Listen while you work

Do you like to stitch in silence? Or are you like me and prefer to work with some interesting background noise? Like most people out there it seems, I love a good box set (been catching up on all the stuff I missed since my babies were born – they’re 12 years old now, so that’s plenty to be getting on with), but stitching and TV/films don’t always go together, especially where subtitles are involved, and you have a dodgy combo of long and short-sightedness. I also find (I suppose it’s obvious why) that I work much more slowly whilst I’m binge watching West Wing, Grey’s Anatomy, Transparent, or whatever I’m working through just now…

I have 8 main projects on the go just now (the majority of them paid for, with deadlines, yay but eek) – some of them are pretty epic too – here’s the very beginnings of a Liberty quilt made with 1.5 inch squares (1 inch finished) – I need to make eighty-four 6×6 blocks, it’s a lot of work:

Sewing Liberty inchies

So I can’t afford to dawdle and be distracted by pictures. Ironically, that’s why I can’t get on with audiobooks either – somehow they always take my full attention, or I miss half the plot – worse than TV for distracting me. And although I love to listen to music, I like to mix it up a bit, so talk radio (especially Radio 4 – can we talk about The Archers?!) is a big deal for me. That’s why it has been fantastic to discover podcasts, and I am so keen to tell you about my favourites, and would love to know what I’ve missed – do leave your recommendations – after all, I also have a lot more of these strips to sew together, for a string-pieced tote bag I’m working on:

Strips for some string patchwork

I started with podcasts last year, with the fantastic real-life legal/crime drama Serial, as recommended by lovely Sarah of Fairy Face Designs. From there it was but a short step to This American Life.. one of the recent episodes – Anatomy of Doubt – was one of the most humbling, shocking and thought provoking pieces of documentary that I have experienced in a long time, I really heartily recommend a listen and then have a long hard think about your assumptions and the way you judge people.

This American Life

Another favourite is Invisibilia, a great show about human behaviour – and the beliefs, assumptions, emotions, conventions that form our ideas, the way we live our lives and our reaction to the stuff that goes on around us. There’s a great combination of research, stories, and science that makes for great listening.

Tiny paisley stitching
Another stitchy project I’m working on whilst enjoying podcasts to my heart’s content!

tile-dear-sugar

Another favourite just now is Dear Sugar, which I’d describe as a kind of radio agony-aunt advice column (they describe it radically empathic advice) hosted by Cheryl Strayed (of Wild fame) and Steve Almond. Usually I end up shouting at them… ‘no, that’s terrible advice!’ but it’s great listening all the same.

And finally, my guilty, obsessive pleasure, that I can’t binge-listen-to because it has only just started…The West Wing Weekly… an episode by episode discussion of The West Wing with the wonderful Josh Malina and Hrishikesh Hirway. There is nothing more lovely than re-watching an episode then listening to the chat. Oh the geek of it all!

So tell me, do you listen to podcasts? Got any great ones to recommend?

6 thoughts on “Listen while you work

  1. I love your posts and inspiring projects Ali. I mainly like to sew in silence, just the birdsong and whatever’s going on around helps me concentrate best. However if I’m doing a very long hem or something easy and repetitive I’ll listen to LBC radio podcasts, I’m enjoying Steve Allen’s ‘in conversation’ interviews at the moment.

  2. I watch tv whilst I knit, crochet and hand stitch (never machine sewing that’s just too annoying for everyone!) I find I just glance up and down a lot and my hands stop working when the tv gets really exciting! I’ve not got into podcasts, I need to look into them, but the Archers – oh my, after about 15 years of not listening I have got back into it really easily.

  3. Beautiful projects…cant wait to see the finished Liberty quilt. I love podcasts…Radio Scotland’s Off The Ball is very funny and fires my other love…football…

  4. All those projects are looking very pretty. And I don’t think you’d get it in a podcast, but if you want something a little lighter then you could try a fairly recent Radio 4 comedy – Cabin Pressure. You can get it on CD I know, and in the opinion of all our family it’s very good/funny/clever! And endearingly so as you come to know the characters better. Great cast too.

  5. ‘In Our Time’ is always good for self-improvement:-) If I can manage to remember one or two facts from each programme I feel it’s a bonus! (Your tiny paisley pattern is so beautiful btw!)

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