REVIEW: My Pick of the Podcasts, Winter/Spring 2018

Hello there!

I hope you're well - thank you so much for joining me again for another crafty chat.  It's so lovely to have you here, knowing that you are passionate about crafts like I am and I can chatter away with you without suffering any eye-rolls or that glazed over look that some friends and family get when I start talking about my latest crafty obsession.  You guys get it and I love that!

That brings me to the focus of today's post: podcasts.  I am a recent convert, having only discovered them about 7 months ago, but they're wonderful!  It's just fantastic to pour a cup of tea, grab your knitting, crochet or whatever craft you fancy, and sit down to welcome a warm, friendly personality into your living room.  The best ones make it feel like they've popped round themselves for a cuppa and a chat.

You may already have heard of podcasts, you may already watch them, you may have no idea what I'm talking about, but I always love discussing podcasts with friends and it would be great to hear your opinions too.


Before we begin - I want to get this tip out there straight away because it is very important.  Do not start with the very first episode of a podcast, particularly if they've been podcasting for a fair while.  I did this with a couple and would have completely disregarded them had I not then tried a more recent one.  The reason is fairly obvious when you think about it.  Imagine sitting down for the first time in front of a camera, ready to put yourself out there publicly, not knowing whether anyone will want to listen, or whether what you've got to say is worth listening to.  You'd be pretty nervous, wouldn't you?  I've found that podcasters get into their stride after a few episodes and relax more, and as a result you enjoy their company more.  One example of this for me was the Yarngasm podcast.  It is one of my absolute favourites but when she first started out Kristin, a natural introvert (as so many knitters are) was nervous and quietly spoken.  Rather than give up there, I skipped forward to her latest episode, some three years later, Ode to Burrata and tried that one.  What a difference! She was positively sparkling, her warm personality shining through and her enthusiasm for her crafts infectious.  Two episodes and I was totally hooked.  I returned to her first episodes and watched the whole lot in sequence.  It took me a few months but I enjoyed every moment.  Now I eagerly anticipate each new episode which, thank goodness, is weekly.

I first came across podcasts through my local knitting group: Pins and Needles.  I am a self-confessed techno-prat (honestly it's a wonder I'm managing to post to a blog!) and naturally shied away from the idea of watching podcasts.  I'd only heard of them in the context of having an ipod, which I don't, and it all sounded terribly complicated.  However, when I suffered a bout of ill health and found myself at home, I took a deep breath and dived in - I'm so glad I did.

For a start, there is absolutely nothing complicated about podcasts.  I've not listened to any of the audio ones - I like the personal quality of the video podcasts which are, if done well, like curling up on the sofa with a good friend for a good old natter.  All you do, is visit YouTube, choose a video and enjoy - simple!  Anyone who has a TV subcription service such as Virgin, for example, can access YouTube via their TV screen, which is a great alternative to having it on an ipad, tablet, or laptop - but those are all options too.

Watching podcasts has opened a whole new world to me as a knitter.  I have knitty friends who I've met through a local knitting group, but there's a whole wide international community of crafters out there just waiting for you to join in the fun and podcasters provide the gateway to this world.

From podcasts I've learned about indie dyers and the gorgeous alternatives to commercial yarns that are out there.  I've seen gorgeous WIPs take shape from designers I'd never heard of.  I've gotten to know the podcasters, even spotting them at yarn festivals (although so far I've been too shy to introduce myself). 

 A lot of podcasters have a presence on instagram and ravelry - a platform for viewers and podcasters to interact with one another. Thanks to the Tea and Possibilities podcast, I've been set up with a penpal in America, so I really am making friends all around the world!  

The podcasters also run KAls (knit alongs), CAls (crochet alongs), SAls (stitch alongs) and more which are great fun to join in with.  This year I'm joining in with Voolenvine's Box o Sox KAl.  Some of them are just for fun and some of them provide the opportunity to win prizes - yay!!  The reviews are also useful.  I've learned about drop-spindling, spinning, sewing, what yarns work best with what projects and so much more!

My Pick of the Podcasts.
#1 Yarngasm Podcast with Kristin AKA Voolenvine

This was not the first one I came across but it is definitely one of my favourites.  Kristin is very warm and smiley and never fails to cheer me up on a tough day.  She podcasts from her home in NY, where she lives with her husband Dennis and her adorable cat Bella.  Young, vibrant, sparky and a self-professed introvert goth, Kristin's podcasts never fail to inspire and her excitement about each new project is infectious.  One of the things I like about her is her practical attitude to knitting.  If she's cast on a project and gets bored of it halfway through she just frogs it.  No worries, no guilt.  If it's not working for you, can it.  How refreshing!

Kristin is not just a knitter and sewist, she also is the indie dyer behind Voolenvine yarns - a brand so popular that you literally have to pounce as soon as her updates go live each week.  I have yet to get some for myself but she has used her yarn for projects on the podcast and they. are. beautiful. In addition to this, she has also released some designs which are just gorgeous.  My favourite is the Oracle shawl.

Isn't it gorgeous?  featuring three colourways, brioche and lace with an icord bind-off it is absolutely stunning and absolutely makes my heart sing!
It's been a joy to follow her journey from podcaster to indie dyer and her honesty and modesty makes this a very relatable podcast.   She shows when things go wrong and shares tips to help your projects go right.  She runs regular knit-alongs and the ravelry group is a great community.
Kristin is also a huge inspiration to me for The Project Bag.  She isn't afraid to tackle new challenges and in a few short years has made a new career for herself as an indie dyer.  She's also inspired me to take up sewing - a whole new dimension to my creative life!

#2 Stranded Podcast with Amy

stranded dyeworks
A British podcast this time - run by the lovely bubbly Amy, another indie dyer with an infectious passion and enthusiasm for all things fibre-crafts.  Amy is such an open person - she talks about the issues that matter to herself and also to her viewers, not just about knitting, but about important issues that affect us every day.  She's been open about her battle with anxiety, and is an ambassador in her own way for breaking the taboo that currently exists about discussing mental health issues.

I never fail to laugh along with Amy during her podcasts.  She does write show notes but often in vain as her stream-of-consciousness style means at any moment you can be whisked off on a random train of thought.  She is also able to laugh at herself but not in that awful self-depreciating way.  In her own words, if you want sensible and logical then Stranded is not the place for you.  No one comes to her podcast for sense!

There once again is a real community feel to her podcast.   She answers questions posed by members of the ravelry group, shares finds from other dyers and makers, and hosts regular knit alongs.  One of my favourites that I definitely want to join in with this year is the festive sock-along!

Stranded festive sockalong Amy shows off two completed socks for her festive collection.

Born of a crazy but totally fantastic idea, this sockalong can't fail to bring joy.  Amy had this wonderful idea of having a whole advent's worth of festive socks.  25 pairs of festive socks, with possibly a 26th scrappy pair for Boxing Day - after all, Boxing Day tends to use Christmas leftovers so what better for boxing day socks than scrappy leftovers from the advent sock collection?  She hasn't quite made it to 25 pairs this year so I reckon she'll be running it again next year and I am so joining in!

#3 Yarn Hoarder Podcast with Amber

not a green screen This is not a green screen!

Back across the pond we go for this joyous podcast with Amber AKA Yarnhoarder.  Her craft room does what it says on the tin - this woman has a stash anyone would be envious of! When my husband first saw me watching this one, he stood staring at the TV for a few moments before slowly asking: "Have you seen her touch that yarn behind her?"  I was a bit perplexed for a moment and then the realisation dawned!  "Yes!" I laughed, "That's not a green screen!" He shook his head in disbelief, stared a while longer, then wandered from the room.

Thanks Amber - he hasn't commented on the size of my stash again!
Once again, Amber is warm and friendly, not afraid to laugh at herself, and talks with modesty and honesty.  Her addiction to yarn is clear to anyone and my goodness is she a prolific knitter!  This podcast is one for you if you like seeing regular FOs.  Once again she's a big sock knitter but she often knits garments too and talks you through the edits she's made to patterns - you can learn a lot from her!  She hosts regular giveaways and KAls and always has something interesting to show you, whether it's a new yarn from an indie-dyer, a new gadget (the tassle maker will blow your mind) or bits and bobs from etsy to give your makes that little something extra.

Amber currently posts every other week, but don't think this means you don't get as much as from a weekly podcast.  Amber's podcasts are never less than an hour and sometimes stretch to two!  Grab your knitting, some treats, and settle down for a long old session of knit and natter!

The Yarnhoarder ravelry group is incredibly active, although she's a busy working mum who also homeschools, she always takes time to check in with instagram and her followers on ravelry and does respond to comments and questions.  With a following as large as hers that's no mean feat.

#4 Tea and Possibilities with Nikki

A relatively new podcast, this one had me hooked from the start.  Nikki has been podcasting since October 2016, occasionally every week, every fortnight over summer, and more recently once a month.  Nevertheless, it's always lovely to enjoy a cup of tea with Nikki, who podcasts now from London.  

Nikki has a lovely warmth to her presenting style and doesn't just discuss knitting and craftiness in her podcast - she has sections about TV and books she enjoys, beauty products she loves, and her Knit and Natter section is always interesting.  

Nikki landed a job this year working for Love Knitting and that seems to have added to her sparkle.  I particularly enjoy her reviews of knitting publications such as PomPom quarterly.

Nikki is great at taking her podcast out and about, vlogging from yarn festivals and sharing her finds.

Another nice thing is the community spirit you get with Nikki.  Her Best Year Ever KAL focused on things that brought her viewers joy.  She has created a great community feel by setting up penpals on a quarterly basis and, in a way not dissimilar to the Marvel Universe, has made friends with other podcasters Amy (of Stranded Dyeworks) and Katie (of Inside Number 23) so there's often an overlap and they all reference each other.  It makes it feel like you're discussing mutual friends!

#5  Sockmatician Podcast with Nathan AKA The Sockmatician.


If feature-length is more up your street, then grab your knitting, some popcorn and settle down for an evening with The Sockmatician!

This one I've only just discovered in the past few weeks but I just had to share it.  Not only is it refreshing to have a male knitter, but he's got such charisma and a lovely speaking voice that his podcasts are incredibly relaxing.  His episodes are long, like Yarnhoarder's, but he makes no apologies for that and nor should he.  Some stretch as long as two hours but it never feels that way.  He talks a lot about his life, but that's fine because it's interesting and he always has something interesting to share.  He also talks poignantly about issues at the end of his podcasts.

Once again, his whole focus and aim of his podcast has been to create a community - he shares snippets from the ravelry group, answers questions, asks questions himself, and shares tips that he's learned from his work as a knitting designer.  It's well worth a look!


#6  Crazy Sock Lady Podcast with Kay Litton 

And once more across the pond, dear friends, to catch up with Kay (AKA The Crazy Sock  Lady) in the USA.  As I write she's preparing for a move to Arizona so the podcast may be a little more sporadic from June until she gets settled but there are 45 gorgeous back-episodes to watch. As you might have guessed from the podcast title, she is a lover of socks and what's exciting is that she has recently delved into design and her patterns are available on ravelry.    She is the designer behind my first attempt at knitting patterned socks: 
Pair 2 Rhinebeck is Calling
Kay is such a sweetie, I love tuning in each fortnight to see what she's knit, and she has a charming presenting style.  I also owe it to her that I am finally dealing with my scrappy stash after she decided that Sundays would be scrappy Sundays - more on stash-busting in a later post.  Her sons are just too cute and her dogs Chloe and  Gracie have been known to steal the show!
Have you tried any of these podcasts?  Are there any you love that you'd recommend I'd try?
Join in the conversation in the comments below!


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