I used to be an artist, by that I mean, I trained in studio art with a focus on fibers and conceptual installation. My work dealt with time, memory and the space those hold in our lives. Then my life shifted, I ran a gallery and now I’m an educator at an art museum. I spend my professional life teaching others how to look at and have conversations about art from age 4+. During that transition, making art fell by the wayside and I came back to textiles as a sewer. Since 2013 I’ve been sewing garments for myself pursuing the slow, process oriented art of taking cloth and turning it into clothing.
What influence do audio books have in your life as a creative?:
I’ve always loved stories. Growing up family members would read aloud to me or I would hear my mom’s audiobooks on in the background while she sewed. We’d listen to Prairie Home Companion on weekends and challenge ourselves to find audiobooks that lasted the exact amount of time it took to our summer road trips. Fast forward to seven years ago, a new job, a new library system, and finding out about Libby (formerly Overdrive). Audiobooks to my heart’s content, no late fees and revolving limit on how many I’m able to check out–seriously, look into your library system’s partnerships.
What I listen to while I sew depends on the project I am planning. For example, when I start an involved project, I reach for a tried and true story, one that I’ve read or heard before so that I don’t miss anything if I get caught up in a sewing step. Conversely, if I’m using a tried and true pattern, I’ll start something I’ve never heard before because the motions are so regular, it’s easy to go on autopilot or pause when the story gets interesting.
Tell us about your audio book recommendations:
I’m a lover of fiction, specifically Sci-Fi and fantasy, and these recommendations reflect it.
If you’re in the mood for something quick, you can’t beat LeVar Burton Reads for short stories and other works of fiction from a variety of genres. There are several seasons available now on Stitcher and other podcast services so don’t be afraid to binge listen.
My most nostalgic tried and true listen is anything by Tamora Pierce. I’ve read all her books, but the Lioness Quartet is the first series she wrote and a great place to start. Pierce narrates it herself depending on where you listen.
I’d only recommend The Starless Sea if you’re working on something simple or very repetitive. I couldn’t put the book down, I’ve no doubt that the audiobook will be just as enthralling. Erin Morgenstern’s writing will literally suck you in; The Night Circus and The Starless Sea are fantastical, but not fantasy and are each standalone novels.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel shows a different view of a post-pandemic world. It isn’t riddled by zombies but follows a very human experience through the eyes of a traveling Shakespeare troupe. And speaking of Shakespeare, did you know that Sir Patrick Stewart reads sonnets on his Instagram account–@sirpatstew?
Need a series to get you through a big or really slow sewing project? Frank Herbert’s Dune or the Long Earth series by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter will both keep you exploring new worlds with fluid character arcs.
Maybe you’re not looking for Sci-Fi but need a long series, look for the Millennium Series by Steig Larsson–though if I’m being honest, you only need to listen to the last few if you’re dedicated to the characters. David Lagercrantz did a decent job, but you can tell the authors changed, there’s just something that shifts in the way the stories feel.
Perdido Street Station by China Miéville is another one of those books that just draws you in. The characters are so richly embellished and their world is so compelling. This one has a bit of a steampunk fantasy vibe going for it.
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert is pure fiction. It’s a story that takes the form of a letter, a very long letter recounting an interesting life. After hearing this one, I’m still undecided about how I feel about the main character, the narrator of their story, and I think that’s the point.
And that scratches the surface of my most favorite stories to listen to while I sew. For the record, they’re also great for doing the dishes.
*note there is no playlist linked here, just a list of recommendations
- LeVar Burton Reads – wherever you get your podcasts
- The Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce
- The Night Circus and The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
- Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
- Sir Patrick Stewart reading sonnets – @sirpatstew on Instagram
- Dune by Frank Herbert
- The Long Earth Series by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
- Millennium Series by Steig Larsson and David Lagercrantz
- Perdido Street Station by China Miéville
- City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert