09 Jul 2011

Episode 99: Meta

Pleasing stacks of things
Simmer Dim
A Knitter's Manifesto

In this episode: The thing that must not be mentioned, which we will never speak of again. Two stacks of knitting, both alike in dignity, in fair Llanteg, where we lay our scene. A summation of knitting triumphs and tragedies from the past several months. Data about the data. What’s next for Cast On.

Tragedies: Ester. I knit a cleverly constructed sweater that turned out not to be my sweater. It was some other girl’s sweater, and I’m sure she looks great in it.The Summit Shawl. I want one. Just not in this yarn.

Triumphs: Knitting! Stacks and stacks of it. Very pleasing. Especially the Simmer Dim, by Gudrun Johnston. After months of personal knitting FAILS, finally, a successful project where yarn like buttah and a pattern of extraordinary ease and beauty result in a knitting project that doesn’t suck. Lessons in getting out of the way of your knitting.

My new shop! Look around. Links to the shop and are here, there and everywhere.

Data about the data running through our knitting, our lives and, in particular, one project of enormous weight and substance. You can almost smell the meta coming off this project. The Artist’s Edition of the CD ships later this month. If you need a dose of meta NOW, baby, check out the cool meta badges on Felix’s blog and in her Etsy Shop. (Meta badges like these ship with the Artist’s Edition. Made from vintage knitting patterns, they are the awesome.)

Don’t forget to check out Welsh for Rainbow.

KniTunes were provided by and used with the permission of:



  1. Jenn wrote:

    Hooray!!!! So wonderful to hear you again – thank you so very much!!

    Posted on 7.9.11 ·
  2. felix wrote:


    Will download when home from Estonia on 13th x cannot WAIT to hear!

    Posted on 7.9.11 ·
  3. Mary Shue wrote:

    A big welcome back to your much beloved podcast

    Posted on 7.9.11 ·
  4. Lynne Wolters wrote:

    I have missed your podcast so very much.
    I have missed hearing your voice wrap me up in a verbal warm sweater.
    I have missed your storytelling and observations.
    I have missed feeling my connection to all knit sibs connected to this community you anchor.
    Thank you.
    Love you and this podcast B-I-G!!

    Posted on 7.9.11 ·
  5. Barb Thames wrote:


    I’m still sorry that I had to leave the UK urgently last September and didn’t get to meet with the CraftLit group so I could come meet you. But as you said today, life does intervene in our plans.

    It’s really good to hear from you and to know that things in your world have basically settled down somewhat.

    As to topics of interest for the future: The thing that I think has changed the knitting world the most has been the internet. When I knitted in the earlier days, I wasn’t always near an LYS and the yarns had no selection (acrylic or acrylic) and I quit for years. Coming back was a real wake-up in the 90’s and even more so now. I spend great amounts of time prowling yarn shops and pattern sites, downloading patterns (free and otherwise), hanging out in Ravelry checking on things — you name it.

    BUT I’ve been into computers from the start (programmer from the 70’s to 2007) so I’m comfortable with them. Many people aren’t. I think an ‘article’ on the ways to find patterns, bookmarking them for safekeeping, and other internet information might be good.

    And a related theme might be how to develop your own spreadsheet graphs for patterns that have none (and in the process, make them large enough to see!!).

    Again, welcome back.

    Posted on 7.9.11 ·
  6. Christine wrote:

    Thank you thank you! Lovely to listen again! Barely noticing I’m trapped at a railroad crossing!

    Posted on 7.9.11 ·
  7. LoriAngela wrote:

    Your podcast has been a window to modern knitting for me, from the start. I love how you connect us and reveal our triumphs and stumbles through your recordings. For the 100th show, I would like to know how Marie Irshad is doing. She is the first knitting podcaster I ever heard and I believe she was a friend of yours. Is she still one of our knitsibs?

    Posted on 7.9.11 ·
  8. Mara wrote:

    OOoooo Weekend knitting get aways and workshops….. Looking forward to seeing what goes in that part of the shop ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Liking the new website as well ๐Ÿ˜€

    Posted on 7.10.11 ·
  9. Brenda, I do so enjoy your podcast and I am sure I will enjoy it whatever format you chose.
    Exciting to hear about your business!
    You asked about designers, well I think Kate Davies at needled / textiles.com is well worth it, her designs and the process and stories behind them – the meta in a way – are fantastic in my opinion.
    Push on regardless and all the best for Vera.


    Posted on 7.10.11 ·
  10. Bravo!! You have one big ol’ fan saying a big ol’ thank you!!! I just found you in January and was catching up when you took your hiatus. I have missed you big, big, big time!! Seriously, the webwaves would have been a sad place without you, so I’m super happy you’re back!! Sorry, can’t talk anymore–must go shop in your shop! p.s. Thank you for being you!!

    Posted on 7.10.11 ·
  11. Welcome back, Brenda. Missed you.

    I’m still listening to the podcast, but even though I am only into the “good pile/bad pile” section of the cast, I just had to say:

    1- Your first song played was especially profound given your opening remarks.

    2- It is good to hear the old sweater song back again in your sweater segment.

    3- I cannot wait to see your book. May you sell it beyond your wildest dreams.

    Posted on 7.11.11 ·
  12. Lydia wrote:

    Great to hear your voice again. Lots of exciting irons in the fire too and I wish you great success. I also would second the suggestion of interviewing Kate Davies of Needled blog. An incredible woman who has certainly inspired me to greater creativity. I also think her dog, Bruce, would be happy to meet your little friends too!

    Wishing you and your family well through difficult times.

    Posted on 7.11.11 ·
  13. Lydia wrote:

    Me again. The beautiful birdsong of the thrush just took me straight back to childhood in England and a summer’s day….. Thank you.

    Posted on 7.11.11 ·
  14. Merry wrote:

    All praise to the Universe, Brenda is back!
    Ok, maybe a bit over the top, but that is close to what I was feeling when I saw that you had uploaded a new podcast. And then, my heart went into my throat when you started talking about how you can’t make enough money just doing the podcast. It is so frustrating to me, because like you, many of my favorite podcasters are having the financial reality hit them squarely in the pocketbook.
    I wish you the very best going forward. I have already done a bit of shopping in your store. I plan to continue.
    As for folks I’d like to see you feature, I love meeting new designers, and I like hearing about other knitting podcasts. Mostly I just love that voice!
    Please don’t ever go away for so long again! Put back the donation button too! There might be the occasional person who doesn’t want to buy, they just want to donate. Let them!

    Posted on 7.11.11 ·
  15. I am so glad to hear Cast On again! For once, can’t wait to begin my commute!

    Posted on 7.11.11 ·
  16. Jeremy wrote:


    I just wanted to drop you a line to say thank you for being you and for being awesome. You have been in and out of my sightline for the last four or five years that you’ve been podcasting (I’ve listened to them all, though not necessarily in the correct order), and even the times when you’re on a break, I often think of your words and your incredibly heartfelt you-ness. You’re an amazing woman and a fantastic podcaster, and I cherish every minute that you talk to us.

    You make me very happy. Thank you for every minute that you put into Cast On.

    (And I want to echo Merry above about the donation button. You don’t have to say anything about it, just let it sit there.)

    Posted on 7.11.11 ·
  17. Phil Ayoub wrote:

    Hey Brenda…thank you so much for including my song in your podcast! I really appreciate it and glad you liked the song enough to include it in Cast On!
    -Phil Ayoub

    Posted on 7.11.11 ·
  18. hunter wrote:

    So glad to see (and hear) that you are back. The new projects seem marvelous, and I look forward to learning more about them.

    And I, personally, find it very interesting to watch as you try and find a way to strike a balance between respecting your art and earning a living. It can be so awkward to bring money into something you do out of love, but you handle it with a grace and poise that I find inspiring.

    Posted on 7.11.11 ·
  19. Rae wrote:

    Sigh… just finished podcast 99 while I started to draw my next font– London Doodles. Thanks for keeping me company as I drew Big Ben, a telephone booth, the flag and a crown.

    So pleased you will 1. continue to find a way to continue to podcast as your bring so much to so many. And 2. That you will treat your business like a business. That is the first step to making money. Go Brenda!

    Posted on 7.12.11 ·
  20. Marisa wrote:

    As always, such an inspirational joy to listen to, Brenda. I am glad you found a way that suits you to continue the podcast . I, for one, won’t miss the music too much, it’s your eloquence and unique perspective that have kept me coming back. Looking forward to future Cast-On!

    Posted on 7.12.11 ·
  21. jamie wrote:

    Great to have another episode. I for one did not mind the discussions about earning a living. This is unfortunately part of managing as an artist – dealing with the balance of one’s own work, day-job, etc. There is no good answer but the questions have to be asked if what we do is going to survive long term. Is this by chance something that we (as women) have some difficulty dealing with?

    Also, sorry to see the donation button go. I put money in the tip jar as I am able. (As an aside there is no more weavecast, the presenter now has a full time job.)

    Just my thoughts, jamie

    Posted on 7.12.11 ·
  22. Wyn Jones wrote:

    It was wonderful to hear you again!

    I started a Summit Shawl, after seeing yours, and got bored. Part of the problem was that I was using a solid color yarn. So I frogged it and it is becoming a Dragon Wing Shawl (in the current Knitty). This one is Hunter Green. I might have to do one in red, for Y Draig Goch. (It’s the Welsh coming out in me. I will be ordering the book!)

    I don’t have any clever ideas for Episode 100 – except “More Brenda!”.

    Posted on 7.13.11 ·
  23. Chelsea wrote:

    It is so refreshing to hear your podcast again! Although I haven’t been listening from the *very* beginning, yours was the first podcast I discovered when I (finally) thought about looking for knitting communities online. I immediately listened to all of the back episodes as quickly as possible, enjoying ever nanosecond [and only skipping the music sometimes ๐Ÿ˜‰ ].

    I am deeply sympathetic (and equally disappointed) about the fact that podcasting will not allow you to earn a living, but I am excited about the prospect of a new (more frequent) format. I am even MORE thrilled about your book – BRAVO! I can’t wait to order! I couldn’t always support your podcast, but I am so very grateful for the opportunity to support your other knitterly pursuits.

    As for requests for future content:

    I adore the “Today’s Sweater” song (please keep it!). I would love to continue to hear Today’s Sweater in future episodes, even if the entire episode was the Today’s Sweater segment.

    I have a huge, monstrous knitcrush on Ann Weaver. My memory is akin to swiss cheese, so you may or may not have featured her before. Even if you have, I’d go googly-eyed for another Ann Weaver feature.

    Somebody else suggested knitting and the internet, and I think that’s a wonderful topic. Along those lines, I would find yarn bombing and yarn-y fine art interesting.

    As a moderate to hardcore DIY-er, I’d love to hear about new, unexpected DIY projects for knitting, crochet, or spinning paraphernalia.

    As for the 100th episode, perhaps it would be cool (or maybe just a big headache) to let listeners take the reins for a little while – send in essays or audio or pictures relating to the podcast. Let us entertain you!

    Thanks for Everything!

    Posted on 7.13.11 ·
  24. Angela wrote:

    I’m so glad that you’ve had another enlightenment – you are my knitting Madonna with reinventing yourself ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m so glad that you’re moving towards selling stuff while continuing podcasting.

    For the 100th episode I’d love to hear about how you decide which fiber events to go to. I am overwhelmed with festivals, retreats and cruises and all things knitting/spinning. I want to go to them all but with limited funds and time for travel I’m constantly torn. Do you pick a particular month and say “this is the time I’m going to do something” or a particular event that’s a can’t miss or is it tied to a designer/blogger/teacher? Right now I have drawn the line so that I can think about going if I can drive there, so about 6 hours away. I feel like I need to have a separate travel fund just for all the knitting/spinning events I want to go to in the future. Sock Summit, Knit Nation, Stitches, SOAR, local festivals, out of state festivals, knitting cruises, knitting vacations, etc.

    I have always wanted to visit Wales so I’m looking forward to hearing more about your holidays offerings. I plan to be very busy when I retire someday ๐Ÿ™‚

    Great job and I can’t wait to hear the new format that you have in mind.

    Posted on 7.13.11 ·
  25. Lisa wrote:

    Welcome back! We are all so glad to hear you again. A new format will surely refresh you and your listeners…especially if it allows you to make a living! ๐Ÿ™‚ I look forward to hearing your voice and your perspective each time. (Even though I don’t knit, I crochet…can we still be friends? LOL)

    Posted on 7.14.11 ·
  26. JacquieK wrote:

    So very glad your back! I missed hearing about you and you family- Tonya, the pets, you boys and of course you!
    Have you thought maybe having a 100th show on 100 tips?
    Howabout letting listeners call in and talk for like 30 seconds to 1 minute about something to do with the podcast? Maybe a favorite part. Maybe how Cast on has touched their lives somehow.
    Just a few ideas, and welcome back knit sub!

    Posted on 7.16.11 ·
  27. Hi Brenda,

    So nice to hear you again! I would like to suggest for any upcoming interviews for the 100th episode that perhaps you could talk with a designer? I’m thinking Gudrun Johnston, Jarod Flood/Brooklyn Tweed, Rosemary (Romi) Hill, Anne Hanson, Ysolda Teague, Stephen West, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (The Yarn Harlot), Cat Bordhi, Star Athena, and so many other lovely options ๐Ÿ™‚


    Posted on 7.16.11 ·
  28. Ann-Marie wrote:

    Iยดm soooo happy to hear your voice and podcast again. Iยดve missed you! I love Todayยดs sweater so please keep it going. Iยดm looking forward to your book. Well, really Iยดm looking forward to hear you tell us about knitters, knitting, patterns, yarns, books, nature, life and whatever. Thank you for charing!

    Posted on 7.16.11 ·
  29. Josie wrote:

    wonderful show! wish I had a friend like Felix. Missed you Brenda xx

    Posted on 7.17.11 ·
  30. Connie wrote:

    I was listening to the podcast today, and I smiled and laughed aloud and sighed too.
    I am definitely going to order the book, and I look forward to seeing what is going to go into that knitting vacation section!

    Posted on 7.18.11 ·
  31. Krystofer wrote:

    welcome back brenda you have been missed!

    Posted on 7.21.11 ·
  32. Kate wrote:

    It’s lovely to hear from you! I’m sorry you weren’t able to make a living from podcasting, but I am very happy that you have not given it up altogether. Yours was the very first podcast I listened to way back when, and I still enjoy it so much. I hope you will be rewarded richly for sharing it, even if it’s not with money.

    Posted on 7.21.11 ·
  33. Wendy wrote:

    Hi Brenda

    Devoted listener here! I’ve been catching up on all your casting in the last two years. Always great to hear your voice and glad you are looking at ways to make some bucks. Your process is always good to listen to. You are mindful in all your processes, something I appreciate your sharing! You asked fr requests for the 100th episode, here are my suggestions!
    1) something from Chubb Creek’s Dave…the podcast I repeatedly listen to is the one wear Ethel wields the addi turbos as she knits the bodysuit…
    2) a comment on Parlour Dames…where is that gal and why can’t I pay for some of that music? I assume there are licensing issues..
    3) fyi, a favorite part of your podcasts for me is you historical content, interviewing fiber folks who know about the past< Im sure these are timeconsuming to produce…

    You are a born broadcaster! I'm looking forward to touring Wales with you!

    Oh yeah, Have you read "Running for the Hills" by Horatio Clare? Here's a link to my blog where I did a review http://spinsjal.blogspot.com/2010/11/biased-book-review-running-for-hills.html (not a shameless plus, if you don't know about this book you should). Clare grew up in Pembrokeshire on a sheep farm.

    best, Wendy

    Posted on 7.22.11 ·
  34. So pleased you are back broadcasting and blogging again – you are the perfect accompaniment to a good cup of tea and some knitting. I also HAVE to adapt a pattern, I just can’t leave it alone. Really regretted it when I decided I needed to adjust the sizing for Ysolda Teague’s Matilda Jane, there is now far too much fabric around the chest area, which isn’t very flattering. I’m determined not to rip it back, but it bothers me when I wear it. And I know Ysolda is a brilliant designer and her patterns are well written and constructed, wny couldn’t I trust her expertise? Is it a control thing? Is it a matter of taste?

    Posted on 7.23.11 ·
  35. Mary C wrote:

    I’ve been on catch up mode since the beginning of 2011, I’m on #30. When I find a new podcast I treat like a book and start at the beginning and listen chapter by chapter and never cheat by reading the last chapter. Heather at Craft-lit mentioned your back so I decided to break my rule and listen to # 99. I’m sorry to hear of Tonya’s mothers illness but glad she is having her good days. Your new life plan sounds wonderful, but my problem is I don’t know your new furry babies. I need to start listening faster.
    A Quilter that Knits,
    Mary NW Houston TX USA
    Ps. My DH really likes your voice. His latest comment was “she plays some unusual music.” DH is a classic rock fan;-)

    Posted on 7.24.11 ·
  36. Jen wrote:

    I didn’t realise it but my knitting projects have been languishing because there was no Cast On podcasts to remind me and give me permission to work on my knitting (or as the boys call it ‘my secret shame’). It seems I need a community behind me to help me keep going. Cast On had become a signal to me that it was MY time to knit. Knit and meditate on the thoughts and themes that you bring to the forefront in your podcasts. I stopped thriving when you went off the air, certainly an important part of me did.

    I’m looking forward to hearing Cast On as it evolves. Whatever direction it takes, count me in for the ride. I think we need you more than you need us.


    Posted on 7.24.11 ·
  37. Isabelle wrote:

    So glad you are back, Brenda! Wonderful episode. I loved all the special sounds by Felix. Listening to you always leaves me with a wonderful sense of inner peace. Thank you so much.
    Listening to you talk about meta made me smile, as we also talk quite a bit about meta(-textuality) in literature, and it is a topic particularly dear to my heart in my own research. I loved hearing it being applied to knitting.

    Again, so glad that you are back, and that you will be doing the shows at your own rhythm. You are such a special part of the online knitting community.

    Posted on 7.25.11 ·
  38. Erin wrote:

    yes! I am so glad for you with your new business venture!!! ๐Ÿ™‚
    I hope you have the very best success, and I hope to scrape together enough bones to BUY! because your broadcast work is very, very good, and you tend to go on and on about things I like.

    Posted on 7.27.11 ·
  39. A propos of projects that aren’t as fabulous in their finished state as they were in our imaginations before they were begun: I have just started listening to Neil Gaiman’s book “American Gods,” which is recorded from the 10th anniversary edition of the book, which is different than the originally published version. In the introduction to the 10th anniv. ed., he describes a novel as “a long piece of writing with problems.” By extension then, a sweater (or any other piece of knitting that is large in scale and/or complex in design) is “a large piece of knitting with problems.” Some of these problems the designer may have been aware of, and attempted to solve in a particular way; others may only be problems for a particular knitter.
    The point is that expecting perfection is unrealistic. At the end you have to decide if the problems are ones you can live with, or ones you can’t. If you can’t, you can either repurpose the yarn, or give the object away (maybe that yarn that has been reworked past its prime needs to go into a charity blanket and given to someone who just wants to be warm).
    I am coming to the end of a quilting project that has consumed the better part of 3 years. It’s a large piece of quilting with problems. There are parts of it I’m not happy with at all. There are other parts that I think are splendid. But in the end I’ve learned a huge amount in the process of the making. And it will keep members of my family warm through a Canadian winter. And that’s good enough.
    Welcome back. Please keep podcasting. And please keep sharing you. That’s what podcasts are for.

    Posted on 7.28.11 ·
  40. Robin wrote:

    So great to have your podcast back, really enjoyed it and wish you all the best with your new endeavor!

    Posted on 8.2.11 ·
  41. Kiki wrote:

    Hi Brenda,

    Wonderful to hear from you again, I have missed your voice! So glad you played Dala!! Great song.

    Posted on 8.2.11 ·
  42. Jen wrote:

    Ah, I thought that was Dala! I’ve seen them live, thank you for promoting some good Canadian girls. I just wanted to say thank you for continuing to entertain and inspire, especially in the face of adversity and nay-sayers. I love your wit, your voice, your honesty. And even my DH now makes a light sabre noise every time I mention my Addi Turbos.

    Posted on 8.6.11 ·
  43. T.Crockett wrote:

    I took a class recently to learn the magic loop method and bought my first circular needle. When I saw they carried Addi turbos, I had to get them. How could I resist when each time I see them I’ll hear your Addi/laser sound effect? Ok, the instructor saying that they have a smoother cord to needle interface than other brands played a part too, but I’m loving them in either case.

    I was having a rotten day and then realized I’d heard Heather Ordover say you had a new podcast up. A couple clicks and my day’s improving already. Thanks as always for a great show.

    Posted on 8.13.11 ·
  44. Jen wrote:

    Where can I buy & download Barbara Brousal’s song Leroy’s Sweater?

    Posted on 10.14.11 ·
  45. Caroline wrote:

    Hi Brenda – I am so far behind on my podcasts but I had to stop by and say how good it is to hear you again. I am pleased that you have come up with a way forward and look forward to hearing and seeing more about it in the future – plan to listen to episodes 100 onwards ASAP. Best wishes and happy knitting C

    Posted on 11.15.11 ·
  46. Carin wrote:

    I have missed you, WELCOME BACK!!!!!
    I love your voice, your stories and I have tried to find someone as good as you during your away time, but with no luck….. Please, please stay with us this time ๐Ÿ™‚
    Lots of love!

    Posted on 1.17.12 ·

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