Saturday, January 22, 2011

Knitting Podcasts

    I think that over the past two years I have listened to almost every knitting podcast out there.  And I really like very few of them.  Not sure why.  Maybe I was lucky to discover Brenda Dayne's  Cast On early in the game, and that set the bar really high, so consequently much that followed has been disappointing.  Maybe I just don't really like the genre, and I keep trying to find the perfect podcast, but in actuality I just don't like listening to short dis-jointed productions about other folks knitting frustrations.
    There are several things I do know about the podcasts that I enjoy.  I like single person podcasts.  I have tried some that have two  participants and I never like them, even though according to iTunes they are extremely popular.  I like good music.  Not all podcasts have music, but many have music that really sucks.   Sticks and Strings, about a bloke who knits from Australia,  has great music, as does Cast On, and it has good variety as well.
      If I am listening to a knitting podcast I want it to be about knitting. Both Cast on and Sticks and Strings have a lot of knitting content and just enough personal content to make the podcaster human without divulging every deep dark secret about their personal life.  I know that David Reidy teaches at a secondary school and has two cats named Tigger and Tiger and I know Brenda Dayne lives in Wales with her partner Tania.  Do I need to know more?  No, not really.  Coincidentally both podcasts often have book recommendations along with knitting content, and I am usually not a fan of their book choices.
     I like a podcast that is easy to listen to.  It needs good quality sound and a podcaster who can pronounce all the words they are saying.  I once, and only once, listened to a podcast by a youngish woman somewhere in the mid-west.  It was obvious she never even attempted to find the proper pronunciation of anything.  Not only that, she didn't really have a good grasp of the English language.  It might have been funny if it had not been so very sad.  Though it was excruciatingly awful to listen to, I got as far as the fifth time she used the word "tutoral" for the word "tutorial".  This particular episode was about on-line tutorials of knitting processes.  It had the potential to be pretty interesting as there are many on-line tutorials and youtube videos, and their quality varies considerably. But I just could not listen to all of it, and I would not have trusted her judgement. 
    Perhaps my current favorite podcast is Fiber Beat.  It is by a guy from California called WonderMike.    This guy has it all.  Great sound quality, fiber smarts, good connections and knitting videos.  He usually interviews some knitting/fiber rockstar and, though the interviews are obviously a bit staged, they are always interesting and fun.  And the music is to die for.  I do not know how this guy digs up the sound bites that he has on the show, but they are always great.
    I need to mention two other podcasts that I listen to regularly;  Spin Doctor and The Electric Sheep.  Spin Doctor has improved over the past year.  The first time I listened I almost said never again... but I persevered and the show quality, sound quality and content has improved.  I even joined the Ravelry group and plan to participate in a spinning exploration of rare breeds over the next year.  The Electric Sheep is pretty silly.  It has some knitting content that is interesting, but it is the voice that I like.  This woman was in one of my classes at Knit Camp in Scotland and she just has the voice of an angel; a very refined British accent, crisp and clear and you can bet she never mispronounces anything.
     I am not here to tell you about the podcasts that I do not like.  Quite honestly one of the things that I dislike about some podcasts is the "reviews" of fiber related items.  I think the knitting world is just too small to do that.   The person whose fiber or equipment you are reviewing is apt to be listening, and to be really offended if you give it a bad review.  I'm not here to "review" podcast, just to tell you about the ones I like. Some of the most popular knitting podcasts are among the ones I like the least.  After all "one man's trash is another man's treasure".

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A New Year

     2011 looks to be a good year.  Last year was just fine, as years go, and I am hoping that all goes well this year.  I have some exciting knitting and spinning plans for 2011; classes to take, projects to complete and events to attend.  Maybe I will even keep my blog updated so whoever reads this can come back at me in December and remind me what I had planned!
    Classes to take...  At this time the only ones I have on my schedule are a three day Nancy Bush class at Northeast Fiber Arts in Williston VT which is happening in March and Squam Art Workshops in June.  I have long been a fan of Nancy Bush.  Because I love history, particularly textile history, she is my superstar.  I own all her books and have knit many of her patterns.  I particularly love her articles in Piecework Magazine. When I was at Knit Camp last summer I got to have breakfast with Nancy a few mornings, and we reminisced about our long phone calls when I was in Alaska and I called her for yarn and patterns, and well... conversation.  It was in the days before knitting was popular, and not too many people on the island where I lived actually knit. So I am pretty excited about those classes.  And in June I am going to Squam Art Workshops for the first time.  I have read about it in the past , but it is a kind of pricey event so I never really investigated too too seriously. This year I decided to just do it.  I actually visited the Rockywold/Deephaven Camps where Squam Art Camps is held last Fall when I was investigating locations for my daughter's wedding.  Although it was a perfect venue, our date was not available. I am taking three classes, and surprisingly, they are not all knitting classes.  I am taking Block Printing, The Perfect Sweater with Ysolda Teague and Botanical Printing.  I actually have a college degree in Printmaking, but haven't done anything with it in the past 40 years, so I guess it is time to plunge back into it!  In addition to these fun events I am looking into a class with Cookie A and Anne Hanson that will be held in Albany in February.  Since we are in the middle of a big blizzard I have not heard whether there is space available in that class.
     Projects to complete... I'm kinda screwed on this one.  My daughter is getting married in September (9-10-11) so I am knitting shawls, one for the bride, for which I am spinning 2000 yards of white silk/cashmere roving which is to become Nancy Bush's lily of the valley triangle shawl.  Then I am knitting 4 different rectangular lace-weight champagne colored shawls for the bridesmaids.  Screwed?  Yep, for certain.  No other knitting or spinning projects for me this year, at least until September 11!  If I do knit anything else it will be from my own handspun.  Progress so far:  I have spun about half of the silk/cashmere, plied none of it and I have chosen and received approval for all four bridesmaid's shawls, though I have only acquired yarn for one shawl so far.  For anyone who has ever knit for a bride, you know that is one serious obstacle overcome.
   Events... Well, I will undoubtedly attend fewer fiber events than last year. Or maybe not.  New Hampshire Sheep and Wool is a for sure even though the weather is apt to be miserable, and several of my favorite vendors no longer attend, I'll be there.  Maryland Sheep and Wool; that's a thought because my son now attends college in Maryland, but no, I don't think so. Massachusetts Sheep and Wool...for sure. Vermont Sheep and Wool, oh yea...  Last year was great, it's on my birthday, and the new location in Tunbridge, Vermont is wonderful.  Southern Adirondack Fiber Festival; yep, on the List.  Rhinebeck;  nope, not again.  New England Fiber Festival at the Big E in Springfield Mass.  I'll be there.
    2011.. looks like a very good year.  Now I better get back to that damn white roving.  At least it is a dream to spin.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

More 2010

Koolhaas hat by Brooklyn Tweed, knit in Green Mountain Spinnery mystery yarn

Cedar Leaf Shawlette Mountain Colors Bearfoot

Detail; Cedar Leaves

Clapotis for the Clap-o-Tea

Citron in Ball and Skein Lace

Tea Leaves Cardigan  in Madelinetosh Worsted

Upstairs... in Poems Sock Yarn
End of May Hat; Merino/Cashmere , lined in merino/cotton

Wee Shetland Shawl in Smith and Jamieson Spindrift

Handspun/ Navajo Plyed Three Water farm BFL
 Handspun yarn for a sweater 1 lb. mystery roving

Handspun Merino/tencel Spun on Ashford Traditional