What I’m Knitting to: The Violinist’s Thumb

It’s a new blog feature! As a designer, most days I’m lucky enough to spend a big chunk of time knitting, and I’m usually consuming other media as I do so—I listen to tons of music, podcasts, and audiobooks, and (depending on time of day) I watch TV and the occasional movie as I work on my latest project. Since these pieces of audio and visual culture are such a big part of my knitting, I think it makes sense to share some of them here.


This month I’ve been listening to the audio version of The Violinists Thumb and Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius, as Written by our Genetic Code, a new book by Sam Kean. I love history and pop science, and this book is a winning combination of them both. I imagine it’s difficult to write about the mechanics of DNA for a broad audience without either leaving most people behind with science-y talk or dumbing it down too much. At least for me, someone who never took a science course past high school (unless you count The Physiology of Music, which I don’t, because it sounded like fun but mostly went way over my head), Kean does it perfectly.

As for listening to this book instead of reading it, it’s been highly entertaining, but I occasionally feel like I’m missing something from not getting to see all those rows of Gs and Ts and As (not to mention Cs) written out in front of me. And I’m a little bit distracted by my knitting the entire time, of course, so that contributes to my missing a sentence or two sometimes. I’d actually be willing to listening to the entire thing over again at some point, and I’m sure I’d pick up on quite a bit that I missed the first time. But the book is highly entertaining with dramatic anecdotes from history even if you’re not entirely following what exactly that crazy DNA is doing.

Now the question goes to you, fellow knitters and makers: what are you knitting (or sewing, or tinkering) to this month?

15 thoughts on “What I’m Knitting to: The Violinist’s Thumb

  1. I listen to the new Story of Stuff podcast, as I am big about the environment. I also listen to Songza.com and music that I have on my iPhone.

  2. I tend to listen to NPR shows when knitting. “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” “This American Life” and “Selected Shorts” are my favorites.

    And I watch bad tv….

  3. I’ll admit that I’m an Olympics nut, so I am mostly watching the Olympics coverage.

    When the Olympics aren’t on, I mostly knit over lunch (so conversation as background) or after dinner when my husband is playing video games.

  4. Oooh, I’m always looking for new stuff to get from Audible. Am downloading it as we speak. (And as someone who majored in molecular biology, this sounds amazing!) Thanks for the suggestion. It might just get me back to knitting that sweater I’ve had on the needles since last year.

  5. For now i’m knitting to the olympics, although it is really hard to concentrate, so probably after the games are done I’ll watch some anime I already watched so I don’t have to focus on the show as much as my knitting.

  6. Yep, biology teacher here, but I am reading The Violinist’s Thumb old school. I am listening to The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Truth. I find the whole incident very fascinating, as in “How could someone create a fraud on such a large scale and maintain it for so long?”

  7. I’m listening to the Olympics right now and when there is sport I have no interest in, I listen to McLeod’s Daughters. I love the horses and ranching. I say “I listen” because I’m not yet able to knit without watching the needles. I’ll get there someday, I’m hoping sooner rather than later.

  8. Love your new blog feature! I also listen to lots of stuff while I knit and I’m also listening to The Violinist’s Thumb! If you enjoy this, Sam Kean also has a chemistry book, The Disappearing Spoon, which is just as good.

    Two excellent fiction audiobooks that I’ve just finished and highly recommend: The Snow Child and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

  9. I love listening to popular audiobooks like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo or The Hunger Games, which are engaging but not so dense that you’ll drop a stitch while trying to concentrate on the book! And This American Life, natch.

  10. I usually knit while watching television. So it has been the Olympics recently, I also like knitting to baseball, football, and The Big Bang Theory.

  11. I’m listening now to a King Tut audio book. Intriguing, right? :-) HaHa. I have tons of projects going on right now. :-P Bleh.

  12. I watch old tv shows on Netflix while I knit. Right now I’m making my way through The Wonder Years. It’s pretty great.

  13. I listen to podcasts, music, old vlogbrothers (a YouTube channel) videos, the Lizzie Bennet Diaries (a YouTube adaption of Pride and Prejudice), and sometimes shows on Netflix. I also read on my Kindle Fire while knitting. I just tap to change the page.

  14. I watch TV. I’m a couch potato. But I can tell you what was going on and which season each of my projects were made! When Mer and Der adopted Zola I was making lots of caps. I just recently bought a Nook and have discovered that I can read and knit at the same time…..as long as I don’t have a complex project that is.

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