What Else Do You Do While Sewing? (Or Knitting?)

Lately, I’ve started knitting while reading a book. I’ve always knitted in front of the television and found it a great way to keep my hands busy instead of fidgeting or snacking. Once I realized I could probably knit and read at the same time, all of a sudden I had all this extra ‘surprise’ knitting time!

Next I thought of audiobooks, which is even better than knitting in front of a movie, since I look down half the time and miss things. With an audiobook, it’s like someone is reading out loud to you, whispering a story in your ear. Brilliant!

Then I also realized I could listen to the same audiobook while sewing. Listening to a story while cutting out fabric makes the cutting process more fun. (And if I find myself daydreaming, I can flip it back by 30 seconds and start playing again.) Since I’m alone in here, I don’t even have to use the headphones, I can play it out loud and walk around freely!

(boring photo, but had to include something! Listening to The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty, just finished cutting out a project.)

So I’m curious. Is this normal? (Wait, don’t answer that.) What I meant to ask is, what else do you do while you sew? What do you do while you knit? Do you multi-task, or do you devote 100% of your crafting time to the activity at hand? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


137 Responses to What Else Do You Do While Sewing? (Or Knitting?)

  1. JP October 22, 2012 at 6:26 am #

    PODCASTS! Sewing gives me a chance to catch up with amazing radio programs like This American Life and Radiolab while my hands are busy.

    • Amy October 22, 2012 at 9:44 pm #

      I second Radiolab!

    • Rachel October 23, 2012 at 10:44 am #

      My favourite as well!

  2. Tanit-Isis October 22, 2012 at 6:26 am #

    I listen to podcasts. The only problem is I really need to stop it when I’m doing something complex or have to follow instructions.

  3. Joanna October 22, 2012 at 6:30 am #

    I usually do something else while knitting. I can even admit I just get bored if I just knit, without casting my eye over TV series or a film. Audiobook is a good idea, too :)

  4. jillyb3 October 22, 2012 at 6:31 am #

    It is totally normal, or at least I think so! My grandma listened to Chicago Cubs baseball games on the radio while she sewed. I love listening to the CBC while I sew. The only problem with listening to something while sewing is that I miss little bits because I can’t hear over the noise of the sewing machine. So I don’t usually listen to anything super important. I love your idea of listening to audiobooks while cutting fabric–it is my least favorite step in sewing, so a book would make it better! I knit while watching TV. I can also knit and read, but only simple stitches, so I don’t do it as often.

  5. Michelle @ needle and nest October 22, 2012 at 6:33 am #

    I do the vast majority of my sewing during my children’s nap or bed time so I like to enjoy the peaceful quiet and sound of my sewing machine. The only time I’m also doing sometime else while sewing is when I’m hand sewing down the binding on a quilt, and usually that means I can sit down in front of the TV for a little while after the kids are in bed. :)

  6. Janette October 22, 2012 at 6:34 am #

    I’ve listened to audiobooks as well. I should remember to do that more often. I put TV shows on in the background that I don’t really have to ‘watch’ or I would never get my sewing done. Finishing up a renfrew tonight – excited to see how it turns out! My first go-around was not so successful. All my fault – used a double knit and went to a size smaller (I was between sizes). Can’t wait to see this one (size bigger and more appropriate fabric).

  7. annabelvita October 22, 2012 at 6:41 am #

    I sew in the living room, normally when my partner is home, so we agree on something to put on the TV that we’ve both seen before so I can concentrate on sewing and listen in the quiet patches and he doesn’t get annoyed when my clunky machine starts whirring.
    If I’m sewing alone I normally put on BBC Radio 4 (like world service) but an audiobook is a great idea!

  8. Cynthia October 22, 2012 at 6:49 am #

    I listen to Radiolab and This American Life podcasts. I love those radio programs so much.

  9. Rachel W October 22, 2012 at 7:00 am #

    I listen to something every time I sew! My husband has an excellent pair of noise-canceling headphones with an extender cord that I… borrow, so I can hear even over the clatter of my old clunky Singer. Mm, cordless ones would be even better!

    In an average week, I’ve listened to something from Librivox, This American Life, the daily news on NPR, and a couple of the TV shows I keep up with. I used to watch a lot of movies while sewing, but lately I’m trying to make myself listen to Morning Edition before I switch to reruns of Doctor Who.

  10. Rachel October 22, 2012 at 7:00 am #

    I’ve noticed I tend to have distinct preferences depending on the activity: knitting and television, audiobooks and tapestry or embroidery, sewing and music or quiet.

  11. Kristy October 22, 2012 at 7:03 am #

    In the mornings, I listen to NPR on my computer while sewing. At other times, I “watch” TV. I don’t see everything that goes on, but that’s OK with me.

  12. Miriana October 22, 2012 at 7:05 am #

    I do a lot of my knitting while travelling to work on the tube. There was a big kerfuffle in the UK press over a woman who was knitting while watching the men’s finals at Wimbledon which I enjoyed.

  13. RedPointTailor October 22, 2012 at 7:09 am #

    Great! I am only sewing and watching (listen) TV … or just put on a good music or radio station. When sewing I have to concentrate and rally watching TV is to distructive… Besides I don’t mind silence …

  14. Nikki October 22, 2012 at 7:10 am #

    I love podcasts while cutting and sewing! And cleaning, ha! A few of my favorites are “This American Life”, “WNYC’s Radiolab”, and “Stuff you Missed in History Class”. They’re great for long drives too, cause my husband also likes them!

  15. Sam October 22, 2012 at 7:15 am #

    If I’m sewing I normally just enjoy the peace and quiet. I’m one of those people who doesn’t need or want background noise the whole time. I’m quite happy to be in a quiet house with no TV, radio or music on.

    On the other hand, if I’m knitting the TV is usually on, purely because I knit in the evenings while hubby is watching TV. If I’m doing something simple with lots of stocking stitch I can watch too, otherwise I have to concentrate on my stitches.

  16. Anne October 22, 2012 at 7:19 am #

    If it is an easier project I will have the tv on or talk on the phone, but otherwise I prefer to focus 100% on my project. I have a difficult time multitasking. Most of them I won’t even play the radio in my car because I find it too distracting.

  17. Shannon October 22, 2012 at 7:22 am #

    I *devour* TV series and movies while sewing. I prop my old iPad up on a stand meant for use in the kitchen and fire up the Netflix. Especially since Netflix started autoplaying the next episode after the previous one ends — unbeatable. Serious documentaries, great TV shows, horrible TV shows — my rule is that I get to watch whatever tickles my fancy, no self-judgement. It’s my hobby, so I get to do it on my terms!

    Doctor Who, RuPaul’s Drag Race, Project Runway, Buffy, Bones, Murder She Wrote, Upstairs Downstairs (and let’s be honest, Law and Order, Toddlers and Tiaras, Revenge, whatever schlocky reality TV show Hulu’s offering…) — there’s an almost bottomless supply.

    I do podcasts and audiobooks at work and really love This American Life, The Moth, Radiolab, Fresh Air, and We Hate Movies (for podcasts) and, especially, Jon Ronson and David Sedaris reading their own books (for audiobooks).

    Good grief, now I really want to go home and sew and watch/listen!

  18. Wanett October 22, 2012 at 7:30 am #

    I love to put on movies and TV shows that I’ve watched over and over. I have a hard time paying attention to someone reading aloud, but I have been wanting to try listening to a favorite book to see if I can follow along better when I know the story.

  19. Maris Olsen October 22, 2012 at 7:34 am #

    LOVE the idea of podcasts – will have to try this! I usually listen to NPR, or sometimes opera CDs or the classical station while I am sewing. If I am knitting, I often “watch” movies or TV shows with my husband, and always, always, always have a knitting project while on long car rides. Got more than half a sweater finished while on our road trip thru the southwest in September – yay!

  20. Rachel October 22, 2012 at 7:40 am #

    I watch TV or movies while I sew or cut. Podcasts or Audiobooks would be good too. I also listen to music sometimes as well.

  21. Sew Little Time October 22, 2012 at 7:45 am #

    if machine sewing, just the radio (there’s no tv in the room where i sew). if knitting, hand sewing, cutting or pattern tracing i am normally catching up on all the stuff i have recorded but can’t watch as i am machine sewing! i don’t do audiobooks. i love to read but i just find them really annoying!

  22. Luus October 22, 2012 at 7:46 am #

    My very first sweater was knitted while I listened to the whole series of 7 Harry Potter books (and some Artemis Fowl, yes I like children’s book and yes I knit very very slowly). I found that I cannot knit while watching tv because I focus on my knitting and watch that more than the tv. For sewing I do have television shows or movies on usually. It doesn’t make sense really since I’m watching the cloth, not the screen. Or I listen to audiobooks, got to love audiobooks.

  23. didyoumakethat October 22, 2012 at 7:50 am #

    Where do you download your audio books from? I used Audible for a while, but found I wasn’t using it enough to justify the monthly fee. I also (I’ve discovered) have extremely strong reactions to whoever is narrating. Some voices I just can’t stand. The audiobook of Before I Go To Sleep had me ready to punch the monotone narrator! I listen to Radio 2 or Radio 6 or have the TV on in the background. My favourites are Huey Morgan and Jarvis Cocker on Radio 6. Oh, to hear Jarvis’s dulcet Derbyshire accent (I come from Derbyshire…) Bliss!

    • Rachel W October 22, 2012 at 8:26 am #

      If you like classics, Librivox.com the best. They’re old books that’ve passed into the public domain, narrated by volunteers. Some of the narrators are dreadful; some are excellent. Karen Savage is my favorite reader: her versions of Anne of Green Gables or Mansfield Park might be a fun place to start.

    • Tasia October 24, 2012 at 10:24 am #

      I got my audiobook from the library! A friend showed me which app to add to my phone that would let me access local libraries and ‘take out’ audiobooks. It’s free but they only last for 14 days, after that you are forced to delete them. Maybe there’s something like that in your library system too!

      I enjoyed Before I Go To Sleep but I could imagine it would be ruined by bad narration!

  24. Shanna October 22, 2012 at 7:51 am #

    I like watching TV episodes on Netflix, my recent favorite is All on the Line with Joe Zee. I like watching something fashion related while I’m sewing. BTW I just read The Chaperone and I loved it.

    • Rachel October 23, 2012 at 11:02 am #

      I second that! I watch netflix when I sew. Something about reving up the sewing machine makes Don Draper slightly more tolerable. bwahahaha!

    • Tasia October 24, 2012 at 10:25 am #

      I really liked it too! The Chaperone, I mean.

  25. Anthea October 22, 2012 at 7:54 am #

    I tried the audiobook thing when I was sewing, But I missed to much of it. So prefer some good music. When knitting I watch a movie or a serie.

  26. Retha October 22, 2012 at 8:07 am #

    I do the exact same thing! I get caught up on podcasts (about knitting, sewing and books) and I will also listen to audiobooks. I find it so much more pleasant to get through those not-so-fun parts, like cutting!

  27. katitarian October 22, 2012 at 8:10 am #

    So glad to know that I am NOT alone. Like Shannon, I often devour TV shows and always looking to Netflix for new ones. if I need to focus, then I will play music. Right now I’m addicted to songify.

  28. Beth (SunnyGal Studio) October 22, 2012 at 8:11 am #

    Podcasts, they are fantastic, many mentioned above, Slate.com has a whole bunch of fantastic ones, I love the Movie spoiler, NPR podcasts, Stuff you missed in History class, those are great, also BBC podcasts. I like podcasts since they are specific amounts of time so I can do some tasks and then feel OK about putting aside my sewing to do other things. I listen to most in Itunes. Also I have a Tivo in my sewing room, so lots of time-shifted TV is
    “watched” as well.

  29. Susie October 22, 2012 at 8:12 am #

    I like to put on musicals that my husband thinks are cheesy! I’ve seen them all a thousand times so I don’t even have to watch them but can just sing along to the songs (and, let’s be honest, recite most of the lines.) Chicago, West Side Story, Sound of Music, Grease, and Moulin Rouge are some of my favorites! It’s fun because the next time I watch the movie, I’m instantly taken back to what I was sewing last time I “watched” it.

    • Tasia October 24, 2012 at 10:26 am #

      Love it! Those are the best kind of movies to put on in the background, where you can recite the next line and sing the songs. So much fun!

  30. mia October 22, 2012 at 8:13 am #

    I knit whilst watching tv most nights, but whilst I sew (and drive, and clean – when I’m alone at least) I listen to audiobooks. I love that I’m really making the most of my time.

  31. Inna October 22, 2012 at 8:18 am #

    Sometimes I download movies or TV shows and watch them while sewing. I also like to open a window and just listen to the sounds from the outside.

  32. Andrea October 22, 2012 at 8:46 am #

    Of course it’s normal! I seem to never watch a movie without my knitting on hand. As for sewing, I most always have on music or the CBC. I’m totally behind the times when it comes to technology so have not figured out how to download podcasts (sad, eh?) but when I do, I will be listening to those while sewing or knitting for sure.

    • Tasia October 24, 2012 at 10:27 am #

      It’s not sad – I don’t know how to download podcasts either. All these great suggestions and I’m like.. but how do I find them? I was so happy to learn how to do the audiobook thing from the library, I’ll figure out podcasts next!

      • Lise November 16, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

        Hey Tasia – Since I see you have an iPhone, I’ll note that with iOS6 they packaged the Podcasts app, which makes podcasts soooo much easier – previously you had to download them from your computer whenever you synced, and I never did that. If for whatever reasons you don’t have the Podcasts app, I’m sure you can get it in the app store.

        Basically you just fire up the app, tap the “Store” button, and search for stuff you’re interested in. Personally, I listen to the aforementioned Stuff You Missed in History Class, as well as The Podcast History of Our World, On Point, and Writing Excuses.

        As for my while-sewing habits, I listen to audiobooks, watch trashy reality TV where it doesn’t matter what I miss, or watch movies/series I’ve seen a zillion times before. With the audiobooks, I sometimes have to stop and go back if I miss something important, but it makes cutting–which I HATE WITH A FIERY PASSION–so much more fun.

  33. Erin October 22, 2012 at 8:51 am #

    I like to watch old episodes of Buffy or Firefly. I’ve seen them before so I only need to listen. Audio books are a great idea though. There are limited titles I can get from the library that are Mac-compatible (can go on my ipod), so I’ll have to do some research.

  34. Meg the Grand October 22, 2012 at 8:56 am #

    I usually put something on from my Netflix instant queue, mainly because I can sit at my sewing machine and see the TV across the room. I love the idea of listening to audiobooks!

  35. Dana October 22, 2012 at 9:01 am #

    Yes! I always have something on in the background while I’m sewing. Usually a baseball game or podcast. Free podcasts are great! I’m definitely going to hit up my local library for some audio books, too.

  36. G October 22, 2012 at 9:03 am #

    I usually have the tv on while sewing, though I listen and don’t watch, obviously. Knitting is for when I’m outside: in the subway, in waiting rooms like at the physician’s, or while waiting for dd at the ballet…

  37. Catherine October 22, 2012 at 9:10 am #

    I’d love to hear how you manage to knit and read at the same time! I doubt I’d have what it takes to multi-task to that degree – and then there’s the problem of keeping the book open. Unfortunately, I can’t do anything else while I read.

    But, I can listen to audiobooks while knitting or sewing (but only simple murder mysteries by authors like Anne Perry or MC Beaton). I can also watch TV while knitting, but can’t sew while watching TV – I’m a beginning sewist so can’t concentrate on watching 2 things at once.

    • Tasia October 24, 2012 at 10:29 am #

      It’s sort of lazy reading – I’m not quite good enough to knit without looking, so I read a bit, knit a bit and think about what I’ve read, read some more, knit some more. More like I alternate reading and knitting. I read quickly so it’s often better this way, it forces me to stop and think about what I’ve read instead of rushing through!

  38. Katrine October 22, 2012 at 9:12 am #

    I also like to listen to audiobooks and podcasts while I sew or knit. Hooray for multitasking!

  39. Becky October 22, 2012 at 9:21 am #

    Unless I’m absolutely dead-tired or eating a meal, I’m almost always either sewing or knitting whenever I watch tv. I guess it’s easier for me to “justify” spending an hour or so on the couch if I’m doing something else! I’ve also found that podcasts and sewing go together well for me, and I have a whole slew of them that I plan on catching up on while I’m binge-sewing on my wedding dress this winter. If it’s a pretty mindless pattern, I’ve also found that I can read sewing blogs on my laptop, or even read on my Kindle, while knitting!

    • Tasia October 24, 2012 at 10:30 am #

      Totally agree! I can’t just sit there, I have to be doing something else or I get restless.

  40. Marcy October 22, 2012 at 9:21 am #

    I love listening to podcasts while I sew. I have an app on my phone called Carcast that automatically downloads them for me and it’s a good player also.

    One of my favorites is Selected Shorts from PRI. I also like Paleo for Women; Strong, Sexy, & Stylish; and sometimes Mises.

    If I have to think about something complicated, like re-drafting something, I will put music on instead, but I feel like I always want music or something to listen to while I do chores also.

    • Tasia October 24, 2012 at 10:31 am #

      Carcast – thanks for the recommendation! Thanks for all the podcast ideas too!

      I agree, it doesn’t work for complicated work. Often I’ll work in silence when I have something really challenging to work through.

  41. Amy October 22, 2012 at 9:30 am #

    I watch TV while I knit, it’s the only way I can relax watching TV without getting fidgety or feeling like I’m wasting time! That probably says something deeply disturbing about me but I’ve always been that way. My boyfriend gets annoyed sometimes, especially when I’m not organised with my knitting and need to get up multiple times to get scissors or new needles. I try not to knit when we’re watching something special, like a rented film, but for most normal, day-to-day TV I knit throughout!

    • Tasia October 24, 2012 at 10:33 am #

      Me too! I can’t just sit in front of the TV. I hope it doesn’t say deeply disturbing things about us. We’re just naturally multi-taskers. (Let’s go with that!)

      Mine doesn’t seem to get annoyed by the knitting during TV, and if he does he’s very good at hiding it! :)

  42. Ann October 22, 2012 at 9:31 am #

    I love podcasts for sewing, too! I’m a fan of the ones mentioned like Radiolab and The Moth. I would add a couple about new music, Sound Opinions and All Songs Considered, although if I hate a song that comes on or there’s an interview I’m not into, I have to stop sewing and go forward the podcast. Also the Tobolowsky Files — a fantastic storyteller. Also Pop Culture Happy Hour. And The Wild Side from the CBC, about animal encounters in the wild and other adventures. I’m sure there’s tons I haven’t discovered yet! I like subscribing in iTunes and having new ones show up in my library. I just started learning to knit in September so my knitting habits are still evolving, but so far I like knitting in front of the tv. But it has to be something I don’t care TOO much about since I’m mostly staring at my knitting.

    • Tasia October 24, 2012 at 10:34 am #

      Thanks for all the ideas! Itunes is where you get them eh? Will check it out!

      I agree, if I really care about the movie, I’ll put down the knitting. I can’t knit without looking yet, but I hear people can, so it must be possible!

  43. CGCouture October 22, 2012 at 9:35 am #

    For me, it’s either talk radio or my knockoff iPod…my radio/cd player is one of those undermount ones that’s under a shelf in my (basement) sewing room, but it’s so hard to re-find my AM station again that I scavenged some old computer speakers to hook up to my “iPod” so that I don’t have to use the headphones (which hurt my ears) after my favorite host has signed off for the day. Supposedly my “iPod” has a radio tuner built in, but the concrete and rebar screw up it’s reception so that feature is mostly useless while I’m sewing.

  44. Kathleen October 22, 2012 at 9:40 am #


    And uhm… recently I discovered ‘Say yes to the dress’ episodes on YouTube. So I’ve been “watching” those too while sewing. You don’t really have to focus too much on that kind of television shows, luckily. :)

    • Tasia October 24, 2012 at 10:38 am #

      Ha, awesome! I used to secretly watch that show while at the gym on those little built-in tv sets.. People are crazy.. and great fun to watch!

  45. Carolyn October 22, 2012 at 9:41 am #

    I like to “watch” movies that I’ve seen multiple times before while sewing. Particularly ones where the visuals aren’t as important as the dialogue (newer action movies just don’t work for this). When knitting, it seems to be a little easier to watch something new and not miss the important plot points.

    • Tasia October 24, 2012 at 10:41 am #

      Yup, it doesn’t work when someone’s sneaking up behind someone silently and you’re missing all the action. ;) That’s what made me try audiobooks, because they don’t have a visual component to miss, everything has to be spoken!

  46. Jane October 22, 2012 at 9:49 am #

    I’ve actually just started hand stitching rather than machine sewing my projects just so that it’s easier for me to watch TV while I sew, like I do when I knit. I’ve been knitting for years, and I can watch TV or read while i knit without looking at the needles, which makes it a lot easier to get other things done at once and multitask my crafting.

    • Woodencanoe October 22, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

      Hi Jane,

      Interested in seeing that someone else is doing all hand-stitching projects. I love them as I can do them anywhere. So far I’ve created some beautiful clothes. Have you seen the hand-sewn clothes from “Alabama Chanin” ? Those are the patterns that I’m using/modifying. It’s so peaceful.

  47. Christine October 22, 2012 at 10:04 am #

    Recently at a dinner with some professional crafty friends, we all admitted that we have trash TV on while sewing or crafting. There was tremendous relief that we were all guilty of this! For me, if it’s daytime sewing, I’m listening to music. If it’s evening sewing, I have movies or TV on in the background.

    • Tasia October 24, 2012 at 10:42 am #

      Now you’re making me want to queue up some trash TV shows on the laptop while I work! :) I tend to do music during the day too, TV in the evenings.

  48. arlene October 22, 2012 at 10:25 am #

    I have the TV on (most of the time). i don’t actually watch it, it just keeps me company. I also watch (have on) movies….

    • Tasia October 24, 2012 at 10:47 am #

      I do that sometimes when I’m alone as well.. put some TV on for company. It’s strangely comforting, isn’t it? Just to not hear all the neighbour’s noises and street noise.

  49. Katie October 22, 2012 at 10:26 am #

    I am trying to learn a second language, and I have “listen and repeat” audio tapes that I play while sewing. Great way to improve both my sewing and language skills at the same time!! It’s a win-win : )

    • Tasia October 24, 2012 at 10:42 am #

      That is impressive! What a great idea and a productive way to learn!

  50. colleen October 22, 2012 at 10:27 am #

    I used to listen from morning until night to public radio, usually hearing all the programs twice or more. I tired of that so I download movies and have to wear headphones while I sew because I miss too much due to my noisy machine. (You’d think for what you pay for a Bernina it would be like…hushhhhhhh.) But, now I realize I have come to the end of Netflix, having seen almost everything there is to be seen, sometimes, yes, twice.

    So…audiobooks! I’ve realized since I’ve become a sewing fanatic, I rarely have time to read anymore. That is perfect! Are you actually downloading them on your iPhone?????

    • Tasia October 24, 2012 at 10:45 am #

      Yup! So there’s an library app called Overdrive, that lets you take out audiobooks from the library. I’ve only recently started using it but I like it so far!
      You find the book you want, use your local library card to take it out, and it appears in your overdrive app. Then after 14 days, it prompts you to delete it or else! (I don’t know what happens if you don’t, I followed the rules.) So far, so good – and free!

  51. Mary October 22, 2012 at 10:31 am #

    My local library has downloads of quite a few audiobooks as well as many class offerings from the Teaching Company. They also offer E-Books but I can’t read and knit LOL. I also like to watch TV while I am crafting.

  52. Sarah October 22, 2012 at 10:32 am #

    I like watching cheesy formulaic tv while I sew, that way the bits I can’t hear over the machine usually don’t matter, and you can tell the plot from the audio alone, haha.

  53. Latrice October 22, 2012 at 10:52 am #

    Pretty much just watch tv or listen to pandora. There might be some dancing action if a good song comes on.

  54. aprilshowers October 22, 2012 at 10:55 am #

    Totally normal, at least by my standards! I’d love to listen to audiobooks but I am a podcast junkie and never actually get to the end of my queue. I like videocasts as well but usually reserve those for knitting, not sewing.

  55. PDX Gretchen October 22, 2012 at 11:25 am #

    I usually listen to music while sewing, but also listen to podcasts while tracing patterns and cutting fabric.

  56. Truly Myrtle October 22, 2012 at 11:33 am #

    podcasts, the radio, I’m keen to try audio books. But, because I have 4 smallish kids – sometimes just SILENCE!!!

    • Tasia October 24, 2012 at 10:51 am #

      I can imagine!! :)

  57. soisewedthis October 22, 2012 at 11:38 am #

    I listen to pandora too. a nice upbeat station to keep me going. during the summer i had tried watching the olympics while sewing, but then an hour later i’d look down and realize that i hadn’t made any progress, i had just been staring at the tv the whole time!

  58. Laura October 22, 2012 at 11:41 am #

    Podcasts, music or audiobooks, sometimes a movie (I drag my laptop out to my sewing cave) but it has to be a straightforward Hollywood-y one, no arty stuff I actually have to watch to follow! I find when I’m doing something complicated, music is fine but podcasts or audiobooks are too distracting. I listen to podcasts and audiobooks a lot in the car, when doing stuff around the house like cooking and cleaning, or doing repetitive work on the computer like going through emails or cleaning up my office. One thing I miss in the winter is the podcast listening I get through when I hang laundry outside to dry.

    It depends a lot on my mood, though. Sometimes I really want quiet and to be present with whatever I’m working on, and I think periodically opting out of multitasking is good for me (probably for everyone – most of us try to do too much in a day!).

  59. Jenny October 22, 2012 at 11:53 am #

    When I sew, I like to “watch” Netflix. Right now I’m watching Mad Men from the beginning. Yah I know it’s been on for a long time but I’ve never seen it before! I’m in love with the dresses the women wear on the show – such gorgeous dresses but it is a distraction.
    Maybe I’ll try audiobooks sometime – that sounds like fun and maybe I won’t get as distracted…

    • Tasia October 24, 2012 at 10:53 am #

      I did that this year too – watched the entire season from the start! I’d seen it before but Netflix makes it so easy to watch ‘just one more’ episode. The dresses are beautiful. More than once I’ve stopped to take a photo of the TV screen for inspiration!

  60. anne October 22, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

    I’m a huge fan of audiobooks (most of which I borrow from the library), and I listen to them while sewing, doing chores, etc. I also listen to a few podcasts, sometimes the radio (CBC, mostly), and I also have a subscriptions to last.FM (just $3/mo) so I can listen to different channels and discover new music.

  61. Janice October 22, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

    I find I make mistakes if I “watch” anything except my sewing/knitting. But that’s ok because I love to listen to music and I have a ton of on-line podcasts and other interesting stuff to listen in. On while sewing. Also just relaxing music puts me into a zone and I do my best work.

  62. Woodencanoe October 22, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    Yes, I listen to podcasts I’ve downloaded; satellite radio stations – regular programming and special programs; music; and CBC Ideas each weeknight for one hour. Having the regular time for the Ideas program always reminds me that it’s time to stop whatever else I’m doing to either sew by hand or with my machine. Because my Bernina is also noisy ! I have a small portable radio beside the machine. That radio follows me to wherever my next part of a project takes place.

    Also like silence and listening to the world around me, especially in the summer when all the doors and windows are open and I can hear the eagles, seals, ravens, the wind and feel the warm breezes. I prefer to sew in the daytime because of the excellent light from a skylight I had installed over my sewing area. It sure beats a window, hands down
    Since I don’t own a TV and haven’t for 10 years, I enjoy listening to things without any annoying advertisements. I found that a lot of the programs were not that interesting and the advertisements too loud and irritating. Besides if I want to listen to any news or re-runs they are available online. I do wish I could access the nature, science and history programs though. Then I’d probably spend too much time watching them rather than crafting!

    Great topic, Tasia!
    From: an island girl, just across the water from you.

  63. Amy October 22, 2012 at 1:07 pm #

    I thought I was the only one who listened to books while sewing. There are so many good audiobooks to listen to now. It is either that or I crank up the music and sew!!!

  64. Ginger October 22, 2012 at 1:12 pm #

    No one has mentioned old radio shows! http://archive.org/details/oldtimeradio Like podcasts and better than audio books, these are fiction – comedy, sitcoms, drama, suspense, action – that’s made to be listened to. There’s some really amazing stuff just waiting to be discovered.

    When I don’t listen to old radio, I usually “watch” a movie or TV show I’ve seen before. OTR has spoiled me, because there’s nothing to look up at to be distracted from what I’m sewing. Though I’m working my way through “Remington Steele” on Hulu right now and having a blast.

    I do stop or pause whatever’s playing when I need to concentrate on something, usually planning, matching patterns, or drafting. I can block out the radio/TV, but then I have to rewind it. :p

  65. Alli October 22, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

    cool! i usually have some sort of tv show on as background noise. 80% of the time on total accident it has been jersey shore or the kardashians. i’ve been too busy with my hands full of pins and fabric to change the channel!!

  66. Lucy October 22, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

    Knitting I can and will do in front of the telly – usually in front of the fire because I don’t normally do a lot of knitting when the weather starts getting warmer!

    Sewing I usually need to concentrate for. I have some little desktop speakers by my machine with an iPod jack, so I can listen to music, but I rarely do. I can’t work with music on, either. I did once try for a nice relaxing evening sewing session with a glass of wine, but, well, I don’t drink a lot, and let’s just say that drinking and sewing don’t mix for me!

  67. Tasha October 22, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    Reading and knitting at the same time is the best thing on a long plane flight! A friend recently reminded me that I could do this and it’s great, having both keeps me from getting bored with either. I can’t decide if I like it better when my seatmates give me weird looks, or when they act like it’s totally normal.

    The rest of the time, like a lot of you, I alternate between interesting programs on NPR, music, and taking a break to let some quiet time into my life. I haven’t had TV for a long time, which after reading all these comments, I think has a lot do to with why I basically only knit when traveling or when friends are over and we’re just talking!

    • Thea October 24, 2012 at 5:39 am #

      Wow, where do they let you take knitting stuff on to planes? Is that a US thing? Here in Europe, they’re banned from hand luggage :-( I would love to knit on a flight! Or do they claim you can’t, but you smuggle it in anyways?
      (The signs that list knitting needles as prohibited items for handluggage make me laugh. It makes me wonder if they ever watched Bourne, and are aware of the immense danger a pen or magazine can pose. But I’ve not been willing to try argueing with security about my knitting yet…)

  68. Neeno - Sew Me Love October 22, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

    I like to put on a favourite TV show and “listen” to it as I’m working.
    Then I realised that it was a wasted of electricity, so I switched to putting the radio on or playing music from my iTunes. I work very well with music.

    I concentrate better when I listen to music. I’m the same at work, when I have to concentrate on a task, I put my earphones in :)

  69. Rebekah October 22, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

    Music. I always listen to music while I sew or knit(while doing pretty much any activity actually. :) ) Chopin, Debussy, Dvorak, collections of pieces loved the world over, movie soundtracks, occasionally some celtic, country, or operatic pop thrown in the mix. Anything I can sing to! Great Courses lectures from The Teaching Company are wonderful as well.

  70. Tasia October 22, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

    Oh wow, what a great response to this post!! I’m right in the middle of something else but am really looking forward to reading all your comments.

    Judging from the number of comments alone, I am definitely not alone in the multi-tasking! :) And now I have to figure out podcasts. I was so happy to figure out how to ‘take out’ audiobooks from the library so I’m pumped to have another new thing to listen to. (once I figure it out. Can’t be hard, right?) Thanks for all the great ideas!!

  71. Grace October 22, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

    It’s completely normal! I usually listen to podcasts and audiobooks while I knit (or work). The whole “How Stuff Works” set of shows, Librivox, The History Chicks, and the Nerdist are all great. Audiobooks are fantastic too-I’ve listened to the entire Hunger Games series and most of Neil Gaiman/Terry Pratchett that way too.
    For sewing, it’s usually Law and Order reruns, or something that I’ve seen a million times so I’m not distracted by what’s going on.

  72. Lesley October 22, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

    Interesting thread and now I have loads of suggested websites to pass on to hubby for his driving time downloads!
    I love to listen to/watch my Craftsy classes. There is often general info that I feel I should scan to pick up some tips and I can occasionally look up if I’m feeling all multi tasky!
    I also lurve an ABC (Australia) free podcast called Richard Fidler’s conversation hour (he’s the most downloaded podcast in Oz apparently), he interviews really interesting people and many of them not famous, just clever and special. Then there is TED talks for a bit of a brain stretch.
    Music is no good for me, cos the straight lines become wonkitated when I dance and jig!

  73. tigergirl October 22, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

    Nonfiction audio books for me (or ‘learn to speak Spanish’ mp3’s). I drift in and out of listening, so I’d never be able to follow the thread of a fiction book and I’m not fond of having one voice read different characters either. With nonfiction, I can just play the book again and again until I think I’ve picked up all of the information, drifting in and out (as I am wont to do).

  74. Esz October 22, 2012 at 5:47 pm #

    Audiobooks for me – I signed up to Audible even and ‘obtain’ some from other places. I do tend to drift off sometimes and not pay attention but it’s not too bad.

    Sometimes when I’m doing a lot of hand sewing I will put on a show – either from the Aussie TV station ABC’s internet player, or a TV show I’ve downloaded. Maybe an old movie – The boy doesn’t like as many old movies as me so they’re good to put on when he’s not around.

  75. Trisha October 22, 2012 at 6:11 pm #

    Yes! I love to put on fun music or a show while cutting out fabric. I sometimes listen to NPR while I’m sewing, and I’ll watch TV while hand-sewing.

  76. kaitui_kiwi October 22, 2012 at 6:12 pm #

    I have to have music on at least or be able to hear the tv, I can’t handle complete silence. I have thought about audio books, but I love reading for readings sake so not sure if I’d like to listen to them while sewing – maybe I should give it a go :)

    • wilma October 22, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

      through my cable station, we have 24 hour soundscape, which is music and sounds without lyrics. it is so calming and relaxing. I use it for sewing, meditating, house cleaning, etc.

  77. Ginger October 22, 2012 at 6:46 pm #

    I have my record player in the room with my sewing machine, so I like to spin tunes at a loud volume while I stitch away. I like to listen to happy, upbeat music when I’m sewing– old soul or doo-wop. :) The only downside is that I have to stop sewing periodically to flip the record over!

  78. Missy October 22, 2012 at 8:39 pm #

    It is usually music for sewing, unless it is very boring sewing..then a audio book is wonderful. I have my Bose in the sewing room and some great CDs too..and I also love listening to different radio stations while I sew, from Classical to Country to Oldies. Knitting..I usually do that while my husband watches TV..mostly sports, so I ignore it. Old movies is his second choice and those make me look up from time to time… My grandmother always had handwork in the evenings and she would sit on the couch and work on something while my grandfather watched TV. And during the day, when she was retired, she would spend all day in the sewing room. I was so lucky to get to spend so much time with her as she taught me to both knit and sew. She lived to age 99.

  79. ZoSews October 23, 2012 at 2:59 am #

    Watch lots of catch up TV! And listen to my music on random – which is always interesting! :o) Good times.

  80. Debbie October 23, 2012 at 3:22 am #

    I only knit when watching my TV shows or a movie. I also do hand sewing in front of the TV. I like to listen to music while sewing. I think I am going to try an audio book or podcast when I do some sewing tonight!

    I am also teaching myself to tat at the moment but I need complete concentration for that, no distractions!!

  81. Cat October 23, 2012 at 6:05 am #

    I don’t know if I’m a good enough multi-tasker…I can do audiobooks or tv but don’t like much of what is on tv. I’ll try reading but may make too many mistakes…not sure I can sew and read at the same time. Lol. Audiobooks are like reading

  82. Seraphinalina October 23, 2012 at 7:02 am #

    I always have music on when I’m sewing. I’m not actively listening to it, but it really helps me focus when I need to and gives me something to sing along to for a long straight seam.

    I’m still trying to figure out what to do while crocheting. I will crochet while watching tv but if it’s too engaging or if it relies on physical comedy or looks between people, I end up looking at the tv and not crocheting. But to sit and do nothing but crochet, I find my mind wanders too much. I can see why there are stitch and bitch circles because talking is perfect, you can look up when you need to but it’s easy to participate in the conversation.

  83. Susan October 23, 2012 at 7:24 am #

    I have always read books while knitting, in fact I’m usually listening to the TV at the same time. I look up at the TV from time to time, but mostly just listen. I have the radio on while sewing, listening to Test Match Special in the season ( that’s the finest form of sport in the world, Cricket, to you non commonwealth people), and BBC 4Extra other times,for drama.

  84. Tamiknits October 23, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

    Wait till you discover the wonder that is Google Hangouts. There is a group of us that spend many days having a virtual knit group. We knit & chat & eat & knit & whatever. It’s a great time and a wonderful way to spend some crafting time with friends. It’s also very enabling since there is a chat feature that allows you to share links with others in the room.

  85. Tamiknits October 23, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

    Wait till you discover the wonder that is Google Hangouts. There is a group of us that spend many days having a virtual knit group. We knit & chat & eat & knit & whatever. It’s a great time and a wonderful way to spend some crafting time with friends. It’s also very enabling since there is a chat feature that allows you to share links with others in the room.

  86. LaNecia October 23, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    Audiobooks! I use audible and also audio books from the library, Overdrive or books on DVD.

  87. Clio October 23, 2012 at 1:33 pm #

    I commute by train, so I knit with my ipod going (music, radio, podcasts, etc) during the ride. Otherwise it would be just dead time. I also knit or do hand sewing in front of the tv. When I sew, I usually have music on.

  88. Mitch October 23, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

    If it’s cross-stitch, crochet, handsewing, and tracing & cutting out patterns, I’m in front of the TV. Otherwise, my family might never see me upstairs – that and the couch is more comfy. When I’m down in my sewing room, during the day when everyone else is out, I just crank up the stereo upstairs – it’s OK I live on an acreage so no one is going to complain. Though sometimes when the weather is just dreadful, I like to do my handwork in my rocking chair by the woodstove & just bask in the heat.

  89. Michelle October 23, 2012 at 4:04 pm #

    I’m another who’d love to see how you knit and read at the same time.

    Personally, I enjoy watching tv while I knit and listening to music when I sew, but sometimes I’m in the mood for TV when I sew (something that doesn’t need much attention, either formulaic, or something I’ve seen before). I recently set up my sewing space in the back half of our family room space specifically so I could sew & watch tv easily.

    • Tasia October 24, 2012 at 11:19 am #

      Oh yeah, I answered this earlier but I can’t actually knit without looking. I read a bit, knit a bit and think, then read a bit more. It’s more like I knit and read together, alternating between the two. Not quite as impressive as it sounds!

      I used to love cutting out on the dining table (which is in the same room as the living room – open-style apartment) and watching TV. Close enough to pay attention, but distant enough to keep busy!

  90. Heather G October 23, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

    I usually put one of three movies into a portable DVD player in my sewing space: Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes (any episode), BBC Pride and Prejudice, or the BBC Persuasion. I’ve seen them all so many times that I don’t really need to watch – I guess it’s like an audio book! If I am doing something that requires a lot of concentration and focus I will not listen to anything but if it’s hemming or cutting, I love the distraction! Great question and a lot of interesting answers!

  91. Donna October 23, 2012 at 4:46 pm #

    Audiobooks! for everything! for baking, sewing, exercising! i use knitting to keep me seated during movies or tv shows, though. I’m now sewing my way through Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (clothes will forever be linked with zombie-fighting) and part of my jogging route makes me think of king arthur and his adventures. just started using language books while i get ready in the morning, too.
    TV shows or movies for unpicking and handsewing. Like Michelle, fomulaic or familiar. I used to play Pride and Prejudice while I did homework during highschool. Over and over and over again.
    The only problem I find is the sewing area is in a common area and people keep talking to me when I have my earphones on. So I have to stop sewing, stop the book, take out the earphones and ask them to repeat. I was thinking of wearing a sign when I wear earphones.

  92. Jessica October 23, 2012 at 6:42 pm #

    I like to listen to the NPR app on my ipad. Sometimes I can watch tv, if it isn’t too intensive. I’ve tried audiobooks, but I find them tiresome – I read really quickly, and it frustrates me how long it takes to get through an audiobook. I rarely finish one. I’ve read while knitting before! I watch TV when doing embroidery – I’ve done it for years, and I’m good at the multitasking!

  93. Bella October 24, 2012 at 3:32 am #

    Watching hulu (Grimm, Once Upon a Time, Jeremiah, Spy, Parks & Rec, Gwen Ifill’s weekend round-up on politics–PBS or old movies) or Firefly in Spanish (to practice my listening)! Sometimes if I can’t find anything to watch I think, “Well, I can’t really sew, can I?” And then I turn to podcasts: Diane Rehm, Planet Money, Slate Gabfest, Culturefest, Double X Podcast, Lexicon Valley, This American Life…

  94. Bella October 24, 2012 at 3:33 am #

    Oh yeah, knitting?! If it’s in English I don’t have to watch, I can just listen. If it has subtitles–NO KNITTING–I have to read to follow the plot. So I put things on Netflix based on what I’m working on. If I’m knitting–no subtitles! ;-)

    • Tasia October 24, 2012 at 11:11 am #

      Oh I know! There have been movies I wanted to watch and five minutes in, I figure out they’re subtitled and impossible to watch while knitting. What am I going to do with my hands when I watch those movies, I wonder?

      • Bella October 25, 2012 at 8:09 am #

        It’s painful to just do one thing at a time!

  95. Deborah October 24, 2012 at 7:01 am #

    When I sew (my machine is broken now…), I did nothing but sewing. Well, maybe listening to some music at the same time, but I always knit in front of the TV, while listening to a radio show or in the car. I’ve been contemplating the idea of audiobooks as well. Where do you get yours from?

    • Bella October 25, 2012 at 8:11 am #

      Many public libraries have downloadable books & audiobooks! Just head over to their website.

  96. Anna October 24, 2012 at 11:30 am #

    I always have something in the background. I’m a huge fan of silly romantic comedies, since I don’t make fun of them if I’m sewing.

    I’m also well known in my building for cranking up terrible old country music and singing at the top of my lungs. That does sometimes interfere with sewing when I have to get up and dance to something that comes on! :)

    I use my sewing time as relaxation, so I’ve banned anything serious or weighty from that section of my life.

  97. silvia October 24, 2012 at 7:52 pm #

    I like to watch professional football while I sew. The game happens in fits and starts and works well with sewing. I also watch non-demanding TV while sewing – i.e. cooking shows or stuff I’ve seen before so I don’t need to watch every second. Pausing capability is essential when you get to something hard though ;-)

  98. Rachel October 24, 2012 at 7:57 pm #

    I listen to audiobooks or have a tv show or movie on that either doesn’t require too much attention or I have seen before.

    Where do you get your audiobooks? I have gotten a lot from my local library, and also have an audible subscription (I was gifted the first 6months worth, but have chosen to keep it as i think it’s great).

    I don’t know how you read and knit at the same time! I definitely couldn’t do that! I struggle to watch TV and knit at the same time.

  99. Jessica October 25, 2012 at 9:14 am #

    I definitely read and knit … and I have friends who do it too. Not sure it was the best idea in grads chool ;-), but I passed.

    I sometimes put movies on in the background to keep myself entertained (and also, to remind myself to look up and give my eyes a break). Sometimes I’ll just stick on eye candy and turn off the sound, if I actually need to concentrate (doing sewing math, grading etc.)

  100. Jane Richmond October 25, 2012 at 11:19 pm #

    Rarely do I knit exclusively. I love reading and knitting stockinette in the round. Right now I am between books and have too many projects that require my undivided attention. I can’t wait to finally be able to cast on some mindless knitting. I’d love to get into audio books, I definitely need some recommendations, a bad narrator can really ruin it for me :)

  101. Amy October 28, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    I find it hard to sew and concentrate on other things at the same time but I have this roster of movies that I’ve seen over and over so I just turn them on as background music. It’s funny because whenever I put a new movie on I end up stopping everything I’m doing to watch the movie. I really need to get into podcasts! Love that idea.

  102. superheidi October 30, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

    Yes, I do that, podcasts & audiobooks rule! They go with anything you do with your hands.

  103. Alisha October 30, 2012 at 10:11 pm #

    When sewing I usually have on a tv show or movie – Netflix is great for that! I find it’s a good time to watch those bad, why did I watch that, movies, asim distracted anyway!
    when iknit, it’s with an audiobook or tv/movie. I’ll also knit while hanging out with my family and friends and when on the ferry (2 hours goes by in a snap).

  104. Nancy October 31, 2012 at 9:46 pm #

    I thought I was outside the norm until I saw Sylvia’s comment. I am a sports junkie. There is nothing better than football or baseball on television in the sewing room while I work on a project. My Great Dane sits in the middle of the room and stares at me if I yell at the television. I struggle in Feb and Mar when football season is over and baseball hasn’t started because I just can’t get into basketball.

  105. Mandi November 1, 2012 at 8:53 pm #

    My husband makes fun of me for having about a zillion stupid girl movies in our Nextflix instant Queue. So I watch them. It’s a win-win. I “watch” the movie, but don’t get all upset when it’s not the best flick… And I got some sewing done!
    Love to “read” books on cd, too.

  106. Belinda November 2, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

    I normally just listen to music or watch a show or movie I’ve seen more than once. If I try to watch something new, then I focus on the tv instead of sewing!

    I also once tried knitting on an exercise bike … which didn’t last long! I dropped too many stitches so I gave up!

  107. Reyna Lay November 26, 2012 at 11:36 am #

    I listen to audiobooks. Just yesterday I finished the book Matched in one day while cutting and sewing two tops for my patternmaking class. I also listen to podcasts or watch youtube videos :)


  108. Edie Olson January 24, 2013 at 11:15 am #

    In addition to sewing, I paint, and make jewelry. It’s difficult to be excited about a portrait and putting together a dress at the same time, would hate to get paint on a lovely piece of fabric. I could do either all day long. Sleep, cooking, cleaning and work get in the way. I listen to music or if the family is watching television in the other room, I’ll listen to the program while sewing. Thinking of rearranging the office to include an area dedicated to sewing. Maybe then I’ll subscribe to Netflix and watch old movies where Edith Head designed the costumes for inspiration.