In addition to quilting, I like to run. I live in the middle of nowhere, so it’s perfectly safe for me to run with headphones on if I choose. During some of my crazy long runs, I discovered the wonders of podcasts. They’re terrific for keeping my mind occupied (or plain old distracted) when I’m doing something fairly mindless. Oh, hey…like chain piecing! Or free motion quilting! Or pressing fabric!

Now, I’m a terrible listener. I have trouble with audiobooks, because my mind wanders and I tend to miss important things. I was skeptical that podcasts would maintain my attention. Through trial and error, I developed a set of guidelines for myself that generally holds true:

  1. There has to be conversation. When it’s just one person’s voice, I drift. And nothing’s more awkward than a person alone in a room, laughing at their own jokes into a microphone.
  2. It has to be under an hour. I like a podcast to stay roughly the same length for each of its own episodes, but I also like to have a variety of shorter and longer podcasts to choose from. But once you get over an hour, I’m out.
  3. Consistency is great. Podcast once a week or every two weeks and I’m a happy camper. More often is hard to keep up with, and less often? I run out of your stuff to listen to and move on to other things.
  4. Bonus points if your episode includes chapters so I can skip the segments I’m not interested in. I don’t even know if that’s a thing anymore. But I wish it was.

I frequently add new podcasts to try them out as they cross my radar, but here’s what’s currently on my list (in no particular order):

  • American Patchwork & Quilting Radio : I had the privilege of meeting Pat Sloan, and let me tell you, she is genuinely friendly, caring, and helpful. Pat gets a wide variety of guests from the quilting world. At one point I deleted this podcast because there tend to be problems with the phone connections and it was getting on my nerves, but I really missed it. So I’m back.
  • Modern Sewciety : Stephanie hosts this show and is constantly striving to improve her podcast. She tends to invite other quilt bloggers, many of whom she’s met in person. It’s less of an interview format and skews conversational, which makes it fun to listen to, since sometimes they go a little off topic. My only complaint is that sometimes the podcast runs a little long. Luckily, I tend to love her guests, so I don’t mind going back to finish listening in a separate session.
  • The Crafty Planner : Not all of Sandi Hazlewood’s podcasts are strictly about quilting, but they’re all very interesting. I particularly like that she maintains a list of show notes for each broadcast on her website.
  • Explore Your Enthusiasm : Tara Swiger podcasts about handmade businesses. Many episodes are bite-sized, which I love with my ridiculously short attention span. She really has a way of getting me thinking about aspects of the business that I wouldn’t otherwise spend much time on.
  • Sit and Sew Radio : Interviews with some of the biggest names in modern quilting! This is one of my more recent subscriptions, so I don’t have much to say here except that there’s not one episode in the archives where I said, “Eh, I don’t need to download that one.”
  • While She Naps : Abby Glassenberg is another Sew Pro alum, and in addition to running her own creative business, she sends out a jam-packed e-mail newsletter, co-founded the Craft Industry Alliance, and writes extensively and insightfully about the state of the handmade and craft industry as a whole. To me, this is a must-listen. Highly recommended.
  • Hidden Brain : I don’t only listen to industry-related podcasts. Hidden Brain is an NPR podcast about social science. Here’s their description: “The Hidden Brain project helps curious people understand the world – and themselves. Using science and storytelling, Hidden Brain reveals the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, the biases that shape our choices, and the triggers that direct the course of our relationships.”
  • A Way With Words : This is another “can’t miss” for me. I’ve been listening for years. From their website: “A Way with Words is an upbeat and lively hour-long public radio show about language examined through history, culture, and family. Co-hosts Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett talk with callers from around the world about slang, grammar, old sayings, word origins, regional dialects, family expressions, and speaking and writing well. They settle disputes, play word quizzes, and discuss language news and controversies.”
  • Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me : NPR’s news-based quiz program frequently makes me laugh out loud…which isn’t easy. I’m a dour soul.
See? Dour. With lousy posture.

I’m always looking for new podcasts to listen to. What’s on your list?

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