What’s up with Stitchin Fingers?

What’s up with Stitchin Fingers?

Note Unfortunately Stitchin Fingers no longer exists as the site closed late 2016 so I have removed the links in this post

As many people are already aware, over the weekend (in Australia) the news broke that NING were no longer going to host free networks. The story is covered on the Blog Herald  as well. Since Stitchin Fingers is a free NING network most of my time was taken up wondering what I would do. Even the Lifeline Book fair did not take my mind off it!

I feel I need a post to communicate what the state of play is.

I did email all members but if for some reason you missed it or you want the back story and for those that want to track mine and the community reactions, here is the discussion on Stitchin Fingers

All weekend Jerry and I have had long chats as we hope Stitchin fingers will still be standing after the dust settles

Provided that, when Ning announces the changes on May 4th the cost of the new structures are not too high, or  prices creep higher in the next 3-6 months or so, we plan to try paying for the site via calling for sponsors (ie advertising) and add google adsense, and affiliate programs such as amazon books etc I don’t want to plaster the network with ads, definitely not flashing distracting horrid things but since Ning have had advertising already on the site it should not be too offensive to members.

At first I was not too optimistic about this option as people in the fiber/textile community do not readily click on advertising. Many people don’t know that it is only when they click does the site that hosts the advert get paid and even then it is really only in cents. So you need a lot of clicks to make a site pay. Jerry however talked me around.

I will be a little more hands on and perhaps add more content like shifting my stitch dictionary to stitchin fingers. Hopefully this will mean more things in one spot for members, provoking more traffic which is more value for advertisers. So members stand to gain by this change.

These ideas are of course based on the idea that Ning will not shift their pricing structure too high. I thought we would try this for 12 months and then re-assess the situation. In  the mean time I plan to watch how other communities migrate to other places online. I plan to watch carefully those services so if NING hike their prices too high or fail completely we have more options and the waters have been tested by others.

Please be aware that this decision is not yet set in concrete but it is fairly solid. The final decision will be made when NING announces their new  policy.

For those that are worried that Stitchin fingers will become a subscription service, I see that option as a last resort. I know many would pay a little for it but also I know many would not. Some people can afford it and some can not.  People are too used to free things online and many have as yet not understood that someone somewhere pays.

But I have another reason for not wanting it to be behind closed doors. It is philosophical. I am online is to promote working in fiber as a valid creative activity. I believe one of the reasons textiles as an art form is forgotten is because  the majority of textile work was done in the domestic sphere.  In other words the textiles are appreciated behind closed doors. People don’t see the work, understand the process or creative descissions involved in making something by hand in fiber. As a result of this invisibility many people dont value the activity or the piece created.

Let me put it another way. As I see it, if a practice such as embroidery is to stay alive we need ways to expose people to what is possible. I use my blog to do this because I want the practice of hand work to be alive and kicking at the end of the 21st century long after I am gone. The only way to keep the practice alive is to expose people to it. If a network of people constantly does this, it means that this subculture of stitching is alive and healthy.  The implications of this is that this new medium can shape and maintain the aspects of our culture that we value.

For that reason I do not want to put stitchin fingers  behind virtual closed doors online. I dont really want to hide the activity and pleasure textile people share. I don’t want to hide the skills displayed or skills shared. I just don’t want to hide – full stop!

Textile people are great people and make a wonderful community online and off. I want people who may have just a little interest in the subject to find and see this and feel welcome. Subscriptions services do not lend themselves to people stumbling across the community and joining in.

That said, being part of an online community can stimulate creativity. In my online classes in every class there is always a point in the forums where I am really reticent to let go. Usually, it’s the energy and positive stimulation of discussion and it’s a bit like leaving the party too soon, so I can see that there may be a role at some stage for premium membership to have some part to play in the site. However I do not see this as an immediate option. To be honest I want to know NING is still in business in 12 months time before I start down this path.

Hopefully as I say all will be OK and Stichin Fingers will be even better after the dust settles. We can only try.

Crazy quilt template set 2 Have you seen my Stitchers Templates?

As someone who loves crazy quilting and embroidery I designed these templates with other stitchers in mind. With my templates you can create hundreds of different patterns to apply to your stitching and crazy quilting projects. They are easy to use, totally clear so you can position them easily and they are compact in your sewing box.

Templates set 1 you will find here 
Templates set 2 you will find here 
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  1. Hi Sharon,
    I was referred here by the other site, Stitchin-Fingers. I’m sorry I didn’t see this post sooner. I haven’t been a member very long, and I’ve absolutely zero skills or talent when it comes to stitching, but because of the site I have discovered how much I wish I could do these things. I am one of those people who stumbled upon your site and decided to stay. For whatever it’s worth, you seem to have a wonderful site and very much a family of a community following you, I’m sure that they will follow you whatever path you have to take.
    ~ Dawn

  2. I fully trust that any decision you make will be informed and in the best interest of all of us. I am sure I am not alone though in saying that I would have no problem with an occasional donation to keep the site operating . It’s worth it to me!

    Gayle Schipper
  3. Your philosophy is so admirable and is just one of the reasons we love you!
    Moving the Stitch Dictionary to Stitchin Fingers is a brilliant idea. I must use it at least 5 times a week, and I haven’t been active in our ning community lately. So it will sure get more clicks from me!
    Thank you so much for all you do, Sharon…
    xoxox Allie

  4. Thank you for your commitment to keep textiles out in the open. I agree with others that it would be a good idea to put a little donate button on the page. They are small, unobtrusive and allow people to pay for a service when they are feeling capable and generous. I don’t have the budget for subscription services but I know that I have donated little amounts to other sites when I have encountered an article or resource that has been a significant help to me.

    Another ad alternative might be to open up inexpensive ad space or paid reviews for small textile related shops (Etsy shop owners or small online businesses who sell supplies or finished embroidery art) So many of the ads on web pages direct people to large corporate entities but the textile world is a bit more grassroots than that.

  5. I personally am not impressed with Ning as a base. I have joined a couple of different rings and found them not to be active or useful. Difficult to use and obviously confusing for the users based on the number of dead end conversations, missteps and reconfiguring. I have always found your blog and your resources to be highly useful and easy to use. I hope you find an alternative that suits you and the majority of your readers. I wouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket in any case. I would pitch in to help cover your costs but I can’t afford to buy you a stretch limo. :o)


  6. When something like this happens it makes me want to challenge the ‘culprits’. If ning managed for so long without charging why can’t ‘ning’ raise their own money and keep it free for those they sucked in? It makes me want to call their bluff and just get all the ning sites to boycott them and see what happens then.
    But thats just me.
    I hope you manage to come to a solution that suits everyone. Its a lot of hard work you put in and they know they’ve got us over a barrel.

  7. I imagine that there are many of your followers who would not mind making a donation. A request for a voluntary annual registration fee in some small amount might solve the problem. I’ve heard various individuals and entities state that the voluntary donation often seems to produce a positive result–sometimes better than a fixed price. I only dip into your offerings occasionally, but I appreciate the value you offer and the effort that lies behind it, and I would gladly donate to keep the resource available, particularly if it were just a matter of making a $5 $10 $20 dollar click choice.


  8. A suggestion you’re free to ignore if you don’t like, is that I notice some textile Ning networks offer on-line classes for a paid sum. If you were interested in starting up some of these (open up to membership for offers to teach etc), them perhaps a percentage of the tuition fees could be paid to SF to help with the network costs??

    Just an idea. May or may not be worth anything.=) All the best and do try not to let it natter you too much, esp when nothing can be done for more than 2 more weeks.=) (Easier said than done, I know….)

  9. Oh sharon what a disappointment… I can appreicate how you must be feeling it seems a terrible blow – so many creative people out there call stitchin fingers home and that in its self would be a terrible loss… In my imagination I see stitchin fingers as a large community hall with lots of little sub rooms. There is the common room where everyone is welcome but then there are the little sub groups for the more specilized needlework… I wish I was savy enough to be able to offer suggestions but lol just reading your post does my head in…

    Take care now – hi to Jerry for me..

    Sharon H xxx

    Sharon Hunting
  10. I love the Pintangle site and the Stitching Fingers site and I deeply appreciate the idea of keeping knowledge as free as possible. I’ve been stitching this week under a nasty black haze of uncertainty: a job that I’ve had for many years and felt secure in is being threatened by at attempt to "improve business processes." I think a lot of people, at least in the US, are threatened with financial insecurity. Even if nothing terrible has yet happened to them, it’s all to easy nowadays to see how it might. Crafts are my little oasis of calm, somewhere where I can hope to control the results and where effort pays off in increased skill and knowledge. I would hate for that calm to become one more thing with a price on it. Though at this point, when the economic stuff hasn’t actually hit the fan in my life, I would be glad to donate a bit via paypal to websites such at this. There has been some talk on one of the blogs that I visit of setting up a system where people can pay small amounts of money to artists in return for free exchange of information and techniques. If such a thing became widespread, artists could at least partially support themselves and continue with their art.

    Liz Ozselcuk
  11. Why not ask those of us who _can_ afford to pay some support to donate fund to cover the NING costs? It has been my experience that there is usually plenty of funding that way — people will pay as they are able and want to do so. I, myself, like to give financial support to those folks who are doing what I consider to be a ‘bang-up’ job. 🙂

    I’d rather try that path than have to deal with more ads. 😛

    🙂 Linda

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