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Are you looking to unwind with a new hobby or dive into a fantastical quest? Our latest podcast episode features the delightful Helen, who not only charms us with her passion for crocheting but also takes us through the enchanted world of Dungeons and Dragons.

In a time when we’re all a bit screen-weary, Helen reminds us of the joy found in tactile, hands-on activities. She shares how crocheting became a therapeutic outlet during anxious times, offering a sense of calm and accomplishment. As she unfolds the tale of her first lopsided project to the beautiful blankets she now creates, you might just find yourself reaching for a crochet hook and yarn.

But that’s not all. Helen also reveals her recent foray into the realm of tabletop role-playing games. Dungeons and Dragons, a game often associated with the eighties and nerdy kids, has seen a resurgence, and Helen’s experiences illustrate why. From the camaraderie to the creative freedom of building a character, DnD offers a unique social experience that’s both nostalgic and refreshingly modern.

Throughout the episode, you’ll also pick up some fascinating idioms related to these hobbies—ever heard of “frogging” your work or why someone might tell you to “stick to your own knitting”? You’ll learn these and more, adding a layer of linguistic fun to the conversation.

Whether you’re an experienced crafter, a curious newbie, or just someone looking for a delightful conversation, this episode has something for everyone. So grab your favorite beverage or your dog, the leash and some headphones, and let Helen’s stories of yarn and fantasy inspire you to explore new hobbies and the simple pleasures they bring.

Listen to the episode now and discover why sometimes the best way to disconnect is to connect—with crafts, games, and a good old-fashioned potluck with friends.

Key words:

Crocheting, American Culture, Lifestyle Idioms, Knitting, Yarn Crafts, Therapeutic Hobbies, Anxiety Relief, Diy Projects, Handmade Blankets, Dungeons And Dragons, Tabletop Games, Role-Playing Games, Fantasy World, Community Games, Potluck Culture, Sci-Fi Literature, Dune Novel, Retro Gaming, Craft Hobbies, Social Hobbies

This is the blanket that Helen made for her partner that she talks about in the episode.

Transcript: 

Anne brings on a featured guest to talk about three favorite hobbies

>> Anne: Welcome to podcast episode 13. This is Anne, your host, and today I am bringing on a featured guest who has been with us for other episodes, like episode two, West Coast Slang, episode four, Internet slang. And I also interviewed her on my YouTube channel about Harry Potter. Her name is Helen, and she is an amazing guest. She’s going to be talking about three of her top hobbies and a little bit about American culture and lifestyle as well. You’ll also learn some idioms related to these hobbies that we will discuss at the end of our conversation. I think you’re going to love this episode. Thank you for joining us. And without further ado, let’s get started.

Helen learned to crochet in 2021, so it hasn’t been very long

>> Anne: Cool.

>> Anne: Okay. Welcome, Helen. It’s so nice to have you back on the podcast. Everyone raves about the episodes that you were in the previous episodes, so this will be a fun conversation. And, we’re talking today about Helen’s hobbies. And I know that you have a really unique hobby that we can just start with, which is crocheting. Right. You crochet. And I want to kind of talk to you about the process, like how you learn to crochet and what colors you use and things like that, what you make.

>> Helen: Definitely. Well, I just learned how to crochet in 2021, so it hasn’t been very long. but I really dove into it. I was watching a show with a friend, and there was a woman who was like. I was like, oh, she’s knitting something. I want to learn how to knit. And my best friend was like, she’s actually crocheting, and I know how to do that, and I can teach you. Really? So, yeah, I learned from my best friend how to do it. And, it’s different from knitting. Knitting is using two needles, and you have to kind of keep the work that you’re doing either on one of the needles or on kind of like a long loop that attaches to the needles.

>> Helen: And then crochet is done with just a hook. And then you just hold yours… Your work, and hand use the hook to make kind of knots in the yarn.

>> Anne: That sounds easier than knitting.

>> Helen: Yeah, I feel like it’s harder to learn how to crochet, but then it’s easier to do than knitting.

>> Anne: yeah, because if you only have to hold one needle, it might be easier than two needles, but, yeah, I’m sure it’s a process.

>> Helen: Yeah, there are some definite benefits. I like that. you, you. If you mess up knitting, like, it can be quite a nightmare. You can have a bunch of not. It can be really tedious to try to untangle, but with crochet, for the most part, if you mess up, you can just pull on the string and it will come apart.

>> Anne: Oh, that is easier too.

>> Helen: And that’s what they call frogging your work.

>> Anne: Oh, to frog your work. So you would kind of go back a few, a few crochets and then a few knots, I guess, right? Is that what you’re, I mean, you.

>> Helen: Can pull apart the entire thing. Like, if you have a blanket that’s crocheted and you have the end of it, you can pull apart the entire blanket and it will just be a single strand of yarn. And if it’s done that way.

>> Anne: So, yeah. And do you feel like it’s therapeutic, like it helps you just stay calm and relax and you could do it anywhere. You could take your crochet set on the train with you or like, is it something that you do to get your mind off work?

>> Helen: Yeah, I was noticing, in 2020, I was feeling quite anxious, as we all were. There were some global things happening, there were some American things that were happening. It was an election year, there was a lot of stuff going on, very stressful. And I found that in early 2021, I was still really feeling that anxiety and just felt like I needed to be distracted. Like, I felt like I was watching TV, but I still had to be like, on my phone and.

>> Anne: Hm.

>> Helen: I was like, I don’t want to be doing all of this. I want to have something, some way to kind of get this out. And so crochet was really good in that way for me. I was able to pick it up and really kind of channel some of that nervous energy into it. And, yeah, I do it, when I’m watching tv or I listen to audiobooks and crochet. I commute to work on the train and my commute is like, on the train, it’s like an hour each way.

>> Helen: And so I listen to an audiobook and crochet on the train if my work is not too big.

>> Anne: That sounds really relaxing.

>> Anne: Yeah.

>> Anne: Now, I know that I would normally associate crocheting with the older generation, like some things that grandmothers crochet or something. So it’s kind of surprising that you do it. But I’ve also heard that it’s trending. Like, it’s something that’s very popular. Like, it wouldn’t be odd to see someone crocheting on the train.

>> Anne: Right.

>> Anne: You’ve seen other people doing it too.

>> Helen: I’ve never seen anything, I mean, I’ve maybe seen a couple people, like knitting something really small.

>> Helen: But yeah, I think that like, I know a number of folks who are, you know, millennials who are crocheting and.

>> Helen: Yeah, I think that a lot of, at least the people that I know, had a family member, had a grandma or somebody teach them how to crochet and that was like a bonding thing.

>> Helen: Between them. And so that’s why they know how to do it and it’s just kind of stuck with them.

>> Anne: So yeah, that’s really cool.

I like to do blankets because it’s like a long project

And do you make any cool projects like you made a sweater or something and you gave it to someone and it was really gratifying or did some, or did a project go really wrong and then you thought you had to start from over?

>> Helen: The first project I did, I didn’t really know how to make a square. And it just kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger into this weird triangle monstrosity. And I kept it just to be able to see this is where I started. And now I get to do cool stuff. But yeah, I’ve made a lot of things. I like to do blankets because it’s like a long project, but it’s also, the patterns can be complex, but you can kind of get into the flow of it. Whereas if you’re making something that really has a shape to it, the patterns can be really, you have to pay really close attention and so it’s not as mindless, you know, it’s not something you can easily follow on the train or something like that.

>> Anne: So you would have to be really exact and calculate the numbers and really kind of almost mathematical about it.

>> Helen: Yeah, you have to do a lot of counting, and like the more stuff that’s going on, the more kind of engaged you have to be, especially as you’re figuring out the pattern. But I’m yeah, I’ve made a few blankets. I just made a blanket for my grandma and she really liked it a lot.

>> Anne: Oh, that’s really cool. Like the younger generation crocheting a blanket for the older generation, reversing the roles here. I love it.

>> Helen: Yeah. Yep. And yeah, I’m working on one right now for Ray, my partner, and for his birthday.

>> Anne: Is it a surprise or.

>> Helen: No, he’s, I mean, I’m working on it at home all the time.

>> Anne: Okay. And how did you, how do you select the colors for those projects,

>> Helen: sometimes a pattern will have a color. Like, it’ll suggest a color or like a type of yarn. But, for this one, I just asked him what he wanted. I told him I wanted to make him a blanket and asked, you know, based on the blankets that I’ve made that he’s seen in the past, like, what kind of blanket did he want? And he kind of said something because I’ve made some really, like, lacy things that have, like, a lot of holes in them, you know? And he was like, I want something that’s closer knit so that it’s warm.

>> Anne: Yeah, true, true.

>> Helen: So, and then he said he wanted green. So I actually have it right here. I can show you. Sorry for the listeners who can’t see it, but, yeah, that is so impressive.

>> Anne: It’s gorgeous. That looks like a really wonderful sweater, too, that you could wear.

>> Helen: Yeah.

>> Anne: Sweaters would be really hard. Probably blankets would probably be easier.

>> Helen: I tried to do a sweater and I got really frustrated. I was like, okay, I’m just gonna do scarves and blankets for now until I get more of that.

>> Anne: That’s true, that’s true. Oh, the color is gorgeous. It’s like a green. It’s like a moss green color. Yeah. Do you mind if people watch you or do like, watch you crochet? No.

>> Helen: Well, obviously not. If I do it on the train, I was gonna say, just be like, don’t look at me.

>> Anne: Yeah. Because there’s an expression that we were talking about that’s like, okay, mind your own business is like, just, you know, do like, don’t get involved in my stuff. So it would be so funny if you were sitting on the train and you were like, stick to your own knitting or something. Yeah. So this phrase, stick to one’s knitting really means mind your own business, right?

> Anne: Yeah.

>> Helen: It’s like something that you can say to somebody else to tell them to mind their own business. Like a stick. You stick to your knitting. So you’re knitting. Or you can say it about yourself. If, you know, people are asking you to gossip or something, you can just say, I’m just sticking to my knitting here.

>> Anne: Yes. And it’s so, it’s so sweet. I love it. It’s so adorable. Is it something that’s actually said often or. Because it’s not that common, is it? Or is it coming?

>> Helen: No, I mean, I don’t think that I’ve heard it super frequently.

>> Anne: Yeah.

>> Anne: But when you hear, you’re like, that’s adorable. Yeah, I love it.

I just started playing Dungeons and Dragons. What is that? Is that like an old school video game

It’s so great because I know you have a lot of cool hobbies that you love, that you.

>> Helen: Yeah, I mean, I like to be outside a lot. I like to go for hikes. I live really close to a beautiful park with a lot of trails.

>> Anne: Oh, that sounds so nice. You could take, you know, your crochet with you or. No, you probably don’t take your crocheting hiking with you. Right.

>> Helen: I feel like it’s more of a sitting activity.

>> Anne: Yes.

>> Helen: So that’s what I do when I get home from hiking.

>> Anne: Okay, that makes sense.

>> Helen: But yeah, I like to, I just started playing Dungeons and Dragons.

>> Anne: What is that? Is that like an old school video game or are you playing the new one?

>> Helen: It’s actually not a video game, it’s like a tabletop. Like a role playing game.

>> Anne: Oh my gosh.

>> Helen: And it was something that the kids were doing. It came out in the eighties.

>> Anne: Yeah.

>> Helen: And, it was only like really, really nerdy kids did it.

>> Anne: Yeah.

>> Helen: And there was all this like, you know, parents were not happy about it because they thought it was like giving kids bad ideas and having them, you know, practice witchcraft or whatever. And it’s just basically like, you know, you choose, you create your own character and then you kind of, go through this game. It’s a lot like improvisation. Like improvisation?

>> Anne: Hm.

>> Helen: just like the person who kind of facilitates the group, either creates a story or uses the story that’s been created.

>> Helen: And then kind of carries the other players through the story with their characters and they’ll say something like, you come across a centaur, like, what do you say to it? And so then you’ll kind of say what your character would do and then a lot of times there’s, so there’s like all these dice that you use to kind of determine the outcomes of what you say that you want to do. So there’s also a lot of math involved.

>> Anne: Yeah.

>> Helen: yeah, but it’s been really fun and it’s something that I didn’t start doing until I was an adult. And, but I just started playing with a couple friends and that’s been really cute.

>> Anne: That sounds great. I have to make a confession here. So my partner Bernaldo is obsessed with these kinds of games, these kinds of role playing games. So we also play them and we play them like, yeah, we have a number of them, not dungeons and dragons, but it’s like you choose a character, like a warrior character, and it’s like a little plastic. You know, move.

>> Helen: Like a miniature.

>> Anne: A miniature, exactly. And you move it around the board. You roll these. There’s very complicated dice to roll and they go on these adventures and it’s really kind of fun. But, it does take a long time to play these games. Like hours. Like, you could probably be playing them for hours easily.

>> Helen: Yeah. And a lot of times people will do, like a long term game where they’ll meet for, I don’t know, maybe like 3 hours every week or every other week or something like that. And they call it a campaign. And I mean, you could potentially play a campaign forever if you wanted to because you can just, the facilitator is called the dungeon master. and they can just keep making stuff up if they want to, you know.

>> Anne: Yeah. Like, it’s very creative. And also you’re in the moment with the, with the people you’re playing with. So I think it’s kind of like, it’s, you’re using a lot of interesting, you know, it’s fun. It’s a fun thing to play. Yeah.

>> Anne: Yeah.

>> Helen: And I think it can be interesting, like creating a character that’s really different from who you are and then you’re, if you play through like, what you think that they would do, given the backstory that you’ve created for them, I think it can be kind of like a way to like, build empathy for people and. Yeah, it’s just, it’s just interesting.

>> Anne: Yeah, and it’s really, really interesting that it’s so retro, like from the, you know, something so old from the past, you would think that you would be really into video games, you know, or playing them on the screen. But I think it’s really interesting that you’re into these board games.

>> Helen: Yeah, well, I also like video games.

>> Anne: That’s true. That’s true. But it’s something that you could, for example, reach out to other members of your community or your neighborhood or, and play with other people or just friends, just close friends would you, and call over to play or just, you.

>> Helen: Can, I mean, you can play with people who you don’t know that you would. It’s kind of, getting it started is kind of a process because you have to find somebody who’s willing to be the dungeon master and then, yeah, you have to kind of figure out what level everybody is going to be and then everyone has to create their character for the scene. And so it’s not like, you know, it wouldn’t be easy for like six strangers to just meet up somewhere and then have this game. There is a lot of prep, but the strangers could definitely be like, we want to do this. Let’s figure out how to make it happen.

>> Anne: Yeah. Because when Bernaldo starts a game, he’ll read the instructions and take like an hour just to read the instructions. And it’s like this really long prep process to start playing, which surprised me. Yeah.

>> Helen: I’ve never been a dungeon master. I don’t know that I have the patience and the wherewithal to do all of that because it is so much work on the back end of things. But then it’s, and then you’re not really, you are kind of playing, but you’re not like playing a character.

>> Anne: uh-huh

>> Anne: Yeah, yeah. But it’s really engaging, it’s really fun. It’s a great way to distract yourself from the day-to -day reality. It’s kind of like a fantasy world, you know?

>> Helen: Yeah.

>> Anne: And then you, my friends and I.

>> Helen: Will have like a little, you know, we’ll all, we’ll do like a little potluck and, everyone will bring something to eat that we made and then we’ll just sit around the table for hours and eat and play and laugh and.

Where I live in Spain, people don’t do potlucks because they’re informal

>> Anne: Yeah, that was such a fun thing to do. I was actually teaching, I was teaching a class about potlucks the other day because it’s kind of an american phenomenon, this idea of like everyone bringing a dish, sharing it, and how people like to maybe share dishes from their culture or dishes from their family members, but usually people would bring like a homemade dish, right? Yeah, yeah, yeah. So I think potlucks are so fun. It’s informal, you know?

>> Helen: Definitely.

>> Anne: But like, where I live in Spain, people don’t do them because they’re seen as too informal. And people like really formal dinners and things like that here.

>> Helen: Yeah, we’re, we do a lot of very informal things.

>> Anne: Yes, exactly, exactly.

You recommend Dune to anyone who likes Sci-Fi or fantasy

Was there a third hobby you wanted to mention? I can’t remember.

>> Helen: I mean, I like to do a lot of things, I like to read. That’s something that I’ve been doing a lot of. I just finished a book right before we.

>> Anne: Oh, cool. Congratulations.

>> Helen: Novel? yeah, it was dune. I had never read it before.

>> Anne: Wow. Yeah. Did you like it?

>> Helen: I loved it, yeah.

>> Anne: Really? Do you recommend it?

>> Helen: not to everybody, but if you like Sci-Fi then yes, yes, yes.

>> Anne: That’s. That book is. Everyone’s talking about that book. Yeah.

>> Helen: Because there’s like a new movie that’s coming out.

>> Anne: Uh-huh uh-huh yeah. So I haven’t read it. I think I should, but it’s thick. It’s a thick book.

>> Helen: Yeah, I think it’s, it’s not for everybody. There’s a lot of world building in it. I think that, you know, with Sci-Fi and or fantasy, it can. Some people really like when you don’t know what anything is, you don’t know what the planet’s called, you don’t know what the animals are called, you don’t know what the people are like. You’re learning all of that stuff as you’re reading. Some people are like, that’s too much for me to do. I just want to learn what people are doing. Like what’s the interesting plot line that’s happening? You know?

>> Helen: So if you’re the second type of person, then you wouldn’t like it.

>> Anne: When you read the first chapter, were you already just into it? Yeah, it’s like a page turner. There’s suspense in the book, right?

>> Helen: Definitely suspense, yeah.

>> Anne: Oh, okay. Okay.

>> Anne: Yeah.

>> Helen: A lot of action.

>> Anne: Uh-huh okay. Yeah. That’s great that you like to read so avidly. As a pastime.

A wet blanket is someone who discourages enjoyment or enthusiasm

There are some idioms that I wanted to talk about related to the topic of, you know, blankets, crocheting, knitting and so forth. So for example, like blankets, a wet blanket, it’s someone who discourages, like someone who discourages enjoyment or enthusiasm. So if, let’s say you had like you were celebrating getting a new job or something and someone didn’t really congratulate you or something, there would be like a wet blanket kind of.

>> Helen: Yeah. Or like someone who’s like, like so much of a rule follower that they’re not willing to do something that’s, and you know, someone that’s kind of like a bummer or boring.

>> Anne: Yeah. Like even if there’s a party or something and they kind of ruin the party, they’re just not having any fun. They’re like a wet blanket. Yeah. So that’s kind of funny, it’s kind of a funny image in your mind as well, right? This wet blanket, this uncomfortably wet blanket kind of ruining the vibe. yeah, socks. I don’t know if you like to knock your socks off because I know you. First of all, have you ever crocheted socks?

>> Helen: I have not. That way. That takes a lot of work.

>> Anne: Oh yeah, I bet. Because you have to do all the corners and the rounds and you usually.

>> Helen: Have to use this tiny little yarn. So it’s just like, all of these stitches. Yeah.

>> Anne: Sounds really stressful.

Would you say this ever, or do you think it’s too uncommon?

Well, there’s an idiom, knock your socks off. Like, when something really impresses you.

>> Anne: Yeah. Would you say this ever, or do you think it’s too uncommon?

>> Helen: I don’t think it’s uncommon. I definitely hear people say it.

>> Anne: Oh, you do?

>> Anne: Okay.

Anne: Like, it would be like a game. Like, if you go see a great football game or something, you’ll be like, wow, that really knocked my socks off. Or a good movie or something. What do you think? When would you say it?

>> Helen: Yeah, I’ve definitely heard people say it. I feel like it’s. It’s people who are older than me who say it.

>> Anne: Mm. M

>> Helen: M but I definitely hear it, like, fairly regularly. But it just means, like, something, another one that. Another idiom that is, means the same thing. It totally blew my mind.

>> Anne: Yeah, exactly. It totally blew my mind. Yeah.

>> Helen: Yeah.

>> Anne: It was so cool.

>> Helen: Or so amazing, or, like, so shocking.

>> Anne: Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. So, okay, what about throwing in the towel? So, like, if you throw in the towel, you kind of give up on something, right? if you’re not really into something anymore.

 

Helen: Yeah, no, I definitely. That’s a regular. That’s one that I do hear regularly. I’m curious about where it comes from. That’s because it’s just such an interesting visual, but, yeah, it just means to give up, usually something that you’ve been, like, working really hard at, and it’s just too much, and so you’re just going to give up. A funny thing that happened, my aunt got two idioms mixed up with each other.

>> Anne: Oh, she did.

>> Helen: Trying to say, I want to throw up my hands, which means kind of the same thing. Like, I want to, Like throwing up your hands and surrender, you know, like, oh, I give up.

>> Anne: Yes, yes.

>> Helen: And then she accidentally mixed that up with this. With this one. Throw in the towel. And she was like, I just want to throw up the towel. And

>> Anne: That, which would be like, vomit the towel. Actually, to vomit the towel. And then everyone probably started laughing so hard about that. Right.

>> Helen: And so we. We say that all the time now.

>> Anne: You’Ve invented a new idiom, throw up the towel.

>> Helen: Yeah.

>> Anne: Which probably means a combination of the two things. We get these funny inside jokes in the families, right. That we just start, like, you invent a new language, and then everyone understands it, but no one else outside of the family gets it.

>> Helen: Yeah. Yeah, I think that’s probably true all over the world.

>> Anne: I know that’s really true. Exactly.

Pulling the wool over someone’s eyes is a deceptive tactic

Okay. I’m interested in this one. Hook, line and sinker.

> Anne: Mm.

>> Anne: Okay. When would you use those?

>> Helen: That means, like, if somebody believed a story.

>> Helen: And I think it comes from like fishing or something, but I think it’s like referring to, like a fish hook getting a fish and then pulling it up. Like, it’s like you believed a story, you believed a line, like hook, line and sinker.

>> Anne: Uh-huh

>> Helen: Yeah. Like somebody believes a lie.

>> Anne: Uh-huh and then another one is like, to pull the wool over someone’s eyes. So this is like pulling the wool over someone’s eyes. It was really like, you are trying to get away with something, doing something deceptive again, and you’re trying to hide it. Right. From them.

>> Anne: Mm Hm.

>> Anne: Yeah.

>> Helen: Trying to, like, cover their vision from seeing something that you’re doing or somebody else is doing. Yeah.

>> Anne: Hm.

>> Anne: You would just pull the wool over your eyes and hide something.

>> Anne: Right.

>> Anne: And. Yeah.

>> Helen: Or you could say that somebody else, like, you know, somebody is attempting to pull the wool over somebody else’s eyes. You know, like if somebody else, if somebody’s attempting to deceive somebody else, that could be.

>> Anne: Yes, for sure. That’s really interesting. another one could be, for example, in the flow.

>> Anne: This is just, I was thinking about this in terms of doing the crochet. Like, if you feel like you’re in a state of flow in the zone, if you’re kind of, like, chilling out, relaxing, and it’s. Do you feel like you kind of get in a flow state from the crocheting?

>> Helen: Definitely, yeah. Yeah, I’ll be crocheting and then I’ll look at the clock and then put my, like, look down on my crochet again and then look back up at the clock and it’s like 3 hours of path, I’m like, what?

>> Anne: Whoa.

>> Anne: Time flies when you’re crocheting. You’re like, in the moment.

>> Helen: Yeah.

>> Anne: Yeah.

Helen says it’s important to have hobbies that get away from technology

That is fascinating. I’ve learned so much about crochet and about Dungeons and Dragons, interesting hobbies, interesting pastimes that you’ve shared with the listeners. And I think that a lot of people probably relate to what you’re saying. In our digital world that’s so driven by technology, I think it’s important to have hobbies that get you away from that, which is, it sounds like what you’re, you know, what you have.

>> Helen: Definitely, yeah.

>> Anne: That’s amazing.

>> Helen: I need to work on my laptop all day, and I need a break. I need to be able to do stuff that is not connected to tech.

>> Anne: Yeah. And also using your hands and also socializing, because the dungeons and Dragons game is so social. Yeah.

>> Helen: That’s probably my biggest hobby, is just being like, I spend so much time with my community. So.

> Anne: Yeah, conversations, laughter. All of those great things about face to face friendships. Well, thank you so much, Helen, for joining me again on the podcast. If you love this one, stay tuned for the future.