Podcast Roundup

As a crafter, my hands and my eyes are frequently occupied. If I want entertainment while I work, it has to be consumed with my ears. Sometimes this takes the form of re-watching old shows on Netflix that I really don’t have to pay attention to. Sometimes I listen to music. If I’m craving something more in-depth though, I listen to podcasts.

I’m sort of new to podcasts. I didn’t really know what they were until about a year ago, and then it took me a while to really get on board with the idea. Now I’m sold. They’re awesome. Well, okay, I’m making that statement based on very little information so far, but I’m pretty sure it’ll hold up under scrutiny.

So far I have only listened to two podcasts, but I started both from the very beginning so I’ve had quite a bit of material to listen to.

For my knitting fix I listen to Cast On with Brenda Dayne. It’s a truly captivating podcast about knitting…but also about much more than knitting. It wasn’t until I was half-way through the archives that I realized it’s classified as “philosophy” and that sounds about right. It’s Brenda Dayne laying out her philosophy of art, knitting, life, the universe, and everything. It’s sort of like a really long artist’s statement, but without a single hint of pretension. Listening to Cast On makes me feel like what I do means something.

You don’t have to start listening from the beginning like I did, but if you do it’s almost like listening to a modern history of knitting. The podcast started in 2005, when Ravelry was just an idea, and SO MUCH has happened in the knitting world since then. Brenda captured it all, as it happened. It’s really cool to listen to the story of how our knitting culture became what it is today and to know that this podcast was part of that.

For my drama/horror/story fix I listen to We’re Alive. It’s a zombie story. I like zombies. Well,  actually I’m terrified of zombies, but I sort of like my stories with a side of terror, so I like zombie stories. It’s not top-notch writing, but it’s entertaining. The only thing it’s really missing for me is more character development, but it’s got plenty of action going on to keep it interesting. What really makes this podcast stand out for me is how it’s done…it’s not like an audiobook. There isn’t one person reading from a book and maybe doing some different voices for each character. It has a full cast of characters acting out the parts, with lots of sound effects to add to the story! It’s sort of like an old-timey radio drama produced with modern technology.

These two podcasts have been all I needed to entertain me while my eyes and hands were occupied. Until now. Last night I ran out of podcasts. The last podcast from Cast On was in April, and there’s no telling when there will be another. Brenda travels a lot to teach and such and I know she had a new series planned, but she’s a perfectionist so it may be a bit before she feels it’s ready to be released to the world. I can relate. We’re Alive will start its final season on August 26th, so it will be here soon, but it’s not here NOW.

I have to find something else to listen to.

For starters I’m going to check out Welcome to Night Vale. A Welcome to Night Vale fandom has appeared seemingly out of nowhere on Tumblr. Several of my friends on Facebook (who have very good taste in entertainment) have been mentioning it in their statuses. A LOT. One of them even started a Night Vale ask blog on Tumblr. One thing I’ve learned about the internet, is that if something has a fandom it is probably worth checking out. People don’t get that excited about something if it’s absolute crap.

I listened to the first podcast last night and it was…weird. But the best kind of weird. It was all surrealist-absurdist-eldritch-horror-ish, which are all adjectives that I LOVE. I suspect I will be joining this fandom soon.

All of these podcasts are going in my sidebar of useful links, because I certainly find them useful for my workflow.

The Welcome to Night Vale podcasts are only about 20 min. each though, so I’m looking for more recommendations. What do you listen to while you work?

Vocabulary for Muggles

As a knitter, I am aware that many of the words that come out of my mouth have absolutely no meaning to the general public. Talking to me can be very confusing for non-knitters. So could reading my blog. In fact, when I came across this video a while back, it was like looking a mirror…

I’m going to try to remedy this by offering vocabulary lessons! I have been compiling a list of words and phrases that I have had to explain to people before. If you see anything in my blog posts you don’t understand and would like explained, let me know and I will add it to the list!

Today’s vocabulary word is muggle.


Many of you are probably familiar with the word “muggle” from the Harry Potter series in which it refers to people lacking magical abilities. However, J.K. Rowling did not make up the word. According to Wikipedia it dates as far back as the 1920s as slang for pot smokers.

It is now used in many contexts with a similar meaning as in the Harry Potter universe – a term to describe a person outside of a particular group, such as a non-geocacher or a non-hacker.

As I was listening to some old episodes of Cast On I believe I stumbled upon the origin of the word “muggle” in the knitting culture! In Episode 17: The Muggle Show, guest hosted by Franklin Habit, it is explained that the word came from Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. Why am I not surprised? This is the same woman who came up with the word kinnearing and invented the Knitting Olympics (which later led to the Ravellenic Games).


Within the knitting world the word “muggle” broadly refers to non-knitters. That’s the simple definition. Where it gets a bit hairy is when you try to decide what exactly constitutes a “non-knitter.”

Usually the term “muggle” is used in the most obvious cases – to refer to people who not only don’t know how to knit, but think that knitting is a very strange thing to do, or assume it is extinct and are amazed, shocked, or puzzled to discover a knitter. These people are usually the targets of a favorite group activity of knitters called “muggle-freaking” in which we gather together to gratuitously flaunt our fiber enthusiasm in front of unsuspecting crowds of muggles. That was the purpose behind the giant flash-mob at the last Sock Summit in which thousands of knitters danced with yarn (I’m in that crowd somewhere).

We even have a whole day (or week?) dedicated to muggle-freaking – World Wide Knit in Public Day.

Then there are the less obvious cases. What about people who don’t know how to knit, but are around knitters enough that they don’t bat an eyelash at words such as “WIP” or “Ravatar” or “circs”? My mother, sister, and now even my boyfriend fall into this category. They know the lingo, understand that knitting is actually a thing, they just don’t participate in the activity themselves. Are they muggles? Maybe…

What about all those knitters out there who don’t know the lingo? The ones who have never been on Ravelry and maybe haven’t even heard of it? They exist. I’ve met them. They have the skills, but they haven’t been steeped in the knitting culture. Are they muggles? When talking to these crafters they are frequently just as confused by the words coming out of my mouth, and even just as weirded out by my enthusiasm for my craft as the more traditional muggles are. They certainly feel like muggles.

Perhaps we need an intermediary term for those who don’t quite fit the muggle profile. I suppose we could call them filthy mudbloods, but somehow I don’t think they would find it amusing.

I’d like to see you call her that.
pic from Harry Potter Wiki