Knit Casts

Update 2/10/12:  So now it is years later. am I still listening to knitting podcats? I am! The same ones? Well, a bunch of them have “pod faded”, meaning they dropped away, either consciously with fanfare or just through the attrition of Life. I think it must be very hard to keep up that committment weekly/bimonthly/monthly. Any less than monthly and you won’t have much of an audience . . . Also, I think the knitcast boom has peaked and waned.

So to revisit, my #1 favs, Lime’nViolet, blew up in a big scandal! SOAP OPERA! The charismatic Violet turned out to be a serial n’er-do-well, a woman with a long trail of artistic subscription money ventures (scrap-booky art journals, scented oils, soaps, hand-dyed yarn clubs) that she launched, nurtured to dynastic levels, torched, and then fled in a flurry of BS lies (sordid affairs, leaving husband, moving across country, “death threats”, “boob rocks”, daily high drama) with pockets full of cash, having broken hundreds if not thousands of hearts and budgets. I never gave them any money but it was so disheartening to feel that someone so utterly engaging and fun to listen to turned out to be such a heartless grifter. Sociopath? How she could live with herself otherwise. Really sad . . .

On a happier note, stable and brilliant Brenda Dayne of Cast On is going strong, if at a slightly less regular pace. Maintains the highest standards of excellence. U go, nit mama!

Sticks and String is chugging along at such a prodigious pace of output that I can’t keep up with listening! I’m really far behind but I think David Reidy is great and will hang in there to catch up to him.. His rigor and discipline and joie de vivre are infectious.

Guido Stein (It’s a Purl, Man) is still a nice guy but doesn’t podcast that much (since two years ago?) and doesn’t really have the drive or aesthetic sense to build the listening experience. I’ve was  bored with him even a few years ago.

Marly of Yarn Thing moved on to become a crochet book author and luminary. Congrats!

Sweaters for Dragons is gone, Eric having returned to grad school. wishing eric well and in the best of possible senses, that is a good thing. It was a VERY boring podcast, well-meaning but stiff and insular and tone-deaf to how lame it was. I had heard Eric on L&V before and he was very funny with them (charming Violet is nothing if not a story-teller and conversationalist), but by himself, not so much. When he started reading Edgar Allan Poe to us instead of discussing his knitting—he was always desperately asking the listeners what he should talk about—- he lost me/everyone. He really really really needed a partner to podcast with.

Knitters Uncensored podfaded . . . as German life evidently ate up knitcast opportunities?

Y Knits is gone. Only had a few shows but they were very good. I wish him/them well.

Stash and Burn continues to be just wonderful, personable and infinitely informative.

I finally made a large square of gigabyte space on my computer by erasing the megamillion unheard “Yarn Rambles: Knitpicks Podcast by Kelley Petkun of Knit Picks yarn and knitting company. I order from and really like Knitpicks (great needles, love my Harmonies, very good prices) but I’m sorry to say that Kelley is just too much for me. Don’t get me wrong. she seems unfailingly nice and capable, indeed, is a force of nature who probably gets more done in a morning than I do in a week. She whips through techniques and histories and stitches and projects like a Martha Stewart on crack. Kudos to her but . . . I finally realized that I just can’t relate.  She, frankly, exhausts rather than inspires me. Also, I don’t like her stupid dog. Or her over-enunciated voice.

Oooooh, snap!

(Sorry to be so harsh, Kelley. You are uber-amazing. It’s me. I’m a terrible person.)

On that horrible note, previously, in 2008 . . . .  I had said:

Right after I started knitting, I started listening to knitting podcasts. I love them. With a lot of walking around and train time in my week, regular knitting (and lots of other) podcasts and audible books fill my pod. Having given most of the knitcasts a good listen, I definitely have my preferences. I’ll report on those here.

I should start by saying that I am completely supportive of anyone who dips their toes in the water. It’s not easy to make that time and money commitment. Some of my work (theatre, socialjustice, uh . . . knitting!) EATS time and money so I appreciate that. On the other hand, some people put in the sustained energy to best channel their natural gifts (knowledge, experience, personality, organizational skill), and do so with synchrony and elegance. That integration is what makes a great podcast. I want to highlight these.

Some knitting podcasts are lacking in one or more of these areas but have sincerity, or spunk, or some other appealing quality. This can go a long way. Or not.

Some knitting podcasts have podfaded (stopped podcasting), but have done so with clarity and dignity. These may be disappointing (I have one particular excellent example in mind) but we can understand changing priorities and commitments. Some people just abruptly stop and that is such a bummer.

Some knitting podcasts are so boring that I can’t listen or I haven’t learned much so I leave. I always try to listen to severalshows before deciding but even so sometimes I’m defeated. Maybe a show just doesn’t grab me. The deal breaker used to be poor speaking (lots of paralanguage: “um” “uh”; dropping the ends of sentences, etc.) or too much silly giggling but I eventually found that even some hebephrenic mumblers have interesting things to say. I would say that the key element I am looking for these days is a compelling narrative woven with useful information. The first podcaststhat I will showcase are notable in their eloquence, as well as a charismatic dispersal of joy and art.

Anyway, let’s learn about new and interesting podcasts together. I’ll feature (I say feature . . . these are not reviews! I mean, who am I to tell you who you might like?) a few from time to time and you put in your two cents. Maybe I’ll turn you on to some good ones. Maybe you’ll bring me back to give one a second listen. Maybe you’ll turn me on to someone I haven’t run across yet.

These are not numbered as a rating, but in order of how I discovered them and integrated then into my regular knitcast listening schedule.

So, on to the featured knitpods:

#1- The first knitting podcast I ever heard spoiled me terribly for others. It was, ta da, (wait for it!) . . . Lime and Violet! These wild women may wax wacky but they definitely know their knitting and thrive on their high-fiber diets! They are energetic, unexpurgated, earthy, passionate humans with infinite stories to tell, and tell, and tell. I was hooked from the get-go, never fail to learn from each episode, and, moreover, to care about their flushed, overstuffed lives that basically seem to reel from precipice to precipice. Caveat: not for the faint of needles or delicate of sensibilities. The carnival of grotesques never stops: Sideshow Husband, Kiltboy, Hairy Moley Man, various featured co-dependents, et al. Topics range from legendary yarnstashes to impossible projects to the caffeine du jour to knitting celebrity sightings to the mucal encrustations surrounding their myriad dogs’ anuses. Great stuff, eh? Miss Violet is the entrepreneurial Goth perkpot of their burgeoning empire and La Donna Lima is the sultry brainy foil. Note: musky minx Lime has been on life intervention sabbatical from the broadcast recently but, in the interim, L & V have enlisted rising knitnet star Alcariel to enable Violet’s java-induced rants. However, never fear, Alcariel AKA “Poop Nurse” B nutz 2! Highly recommended but, be warned: these heartland hotties will seduce you with sassy random repartee, yarn porn, and drunken hi-jinks, then devour your brains and replace them with wool. “Everyone here is . . . mad!” [A subtitle could be: “ADD Knitting with Doghair.”]

#2- Cast On with Brenda Dayne, the Expatriated Wonderwench of Wales, was the second knitting podcast I discovered. Lime & Violet played heavenly music sound effects whenever her name was reverently invoked so, naturally, I was intrigued and had to give her a listen. My goddess. I fell in love. Loved that voice. Loved that style. Loved that mind. Still do. Await her every casting with bated breath. If L & V represent the tenacious taffy that you can’t scrape off the roof of your mouth, then La Brenda is that first AM cup of steaming sludge that quivers your gizzard and curdles your girdle. The Gold Standard of Knit Pod-nificence. Brenda Dayne can weave an instructive yarn like no one else.  And she so clearly knows her stuff. A designing woman, she of the Mrs. Beeton’s wristwarmers and Brother Amos socks, methinks Dame Dayne has infinite tricks to impart as long as she can and will impart them. The down side: after listening to Brenda, everyone else sounds like somebody’s kid sister. This podcast is required listening for anyone with aspirations to comprehensive knitpod punditry. Or just if you wanna grin while knittin’! [The highest recommendation. Alternate moniker could be: “A Dayne in Wales With Rushin’ Fingers.”]

#3- What led me to Sticks and String, virtual home of affable Aussie David Reidy? Hmm, I forgot . . . must have been Brenda? Anyway, I’m certainly glad I found it! David is a solid bloke with a mellow croak. He is also a formidable knitter who brings his scientific theory to his string (“string theory”, get it?) with aplomb and elan. The Sticks and String podcast is widely admired for hitting the mark every time; it is well-organized, chock-full of excellent information, features spot-on knitunes,  wields insightful essays, and leaves one humming a little ditty of satisfaction. The most recent series has featured informative interviews amongst Australian fiber industry professionals and David’s ambitious and well-received Easter Show “Henry” jumper. Between the cats, the blue-tongued lizards, the llamas, and the paintball competitions, one is cosseted in a swirl of experiencing Australia and the thriving fiber scene at Chez David. Best, spending those easy, anticipated, reliable podmoments with David is like being with the cool big brother that you have always admired, who always gives you the best of himself. Learning from the corporeal David, aren’t David’s students in Australia lucky? [Highly recommended. An alternate title could be “Fishing for Wool.” (For you dummies, that’s “carpe lanam” in American!)]

#4- Unwound with Kelli Robinson. This twelve-episode podfaded as of 5/14/2007 but with such grace, agony of forethought, and dignity that none could but regretfully wish Kelli well. This little-podcast-that-could was simplicity itself. The charm lay in Kelli Robinson’s clarity, knowledge of her craft, and delightful ideas for sharing knitting and knowledge with all within her purview. As a legal professional and newlywed, albeit a young whirlwind of love and energy, Kelli finally had to admit that life was intervening. These twelve episodes are highly recommended as happy moments to spend with knitting gal-palKelli. Warning: you’ll want more. Maybe she’ll come back some day? You potential podfaders out there: if you commit the next-to-ultimate sin (#1 is boring everyone), do it like Kelli and your karma will remain klear.

#5- It’s Purl, Man is the brainchild of Guido Stein. Guido Stein is a nice guy. There, I said it. GUIDO STEIN IS A NICE GUY! This fact leaps immediately to the ear and is the glue that holds this unpolished (although he’s polishing a bit more lately) but compelling show together. A “Boston knitter with yarn issues”, Guido jumped into the knit podcasting scene with both feet, needles akimbo, and has never looked back. Technically adept (at least relative to other knitcasters!), he’s now hosting live “knitcasts” where knitters do live-chat KALs on Yahoo and chime in as he is recording. Part of the charm and interest in It’s a Purl, Man lies with Guido’s unpretentious curiosity about all things knit-wise. In addition, Guido is a networker. Lord knows this man was born to make great connections, probably explaining the waves of love that undulate across the Net when knitizens utter his name. Moreover, he’s funny, he gets great interviews, is a social knitting activist, an avid knitter-in-public, and generally has unlimited zest for putting people together for yarn crawls, celebrity events, etc, etc. What we can learn from this knitcasthas less to do with yarn and techniques—though Guido certainly knows his stuff and is always working on some very cool project— and more with the social dynamics that surround knitters and the global knitting community. Let’s put it this way, some podcasts are all business, organized with fluidity and transition, looking to the bottom information line. Guido runs more of a Mom-and-Pop yarn shop, with a few unpainted walls and partially stocked shelves. The cat is lying in the yarn bin and Guido’s Punkin is keeping a happy eye on the register from the back.  And Guido, well, Guido is out on the sidewalk chatting with the customers about their knitting . . . and his knitting . . . while knitting. It’s a Purl, Man is a family enterprise with heart. May the doors never close. [Recommended regular listening. Another name for this show might be: “Two Skeins is Enough.”]

#6- Yarn Thing, hosted by Marly. Gnarly Marly is quite a hooker. Uh, what I mean to say is, Marly really loves her some crochet . . . and is to be underestimated at one’s peril. At first listen, Yarn Thing is a giggle with your best girlfriend, curling irons in hand and caramel popcorn stuck to your boob at the overnight PJ party. Fun stuff, but hardly a forum for craft-forward consciousness, right? Wrong, wrong, and double wrong! Marly conceals hooks of steel in that crocheted yarnball and, moreover, is a woman with a mission: to re-brand crochet as “the next cool thing.” Crochet has been the poor, pitiful stepchild to knitting for far too long. But whither the transformative trope? Marly’s weapon lies in showcasing the edgy artists of light, lacy, contemporary crochet and the top crochet zines, all wrapped up in the pure, undeniable power of unbridled enthusiasm. Simply put, on continued listening Marly becomes hard to resist. It doesn’t hurt a bit that beneath the laughter and modesty, she is a natural storyteller. All in all, this is the kind of effective approach—to promote crochet alongside knitting, to tickle your funnybone, to dazzle you with new crochet possibilities—that will push even staunch resisters to explore the dusky delights of mono-needling. Yes, Yarn Thing is one of those knitcasts that may require a couple of listenings to catch the vibe, but the rewards are great: boatloads of juicy information, regular KAL/CAL orgies of yarny excess, news of crochet trends and milestones, killer interviews with c-superstars and industry leaders. Be not deceived, Marly is ambitious and moving up fast; I hear she’s thick with those ultra-vixens at Vogue Knitting. I smell a paradigm-changing new crochet book on her horizon! Miss Thing is on the rise. [Commendable listening. When the show is syndicated in Japan, it will be called Gyaa! Amimono da! (A burst of laughter, and the Japanese word for knitting/crochet, literally “yarn/knit thing”)].

#7-Stash and Burn. Coming up next!

#8- Knitters Uncensored. Coming soon.

#9- Yarn Rambles, the KnitPicks Podcast. Coming soon.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Yarn Thing
    May 02, 2008 @ 00:11:50

    I can’t wait to read what you write about mine…I am nothing like Brenda. I am a little more like L&V but much more low key…and I do giggle.

    Makes me wonder…do I really want to know what you think of mine? LOL



  2. miss violet
    May 21, 2008 @ 23:26:24

    Dude, seriously — I am TOTALLY putting “entrepreneurial Goth perkpot” on my business cards.

    Thank you so much for the review, and moreover, thanks for listening! Consider this your virtual pouncehug.



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