So, all this Christmas knitting takes a while. And as the deadline approaches, entire weekends can spent ploughing through the backlog. Not that this is a Bad Thing. Personally, a day spent knitting is a luxurious idea, and something I indulge in every few weekends anyway. But once I'm hitting my stride and knitting for over 8 hours at a stretch, I need something to keep me company. If I'm concentrating on a lacy hat like Porom I need all my attention focused on the damn chart I keep messing up. But when it's miles and miles of stockinette a little distraction and entertainment is called for.
Of course, this is essentially the reason the DVD box set was invented. This time last year, I was thrilled to discover my local library (conveniently sitting across the road from my flat) stocked a cornucopia of DVD delights which could be rented either for free or the extortionate sum of 2 pounds (no, I still haven't found the pound key on this computer). I think this fact alone may have reimbursed me for my council tax this year.
Unlike Blockbuster, it's an eclectic mix and for some shows they might only have season 4, so unless you're familiar with it you have to just launch in blindly. Ok for Will & Grace, not so good for Lost. But it's encouraged me to try some things I had never thought to watch, or programmes I completely missed the first time round. Last year's knitting frenzy was ably assisted by a combination of Oz, Nip/Tuck, Smallville, and House. As I've worked my way through a fair amount of the library's stock I've now also subscribed to Love Film to supplement supplies. Over the course of this year I moved on to The Sopranos, Battlestar Galactica and 24 and the current workshop is following Buffy. Through this gogglefest, I've learnt some important lessons:
1. Action/thrillers can be problematic. One glance down to the knitting and you've missed a vital visual clue; a secret email, a furtive handshake, a tiny scrap of evidence tucked into someone's pocket. You also tend to miss the explosions, shootings and stunts. So 24 isn't one I'll be trying again this festive season, nor Battlestar Galactica.
2. Forget anything with subtitles, obviously. I've had The Lives of Others from Love Film for weeks and I really want to watch it but there's just no way I'm capable of knitting and trying to follow German at the same time.
3. Sitcoms don't really work. The problem lies in watching several episodes one after the other. You start to feel like you're in some sort of time warp and watching the same twenty minutes over and over again. One trick - if you have a serious marathon ahead of you - is to alternate a comedy with a drama and then you don't get bored of either.
3. Dialogue is the key. As long as you can hear what's going on there's no problem. So anything that's essentially a talking book works well. Which is why I've seen every season of The West Wing at least four times now. That and the fact that it's utterly brilliant, of course. House, surprisingly, is mostly a lot of talking as well (and once you've seen one guy have a stroke/lumbar puncture/MRI/dangerously risky and foolhardy operation, you've seen them all). Buffy is proving to be a good combination of genres, since the dialogue is smart and the kill-the-vampire action sequences easy enough to follow half-blind.
So, what do you like to watch while you're knitting? Any recommendations for me? Here are my top three:
1.The West Wing
If you've never seen it and ever wondered how politics could possibly be entertaining, try this. Best put-down ever:
2. The Wire
Sometimes referred to as the best drama you've never seen. If anyone tells you there's nothing good on TV, here's the answer. For the first couple of episodes I wasn't sure what all the fuss was about. And then I watched this classic scene from Season 1:
I don't care if you're not into fantasy fiction, or teenage angst with a vampire twist. The writing here is fantastic and brilliantly entertaining. And I can't think of another show that's pulled off an episode where all the characters sing their parts as if they're in a musical, let alone an episode with almost no dialogue at all: