Interview: Hoxton Handmade

The Electric Sheep Podcast is one of my favorite knitting podcasts, and I jumped for joy when Hoxton Handmade (the host) agreed to do this interview!

I must admit, whenever I see a new episode of Electric Sheep downloading to my iTunes, a little party goes on in my head. Whether it’s about what’s on her needles, a knitting magazine review, hilarious (sometimes bearded) excerpt from the ‘Feed the Sheep’ thread on Ravelry, commentary on current events or her annual holiday Panto, Hoxton keeps us coming back for more! I really enjoy her wit, imagination, and honesty… She’s fantastic!

If you’ve never heard of the Electric Sheep, I hope this interview encourages you to check it out.

For those who have never heard about the Electric Sheep Podcast, please tell us a little about it:

Electric Sheep is a mostly-knitting British podcast in which I talk about patterns, yarns, and my woolly triumphs and disasters. Every episode starts with an essay on a wide variety of topics, from the handmade to history, from current affairs to crazy stories. I also talk about quirky, entertaining things to be found online, such as award-winning beards, knitting drummers and crimes against crochet. The Sheep himself is a slightly troubling figment of my imagination but that doesn’t seem to stop him drinking all my gin and causing general mayhem with his trebuchet.

Any exciting plans for the show, in 2012?

Obviously, I’ll be covering the London Olympics in some form, and there are several knitterly folk I’m keen to interview. No doubt the Sheep will be up to his usual exploits. Sigh.

Who or what inspired you to pick up the microphone?

I had produced a podcast before, many years ago, featuring various friends of mine, but it wasn’t until I discovered knitting podcasts that I felt I had found my niche. At that time, I wasn’t aware of a knitting podcast hosted by someone British and my age, so I thought there might be a gap that I could fill. And I wanted to be able to talk about cake and knitted beards without someone trying to have me sectioned.

What is your favorite thing about podcasting?… and the most challenging?

My favourite thing is my audience. I’m constantly amazed by the lovely people who have contacted me to share something about how they listen to the podcast or what they’ve taken from it, or who want to show me a video of a surfing alpaca.

The most challenging is just finding the time to podcast!

If possible, please describe the moment you realized, “OMG… I LOVE KNITTING!.. MUST NOT STOP!”

Ha ha, I recognise the feeling but I don’t think it happened in one moment, it sort of crept up on me! But I had one moment last year, knitting Kate Davies’ Neep Heid hat (my first stranded project) when I was so happy and bewitched by the result, that I sat there giggling to myself every other round. I felt I had learnt magic.

I always love when Steeking O’Reilly, Knitpicks McGraw & Co. make a guest appearance. What pray tell, is their next move?

I couldn’t possibly say. Not that I even know who you’re talking about. And I haven’t heard anything at all about a plan to gatecrash the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Not a thing. Ahem.

What is it about a pattern that inspires you to knit it?

It’s so hard to pin down! I love cables and aran-style texture and cosy woolly knits. I mostly knit for myself, so it has to be something I really want to wear as well as knit. Almost all the garments I knit are seamless. I hate seaming, I’m too impatient.

Do you have any favorite ‘go-to’ patterns?

I think Audrey and Cobblestone are the only garments I’ve made twice, though I’m probably going to make another Owls as mine is looking a little worn. I love Envy Mitts for using up leftover sockyarn and I’ve made several Traveling Woman shawls.

If you could spend a day with any knitwear designer… who would it be? (… and yes, you’d come away with all their tips, tricks and knitterly wisdom!)

Oh that’s tough! As I’m sure any Electric Sheep listener would guess, Brooklyn Tweed! It would be amazing to come away with his technical knitting skills. I’d also love to sit and have a beer with the Yarn Harlot; she cracks me up, has bags of knitting know-how and I think she’s very generous to her audience.

When at home, where is it that you knit and what is it about the space that makes it yours?

I knit on the sofa in the living room most of the time. The spare bedroom is often referred to as ‘the Wool Room’ because my stash and knitting books and supplies are stored in there and have conquered much of the space into woolly submission.

Please describe your dream knitting nook and / or room.

An enormous, squishy armchair. A working fireplace. A good floor lamp and a big window. A bookcase all along one wall for yarn and knitting books. A beautiful cabinet with shallow drawers for needles and notions. An organised filing system for all my PDF print-outs. A china tea set and a well-stocked cake stand. A tech corner for all my podcasting equipment, and to listen to podcasts or watch the West Wing, depending on my knitting mood. A large drawing/writing desk. A drinks cabinet with three kinds of gin and plenty of tonic.

Not much to ask for, right?

Finally, you’ve been podcasting for over 2 years… And I think it’s appropriate to consider you an ‘expert’. Please list a few dos and don’ts of podcasting.

I don’t know about expert but I’ll give it a go! There are no hard and fast rules, but these would be my suggestions:

DO invest in decent equipment; sound quality is a key factor for most listeners.

DO make the most of your location, whether for its knitting, beauty, events, or history.

try and engage with your audience online, a lot of listeners like to interact with the show.

be scared to try something new; it will stop you getting bored and keep the show fresh.

wing it; you don’t need to write a script, but it’s worth planning the general content.

try to please everyone. Can’t be done and it’s exhausting to try. Make the show you want to hear.

The stage is yours… Is there anything you’d like to add?

Just to say thank you so much for interviewing me. I love reading Knit Nook and I’m honoured to be on the blog!

OK! OK! The Sheep has been Tweeting at me relentlessly while writing this interview, requesting his very own soap box, a slice of red velvet cake and a bottle of gin. I couldn’t resist. What say you, Sheep!?

Well it’s about time, frankly, I mean who’s the star of this show? The clue’s in the title people. Honestly that Hoxton just blathers on but I’m the one who does all the work. Now, if you come this way I’d like to give you a VIP tour of my new top-secret bunker at the bottom of the garden. That’s the distillery over there, just go easy on the Sheep Dip, it’s potent stuff.  Here we have the bakery, where I’m developing a gin-flavoured Battenburg. Through here is the pigeon loft and trebuchet workshop – please be careful to keep naked flames away from the chicken coop. In that room is my eco-generator, run by hamsters. Unfortunately, so far they’ve only been able to power a small fax machine, but I’ve got them in training and on a low-carb diet, and it won’t be long before they’re running the backlit map of the world, video conferencing and automated trapdoor seating that’s required before you can apply for membership of the Megalomaniac World Domination Society. I also need to rustle up something for their annual bake sale. My application essay is going to be about my plans to bring down the acrylic industry and solve the current financial crisis by moving to the wool standard. Ah, now over here is my prototype jet pack, with patented gin propulsion, you just flick this switch he-

Hoxton - It’s alright. I’ll go and fetch him off the roof. Sigh.

Many thanks again to Hoxton (and the Sheep!) for taking the time to do the interview!  She’s HoxtonHandmade on twitter and Hoxton on Ravelry. She also blogs over at