Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Testing Out Some Knitting Podcasts

From Katherine Jane:

I tend to approach most aspects of life with what my loved ones refer to as "a complete lack of moderation." So when in May I came across a series of podcast recommendations on the delightful blog Charminglochie, I immediately signed up for the ones she mentioned: Stash and Burn, Yarncraft, Knitting Nora's Knitting Natter, Doubleknit, and Berroco.

But then, as with many such endeavors, there came the sinking realization that I had bitten off more than I could chew. I suddenly had hundreds hours of unlistened-to knitting chatter sitting on my computer--and every day more episodes were added to the list. It was a little overwhelming.

So, to fight back against the rising tide, I decided on a plan of action. I would listen to exactly one episode of each of the five podcasts, and take notes on what I heard. Then, based entirely on my notes, I would make my decision on which podcasts to stay subscribed to. Was this scientific? Heck no! After all, the episode I picked could be an "off" day, or a day where the podcasters were trying something new. But it was a plan, and I would just have to hope that the episode I pulled at random out of each podcast pile was somewhat representative of the whole.

With that disclaimer in mind, my thoughts on all the podcasts I sampled:

YarnCraft is a podcast put out by the Lionbrand company, and hosted by two women named Liz & Zontee.
The episode started with them discussing their own projects. Then they played listener comments; an older woman told a sweet story about her grandmother, someone called in with a crochet-hook gauge suggestion, and then came a question about what to make for bridesmaids, especially in August. This led to a larger discussion between Liz and Zontee about what to make for weddings. Among the things they suggested were shawls for bridesmaids, a basket for the flower girl, and a ring bearer pillow cover. Next came their "Stash This" segment, where they discussed dyeing your own colors, with a focus on what yarn and dyes to use, and how to get the dyes to set. The sound quality throughout was a little echoey.
Conclusion: There were some good tips here, and the last segment really made me want to get back into yarn dyeing. The focus is definitely on Lionheart patterns and yarns, but Liz and Zontee obviously know their stuff and enjoy sharing tips and pattern recommendations. Having such a focus on listener feedback is a nice touch.

Stash and Burn
Stash and Burn is hosted by Nicole and Jenny.
The two woman are very bubbly. Nicole and Jenny have a very lighthearted and unscripted-sounding banter, just kind of gossiping back and forth. They talked about their own projects, sewing as well as knitting. Then they got into a long discussion of various yarn stores in the East Bay Area, describing their recent shopping experiences. They ended the podcast talking about the various famous people that can be found on Ravelry, mentioning Michael Stype from REM and even Alice Cooper. As for sound quality, there was a strange growling noise in the background periodically--perhaps traffic going past.
Conclusion: This is a fun podcast, but probably would be more useful for me personally if I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Knitty Nora's Knitting Natter
This is an English podcast, and Knitty Nora has a delightful accent.
The episode started off with a jaunty tune called "knitty" by Arthur Rasky, which I loved right off the bat. Then Knitty Nora announced, "We're going to a party!", and bundled the recorder off to a 10th anniversary party at her local knit shop. The sound quality was erratic at best; you could hear Nora breathing into the microphone, and the sound level varied between loud and soft. Nora interviewed a series of women and it was occasionally impossible to hear what they were saying. Somehow, however, this all came off as quirky and charming. Nora asked lots of rhetorical questions and then paused as if to wait for your response, and she seems prone to saying things like, "Pop on your glad rags and your lippy, even the blokes among you, if you fancy!"
Conclusion: Bizarre and hilarious, this warmed my heart and thoroughly tickled my inner Anglophile.

The Doubleknit podcast is hosted by two women, Erin and Jessica.
The episode started with a lively blast of rock music, and then Erin and Jessica jumped right in. The two covered a wide variety of subjects, including movies and tv shows. Their banter was very unscripted, and the two definitely expected their listeners to have heard previous podcasts, referring to ongoing projects and a contest they were hosting. They had some interesting insights about Cascade yarn and how the colors are improved through process of consumer feedback, and talked critically about the new Interweave and Knit One magazines. My favorite little moment was when the women talked about how the term "five stitch stique" is hard to say--one of the obstacles of podcasting! The sound quality was good but not perfect--there was a light background air noise throughout that could be distracting.
Conclusion: Had the most "insidery" feel of everything I listened to; sounds like the podcast has a devoted following.

It turns out the Berroco podcast is actually a video podcast--and it's fabulous! Every episode is under 6 minutes, and teaches a specific technique. The videos are very clear and easy to follow. This was a lovely surprise; I love the Berroco blog, and this series is promises to be a useful little treat that I will look forward to.
Conclusion: If you like the idea of a video podcast, you can't go wrong with something this short and useful.

Final Conclusion:
In the end, I'm probably only going to stay subscribed to Knitty Nora's Knitting Natter and Berroco. All the other podcasts definitely had their good points, for sure, but those were the two that stuck out for me the most: Berroco for its usefulness, and Knitty Nora for her delightful strangeness. But depending on what you're looking for in a podcast, any of the others might be right for you! (And meanwhile, Charminglochie has suggested even more podcasts...!)

Readers: Do you have a favorite knitting podcast? Did I get anything wrong in my extremely unscientific tour through these podcasts? Let us know in the comments!

-Katherine Jane


Katherine Jane Arathoon lives in New York City and occasionally guest blogs for Knitting Out Loud. She also blogs at Between Ewe And Me.


Village Books said...

Thanks for doing this! Very useful! How the hell do you have time to do any of it?

Hear you're going to be on WERU too! wooHoo!

Knitting Out Loud said...

Katherine, our blogger-in-chief, wrote this review! Yes, I'll be on WERU Thursday Sept 3rd at 10am.

Judy said...

This review is so helpful! I listen to podcasts but had not heard of these. The podcast I never miss is Cast On, with Brenda Dayne. Her website is -- She an American living in Wales and she's very professional and very interesting. Also there's David Reidy, who podcasts from Australia; his podcast is called Sticks and String ( Enjoy!

Christine Olea said...

I too enjoy Cast On with Brenda Dayne immensely. It is really the only podcast I listen to. Partly because she plays whole songs, usually two or three and episode, and her taste in music is right up my alley.

Mary said...

I have to agree I love Cast On with Brenda Dayne and Sticks and String with David Reidy (I love his accent)

katty said...

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kimberly said...

I consider this blog very interesting, most of all because i would like to lean kniting, i think is a good activity that i can practice in my free time. In fact now i will have a lot of free time for me, because i will get a house throw costa rica homes for sale and i really liked the style that i chose.