What do you listen to when you’re sewing? Do you go for the smooth sounds of Magic Radio or do you rock out to your favourite power ballads? Perhaps it’s not music at all – maybe you listen to the Archers or keep one eye on the TV. Or maybe you just prefer the whirring of your sewing machine and the hiss of your iron?
For me, it’s podcasts. I love ‘em. I bulk download them to my phone and then binge listen to them through our Bluetooth speakers as I’m sewing. I listen to a mix of story-telling, music, comedy, entertainment and factual podcasts, so it’s just like building my own private radio station specifically for when I sew. I’ve found out all sorts of stuff via my podcast binges and had a lot of laughs too, so here – in no particular order – are my recommendations.
Answer Me This
Presenters Helen Zaltzman and Olly Mann, along with Martin the Soundman, aim to answer absolutely any question you can throw at them – no matter how daft. Recent questions have included what to do about problem plus ones at weddings, and where the trope of a post-coital cigarette comes from. It is a comedy podcast, so while some of the answers offer some sound advice, they’re always liberally doused with hilarity. If you’ve got kids I would advise listening through headphones cos they do like to swear!
This American Life and Snap Judgement
Both of these podcasts are all about real life stories, often centred around a theme. It’s first person narrative so you find that you get really absorbed by people’s experiences and end up hanging on their every word. Recently I got engrossed in an episode of This American Life about two New York schools – one rich, one poor – which organised a series of exchange visits. The kids’ reactions were astounding, and I quickly got wrapped up in their stories, wanting to know what happened to them next. The two podcasts cover some really varied topics – even if you dip in and out you’re more than likely to find something that interests you.
Did you keep a diary as a teenager? I certainly did, and I would never, EVER read that stuff out loud (as I remember it’s mainly pages upon pages of me declaring my unrequited love for Steven Jackson). Anyway, Mortified is really a series of live events where people get up on stage and read their childhood writing in all its awkward glory to the audience. Sometimes they read their diaries, sometimes it’s their teenage poetry. It’s always, always cringeworthy, but more often than not the stories are quite sweet in their naivety. Listening to the podcast (recordings from the live events) has made me wonder where my diaries are and how quickly I can get rid them, but it also makes me realise that really, my teenage years weren’t all that bad.
Oh my god, this podcast is so interesting! It’s all about the things that shape human behaviour – like do our expectations of blind people actually hold them back in terms of their independence? Or do the categories we assign people make them behave in different ways? This podcast had the potential to be quite scientific (which isn’t me at all), but the presenters make it accessible by weaving real life stories throughout the episodes – like the blind guy who can ride a bike, or the woman who was born a man, but suffers from constant gender dysmorphia. This one really gets you thinking. It’s well worth a listen but bear in mind that they’ve only done one series of six episodes so far and no news yet on when the next series will start. I’d love to hear more.
Stuff You Should Know
Another fact based podcast. Josh and Chuck look at a different topic every episode and give you a run-down of all the stuff you should know about it. Their subject list is really varied – I’ve listened to episodes on Jim Henson and the Muppets, the scientific method, whether there’s treasure on Oak Island and how the stock market works. They’re really entertaining and they explain things in an accessible way. Sometimes I do take their research with a pinch of salt though. Around the time of the World Cup last year they did an episode on football, and man, was it riddled with mistakes! I hate football and even I could pick out where they were going wrong! They do seek to correct themselves though, and at the end of each episode there is a Listeners’ Mail section where they address errors. Despite my reservations it’s worth checking out – you might actually learn something!
Other podcasts I currently enjoy include:
The Moth – more real life stories
Mystery Show – one woman sets out to solve mysteries, like why would a woman have the car number plate ILOVE911? And just how tall is Jake Gyllenhaal??
All Songs Considered – for a great weekly round-up of new music
Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast – Richard Herring interviews a different comedian every week. It’s always rude, so caution is advised. Watch out for the emergency questions!
Wot? No sewing?
So there’s a glaring omission in this list. Why no sewing podcasts? Well it’s because I just can’t get into them. I’ve tried a few, but I find the craft so visual that I just can’t get my head round what they’re on about. Plus, I also like to concentrate on the sewing at hand rather than anyone else’s, so non sewing podcasts are clearly the way to go for me.
And if I’ve listened to everything in my queue, I like a bit of 6Music and Absolute Classic Rock.
How about you? Share your recommendations too – I’d love to hear them!