Podcasts and Cast Ons

In the interest of full disclosure, I should probably let you know that I should be doing something else right now.

Writing the prospectus for my dissertation comes to mind.

It’s amazing how I can have such a clear idea of what I’m doing and why and then I sit down to type out all my thoughts and it all comes out in this jumble of academicese and passive voice. The past two days have been all about turning lines like this: “This project opens up the possibility of the exploration of” into “I will explore” and even then I find myself relying too much on ex words. I’m making a list and every time I get through a paragraph without using explore, explain, examine or extrapolate, I explode with joy and the desire to exsanguinate someone is extinguished.

So this post is me actively taking a break from dissertation work to talk about something else. Like crafts.

I learned how to knit over winter break. It was very exciting. First, I made a misshapen square (the technical term for which is a trapezoid, I suppose). Then I made a longer one, which moved into misshapen rectangle territory (which is still a trapezoid, so perhaps I should just stick with that term). Then I made a coffee cup cozy,. I used to think that coffee cup cozies were the most useless things in the universe, bar none. Of course, when you need to knit something fairly simple that does not need to fit a human being and should be completed within a reasonable amount of time even when you are a rank beginner, the purpose of the coffee cup cozy becomes clear.

I made two.

The second ended up larger than anticipated and is actually a small tea cozy that lives on the small tea pot (it holds two medium or one very large mug’s worth of tea) that lives, in turn, in my office. It looks very…handmade, which I suppose fits in well with the larger ethos of our lab.

After that accomplishment, I decided I wanted to do something bigger. Something I could wear. Not something as ambitious as a hat yet, because those tended to have designs and cables and things more complicated than I could handle. So I made a cowl.

Teal CowlIn retrospect, I shouldn’t have tried knitting in the round until I had made a few more things not in the round, because it was significantly more difficult to keep an even tension (which I can’t do anyway). But the thing has achieved thinginess–it has become the object I was intending to make–and I now have a cowl to keep my face warm when the temperature drops to the low 50s at night.

You all hate me right now, don’t you?

And now, because I don’t want to leave you with the impression that I only produce misshapen round objects that keep things warm, here was my other fiber project. This one was crocheted and I’ve been crocheting on and off since I was 15 and fairly consistently for the past few years. So I’m mostly past the ‘it’s a very nice blob, what is it supposed to be?’ stage.

IMG_0072I would have posted this one earlier because I am quite proud of it except I wanted it to be a surprise for its recipient. Well, for its recipient’s mother. Its recipient is 6 months old and does not read my blog. Actually, the “my blog” in that statement is probably irrelevant. In any case, that was a thing that I made.

For reference, this was the picture I sent to a certain spouse of mine three quarters of the way through the process with the caption “Bunny Antoinette”

IMG_0214Apparently, the history department has just taught the French revolution that week. Every so often, my timing achieves impeccable.

This sudden increase in crafting has had a few other effects. Knitting is just one of those things that can’t be done with a book in hand and, honestly, part of why I try to spend some time doing this stuff is because it’s time that can’t be spent working, but is still time spent making things. I feel productive because I am, after all, producing a thing. But I also get bored easily and I need something to do while I knit or crochet.

The obvious answer is television. Except…not. It’s not that there aren’t really good shows on and it’s not that I’m not consistently impressed with the quality of acting and storytelling on tv these days. It’s just that I sit down to watch tv and think of something else I want to do. I find myself reorganizing my closet by color (which is not as absurd as it sounds; it helps me get dressed faster in the morning) or roasting squash for later in the week. I have television issues. I’ve been in the middle of the same season of Game of Thrones for nearly a year even though I really enjoy the show (thank you, Peter Dinklage!) , but I just can’t convince myself to watch the rest.

However, this is not a post about the weirdness of my psyche. The obvious solution to my problem is audiobooks and podcasts. I’ve been getting particularly into the latter recently because there is something nice about listening to entertaining people talk about things in the comfort of your own home. I don’t really want complex narratives or impressive world building. I just want people to amuse me for an hour or so at a time. It’s not so much to ask and podcasts readily deliver.

Also, unlike real people, you can pause them when the thing on the stove it about to boil over because you’re trying to knit and cook at the same time.

The moral of this story is “don’t knit and cook at the same time”.

So, dear readers, any of you podcast people? Any recommendations for me? Feel free to comment or pick some other part of this post to respond to.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Podcasts and Cast Ons

  1. I think you need to talk to Terri..

  2. Really enjoyed the post. Lots of fun to read.

  3. Karin

    No podcast help – just want to report that the bunny is a huge hit with both recipient and recipient’s mother. I’m still amazed that you made it – it’s brilliant!

  4. Podcasts I love: The Alton Browncast, Knit 1 Geek 2, SF Squeecast, Cast On with Brenda Dayne, KUEC & The Hidden Almanac. I hear good things about Welcome To Night Vale. If you come across anything fun, let me know.

    • I have mixed feelings about Nightvale – I only like it at during and after long plane rides. I think it doesn’t really register as a podcast to me since it’s the only one I listen to that’s really serialized fiction .
      Other than the Hidden Almanac, which is Ursula and, as such, a special case. Also, it’s not really a story. It’s a collection of Ursula being herself and Kevin reading it with a straight face.
      I also listen to KUEC and SF Squeecast. I like Galactic Suburbia (and squeecast has taken itself off the Hugos this year so I should have something to root for) which I got into through Tansy Rayner Roberts’ blog and NPR’s Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me.

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