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That's Entertainment!

Uncle Stashley likes to knit almost as much as he likes to read (I haven't, for instance, begun to knit in the bathtub yet, although now that I've written that down I'm itching to give it a try, once I have a scarf long enough that it can dangle off to the left and through the curtain). Unlike Sam-I-Am's difficult friend, who refused to try Green Eggs and Ham under any reasonable circumstance, I definitely would and could knit them in a house, with a mouse, in a box, with a fox, in a car, train, in the dark (I'm not great at it, but I keep trying).

But I prefer to knit while being entertained. You can too! Consider these options: you can

  • Watch TV (whether live, streamed, recorded, or downloaded). Uncle Stashley's all-time fave show is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but it's probably too intense for knitting along to.

  • Listen to Audiobooks--Amy Tam's 100 Secret Senses is great, and read by the author.

  • Read an Actual Book (only for advanced knitters who unlike me can knit in the dark, since reading a book pretty much requires eyes on the book, not the knitting). If you can manage it, go big or go home--try George Eliot's Middlemarch. It's amazing.

  • Listen to Music (you can really splurge here, like listening to entire operas or symphonies, or the oeuvre of a recently-discovered deceased songwriter, etc.) You could do worse than see if the sweater gets finished before you run out of David Bowie albums.

  • Listen to Podcasts. I used to think they were stupid, then I started walkin' around, wearing my Fitbit, trying to get 15,000 steps in, and I realised how much in love with them I was. They're also perfect for knitting to. For knitting podcasts, there are so many good ones, but I like the giggling ladies of the PomPom Podcast.

  • If you like sports, you can attend Sporting Events. I don't get it, but I also don't judge. I have zero recommendations--well, maybe soccer, since they expect you to bring your own chair, and you can bring a comfy one.

  • Go to Actual Performances of Things (just don't be distracting, I suppose). I can see knitting along to a string quartet, not so much to Hamilton, say.

My all-time favourite knitting entertainment is when I'm home watching Australian Competitive Reality TV Shows (I'm Canadian, but I have my ways). I've tried other productions. Doctor Who is great, but too tense for truly relaxed knitting. I'm also watching Japanese anime One Piece at my nephew Finn's suggestion, but the need to keep reading subtitles makes for slower project progress. Nope, it's mostly Australian Competitive Reality TV shows for me, and here's why:

[Quick digression--if you're wondering why I would veer so far from knitting as to be recommending specific shows to watch, there is precedence! Listen to the early days of the KnitPicks podcast, where Kelley Petkun routinely recommended audiobooks, and once went so far as to devote an entire podcast to her interview of an editor from her favourite audio-books publisher! So I'm well-within instructional-knitting standards here.]

Unlike the fast pace of U.S. or British Competitive Reality TV Shows (e.g. Top Chef, The Great British Bake Off, Face Off, America's Next Top Model, etc.), authentic Australian Competitive Reality TV Shows are apparently aired every weeknight, and normally amass 50- 60 episodes per season. Per season! That's like every episode of The Great British Bake Off, all seasons combined!

Take Masterchef Australia. It looks approximately like this:

  • Monday: they start with a mystery box challenge which one person wins, who then gets an advantage in the invention test, and finally someone creates the worst dish, and if this were the U.S. they'd be sent home (or maybe four of them at once, to speed things along, like in ABC's revamped American Idol). But not in Australia! Nope, the worst cook merely ends up in that week's bottom three.

  • Tuesday: there's a team competition, and the worst team battles it out, and the worst member of the worst team ends up in that week's bottom three.

  • Wednesday: Yet another episode to establish worst of the week #3, probably with an intimidating special guest chef. Phew!

  • Thursday: the three worst cooks fight it out in a pressure test, and one of them is sent home. But wait, there's more!

  • Friday: Now the top 3 performers compete to win an immunity pin.

So 5 episodes a week, each more compelling than the last. And you really get to know everyone, and they essentially narrate the show with diary room footage, so you can listen with both ears but only look up from your knitting when you feel like it--like when the final dish is presented. Even for 15 contestants, that's about 75 seconds of actually looking time, tops, for a whole hour.

I'm also a big fan of:

  • The Block (4-5 couples compete to renovate an entire house/apartment, then it's auctioned off, and they win the difference between assessment and auction price)

  • My Kitchen Rules (18 couples host rotating pop-up restaurants)

  • House Rules (6-ish couples renovate one another's houses, one house at a time)

  • Australia's Next Top Model (like America's Next Top Model, but with contestants who actually look like they could succeed in the business and are rarely over 20)

  • Survivor Australia (like Survivor, but longer), and

  • Amazing Race Australia (pretty much the same program, only with Australians).

  • I even watched Celebrity Apprentice Australia and was thrilled to know many of the contestants from their appearance on early Australian Competitive Reality TV shows.

Coming Soon on Uncle Stashley's Blog:

Double-Knitting*, the Tutorial. Uncle Stashley is about to teach you something useful, for a change. You may have attempted double-knitting before, but never with Uncle Stashley's patented (I'm lying, it's not patented, it's probably not even patentable) "Brady Bunch" method! Stay tuned.

On the Needles

(I will mark with a ! when I have advanced beyond last mention)

!Cabled Viking Hat (On 28th round)

!Sophie's Universe crochet project (Round 13)

!GGN Norwegian Ski Sweater (about 10 inches into it, from the bottom)

Vice Versa scarf (double knitting!) starting the fifth row of squares

!Persian Dreams Blanket (row 34 of the second hexagon)

!A Random Blanket (about 1/3 through)

On the backburner:

Feather Duster Lace Shawl (I'm repeating, for the first time, the body section)

A Church Mouse sock (post-heel)!

World's Simplest Mittens (prior to thumb)

A Hitchhiker Scarf (started over a year ago. It's for when I'm needing mobile knitting and every other project is stuck at a complicated point. I will be in the middle forever, I guess)

Simply Ribbed Scarf (again, it's ancient, intended for emergency mobile knitting, and I'm in the middle)


*Double-Knitting = a method of knitting two sets of fabric at once, with both right sides facing out, or as Uncle Stashley sees it, a way to do even fancier Intarsia that's paradoxically even simpler (for him, at least).

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