My ethnography project

My ethnography project can be found here!


18 Responses to “My ethnography project”

  1. Sibylle Ratz says:


    This again was a really interesting ethnography (I’m finding them all extremely interesting). I liked the personal introduction with you speaking as the ethnographer, I think that really brought out the reflexive point of view. It was also very neatly put together. I was amazed at how people blogged about their very intimate personal details (very different to my cat’s group). People seem to trust each other very much. It might also have to do with the age group, I wonder whether there is quite a high proportion of elderly people in this group?

  2. Sarah Payne says:

    Hi Sibylle

    Thanks for you comments. I am glad that you liked my vlog – I must admit to feeling a bit strange talking to my laptop in a closed room!

    I was amazed at how people blogged about their very intimate personal details (very different to my cat’s group).

    I was also surprised at the intimate details people put on their blogs. I did do a spot poll where I attempted to ascertain the approximate age of the blogger. I refrained from adding this to my ethnography because it was so ‘random’ and therefore completely unscientific.
    I found that ALL of the bloggers I checked at random belonged to women – I didnt find a single man in the 30-40 blogs I sampled. I would imagine that this is related to the subject matter, because thought there are male quilters out there they are few and far between and didnt appear in my sample. As to the age groups, I split them into rough ages (0-40, 40-60 & 60+) according to the information they supplied (inc pictures). This is obviously full of issues but I guessed at:
    0-40 – 30% (most being 30-40 – i didnt find any obviously below 20)
    40-60 – 50%
    60+ – 20%
    What was suprising was that some of the most intimate postings (including the one shown with the sick family member) were from people who appeared to be over 60. So Sibylle you may be correct that it is a generational thing! I was actually suprised at the number of ‘over 60’s’ bloggers because you expect blogging to be a young thing. Perhaps all the young people are too busy tweeting to blog!

  3. silvanad says:

    Hi Sarah,

    Your ethnography is fantastic! I really enjoyed exploring it and what a rich community. I was amazed how they had found a way to physically swop pieces of quilting – the real world interacting with the virtual. I found it interesting that a group focused on a physical ‘real world’ craft found the time to interact online. And they seemed such a lovely group. Your presentation of the community and your interweaving of the literature was extremely well-done. Congratulations.

    P.S. I know one over 65 male quilter who started quilting upon retirement after he found an old quilting pattern book that belonged to his grandmother. He is colour-blind but that doesn’t stop him. His wife or people that run the quilting shop he goes to help him pick out the colours.

    Also I couldn’t see the vlog that Sibylle mentioned. There was a blank square area at the beginning where I guess it was located.

  4. silvanad says:

    Just another point about the woman who started the group. She seems a very warm, generous person unlike the dictatorial founder of the Sibylle’s cat group, the political rivalry of Bill’s group and the strange persona of my David of Davidsfarm. I think there is something about the founders of these virtual communities that set the tone of the community.

  5. Sarah Payne says:

    Hi Silvana

    “I was amazed how they had found a way to physically swop pieces of quilting – the real world interacting with the virtual. “

    I was also impressed at how the two worlds (the realand the virtual) seem to meet quite nicely. Though thinking about this I suppose that it is harldy surprising when the ‘knowledge’ that glues this community together (quilting) can only exist in the real world. They do indeed appear to be a lovely group – and a very authenitic group in that they share very real stories, hopes and dreams in quite an ‘old fashioned’ way. By that I mean that the conversations seem to mirror the real world face to face conversations that would have taken place a 100 years ago between a group of women working on a real quilt. This face to face conversation has now become virtual, but not any less real!

  6. Sarah Payne says:


    I am sorry you can’t see my Vlog. This is the page access directly through Youtube so hope that works better for you.

    I am also glad to hear that there are some male quilters out there – even though my small cross section of blogs didnt succeed in finding any!

  7. jen says:

    Thanks for bringing up issues about lurking, Sarah – the notion that for every visible member of a community there may be many invisible ones does problematise virtual ethnographic research in a way. To me, it’s more of an issue than that of ‘authenticity’ – for the reasons you’ve described well in your blog post ( Also, experiential authenticity, as Hine calls it (p49), requires some sort of symmetry between the ethnographer’s experience of a community and that of the community members. I wouldn’t agree that Hine is arguing that online presence can never be as authentic as offline – I think she’s challenging the notion of authenticity altogether.

  8. andym says:

    I too had to go to Youtube to see your video. However, not only did you offer an insight of the world of quilting, you also gave me an insight to vlogging. Given one of your observations of the quilting community was how open they were about sharing personal information, how do you feel about broadcasting yourself to the virtual world? In making my video, I actually thought twice about using my own voice – never mind getting the webcam out.


  9. Sarah Payne says:

    Hi Andy

    I am glad that you liked the vlog – and I agree that it was a very strange experience.

    I actually recorded a short ‘practice’ vlog which you can see here to get me used to using the technology. I found it so odd that I ended up putting a smiley face on the webcam to give me a sense of conversation.

    What was unnerving was when I watched it back I realised that I had no make up on! How terrible :) So now I am ‘out there’ in the virtual world, giving my real name and wearing no make up for the whole world to see! Something that seemed transigent has become permanent.

  10. andym says:

    Sarah, in cyberland some gender issues don’t change. Well this virtual bloke never noticed your make up anyway.

    Now we could start a whole new topic – is make up in real world the same concept as hiding behind an avatar in cyberland.

  11. Sarah Payne says:

    Hi Andy

    “Is make up in real world the same concept as hiding behind an avatar in cyberland?”

    oooo nice question that could open up a whole can of worms!!! Why do I wear makeup? Who do I wear it for? What image am I trying to project? Is makeup a feminist issue?

    You have made me think about my SL avatar and how she looks; a slightly taller, slightly thinner version of the real me. Why the need to be more attractive in what is obviously an unreal world? Surely that says more about me than the virtual world?

  12. caroliner says:

    Sarah, really enjoyed your ethnography and thought it was very well presented!

  13. sibyller says:

    Hi Sarah,

    Just another thought on age and the internet. I feel that people of different ages do use the internet in different ways and the fact that the members of the quilting group are older would certainly make a difference in the way they relate to each other. It’s not only age though, I think it has even more to do with how mobile they are and also how much time they have. If they are pensioners maybe living on their own and finding it hard to get out they will view their online group much more as a community then if they are people who have a large social network anyway.

  14. Sarah, I really enjoyed your ethnography. Not only did it give a really good sense of the community, the interactions, and sharing of that community but it also made me want to spend the rest of the night locked in my craft cupboard with my beads and fabrics and such.

    There were a few things that I thought were quite interesting as someone who also reads craft blogs (or, more often, crafters annotated Flickr streams). I was interested in how crafters presented or photographed their work. I know scrapbook and papercraft and yarn enthusiasts are particularly keen on packaging and presenting their work very precisely and informally form decisions of trust based on items swapped or shared. I noticed that many quilters presented their work in situ – often in a Martha Stewart-esque home setting and I wondered if that was wear masking and self-concious representation was perhaps more likely in this group than in the naming and blogging elements. Not that I am trying to be cynical but I know it is hard to light and photograph craftwork, particularly in soft materials, easily and so some degree of self-consciousness must come into this representation and sharing.

    The other thing I noticed was the changes in trends – you spoke in your vlog about the status of quilting (indeed the timeline you talk through suggests that there could be a very interesting feminist analysis of the position of quilting and crafting over the last 100 years actually) but I was also wondering if the style of quilted objects made. I am not an expert in quilting but I followed one of your links back to your own craft blog (which I loved all the work on btw – beautiful beading in particular!) and it reminded me of some changes in the beading community which have taken place in the last 20 years in which I’ve been making jewellery. In particular the type, cost and style of beads used in the beader community seems to have radically altered from an emphasis on larger chunkier work involving wire, unusual beads, ethnic accents, onto seed bead framed creative work. I like both but my long term experience as a beader had been one of isolation until a real upturn in the popularity of beading: now I can buy beads anywhere but I am surprised by how much seed beads and sewing techniques dominate over wire work and larger bead styles. I have several theories about why this has taken place but I was, to finally get to my point, if the same sorts of trends seem to be visible in the quilting community and if popularity of quilting or discussion tends to cluster around particular styles of work?

    Anyway I really loved the ethnography and need to remember to get crafting again and start photographing more of my craft work as I go (my Flickr craft set ( has become all food and no jewellery!)

  15. Sarah Payne says:

    Hi Nicola

    Thanks for your comments and thanks for visiting my own craft blog – it is nice to know some people are reading it :)

    “it also made me want to spend the rest of the night locked in my craft cupboard with my beads and fabrics and such. ”

    It had a similar effect on me too!

    I agree with you on changing trends over time. I am suddenly finding myself bang on trand with the machine embroidery that I play around with where as 10 years ago I was all on my own! I followed the link to your Flickr site and I love your work too. I adore the red flower (brooch?)!

  16. Glad to know I’m not imagining the strand community/craft trends that go in and out of phase.

    Thanks for looking at my flickr site – that is indeed a brooch. I finally got hold of soluble fabric last year having been trying to find it for years and years so got very over excited embroidering freehand and embroidering with the soluble fabric as an extra safety layer on leather pieces hence the brooch. I may go back to knitting and embellishing knitting this christmas… I must start making a “to make” present list in fact….

  17. lesley ferguson says:

    Sarah, I think you have it sussed well done I so enjoyed your presentation! the combination of listening to your explanations and having a visual focus simultaneously worked so well I didn’t want to click the stop button.

    I know nothing about the topic but the way you presented it made me want to listen and watch and learn. I think this has been an excellent learning experience which I for one will try to apply in the classroom setting – thankyou!

  18. Sarah Payne says:

    Hi Lesley

    Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for your comments. It made me go back and watch it again (which I find is always a disconcerting experience). It was only a few weeks ago but so much work has been done since then that it seems an age ago!

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