I belong to a small online community of UK stitchers which is a subset of the large online stitching community. I met these people online and I met them purely because I cross stitch and when I took up the hobby I was looking for some help and advice. What I got was much, much more than that and more than I ever expected.
We talk pretty much every day on the internet and we laugh with each other, support each other and generally keep each other sane (or as DH would have it, insane). Not only that I've learnt more about cross stitch than I would have ever imagined existed, I've been baptised into the world of hand-dyed fabric, flosses, beading, speciality stitches, etc and I'm well on my way to having more projects than I can complete in a lifetime.
This virtual friendship became a reality a couple of years ago when I went to a GTG in Swindon. I'll admit I was a little apprehensive and DH kept nagging that he should go just in case they turned out to be a bunch of loonies. Well, I left DH at home and they did turn out to be a bunch of loonies but the good thing was, I fit right in!
So this weekend I escaped normal life to head to Kitty's for the latest of these GTG's which involved spending the day with 15 other stitchers, an evening at the pub, overnight at a B&B and shopping at Wye Needlecraft in Bakewell on the Sunday.
It was the first time I've been away on my own since Lia was born and apart from a few twinges I coped just fine without her (and she without me I should add). It's impossible to put down in words the fun we had just looking at what other people had stitched or are stitching and going through each other's stash collections. Only other stitchers will truly understand how much fun that can be (and why my wish list has more than doubled in 48 hours LOL).
But what really makes it special is that there's 35 active members in our online community with an age range of around 40 years. That age range coupled with a range of life experiences and lifestyles means that if we passed each other on the street we wouldn't look twice at each other. But because we've connected virtually and all have a friendship that we're prepared to extend in reality I've got a group of friends that have become one of the first places I turn if I need to talk.
I'm not getting mushy, a lot of them will be reading this, but I know that a large part of what is fun in my life stems from that community and I'm pretty sure every one of them can say the same thing. So roll on 19th August which is the next GTG date and may there be plenty more to come.