished, perfect product. You will always want to tweak and adjust, make changes and fiddle with things. Do not let that stop you from hitting publish. In business your aim is to get your minimum viable product out there as soon as you can, so that you can learn from the experience and from the feedback to refine it and make it better. Your writing, your photography, your web design skills will never be as good as they could be if you just keep them to yourself. And I promise that pressing that publish button each time does get easier!
A piece of advice that I heard recently, and one that really resonated with me, was to think of your bog like a regular column in a magazine or newspaper. Which is pretty liberating when you think about it: you could write about anything, and you don’t have to be limited to what you think might please an audience. Do you think that Lucy Mangan or Jeremy Clarkson ever worried about what they ‘should’ be writing about? (Clarkson certainly didn’t!). Tell the stories from your life, tell the things that make your heart sing, and tell them with love.
Is there a story behind the name, 'Song of the Stitch'?
You know, I’m not entirely sure where the ‘Song’ part came from originally. ‘Stitch’ was easy: when I started Song of the Stitch the plan was for it to be a dressmaking blog, so I wanted to reference the craft element without being too explicit. ‘Song’ appealed to my love of sibilance and alliteration, and made the blog sound like some kind of ode to craft, a grand ballad of creativity that I found rather appealing.
Funnily enough, when I spoke to my mum about my new blog she pointed out that there is a 19th Century poem by Thomas Hood called, ‘The Song of the Shirt’, written about a seamstress living and working in awful conditions. The poem became enormously popular and focussed public attention on the conditions of workers in general, and contributed to far greater awareness about the plight of the Victorian working classes. So completely by accident the name, Song of the Stitch, reflects the history of the female workforce and dressmaking, and the birth of the labour movement and trade unionism! All issues that warm my excessively liberal feminist heart.
If you could go to a Blog Award dinner with any 5 people (dead or alive, real or fictional) who would you choose?
Ooh, I love these sorts of questions! I think my ideal gathering would end up looking like a kooky salon of highly creative, unusual, and inspiring women. At least I hope it would.
At the top of my list for any dinner party or gathering would be Margaret Atwood. She has been my favourite author since I read The Blind Assassin aged 17, and I’ve absorbed her novels and her wisdom and her anarchic sense of humour ever since. She has a gift for language that most of us could only dream of. For the same reason I would also include Ursula LeGuin, author of The Earthsea Quartet, which is quite possibly the most beautiful and thoughtful fantasy series ever written.
In the real world, there are a few digital creators that I would love to include in the gathering. The first would be Kate of A Playful Day, writer, podcaster, storyteller and just lovely human being. I used to listen to her podcast on my long commutes into and out of London every day, and I find her approach to digital storytelling very compelling. Also on my list of awesome creative women would be Julia Rebaudo of StylonNylon, self-described freelance journalist turned blogger. Her photography is wonderful and I expect we could fill many hours with conversation about prime lenses!
Finally, I’ve spent much of my professional career as a science writer, so I would have to include a few female scientists in there. Geneticist Barbara McClintock discovered a genetic phenomenon called ‘jumping genes’, which won her the Nobel Prize and completely captured my imagination as a young biology student. Astronomer Sarah Seager has discovered 715 exoplanets (planets outside our solar system) so far, some that even have Earth-like qualities. And finally I would have to invite my Mum, laser physicist, extraordinary quilter, and general polymath, because apart from anything else I think she would like to discuss feminism with Ursula LeGuin as much as I would!
And finally...if you had to choose one song to represent 'Song of the Stitch', what would it be and why?
My taste in music is fairly eclectic, but there’s nothing like a bit of classic rock to stir my soul. If I had to pick just one song it would have to be Ride On, by AC/DC. Unlike so many of their others songs this one is gentle, swinging, and slightly melancholy. When I hear this song my entire body relaxes and my mind clears. I remember to breathe, I remember not to be overwhelmed; in fact I remember to just ride on. I can’t think of anything that better represents what I’m trying to express through Song of the Stitch.
Aww, Lizzy, what a truly wonderful insight into your blogging world! I am so excited to see where you head next with your career, which sounds like it's been a wonderful journey to date. Your blogging tips are spot on; just starting is the only way to learn I think. Thanks so much for taking part in the Blog Gem series Lizzy and keep up the beautiful writing and photography!
For all of you keen to learn more about Lizzy, you can find her at the following places:
And if you'd like to read more Blog Gem interviews, click hereand scroll away!
Thanks for reading!