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Episode 49: Woolly Wonders

by Brenda Dayne on May 25, 2007

This week Chicago writer, Franklin Habit, shares a Secret Life – Advice from a Poncho.

If you haven’t done so, you really must read Cold Comfort Farm. It’s for your own good. There may be a pop quiz, and I wouldn’t want you to be embarrassed.

Catch the Jitterbug! I’m knitting Elfine’s Socks in Velvet Moss. Of course Bother Amos’ socks should only be knit in Fire .

Check out the new knitting podcast, Stitch Stud and his Bride.

Join at the Sunday Spin Along at Needles on the Move.

SoaySoay sheep are cute, and you gotta love a sheep who gives you free fiber.

Wonderwool Wales was fab! Join me next year. You can find out more about Wonderwool Wales, and the Bowmont Project at Glasu. Bowmont yarn will be available soon, through the website. It’s not there yet, but I fondled this stuff, and it’s wonderful. Keep checking.

Sincere thanks to the many musicians who allowed me to record their music at the festival.


{ 75 comments… read them below or add one }

51 Ramona June 2, 2007 at 4:10 am

More. Franklin. More!

52 Susan (Hyperactive Hands) June 2, 2007 at 12:55 pm

I know this was a tough series for you, but you wrapped it up beautifully. Thanks for continuing to put out the show when you could, despite the health problems. I’m always willing to wait, because the quality never disappoints. I really loved the Secret Lives of Stitches series of stories. I never miss an episode of Quirky Nomads, so of course I enjoyed Sage’s piece, and Franklin’s essay was beautiful. Seriously, I have such a crush on Franklin’s blog. I love his writing style.

Anyway, thanks for all you do, and see you in series 5! It’s going to be a long hot summer and I am going to be hugely pregnant for the whole damn thing, so any distraction will be welcome!

53 Angie June 2, 2007 at 10:01 pm

Thanks for another wonderful podcast. It really must be a lot of work, but some of us have no idea what you really do. I think perhaps when you mentioned what a lot of work it really is, you were misunderstood. Your voice may have betrayed some of the exhaustion of your continuing recovery and it didn’t fit into the bliss and leisure in which we listen to you.
Your listeners leave very intelligent comments and you have made the knitting world come alive to me. I am a bit isolated, but with the on-line community, I have found mentors and entertainers and people with whom to share my (our)passion for fibre.
I definitely think you should be able to make a living out of such a professionl, enriching and empowering podcast because you make my life better. I will gladly subscribe soon.

54 Gill June 3, 2007 at 5:42 pm

Really enjoyed the show whilst winding some wool.

Thanks for introducing me to Franklin’s world via the Welsh team for the Knitting Olympics. I love his blog and amazingly his voice sounded just as I imagined. I’m going to have to go back and listen to his previous essays. I really think he should come over to Woolfest next year (with Dolores of course) as part of his 1,000 portraits of knitters projects.

Jitterbug has totally converted my husband into a hand knitted sock fan: he now has several pairs including a pair in Lapis which are his favourites. I have a skein of Fire and it’s totally right for Brother Amos’ socks.

Thanks so much for reminding me of Cold Comfort Farm – one of my favourite books and must dig it out of the pile. Think it was the BBC did an amazing adaption of it some years ago.

Love the idea of a book of patterns based on fictional characters – there was an interesting thread on someone’s blog re: what would Jane Austen’s characters wear.

Have made a contribution and would be more than happy to pay and annual subscription.

You might be interested but the national residential centre for Girl Guides was Broneirion which is here in Mid Wales and although also used as a meetings/conference venue is still used by the Girl Guides.

I’m on leave week after next so shall enjoy catching up on some of the past episodes I’ve missed.

55 Annie June 4, 2007 at 2:38 am

Hi Brenda,

Love the podcasts! I’ve never commented before, so I’m sorry that this first comment will be a little on the negative side.

Your thoughts on artists (especially fiber artists) being fairly paid for their work seem somewhat contradictory. Yes, it would be wonderful if we could sell our pieces, patterns, fibers for their real worth. But you yourself are only too eager to snatch up a bargain, as you did standing with your open sack collecting the plucking of the Soay sheep. Did not the raiser of the sheep have costs associated with producing that fiber? Did it not have value? True, it’s only a raw material, not a finished piece of art, but there is still some value to it, and without the person responsible for raising that sheep, providing it with food and shelter, a valuable link to our craft would be lost. Isn’t that worth supporting?

56 Liza NYC June 4, 2007 at 3:53 am

Brenda, thank you for continuing to podcast despite the challenges you’ve been facing this year. I really appreciate your efforts. I love seeing that little blue button in Itunes alerting me to a new podcast. Enjoy your break. See you at camp. Also, I forgot to tell you that my daughter and I made a special point of stopping by Briar Rose’s booth at Rhinebeck last year, mentioning your name and spending money. Liza NYC

57 Kate June 4, 2007 at 6:01 am

Brenda, hi.

I’m a long time listner and a first time… commenter? I wanted to say, I love love love Cast on, and am extremely sad that I’ve finished the archives and now have to wait for a *new* one to come out. Too depressing. however, it is always, always worth the wait.

I also wanted to ask, is there any chance of getting Franklin’s segments as seperate downloads? Not that anything can compete with your own dulcet tones, but I wanted to share a couple of them with some friends, and I lack the technical ability to zip them out of your show. Plus, I would feel kind of rude doing so.

In conclusion, thankyou for reminding me that for all the personal, private joy that knitting brings me, there is twice as much to be had form our (worldwide) community and from introspection about our craft (art?) Thanks, and keep up the good work.


58 Bells June 4, 2007 at 6:50 am

I would love to design a pair of socks for Mr Rochester.

I think I would make them very dark – probably charcoal verging on black with some red worked in there because he’s a man with a dark spirit but great passion. Probably Heathcliffe would borrow them – but I think Mr Rochester is a little more refined than Heathcliffe.

Give us more Franklin. Love him to bits.

59 Bells June 4, 2007 at 6:51 am

Oops, meant to say CCF is a marvellous book and I love the movie too. A rare case of both being excellent. have you seen the movie Brenda?

60 Beverley June 4, 2007 at 12:05 pm

Hi Brenda, just wanted to say I enjoyed the podcast. I have listened all the way since the very beginning and yours is the one I get most excited about when I see Itunes start up that download button for Cast-on. Looking forward to series 5.

61 Robin June 4, 2007 at 3:18 pm

Brenda, I always save your podcast for a time when I can sit and knit or spin without interruption. I put on my headphones and it is the most delicious hour of my week. I was so excited when I heard about Series 5. I, too, was a Campfire Girl and lived for those hours in the Craft Cabin. When you mentioned the hand sign for Campfire, I just smiled, stopped spinning and did it. I had forgotten about that! What fun to remember those times at summer camp. I have a box with all my old Campfire stuff, I’m going to go through it now and slip back into a more innocent time. I can’t wait for your next podcast.

62 Cindy June 5, 2007 at 12:50 am

Hi Brenda,
First let me say I am enjoying your pod cast. I’ve listened to you from the beginning and you have set a standard for all knitting pod casters which is hard to come up to. Continue to keep up the good work.
In the past, you have mentioned that you are sick of the “not your granny’s knitting.” We’ve been having long discussions on the listservs about this phrase and we not going to take it any more. Well, so am I. I’m a 56-year-old grandmother who likes to knit traditional and hip things. And when it gets right down to it, it IS your granny’s knitting — everyone is still knitting and purling, aren’t they?
To get back at the yarn and patterns companies that continue to use this phrase, I have designed a t-shirt to let them know that “I am a grandmother who knits” and I’m proud of it! When you get a chance, take a look at my original design.
Thanks again for all the contributions you have made to knitting and fiber.

63 Alli June 6, 2007 at 1:13 am

Happy Birthday Brenda!

64 Thea June 6, 2007 at 3:17 am

Greetings Brenda:
I am a new listener and I love the world of podcasting. Of course…it goes without saying….you certainly know by now, Cast-on is my favorite and I cannot believe the creativity that you bestow on us. I feel so fortunate to be able to listen to your thoughts and that you have the guts…I mean…BALLS to share yourself with us. I felt like a long, lost knitsib from the first time I listened to you. As for the knitting, I am even more obsessed than ever before. Thanks A LOT!!!

I am really glad you are in this world, you make mine even more full.

65 Barbara June 6, 2007 at 3:39 am

Brenda, I started listening a couple of months ago when getting ready for GLB-knit camp in Vermont. my sweetie loaned me her ipod and downloaded a number of the middle Cast On episodes to listen to on the flights back and forth.

I’ve been slowly catching up and wanted to stop by and drop a donation.

Thanks for all you do to make this show great.

66 Kristin June 6, 2007 at 3:26 pm

Brenda, I would like to email you my podcast promo… is there a way to email you?

67 Amber in Albuquerque June 6, 2007 at 9:13 pm


Thanks for having Franklin on the podcast. I just love his blog and I’m still crying from his wonderful tribute to his poncho and his grandmother. He’s a keeper.

As far as socks based on literary characters, I recently went to the Fiber Arts Fiesta in Albuquerque, NM and bought some silk yarn (for socks) from Red Fish designs. I’m a relatively new knitter (September 2006) and the lightness of the yarn and the triple ought needles used to knit it kind of scared me, but fiber mania knows no bounds. I haven’t cast on with it yet, but I fully intend to post to my blog ( that this yarn will make ‘socks suitable for Arwen’ (Lord of the Rings)…now all I have to do is find (or design) an Arwen pattern (or maybe you want to give that a shot!).

Love the podcast!

68 Jenna June 7, 2007 at 2:08 am

Yet another delightful show!
Thanks Brenda for all your hard work. Your podcst is like a nice long soak in a warm tub, it makes all the stress go away.
Thank you so very much!

Happy Birthday! I wish you a year filled with joy!

69 Susanna June 7, 2007 at 12:05 pm

Happy birthday! May your stash grow! :D

70 Jan June 8, 2007 at 2:02 am

I love your podcasts. I listen while I’m on the treadmill and it makes excersizing SOOOOO much more tolerable. Your podcasts contain a wealth of info and I hope you can figure out how to make it work financially. Just an idea, I listen to another great podcasts “This American Life” by Ira Glass each week. Each week listeners can downloaded for free off of ITunes or from the website. For backlog episodes, listeners fork over a buck to download per episode. I think it’s a very fair price especially when one is looking for entertainment when traveling, working out or knitting. Same price as a pack of gum and so much more enjoyable!

Series 5 sounds like a kick. I was a Brownie (Girl Scouts) and we always thought that the Bluebirds (Campfire Girls) were the “wilder … looser” crowd. I still have my girl scout sash with all my earned badges. When Brownies became certified Scouts, we walked over a bridge. What did Campfire girls do? Guess I’ll have to stay tuned!

71 Kristine June 11, 2007 at 10:03 pm

Hi Brenda —

I appreciate your comments about artists and funding. I found them very diplomatic. Truly. I have a small fiber/ textile based business. Sometimes, I compare my spinning and dyeing to others on the internet i.e. etsy and I notice how little is charged for such beautiful yarn/ roving. Spinning and dyeing fiber is truly a form of art and a specialized craft that deserves financial recognition. There is such an enormous amount of time and care put into making such products. In my own product, the cost charged does not truly cover the acutal amount of time and energy I spend on creating the product because I must stay competitive with the current marketplace online while also trying to make a buck in the wholesale/ brick and mortar marketplace. I write off the unaccounted time spent to the passion for fiber account. Granted that much of the above information and working to balance such trials and tribulations are part of the art of being a business woman, my request of artists who post their goods on etsy and online/ blog shops, let’s respect ourselves, try to truly post a monetary amount that reflects our work and talent. That way we can all eat and continue to grow our companies.

As far as funding podcasts goes…I appreciate the internet for the DIY community it has spawned. Before the internet, I have to imagine that it would have been nearly impossible for someone to have started a small yarn business and compete with the large yarn companies. Moreover, before the internet, or itunes for that matter, the platform for free speech radio and podcasts was non-existant. I love podcasts. I think it offers an entire different element to the blog world. I appreciate the amount of information you are giving us. You are helping to build a global community and you deserve to be paid. I think that it is great that you have a donate button on your site.

72 Liz Plummer June 13, 2007 at 2:40 pm

Brenda, thank you for your wonderful podcast. I love listening to it, and especially this one because I was at Wonderwool Wales too! I posted some pics (mostly of the sheep!) on my blog here: .

73 annie June 16, 2007 at 11:54 pm

This was the first Cast On podcast that I listened to, and I thoroughly enjoyed it all. “Secret Life – Advice from a Poncho” rang so true as I recalled the women who taught me to knit, crochet, embroider and sew. Just beautiful.

74 amelia July 12, 2007 at 3:49 pm

I though about your idea of knitting socks based on characters from a book.

I want to knit brown angora baby booties…I just read Watership down. A book by Richard Adams. I think that Brown angora baby booties would remind me of Big Wig. I think I’d put a darker chocolate rim on the booties. Because bigwig is brown with a dark brown spot on his head that looks like a little wig.

for my big wig
I cast on big wig’s booties.

75 Julie February 13, 2008 at 4:38 pm

This is one of my favorite episodes, I have it my “favorite podcasts” playlist. What makes it so appealing to me?

1. The song Breakable.
2. The Secret Life of Stitches essay It really made me think the first time I heard it. This is the knitting legacy that we were left with. The knitting grandmas kept the craft alive in their acrylic yarns and tacky projects so that someday, we could knit just to knit. They are our knitting pioneers and we should honor them and be proud of the grandmotherly knitting past that we have.

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