The Opinionated Listener.

I’m back on the topic of knitting podcasts, since of late I’ve been sampling many, liking some, rejecting more.

First, I have to say that telling a non-knitter that I listen to knitting podcasts is much like telling someone that I enjoy watching pots boil or grass grow.  I’ve given up trying to explain that the best podcasters provide a mix of knitting talk (which is, I’m sorry, very enjoyable to me) with discussion of all manner of other topics, including literary fiction, independent films and music, local color, or just pieces of life that are charming and interesting.   Whatever.

Anyway, in all this listening, I’ve thought a lot about why I either immediately like a podcast, take a while to warm up to it, or reject it out of hand.  I’ve developed some do’s and don’ts for folks who are inclined to record their spoken thoughts and opinions for posterity.  Said folks may never read this, but I’ll feel better if I voice my thoughts, nonetheless.

1.  Do podcast with a partner.  I tend to like the “buddy” format because if the two personalities mesh well, the podcast becomes almost like being involved in a lovely chat with your girlfriends.  Stash n Burn and Doubleknit are both great examples of this format done very well.  The hosts obviously think things out somewhat beforehand, and stay on topic without drifting off into hysterical tangents or total thematic breakdown.  Even so, they sound natural and conversational, with thoughtful pauses or logical breaks before moving to the next item on the agenda.

2.  Unless you’re Brenda Dayne, in which case you can do whatever you want.  Brenda has it nailed – her professional production standards, voice, creativity, writing, music …  yeah.  I hope Brenda is back soon.  She’s been taking a break to deal with some difficulties.  I miss her!

3.  Whether you podcast with a partner or alone, I’m not so much interested in fits of giggles, vulgarity, sexual innuendo, or TMI about you, your spouse, or your friends.  I know – that’s the beauty of choice!  But I suspect you’ll have more listeners if you skip this stuff and stick to your knitting.

4.  Starting a podcast with an announcement that you have nothing to say is not exactly inspiring.

5.  Please, I like children well enough, but I don’t download a podcast and use up bandwidth so I can hear your kid vamp into the microphone.

6.  If you’re going to conduct a telephone interview with a designer, please pay attention to sound quality.  Sometimes these can be a real disaster, other times they work out great, but some testing would not be a bad thing.  Kelley Petkun’s podcast does a good job with phone interviews, generally.

7.  My favorite topics include your experiences with different yarns, different patterns, and different techniques.  I love hearing about pros and cons, challenges, successes, and even failures.  Not only is this educational, it’s also reassuring to hear other knitters talk through these topics.  Brenda’s “Today’s Sweater” is a favorite, but I like hearing about whatever anyone is knitting.

8.  I’ve had a lot of trouble warming up to certain pedantic, “I’m so fabulous” voices.  All podcasters, by the nature of this genre, are talking to some extent about themselves and their experiences, but some people have the knack of talk about themselves while still being charmingly self-effacing and interested in the anonymous audience, while others give the impression that this discussion is all about them and we should just be happy to have the privilege of listening in.  Feh.  Oh, and if you’re one of these people, please don’t interrupt your podcasting partner or correct them constantly.  Maybe we’d rather hear from your other half.

9.  Please don’t read your content to us.  The most interesting content becomes flat and lackluster when it’s read.  Talk to us – it’s OK if you aren’t word perfect!

10.  Don’t disappear!  It’s so depressing when good podcasters stop.  OK, I totally understand that these folks are podcasting with their own funds, on their own time, and have other lives and jobs…  so I really don’t and can’t mean this as a criticism.  But I do hope the good podcasters find enough listener support to keep up the great work.

On that note, I recommend checking out Doubleknit Podcast – Erin and Jessica have completed 10 podcasts thus far.  I have listened to every one, and I give them two thumbs up!  They know their knitting, plus they work in a yarn store so they have access to new products and patterns.  They are personable and easy to listen to, and (bonus) in each ‘cast they do segments on literature and film, with very thoughtful discussions of both.

This is a pair we want to keep on the air, so please give them a listen!

Happy Friday all!



Filed under Everyone is Entitled to My Opinion

10 responses to “The Opinionated Listener.

  1. I have listened to some podcasts off and on but its not really my thing. I tried Lime & Violet but couldn’t see the appeal.

  2. Thank you for the suggestions. I tend not to listen to podcasts, but it might be something to try while fishing. 😀 Happy Friday Nora!

  3. Brenda Dane had some fabulous pod casts in the beginning but I stopped listening to any others as they are dim and tiring. I’ll give your recommendation a try.

  4. I listened to cast on for a while, but really? I don’t like listening to my /friends/ talk for that long. 😉

  5. Well said!

    The four you listed are the only ones I listen to. I’m surprised that Doubleknit doesn’t seem to be very well known – but maybe because it’s fairly new.

  6. Well done, Nora.

    Podcasts aren’t something I’ve ever tried. I was warned about that TMI show and was that was enough for me. I’d rather knit with Mark Harmon.


  7. I’ve never tried any podcasts, but you have certainly given some good information about what does and does not work.

    Also, I loved yesterday’s entry and the comments!

  8. FANTASTIC post. I’ve drafted one like it many times in my head but it came off sounding bitchy. Yours didn’t. And I will go check out doubleknit immediately because I love Stash n Burn – you’re right, the format works.

    Did you check out Sticks and String? I think he could use a partner. i don’t really listen anymore. Very samey.

  9. Thanks for the recommendation. I’ve been off podcasts for a while, but I’ll check out doubleknit. I also like Craft lit–Heather has a beautiful voice, like Brenda, and she is quite pro. I like the balance of listening to a story, her smart comments about the story, and her craft talk. It’s like listening in on a really fantastic book club. My only problem is that I don’t listen regularly enough to keep up!

  10. Beverly

    I also enjoy Brenda and Doubleknit. I have also found Knit together

    to be entertaining. If you are not religious, you just need to stop about 2 minutes from the end as they do a pray at the end. All in all it is nice and informative.

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