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March 14, 2011


Your book "The Gentle art of Domesticity" has a place of honor on my shelf. It is so lush and pretty and intelligently written, so inspiring, so happy. Even if the blog does not represent the "real" you, it is still a pleasure to read and to look at. I always think of it fondly. I hope you'll stay with us.

I enjoy your blog very much. It's a treat to read. I would say follow your muse for the direction of the blog - it's YOUR blog for goodness sake. Do what pleases you - just keep writing! please!?

Dear Jane,

Blogs are odd things. They can show so much or so little of their authors. But aren't we the same in real life? You show more of yourself to some people and less to others... I guess it's just a question of choosing who you like and who you can trust.

The 100+ comments are witness to what an inspiration you've been to so many people through the years. But please do not feel pressured to go on just for the sake of your readers! You must do it for you. This is, and will always be, *your* blog.

I've been coming here daily since 2006. You've shown me so much! I still go through your archives and I miss the old Yarnstorm posts. I love your blog, it's definitely on my top 5 list of daily reads. As for The Gentle Art of Domesticity, it has helped me to pursue my real interests in life.

Thank you for everything you've shared so far and good luck for the future! I'd love to meet you one day.

PS. I'm reading Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer at the moment (borrowed from my local library).

I for one, have felt a depersonalization. I miss your children, I miss glimpses of your home and I miss your travails of family life. Perhaps being criticized is the culprit, understandably so. That said, I am a firm believer in what doesn't kill us...I hope you do not give up, I will miss you.

I understand what you mean. I have struggled with this myself. My blog languishes at the moment. The sad thing is, it is a new blog I started anonymously in order to deal with a similar issue. I had a blog in the past which I abandoned for the same reasons. Blogging can be a very trying thing.

I have to say, though, that I enjoy your posts very much.

Jane, your blog was one that inspired me to create a blog that celebrates the 'loveliness' and beauty of life. You've probably affected more people than you could ever know, in more ways than you could ever know.

I guess Maddie is right in that we can't all expect people to agree with us, and that we are all entitled to our opinions, but often critical comments are made by people in the heat of the moment, when they're feeling most annoyed about whatever you've written. Therefore, they can come across as sounding quite sharp, and judgemental.

I think everyone gravitates towards wanting to feel good, and that's why hurtful comments seem to sting – we kind of assume that everyone is on our side, especially if they're even reading our blog!

It really does say more about what's going on with the 'critiquer', doesn't it? If critical comments are thoughtfully and respectfully voiced (the 'living room rule', whereby you don't say online what you wouldn't say to someone to their face, in their home), then I wouldn't have a problem. It's when people come across as sounding quite nasty that I don't like it! When voiced that way, critical comments seem to be more about the ego of the person who wrote them.

I love your blog, but I completely understand if you don't feel comfortable revealing lots of personal information on it – the web is a very 'open' place, and perhaps that vulnerability is sometimes better shared between individuals, rather than on a no-restrictions place like the internet? Hard to know... I wrestle with this issue myself.

I, for one, would be very sad to see your blog disappear, but, of course, it's completely your decision!

As I'm slowly finishing and very much savoring GAofD, I've been meaning to let you know just how much I've been enjoying it and how it has inspired me, a wife of 40+ years, to regain my interest in baking (your rock cakes are simply divine, tomorrow your lemon cake). I've also bought your beautiful quilting book (something I'd like to try again) and pre-ordered your knitting book (my craft even older than my marriage). As so many others have said in support, your blog is wonderful, and we will read it in whatever form and timing you may choose. Blessings and best wishes.

Jane, I love ,love love your first book and refer to it regularly, it made me look at all the arts from a fresh angle. Thank you for that, do what feels best for you, but remeber you will be missed, as all these comments clearly show.

Jane - I am sorry to hear that you are troubled about where to go next with your blog. Go with your heart and gut instinct - my experience is that is often powerfully right. I too have loved reading your blog, which was the first I came to, through coming across your beautiful and thought-provoking Domestic Arts book. I love the book, often revisit it, and am always inspired by it. I've really enjoyed the blog, and through your blog discovered a whole world of interesting and inspiring people who blog on different themes. I have given or lent the Domestic Arts book to several friends going through hard times, and each of them has loved it. Another example of the pleasure your work has given and continues to give. But you must only do it if and in a way that is right for you, now. None of us is the same person 6 years on that we were before - change and learning are the essence of life and living.

With all my good wishes, whatever you decide, Deborah

Your blog was the first I ever read. I came across a recommendation in India knight's" The Thrift Book" and was bowled over by your photos and glorious sense of colour and have been an avid reader ever since.
You inspired me to buy a new camera and I now constantly take photos, you got me back onto knitting and I've restarted a hand sewn patchwork quilt and this year want to try machine patchwork.
I have read some of the books you have suggested and in what can be a bleak world sometimes, you add a ray of sunshine to my days.
I would be so sad if you gave up your blog because of some negative comments, Clearly you have a very devoted following of readers who really appreciate your writing and pictures.
Ultimately though i appreciate that if you feel a need to change/stop then of course you must do so. Best of luck with whatever you decide.

Jane, Every time my 13 year old smiles with delight as he bites into a slice of seed cake or my husband cheerfully plants yet more bulbs, I give thanks for your books and your quietly wonderful blog. But please don't think you have to perform or continue endlessly. A ceramic artist friend once pressed several fabulous pieces on me as gifts. When I protested that she should keep them she pointed out - very kindly - that discarding creations is the only way to make space for more beautiful things to enter your life.

Hi Jane, if you are looking for new emphasis, I was thinking how much I have always enjoyed your book reviews and art reviews, both on your blog and also in the Gentle Art. There is already a great, small supportive book blogging fraternity in the UK which revels in the wonderful Persephone type 'middlebrow' writing, as well as classic and contemporary literature. eg. Simon at Stuck in a Book and Rachel, who you know, at BookSnob, and Verity a librarian at the Bodleian who is working her way through ALL the Virago Modern Classics in her blog Verity's Virago Venture. I also love how you train your 'domesticity' lens on
paintings and would drink up such posts. With your literature and art history background you have good credibility in those areas... Just an idea. I must second what Aiofe said much earlier on. She has expressed my exprience with your Gentle Art of Domesticity book. It is a great 'manifesto' of the theory of domesticity and has taken me in many directions both intellectually and practically round the home. Many thank yous.

I remember that mauling and felt so angry for you and helpless. I have a silly little blog with nowhere near the readership you have and I'm happy to keep it that way because I dread the thought of a mauling -- which I've witnessed a surprising number of times over the years. It is hard to put oneself "out there" but, I'm glad you do. I enjoy your blog. Good luck in your decision.

Some thoughts on the (occasionally not so) gentle art of blog writing and blog reading......

1. To blog writers - it is necessary and legitimate for blog writing to meet a need be it as a distraction, intellectual stimulus, a creative platform, validation, a marketing tool - all are valid. In return the readers are mostly on the receiving end of an act of generosity and openness.

2. To blog readers - if any single blog post offers you anything positive, receive it well, reflect upon it and say thank you. If a blog does not suit you for any reason, don't read it, move on and find another one that is more to your taste. There are plenty to choose from.

3. We are all of course, entitled to our opinions but I do not believe that just because someone writes a blog, we the readers have the right to criticise. If our opinions are sought, then by all means offer them up.

4. If ultimately we are in a position where a criticism is being made, we would probably all do well to hone our literacy skills so that the comment is being made in a constructive and well meaning manner rather than a destructive, personal and hurtful way. Surely this is not too difficult a thing for us readers to do?

I began reading your blog just before your switch from Yarnstorm, and never knew what actually lead to the switch.
When writing my infrequent blog posts, I don't really edit my writing, but do chose to write about topics that are interesting to me, but that are also topics thatI feel comfortable in sharing. I say enjoy that walk and please do keep writing, however you choose. Best wishes.

Wow! I commented on this the other day and re-visited to see if you had posted any thoughts after you had time to think... After reading I can appreciate all the comments, definately those that are positive, of those that have been inspired by you. However, like someone said, you won't please everyone all of the time. And there are some posts on the few blogs I follow, yours included, that sometimes I don't find inspirational, interesting or dynamic, but hey, that just reflects my own interests or mood that day. And there are some who use it as a marketing tool, and some do and some don't or aren't able to share their projects with their readers as extensively as they might like, but then blog followers could go to a book shop or library and browse it before buying, like many have said they have done. As a reader you have freedom to pick and choose. Decide what you will read and won't. Its really quite simple.

I don't feel I truly understand your dilemma as the writer but I suspect that in explaining it you may feel you open yourself up to criticism which may be hurtful and that I can understand.

If it is that you wish to step away from the blog because of more 'real' commitments and by doing so you feel you may alienate followers, then I think it is fair to say that because you write so eloquently, make wonderful observations and that many are genuinely interested in what you have to say they would follow anyway.

6 years is a long time to invite so many into your personal life (albeit one face of it) I guess this is why so many of us are appreciative of the time and commitment you have taken to write and post and why so many have responded to show their gratitude.

I'm a little late to these comments. I have been reading your blog since 06 and I can fully understand the fatique that would come from full time blogging, I have never been able to maintain a blog, too much work, but would like to say how much I have enjoyed yours. I think that the amount of words you have put out in the world has been remarkable, between the blog and your books. Have you ever read any books by William Strauss and Neil Howe on Generations and how history influences us and how we drive history. One area of study is the backlash against technology. Anyways, I am happy to have found your blog and have really enjoyed the book recommendations, the quilting, knitting and a glimpse into your happy family.

I didn't know anything about the negative comments on The Gentle Art of Domesticity. I knew I had to buy it, and I knew I would like it just from the cover. I did not even open the book to look at it before I bought it. I have never done that before. When I opened and read it I could not believe how many things I had loved for many years were in the book. From films to books, pictures, aprons, tea cosies. I often dip into it and find something new to enjoy. Don't take any notice of the critics.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Jane. I have been mulling something similar over and its lovely to know I'm not alone.
I look forward to hearing what you decide to do. Please, know that your unique voice is something I'm quite grateful for and would miss.

I love your first book - it really makes me smile (ignore the naysayers they just shout louder than the rest of us). I love your blog but you should do what makes you happy and if that's quitting so be it! But I for one will miss you, particularly when I'm looking for a bit of light relief from a crying baby, a pile of laundry and the vacuuming!

i do hope you keep blogging. i only have a few favorite blogs and yours is one of them. i have felt the sort of reserved-ness (which is probably not a word) of your blogging but attributed it to the fact that you were doing quilting and knitting books so were keeping those parts of your life behind the scenes. i think that's a hard thing to do. also, i don't think blogging should be forced. so what if you go enjoy life and leave the computer to sit for a while? you won't regret it

I try to go by the adage - if you can't say anything nice, say nothing. I wish more people would think that way. There are a lot of sad folk out there consumed with envy about the success of others. I am thrilled we have been able to share your experiences with you.
We all have times in our lives when we have to move on to new experiences - I am sure you will make the right decision for YOU.

I found The Gentle Art of Domesticity at the library, so I was spared all reviews. I read it (and drooled over the pictures!) in just 2 days. I fell in love with it, and recommended it to all my friends. My fellow stay at home moms and homemakers. I was actually shocked to hear there were negative reviews! I read some on Amazon and was disgusted. Many were more in the way of personal attacks rather than literary critiques. I just really wanted to throw in some support and encouragement. I love your work and your pictures and I hope you continue to share in whatever form feels right to you.
--And, I have to add that the huge picture in the book, of your whole family sitting on the couch under your gorgeous blankets, all reading books is my dream! My kids are 7, 3 and 18 months right now, so maybe in a couple years....

A day or two behind with apologies. Just wanted to echo the sentiment that when I am short on computer "playtime", I prioritize this blog over all others. As far as negative comments, it has been an unfortunate side effect of the digital world that things are often said over the Internet that in prior ages we wouldn't have expressed to that individual's face. Good manners and courtesy have eroded, as has general sensitivity for the feelings of others. Nonetheless, as has also been said, the negativity and snarkiness are generally a reflection of the poster's inclinations. Don't know what happened to the old axiom, "if you can't say anything nice, don't say nuthin' at all" LOL! In any event, love your books, even to buying the older ones from Amazon UK (from the US), and love the spark I get from your blog. Best wish always, whatever you decide. :D

I remember being quite shocked at the nasty things that were said about your first book - I even took it a little personally too, because my interests are so similar to yours. On reflection I decided that domesticity itself was being attacked, either as a shadow of the past when women were confined to it, or as an unwelcome reminder of the deep, homely experiences that are being lost as traditional roles fall away. As an articulate apologist for domestic joys, you were apparentlyl pushing buttons I never would have guessed existed. Or not. I could be wrong. I certainly have enjoyed your blog for many years and I hope you will continue in some form. Thanks.

I LOVE your books and your blog Jane. My daughter Lily carries around her copy of your 'blue'(Ripping Things To Do) book and has made Borrowers houses, spy kits and been inspired to read 'Five Go To Smugglers Top.' I thank you for igniting this love of books and making for her.
Ignore the critics - be the ostrich my friend and bury your head in the sand (ignore them)! Or better yet, bury their comments in the sand!
I'm the girl who bought her best friend "The Gentle Art..." the same Xmas she bought it for me.
I'm sending you a virtual hug, cuppa tea and a slice of Battenburgh cake.
Jude xxxxx

I fell in love with your blog shortly before you published, "The Gentle Art of Domesticity". That book is one of my very favorites and I pick it up over and over! Just know you are appreciated, whatever you decide about blogging. I can't wait until I can get "The Gentle Art of Knitting" here in the US!

PS. I also think it is much easier to criticize than to put yourself out there in a creative and beautiful way! Applause to you for putting yourself out there where we can be inspired to live beautifully!

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