What would you choose if you were program director of your own knitting radio show? You can actually do that with podcasts! “Podcast” – put simply, an audio file that can be downloaded and played at will – got its name from the iPod, but you don’t need one of those gadgets to enjoy listening. All you really need is a computer with an Internet connection (preferably something approaching high-speed) and speakers. Of course if you have an mp3 player of any kind, you can take your show on the road with you!
There are a number of different audio file types (we won’t go into that here) but mp3 files can be played by your computer’s software or transferred to a portable player. My Dell Ditty mp3 player looks like this:
It’s been around for a while, and you can’t buy them any more, but it’s tiny (BIC cigarette lighter size), and holds plenty for my purposes. I can get 20 hours or more of spoken audio on this, but less music. I like the fact that it has an internal battery that is recharged by plugging in to a USB port. No replacing of batteries for me!
Okay, back to podcasts. Knitting podcasts feature interviews, instructions, book reviews, “what’s-on-my-needles”, KALs (Knit Alongs), music, or ANYTHING that can be talked about or played. You can find a bunch of them at Podcast Alley . Today, I find 51 listings, and ranging from “Musings of a Peaceful Knitter” to “Insubordiknit”, so you should find something there to your liking! Other ways to find podcasts are through iTunes, or links from your favorite blogs. Better yet, go to the Knitting Podcasts blog for an updated listing.
One that I listen to often, and like to send beginning podcast listeners to, is at KnitPicks. This weekly podcast is relaxed and informative. (The fact that Kelley Petkun used to work in the library world, learned to spin at about the same time I did, recommends Jacqueline Fee’s “The Knitting Workshop” and Elizabeth Zimmerman, and has similar reading tastes to mine, creates a real sense of connection for me.) Have a look at the instructions at the bottom of each show’s summary:
Great, simple instructions for users who need to know exactly how to download the files.
If you will be listening at your computer, just double-click on the downloaded file to start playing it! Your media player software will open, with controls for start/stop/volume, etc. If you have an mp3 player, transfer the files from your computer according to its instructions, than take it with you to listen while driving, or when you take a walk, or just sitting in your comfy knitting place.
Once you find some podcasts you like, you’ll probably want to go to the companion blogs for ‘show notes’ – links to websites mentioned on the show, pictures, or other stuff.
Just a few of the podcasts I like are:
You can also subscribe to most podcast feeds using your feed reader (see this previous post). That way, you don’t have to go looking when you think of it – just log in to your feed reader and see what’s new and waiting for you.
…and Ready, Set, Knit! in my feed reader.
From here, I could just click on the > arrow to play one without saving the file.
Now, go create your knitting radio-on-demand!
NOTE ADDED 03/25/08: Wouldn’t you know it… the “community” part of KnitPicks’ website has been restructured, and the podcast area looks totally different today! But if you click on the link above (in the short list of podcasts), you’ll see the page I’m familiar with… unless they are still working on the update!