Fear of missing out (“FoMO”) is the fear that you’re missing out on fun and rewarding interactions and experiences that other people are having. Apparently we all have different factors which might cause us to experience FoMO to varying degrees (including the levels of autonomy, competence and connectedness we feel in our daily lives), but a study by the University of Essex found that people with high levels of FoMO are more likely to use social media, and that social media may itself exacerbate the fear, as it makes it easier to see the experiences you are missing.
With such an active online international knitting and yarn community, there is always plenty of news on social media about different knitting events taking place. It is impossible to go to everything. This month there were two events in the UK that I was unable to attend in spite of really wanting to go. I had kept my disappointment in check when I decided not to go, but wondered how regretful I’d feel when I saw all the social media coverage. Would I be afflicted with FoMO?
The first event was the very first gathering of The Muse Connection, which was hosted by two of my favourite podcasters, A Playful Day and Curious Handmade, in my home city of London. Centred around the themes of colour and community, with tea, cake, and plenty of time to knit and chat with like-minded people, it sounded like a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.
The second event was Edinburgh Yarn Festival, which took place the following weekend in Edinburgh. Edinburgh is a five-hour train journey from London, but the amazing classes and marketplace, events such as the podcast lounge (hosted by another of my favourite podcasters, Knit British) and even a Ca-baa-ret made this a tempting prospect for a weekend away.
As the anticipation began to build for both events on Ravelry, Instagram and through various podcasts and blogs, I kicked myself a few times during February that I would be missing out. As they got closer, however, I realised that my feelings started to change.
I noticed it first with The Muse Connection. I began to enjoy the little snippets of news about the event. Rather than making me feel worse about not going, sharing in details of the build-up, such as the excitement over the sponsors (and amazing goodie bags) and venue, was fun. Seeing photos of the event taking place, and reading/listening about it on the A Playful Day and Curious Handmade blogs and podcasts enabled me to gain a flavour of the atmosphere and the themes that they had explored.
The themes for the event were partly what inspired me to make a visit to Columbia Road Flower Market in east London on the Sunday that The Muse Connection was taking place, so that at least I could get my own fix of colour and community.
(As you can see, I had a great time basking in the sights, sounds and smells of the market. It didn’t have yarn, but it was a great morning out indulging my senses in a riot of colour.)
The run-up to Edinburgh Yarn Festival was similar. It was fascinating watching various dyers preparing for the show. (For a brilliant insight into an indie dyer’s business, follow Eden Cottage Yarns on Instagram. Not only does the owner, Victoria, have an amazing talent as a dyer, but she’s really, really good at showing the inside of her business.) I loved watching the different stalls take shape and people travelling to Edinburgh. I began to look forward to another weekend as an inspired observer of Edinburgh Yarn Festival. When it began, I really enjoyed seeing glimpses of the weekend, discovering vendors who were new to me through pictures on social media, and even seeing clips of the Ca-baa-ret festivities.
There was also a bonus surprise that weekend, as I discovered Edinburgh wasn’t the only yarn festival taking place. Early on the Saturday morning, I spotted #bedinburghyarnfest in my Instagram feed. Created by UK-based knitters, Anna Maltz and Rachel Atkinson, #bedinburghyarnfest was the ultimate “stay at home yarn festival”, taking place through Instagram and Twitter over the whole weekend. Rachel writes more about it here. From the first picture on Saturday morning, the momentum gathered quickly, and soon lots of us were taking part. Attendees shared not only pictures of current projects but also their surroundings, food, festival drinks, fellow attendees and much more. There were even workshops on yarn-dyeing and steeking hosted on Twitter. I kicked off my #bedinburghyarnfest experience with a lovely Saturday morning reading an article on Shetland yokes by Kate Davies in the latest edition of the Shetland magazine 60 North, with socks in hand and tea in my favourite knitting mug.
(Yes, the rabbits on the mug have rather an unusual knitting technique.)
On Sunday, I did some guilt-free yarn shopping from my stash, to choose yarn for an Ocean Blossom shawl. Two friends helped me to choose colours via Instagram: Jenny, who lives about half an hour from me in South London and Zoe, who lives on the other side of the world in Australia.
#bedinburghyarnfest was a blast of unexpected magic which united lots of us who weren’t able to share in Edinburgh in person. Taking part in it, I admired lots of projects, had some lovely conversations, and found plenty to inspire me for the future.
The yarn community is a tight-knit (badum-tish!) one. If you run a yarn-related event, it’s possible that there are people you have never met, possibly living far away, who would love to attend if only they could. A good event gives its attendees a good experience, but some events also have a positive impact on people who aren’t even there. They create ripples beyond the group of ticketholders and build a wider community. I believe that this doesn’t happen by accident, but by the will of individuals to share generously, to interact and to make connections with each other. These values were at the heart of The Muse Connection, Edinburgh Yarn Festival and #bedinburghyarnfest.
I’ve realised that I don’t necessarily have to be at an event in order to gain from it taking place. It’s all about engaging in a positive way. I’ve also realised that by sharing my experiences at the events I am lucky enough to attend, I might be able to help someone else conquer their FoMO. Here’s to sharing!
Edinburgh Yarn Festival will be taking place again in 2016 (dates to be confirmed). Sign up to their visitor mailing list here for more details when they are announced.
Volume 2 of The Muse Connection is taking place in London on 21 June 2015, but is already sold out! Look out for Volume 3. You can sign up to their mailing list here.
#bedinburghyarnfest has not announced future dates, but I believe that plans may be in the pipeline!