I have to confess that on the evening of Thursday 12th February I did a fair bit of snotty crying as a cumulative result of the ruder messages I’d received. Then Mr M called a halt. He wrapped me in quilts. handed me a large vase of wine and said ‘Tell them it’s you running the social media. Remove the anonymity, then they might stop.’ A couple of friends advised the same.
Recent weeks have been a blur. The Big Comic Relief Crafternoon launched on 29th January and I found myself running four social media channels at once to help to spread the word about it. I was receiving hundreds of messages a day. Pictures of readers’ wonderful versions of Florence’s floral moustaches, Jodie’s jaunty guinea pigs, Lucy’s Spring posy brooch, Jenny’s mice, Lauren’s beards and so many other handmade wonders started being posted on my various timelines. It was an utter joy, although I began to be aware of the sheer size of the project and at times felt quite startled.
Readers’ guinea pigs
There was a slight flaw in the distribution plan – we only had enough sponsorship to stock around a third of all Sainsbury’s branches so many people have been struggling to find themselves a copy. Just before half term the clamour for help in tracking down the magazine reached fever pitch on facebook. It’s very rare that this lovely handmade area of the internet contains negativity but I was surprised to experience some over there. Actually quite a lot of it. I was rather ill-prepared, but the Mollie Makes team helped enormously by publishing a list of stores that are stocking it and I became adept at apologising.
In the midst of the furore I received a squashy parcel. I wondered what I might have ordered from Etsy as bleary 2am antidote-to-facebook-trickiness retail therapy. I spied some tissue paper and experienced a bubble of excitement. It was from dear Lesley of Moogsmum. It was a skein of wool in the colours of a Cornish rock pool- the colours of sealglass and sea lettuce and pebbles and those intriguing azure deep lagoon-ish pools that might contain a starfish or a really big crab. The colours of relaxation and cheeriness for me. I did a bit more crying, which may sound tragic but I was quite tired. Lesley, you’re wonderful. I might be wrong but I’m pretty sure you spun this wool yourself. Thankyou for this beautiful woolly treat. It was more welcome than you know. Lesley is off to a handmade fair with her lovely wares today. I hope it goes brilliantly for her.
I have learned a phenomenal amount from this experience – how a magazine is made and distributed, how an editorial team works and the astonishing talent and kindness of the creative community. Sadly though it has also taught me that some people post comments on social media without a thought. If they’re disgruntled then they feel bad manners are justified. It’s a well-discussed theme but I think the anonymity and apparent distance afforded by a social media website and a piece of technology is not always a good thing. I feel certain that their words would not have been so harsh if these people had been sitting in front of me. It has made me a tougher, more cynical person.
It has also made me immensely grateful for this particular corner of the internet, right here. The place where in 2005 a few crafters began to share what they had made and a community began to form. A place where we could find like-minded people who, like me, would rather cast on some mittens or raid their bead stash than hoover behind the sofa. If people weren’t so keen on what they saw they clicked away. Rude comments were almost non-existent. People were respectful, encouraging, positive and real friendships were made. It was a truly excellent place-a place that I came to in 2008 and that gently but consistently egged me on to make more things. It gave me the confidence to turn my jewellery-making and creativity into a small business despite having no arts qualifications whatsoever. Thankyou.
If you buy the magazine we’ve made and make something from it or simply find a page that makes you happy it would be so lovely if you could blog about it. It really would help enormously. There are two weeks left to buy it. As I mentioned, it’s only in around a third of Sainsbury’s stores.
The guaranteed £5 donation from the sale of just one copy of The Big Comic Relief Crafternoon can buy two malaria nets and save two lives.
Edited to add: dear dear Jodie Carleton who worked tirelessly to perfect the designs for Ron and Audrey the guinea pigs and is a bona fide handmade hero, as are all our designers, posted this about what happened on facebook. She received a lot of messages too. This woman lives in Australia. What I wouldn’t give for a beer and a cuddle with her right now.