Interview: A Playful Day

Green Triangle Girl of ‘A Playful Day’ Podcast

Behold! Another interview with one of my favorite knitting podcasters, Green Triangle Girl of A Playful Day! Like the name suggests, her show evokes an incredible sense of playfulness. Her voice is charming and always upbeat. I just love her enthusiasm for knitting; each episode leaves you ready to tackle the world with their knitting needles. Did I mention, she’s also a mega foodie? The girl loves to cook and bake– rest assured, you will be inspired not only to keep on knitting, but to get busy with your kitchen.

 

For those who have never heard about A Playful Day Podcast, please tell us a little about it:

A Playful Day is a podcast from the UK about knitting, food and all things practical and playful. It’s hosted by a fairy with a desire for fun, laughter and lust for using words such as ‘tomfoolery’.

Who or what inspired you to pick up the microphone?

I actually didn’t mean to make a podcast! I was taking part in ‘Blog Week’ that was hosted by Eskimimi last year and the last day was a challenge of ‘do something different’. I’ve always had great admiration for podcasters such as Brenda Dayne, The Knitmore Girls and Alana Dakos and thought I might give it a whirl just this once. Before I knew it I was sitting in front of a mic and putting up a fortnightly podcast on iTunes.

How and when did you learn to knit?

It’s kind of a sad story as I only took up knitting after ruining my hips dancing. I tore some pretty major muscles in my hips and was unable to dance and run and do all the sports I’d spent my whole life doing. It was driving me crazy as I’m just not a TV person and at the time I read while I commuted for hours every day so the last thing I wanted to do was read again in my spare time. I was so bored!

I’d commented on how I’d love to learn to crochet those cute little flower corsages to my mum so for my birthday she bought me a hook and a ‘Learn to Knit’ bunny toy as a bit of a joke. I was ill one day and going wild for something to do and picked up the knit kit (I CANNOT crochet, I’m dreadful, truly) and taught myself via the internet. I don’t think I’ve stopped knitting since.

What is your favorite thing about podcasting?
The community, without a doubt. You inherit a crowd of other podcasters who are so supportive and a group of listeners who just leave you in awe. This year has been full of new people to meet, interview, giggle with and I’ve loved it! My Ravelry group for the podcast is my happy place, there’s always something fun going on.

… and the most challenging?
The worst thing is trickier. I am prone to self doubt and get desperately upset if I’ve made a mistake or feel I’ve let someone down. I also am very uncomfortable with my real name being used, I feel like ‘Aplayfulday’ affords me the luxury of being truly playful; I don’t know why but seeing my name out there on the internet makes me cower. I’ve had to be honest and say ‘I don’t like that’ so that I can continue to be a whimsical little fairy instead of thinking ‘Oh Lord I hope my Mum doesn’t read what I said about wanting a bath tub of gin for my birthday’ (which is in March if anyone wants to make this happen by the way).

I love your ‘Munch, Burp, Slurp’ segment, which is all about food! What is one cook book everyone should have on-hand in the kitchen?

Just about anything by Nigel Slater. I love the way he writes about food, describing the flavours that make each ingredient distinctive so that you’re not just following a recipe, you’re learning WHY the hazelnuts are better toasted in one recipe but not in another. He is my food hero, hands down.

What is it about a pattern that inspires you to knit it?

That’s tricky to define. I think there’s 3 things at play: a known pattern style, wanting to bury my face in the end product and great photography. I love it when I get to know a designer and can just trust the quality of the pattern writing and that the end product will look how I wanted, maybe even better. I also love textured, beautifully rendered fabrics that suit a yarn’s characteristics and make me itch to feel it on the needles. As for the photography I do not need it to be artsy but I do need to a) see the knitting and b) be swept away by it. Jared Flood has absolutely nailed this in my humble opinion.

Do you have any favorite ‘go-to’ patterns?

I have a weakness for hats and handwarmers as I just love the instant gratification. I have also knit two Cedar Leaf Shawlettes by Alana Dakos and I can see my mum receiving one for Christmas; the leaves on the border are so pleasing and addictive.

Sherlock Holmes

Who in this world (dead or alive) do you think would benefit from learning to knit?

Knit recipients. If you understood the love that went into it you would never utter words such as ‘I would love this in brown’ or ‘Where did you buy this?’

In terms of someone famous? Can it be fictional? I would love to teach the new Sherlock Holmes to knit. I think he’d get all cross and grumpy and yes, picturing Benedict Cumberbatch knitting makes me very happy. Actually, picturing Benedict Cumberbatch enerally makes me happy any given day of the week. As does saying and typing his name in full, could he be anymore British?!?!

When knitting in public, what is the silliest thing someone ever said to you?

‘Is that Crochet?’ NO!

When at home, where is it that you knit and what is it about the space that makes it yours?

I knit in the corner of my sofa; we have one of those sofas that is an L shape and I have learned since I stopped moving so fast that I’m actually quite dormouse like and like to burrow into corners. I curl up, get the best of the lamps (I hate overhead light) and can gaze out the window and spy on the neighbours.

Please describe your dream knitting nook and / or room.

Can I have the knitting barn? The barn is a magical place where we hide designers we like to knit for us. A knit friend and I once dreamed it up. We’d sit at the bar drinking gin while they churned out sweaters, afghans and all the things we’ve yet to knit and there’d be an endless supply of gin.

For those knitters thinking about starting their own show, what are a few dos and don’ts for podcasting?

Do:

  • Be yourself. No one else is going to
  • Invest in a good mic and acquaint yourself with editing before you get carried away. I didn’t do this and now I cringe at early episodes and the bad sound quality.
  • Engage with your audience, they’ll be your best source of inspiration.


Don’t

  • Be afraid to delay an episode. Better to put up something of quality that rewards your listener’s for waiting than rush out something half baked.
  • Be afraid to experiment with the medium- podcaster’s such as Craftlife have really made audio work for them and I love that commitment.
  • Feel afraid to share decisions about the podcast with your audience, they’ll thank you for it in the long term.

Any exciting plans for A Playful Day podcast, in 2012?

I have lots of exciting new interviews and giveaways planned and guest features. I am hoping to attend more events this year and take recording on the road again as this has been very popular in the past. I also have my pod-i-versary coming up in April so I have lots of fun planned for that too.

The stage is yours… Is there anything you’d like to add?

I am not really a fairy and I love KnitNook unconditionally.

Super big thanks to A Playful Day! She blogs over here, is GreenTriangleGirl on Ravelry, and you can also follow her on Twitter.

Interview: Hoxton Handmade

The Electric Sheep Podcast is one of my favorite knitting podcasts, and I jumped for joy when Hoxton Handmade (the host) agreed to do this interview!

I must admit, whenever I see a new episode of Electric Sheep downloading to my iTunes, a little party goes on in my head. Whether it’s about what’s on her needles, a knitting magazine review, hilarious (sometimes bearded) excerpt from the ‘Feed the Sheep’ thread on Ravelry, commentary on current events or her annual holiday Panto, Hoxton keeps us coming back for more! I really enjoy her wit, imagination, and honesty… She’s fantastic!

If you’ve never heard of the Electric Sheep, I hope this interview encourages you to check it out.
For those who have never heard about the Electric Sheep Podcast, please tell us a little about it:

Electric Sheep is a mostly-knitting British podcast in which I talk about patterns, yarns, and my woolly triumphs and disasters. Every episode starts with an essay on a wide variety of topics, from the handmade to history, from current affairs to crazy stories. I also talk about quirky, entertaining things to be found online, such as award-winning beards, knitting drummers and crimes against crochet. The Sheep himself is a slightly troubling figment of my imagination but that doesn’t seem to stop him drinking all my gin and causing general mayhem with his trebuchet.

Any exciting plans for the show, in 2012?

Obviously, I’ll be covering the London Olympics in some form, and there are several knitterly folk I’m keen to interview. No doubt the Sheep will be up to his usual exploits. Sigh.

Who or what inspired you to pick up the microphone?
I had produced a podcast before, many years ago, featuring various friends of mine, but it wasn’t until I discovered knitting podcasts that I felt I had found my niche. At that time, I wasn’t aware of a knitting podcast hosted by someone British and my age, so I thought there might be a gap that I could fill. And I wanted to be able to talk about cake and knitted beards without someone trying to have me sectioned.

What is your favorite thing about podcasting?… and the most challenging?

My favourite thing is my audience. I’m constantly amazed by the lovely people who have contacted me to share something about how they listen to the podcast or what they’ve taken from it, or who want to show me a video of a surfing alpaca.
The most challenging is just finding the time to podcast!


If possible, please describe the moment you realized, “OMG… I LOVE KNITTING!.. MUST NOT STOP!”

Ha ha, I recognise the feeling but I don’t think it happened in one moment, it sort of crept up on me! But I had one moment last year, knitting Kate Davies’ Neep Heid hat (my first stranded project) when I was so happy and bewitched by the result, that I sat there giggling to myself every other round. I felt I had learnt magic.

I always love when Steeking O’Reilly, Knitpicks McGraw & Co. make a guest appearance. What pray tell, is their next move?

I couldn’t possibly say. Not that I even know who you’re talking about. And I haven’t heard anything at all about a plan to gatecrash the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Not a thing. Ahem.

What is it about a pattern that inspires you to knit it?

It’s so hard to pin down! I love cables and aran-style texture and cosy woolly knits. I mostly knit for myself, so it has to be something I really want to wear as well as knit. Almost all the garments I knit are seamless. I hate seaming, I’m too impatient.

Do you have any favorite ‘go-to’ patterns?

I think Audrey and Cobblestone are the only garments I’ve made twice, though I’m probably going to make another Owls as mine is looking a little worn. I love Envy Mitts for using up leftover sockyarn and I’ve made several Traveling Woman shawls.

If you could spend a day with any knitwear designer… who would it be? (… and yes, you’d come away with all their tips, tricks and knitterly wisdom!)

Oh that’s tough! As I’m sure any Electric Sheep listener would guess, Brooklyn Tweed! It would be amazing to come away with his technical knitting skills. I’d also love to sit and have a beer with the Yarn Harlot; she cracks me up, has bags of knitting know-how and I think she’s very generous to her audience.

When at home, where is it that you knit and what is it about the space that makes it yours?

I knit on the sofa in the living room most of the time. The spare bedroom is often referred to as ‘the Wool Room’ because my stash and knitting books and supplies are stored in there and have conquered much of the space into woolly submission.

Please describe your dream knitting nook and / or room.

An enormous, squishy armchair. A working fireplace. A good floor lamp and a big window. A bookcase all along one wall for yarn and knitting books. A beautiful cabinet with shallow drawers for needles and notions. An organised filing system for all my PDF print-outs. A china tea set and a well-stocked cake stand. A tech corner for all my podcasting equipment, and to listen to podcasts or watch the West Wing, depending on my knitting mood. A large drawing/writing desk. A drinks cabinet with three kinds of gin and plenty of tonic.
Not much to ask for, right?


Finally, you’ve been podcasting for over 2 years… And I think it’s appropriate to consider you an ‘expert’. Please list a few dos and don’ts of podcasting.

I don’t know about expert but I’ll give it a go! There are no hard and fast rules, but these would be my suggestions:

DO invest in decent equipment; sound quality is a key factor for most listeners.
DO make the most of your location, whether for its knitting, beauty, events, or history.
DO try and engage with your audience online, a lot of listeners like to interact with the show.
DON’T be scared to try something new; it will stop you getting bored and keep the show fresh.
DON’T wing it; you don’t need to write a script, but it’s worth planning the general content.
DON’T try to please everyone. Can’t be done and it’s exhausting to try. Make the show you want to hear.

The stage is yours… Is there anything you’d like to add?

Just to say thank you so much for interviewing me. I love reading Knit Nook and I’m honoured to be on the blog!

OK! OK! The Sheep has been Tweeting at me relentlessly while writing this interview, requesting his very own soap box, a slice of red velvet cake and a bottle of gin. I couldn’t resist. What say you, Sheep!?

Well it’s about time, frankly, I mean who’s the star of this show? The clue’s in the title people. Honestly that Hoxton just blathers on but I’m the one who does all the work. Now, if you come this way I’d like to give you a VIP tour of my new top-secret bunker at the bottom of the garden. That’s the distillery over there, just go easy on the Sheep Dip, it’s potent stuff.  Here we have the bakery, where I’m developing a gin-flavoured Battenburg. Through here is the pigeon loft and trebuchet workshop – please be careful to keep naked flames away from the chicken coop. In that room is my eco-generator, run by hamsters. Unfortunately, so far they’ve only been able to power a small fax machine, but I’ve got them in training and on a low-carb diet, and it won’t be long before they’re running the backlit map of the world, video conferencing and automated trapdoor seating that’s required before you can apply for membership of the Megalomaniac World Domination Society. I also need to rustle up something for their annual bake sale. My application essay is going to be about my plans to bring down the acrylic industry and solve the current financial crisis by moving to the wool standard. Ah, now over here is my prototype jet pack, with patented gin propulsion, you just flick this switch he-
*CRASH! BANG! WALLOP!*
Hoxton - It’s alright. I’ll go and fetch him off the roof. Sigh.

Many thanks again to Hoxton (and the Sheep!) for taking the time to do the interview!  She’s HoxtonHandmade on twitter and Hoxton on Ravelry. She also blogs over at hoxtonhandmade.com

A Playful Interview!

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Exciting news!!! APlayfulDay has featured an interview [with Yours Truly] on her blog!

I want to thank her for taking an interest. She asked some great questions which I had lots of fun answering, but what I enjoyed most was taking the time to think about what helps keep me ‘playful’. This is something everyone should do because you might be pleasantly surprised!

APlayfulDay is host of the UK-based knitting podcast…’A Playful Day!’ If you haven’t given her a listen yet, I highly recommend you do. She’s utterly charming, funny and super sweet!

Please checkout her blog and my interview over here.

APlayfulDay is also GreenTriangleGirl on Ravelry. I hope you enjoy!

P.S. Watch this space for a playful guest blogger!

Interview: Maria of the ‘Subway Knits’ Podcast

Venusfueri fondles yarn at Brooklyn General

Maria (aka VenusFueri) is a fellow New Yorker and the lovely host of the Queens, Astoria-based  Subway Knits Podcast! First, I want to thank her for taking a chance, being the very first KnitNook interviewee and hopefully opening doors for more interviews with other incredibly talented and inspiring knitters! My goal for this (and future interviews) is not only to bring attention to their craft, but to inspire other knitters; whether it has to do with podcasting, spinning, dying or blogging. Also, given the title of this blog, provide more insight on how to make your own “Knit Nook” functional and unique.

OK, before we get into the Q&A, I should also mention Maria is already somewhat of a podcast celebrity! Over the weekend, we met up for a knit once again at Brooklyn General, along with other lovely wooly-minded peeps, (@riaknits, @knittingknoobie, @stitchmistress) For a moment, I managed to slip away  to browse Brooklyn General’s stash, when I couldn’t help overhearing someone from another group of knitters say, “It’s her! … podcast… that’s her voice!
I figured I’d save such gossip for this post. ;-)

And so, without further ado… please take it away, Maria!

For those who have never heard about the Subway Knits Podcast, please tell us a little about it:
Subway Knits is a podcast documenting  my knitting adventures both in and out of the subway in New York City. I share what’s on and off the needles,  knitting trainwrecks (and what I’ve learned from them), knitting travels, and talk about what’s fun, new and interesting in the knitting world. The podcast also has an ongoing Queue-Along, where we work to knit things off the ever expanding queues.

What is one thing that makes your knitting podcast unique?
I think its the location of the podcast, if it can be said in that way.  In the beginning of the show, I would make the focus of the “Knitting Travels” segment my knitting adventures outside of NYC, since my husband and I love to travel. However, when the podcast took off, I realized that it can also include my knitting adventures in NYC that  are considered interesting, especially to those that are not from the area. There was the time when I tried knitting in the dark for the first time at Socrates Sculpture park for example; it gave me the opportunity to not just talk about how hard it was to knit in the dark, but to share something that is also special to NYC which is the outdoor summer movie festivals. Then there are the subway stories which are lately few and far between since I walk to work and my commute to grad school isn’t long enough for quality knitting time, but when the knitting comes out on the subway, there’s usually something fun that happens (like the time I spoke with Portuguese tourists). In addition, there are a lot of amazing designers who are from or come through NYC at some point or another and I have been lucky to meet and speak with them; I love doing the interviews for the show since it gives the listeners the opportunity to learn more about those designers who create amazing patterns and other materials that inspire us.

Who or what inspired you to pick up the microphone?
The who was the amazing group of podcasts that were established and starting shortly before I started my podcast: Knitmore Girls, Hoxton Handmade, Knit Knit Cafe and Yarngasm too! I loved their enthusiasm and passion for the subject of knitting and it showed to me that there was more to it than just sticks and string. The what was I did feel that there weren’t enough podcasts from the East Coast of the US and I thought that giving the perspective of someone who has lived in NYC the majority of her life would give a different take on knitting since NYC does inspire and shape how and what I knit in many different ways.

Briefly describe how and when you learned to knit?
Knitting was always in the back of my mind as my mom is quite crafty herself (needlepoint, drawing, ceramics) and after trying to figure out how to knit via YouTube (which was a disaster), I was able to meet up with a local group in Astoria while I was home for Japan on holiday. They taught me the basic knit, purl and cast on and I was off like a shot. When I got back to Japan for my final stint, I was inspired by the awesome yarn and local temple craft fairs to push myself further and made my first pair of socks and did some cabling within the first month of picking up the needles.

What is your favorite thing about podcasting?
Sharing my enthusiasm for knitting with others in various formats (audio, blog, message board) and as such, being able to take the enthusiasm and knowledge and sense of community to a whole new level that I would have never imagined doing when I first picked up the needles.

VenusFueri’s ‘Fetching’, knit in Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend


What is one goal you have for the show?

To get the Knitting History segment off and running, especially now that I have amassed Knitting on Top of the World by Nicki Epstein, and Knitting Around the World by Lela Nargi as well as other resources about knitting history. That segment is definitely going to be alot of fun because it combines my love for history and knitting but getting the information together and writing up something is the tricky part.

What other podcasts about knitting can you recommend?
I LOVE the UK podcasts: A Playful Day, Hoxton Handmade, Miss Elle Knits, Knit. Spin. Cake., Caithness Craft Collective, iMake, as well as Fluffy Fibres, Stash and Burn, 2 Knit Lit Chicks, The Knitmore Girls (:::runs to check iTunes for the rest of them…:::), Knit Knit Cafe, Knitajourney, Knitting Pipeline, The Manic Purl, Never Not Knitting, Just One More Row, Knitcircus, and soooo many more. And let’s not get started on the NON-knitting podcasts.

What is it about a pattern that inspires you to knit it?
First the design aesthetic – I really have to go “OOOO. LOVE. WANT.” to knit it. Second, I always ask myself, will it fit in my wardrobe and fit my personal style? Third, will I enjoy knitting it, regardless of who I am knitting it for (myself or someone else – which is a bit rare unless it’s my younger sister, who receives many knits and demands more).

VenusFueri’s Hemlock ‘Ring Blanket’ by Jared Flood

Who is your favorite knitwear designer?
Hands down, Brooklyn Tweed. Then we have patterns from the contributors to Quince & Co and St. Denis, Amy Christoffers and Ysolda. It’s a dash of urban flair, a dash of whimsy and a splash of prep which is what my personal style is.
Where is your favorite place to knit? Right now, in the basement of Word in Greenpoint, Brooklyn with the girls from No Sheep Till Brooklyn. It’s fun, its BYO-whatever (usually wine, cheese, pita, hummus and cupcakes) and with awesome people. I love to knit socially.

When at home, where is it that you knit and what is it about the space that makes it yours?
Right now, I really don’t have a space to call my own – I usually knit on the couch or at my desk However, Mel (the husband) just informed me recently that when we get the rest of the pieces for our tv unit, he will move his behemoth of an (evil) PC into the unit (don’t ask me why but he has plans to put it in one of the bookcases and connect it to the tv) but it means that the part of the bedroom which is “our” office space will become my “office/knitting area.”

Please describe your dream knitting nook and / or room.
Right now, I can say I have plans for that piece of wall in the bedroom: there will be plum vertical stripes painted along the wall. A desk with drawers to hold the extra sock yarn stashed amidst lesson plans and my gradebooks. Lot’s of shelves to hold knitting books, decor stuff (think brass bookends, milk glass and etsy finds) and the printer (to print worksheets but more importantly, knitting patterns). I will FINALLY get my Manhattan poster framed and hung with various travel photos and a drawing of the Moulin Rouge my uncle got when he went to Paris. I definitely need a cozy chair, and I’m thinking a Poang chair with a slip cover. There is still going to be a bookcase because I have way too many books (but having the knitting ones on shelves means more space for more knitting books!) Essentially, its IKEA meets Pottery Barn meets etsy meets Pinterest rolled into one. Still working on it, but I’ll make it work.

Venusfueri’s ‘I Carry Ur Heart” Fingerless Mitts, knit in Malabrigo Yarn Merino Worsted

How do you store your stash?
The summer I got back home from Japan, I worked at MUJI which is a Japanese-based lifestyle store in SoHo. They have these awesome storage drawers, but they are expensive. However, since I worked there, I was able to get some mildly damaged ones for 90% off. I call them the Two Towers because they are tall and skinny, but I have since outgrown them. I have another drawer set which is hidden in the closet. And then we have the PhD basket with more yarn in there, but we won’t talk about that. (^_~).

So tell us, where is the weirdest place you’ve ever knit?

While waiting on line at Studio Square in Astoria waiting for a Greek concert to start. Studio Square is a beer  garden with a VERY big European vibe which makes it a weird place to begin with, but then add a knitter amongst the other Greek Americans with their frappes and cell phones. It can make for a very strange scene.


Thank you so much for sharing! And now, please use the following space to say anything you’d like!

Thanks to Kristin for hosting me and asking me really thoughtful questions, and I hope that if you haven’t heard of the show, that the answers have piqued your interest. Love to hear from listeners!

Subscribe to the Subway Knits Podcast via iTunes, or visit her blog. Check out more of Maria’s FO’s on Ravelry: VenusFueri