"No matter how terrified you may be, own your fear and take that leap anyway because whether you land on your feet or on your butt, the journey is well worth it."
-- Laurie Laliberte
"If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough."
-- Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage."
-- Anais Nin

Sunday, March 18, 2012

New Friend (Mine) and New Patterns (Not Mine)

My online life has been a whirlwind lately. But there are so many positives coming from it, I can't complain. In the midst of cleaning up my blog address SNAFU a couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet (via email) the hard working brain behind one of my favorite websites, dish and washcloth mania. Norma collects kitchen and bath themed patterns from all over the web to gather them in one easy to use location. In its lifetime, my blog has received just under 10,000 hits from her site. You can imagine how honored I was when Norma agreed to be interviewed here on the blog. So, without any further introduction, I present to you the goddess of dishcloth patterns, Norma:

The Big Girl Scrubby was the first of my patterns listed on Dish and Wash Cloth Mania

Laurie:  Assume anyone reading this has not had the opportunity to visit your site. Tell us what to expect when we arrive.
Norma:  The left side of the page contains posts that I have written about changes or additions to the site. There is an occasional post on a topic I think may be of interest to visitors. The upper right portion of the site contains two static text areas. The first one provides details about the header picture. The second one provides detail about the purpose and intent of the site. Below these text areas and on the left, is a column labeled Pages. Each page contains links to specific categories of items.

L:  When did you begin Dish and Washcloth Mania?
N:  I started it in August of 2006.

L:  What motivated you to start it?
N:  I was not working outside the home at the time and needed to replace my supply of store bought dishcloths. My decision was to make my own using cotton yarn in my stash and free patterns on the Internet. As I began looking for patterns I discovered a "new to me" world of knitting and crocheting. I was totally fascinated by the beauty and variety of dish and wash cloths that were and are available. The most wonderful part was that most of them were free. I was so excited at my discovery that I wanted to share it with everyone. Listing links on a blog seemed to be the best way of doing so. As time passed this became my way of returning to the online fiber community part of what I had received from it over the years.

L:  Would you give us an estimate of how many pattern links you've amassed so far?
N:  I estimate there are links to about 500-600 patterns.

L:  Did you have any specific goals in mind when you began?
N:  The primary goal I originally had was to list all of the free dish and wash cloth patterns I could find on the Internet for the fun of doing so. I also wanted to share my exciting discovery with others.

L:  Have those goals changed as you've progressed?
N:  This is a difficult question. My goals have changed a bit although the original goal of listing links to as many free patterns for dish and wash cloths remains the same. I have chosen to expand the scope of the site to include links to other kitchen items and to some bath related items. A few months after the site began, I realized that it could be a way of returning to the fiber arts community part of what it has provided me over the years.

L:  How long have you been at it and what keeps you motivated to continue?
N:  I have been doing this for a few months less than six years. My motivation to continue is three fold. My primary motivation is that searching for and finding patterns is fun. Adding them to my site is the next step in that process. The second motivating factor is my commitment to make a contribution to the fiber arts community by providing a resource for people to find kitchen and bath related patterns easily. Last, but not least, I have learned that there is an amazing group of men and women all over the world who give their time, energy, and talents to design and make items for others. By providing links to free patterns my site also promotes the work of many designers.

L:  How much maintenance is required to keep your site running?
N:  The site is relatively easy to maintain. Most of the reason for that is because it is hosted on WordPress.com. In my opinion it is the perfect match for my personality because while it is intuitive to use it is also very logical and organized.

L:  How many hours per week do you put in?
N:  On average I would say I spend about six to eight hours a week on the site. When I decide to do a major update, such as the one I am now doing, I easily spend twenty-four to thirty hours a week on it. I am fortunate to have a very supportive family who understand my need and desire to work on the site.

L:  Do you receive any help or is maintenance pretty much a one woman show?
N:  This is definitely a one woman show. I do my own research and site maintenance. My husband and son serve as editors and content advisers at times.

L:  I love that the look is very clean, simple, uncluttered. Is that how you tend to work when you're crafting?
N:  Thank you for the compliment. Yes, that is how I tend to work when I am crafting. The majority of my knitting and crocheting time is done at the kitchen table or in the computer/craft room. In order for me to concentrate and work efficiently those areas have to be uncluttered. My immediate work area does appear cluttered at times, but I try to keep it so I can reach what I want without looking for it.

L:  How do you go about finding all the great patterns you link? Do you seek them out? Do they find their way to you somehow?
N:  When the site first began, I used a variety of search engines and spent countless hours doing research to find them. That is still my favorite method to find patterns although it has changed a bit over the years. I now have a list of sites to periodically check for new additions. There is one designer who sends me an email when she adds a pattern to her site. Others know that I visit their sites and add links to their patterns as I find them. As the member of some online groups and Ravelry, I keep my eyes and ears open for patterns that might not be listed on my site.

L:  Let's say, in an average month, how many hits does the site get?
N:  Thank you for asking this question. It is averaging a little more than fifty-three thousand hits per month.

L:  I really like that the site is "bi-craftual," both knit and crochet. Are you as well?
N:  Yes! I am definitely be craftual. I fell in love with the art of crochet when I was six years old. Much to my dismay I had to wait to learn to do it until I was twelve or thirteen. I learned to knit when I was eight or nine. I enjoy them both and do not have a favorite.

L:  Do you have a particular type of pattern you prefer to make?
N:  My favorite dishcloths are knitted ones. I don't have much strength in my upper body and it is easier for me to squeeze the excess water from knitted cloths. One favorite kitchen item in my house is crocheted hot pads and table mats. We use an assortment of knitted and crocheted dishcloths as coasters for cups and bowls.

L:  Do you have favorite stitches?
N:  Not really. I do enjoy using a variety of stitches when knitting or crocheting.

L:  I think I've taken enough of your time, but is there anything else you'd like to share with my readers?
N:  There are a couple of things I would like to add. The first one is that if you have a link to a pattern you would like to see added to my site, please feel free to contact me by way of the Contact Page on my site. Due to my work schedule it might take a day or two for me to respond.

L:  Anything I've overlooked that you'd like to tell them?
N:  I cannot think of anything. Thank you for taking the time to interview me. It was a pleasure.

Thank you, Norma, so much for sharing your time and your thoughts with us. I wish you much continued success with the site.

Happy Knitting and Crocheting everyone!

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