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My love language is competition reality shows. No, not Survivor or Big Brother or any of that ilk. I want to see people who know what they are doing forced to do that thing under producer-imposed restrictions while a time clock tick-tocks away in the background.

Give me your Projects Runway. I’m all in on your Bake-Offs and Pottery Throw Downs. A show about special effects make-up? Yes, please.

My love of the genre was ignited in a Scottish B&B around the turn of the millennium when my spouse and I caught an episode Scrapheap Challenge after tromping around in the cool damp all day. We cuddled up with a cuppa under the duvet and were entranced.

I’ve watched as many varieties of this flavor of show as I can find, even venturing into VPNs and strolling the shadier side of the internets to take in the Great British Sewing Bee, my all-time favorite.

(Mind you, I’d be happy to pay a streaming service to feed my addiction to the Sewing Bee’s Patrick and Esme. There just doesn’t seem to be anyone willing to take my money already.)

I’ve even watched the variations on the theme whose topics I don’t have an affinity for, like All that Glitters (which was all about jewelry), Glow Up (makeup), and Full Bloom (flower arranging).

When there are Canadian or Aussie or New Zealand versions, I soak those up, too. I’d seek out non-English varieties as well but (1) they are even harder to access here and (2) I don’t do well when my knitting is paired with subtitles.

Fortunately, just as I was running out of new knitting TV, Blown Away, the glass blowing competition, launched its fourth season on Netflix. Resident evaluator Katherine Gray’s solid insights into the process help us know what we’re looking at. The hosts are great at asking the questions the audience might. And the guest evaluators add a little spice to the mix.

(I’ve taken a few glassblowing classes at the Corning Museum of Glass and discovered its a craft that is very much Not For Adrienne. My spouse, however, books studio time and weekend-long classes whenever he can make it work. If you need any creatively shaped cups and bowls, hit me up.)

Blown Away’s secret sauce is the craft itself: it’s incredibly dangerous and notoriously fickle. Molten sand commands respect, given how thoroughly it can hurt you if your attention slips. And glass’ reputation for fragility is backed up by reality. Look at it sideways and it will shatter.

And shatter it does, even in the hands of experts. I gasp out loud every time—and marvel at the glass blower’s ability to regroup and revamp.

The hot shop is a strange, exciting world worth stepping into, especially from the comfort of your cozy knitting chair.

About The Author

Adrienne Martini, the author of Somebody’s Gotta Do It, would love to talk with you about the importance of running for elected office or about all of the drama of holding a seat on the Board of Representatives in Otsego County, New York. Adrienne blogs when the spirit moves her at Martini Made.


  • I’d sell my first born cat to be able to watch Sewing Bee or Grand Designs UK. I’ll give the glass blowing thing a try!

  • I love this show too! I’m trying to limit myself to one every couple days so I don’t run through this season too quickly. It is absolute magic!

  • I agree, I love these types of shows. I love to see the talent emerge in these incredibly creative artisans .
    You have added to the list of things I love and will enjoy watching as I knit away
    Thank you for this review and sharing the things you love.

    • Forged in fire is our favorite!

  • I would also suggest the Corning Museum’s YouTube channel. So many fascinating videos – I especially love the ones by William Gudenrath, who’s an expert on historical techniques and Venetian glassblowing.

    • CMOG’s Youtube channel is great! Highly recommend.

  • We’ve enjoyed all 4 seasons of Blown Away…wish they’d go ahead and release the latest Great Pottery Throw Down season on Netflix too!

    • Any new Pottery Throwdown seasons will likely show up on HBO (MAX, whatever); that’s where it aired in the US.

      I’m convinced that the reason Blown Away works is that it’s only 30 minutes per episode – there’s too much tension about the glass breaking otherwise. Also, I have a crush on Katherine and was disappointed that the current season (binged all in one sitting, and the right person won) didn’t feature my favorite of all her death-blow criticisms: when she says “it looks like something you’d find in a gift shop.”

      • LOLOL – yes to all!

      • What makes that critique sting so much is the way she says it, like it’s so conversational, rather than dripping with scorn. I would just die.

      • Hmmm DG I was just saying the opposite to my husband the other night: I wish this show was longer! For me, the tension around the glass breaking is like the baking show “tension” around will there be a crap bake, & will Mr. Egowood judge it harshly? Duh & doy. I am fascinated by glass blowing & I wanna see more details! After a fourth successful season, I am surprised they haven’t extended our viewing time in the hotshop. HOTSHOP: who doesn’t want to be there?

        • If you can, you should check out the Corning Museum of Glass’s YouTube channel, mentioned above. It’ll give you all of the geeky details.

      • Oh my favorite one-liner from any of these had to have been on Season 1 of Top Chef when Dave told Tiffany, “I’m not your b*tch, B*tch.” I still say it all the time and it still makes me crack up laughing.

  • My god I love the art of glass blowing, I have always wanted to try it! Except for fire, exploding, breaking thing!

  • We’ve been watching “Blown Away” since season 1 and have enjoyed watching each new season as it appears. It’s wonderful to be able to knit and share a show with a non-knitting companion. The experience emphasizes our ability to enjoy our separate interests while promoting what we have in common.

  • Where can I find All That Glitters? Really would love to watch it! A Roku search turned up nothing! Thanks for this great list!

    • A couple of years ago it was on HBO Max. Not sure where it is now. Sorry.

  • I love so many of these shows. I have yet to figure out how to watch the Sewing Bee, but I will one day.

  • Oh I love this show….thanks for the note that it is back for the 4th season.

  • I have loved every season.

  • Check out Prime Video’s Portrait Artist of the Year.

    The streaming site has multiple years of this charming competition.

    All English celebrities- most I’ve never heard of, but so addictive!

  • My husband and I have done a very small project at Corning Glass, and took one of our grandsons there, too.

  • For interesting reality show that leaves a permanent mark, you should check out Ink Masters! Just as you’d expect – some magnificent, some horrendous!

  • Fun read! I love all these shows, too. And knit to them, although I always have to put the knitting down to watch the section showing final products with judge critique. I don’t want to miss seeing the details of the outfit, the food, the sword, the makeup, the costume, the glass object – whatever is produced by the amazing artists. (As you can tell, I watch a lot of these shows, LOL).

  • Great show to mention! We are lucky in Corning to have the glass museum & so many amazing local glass artists. I pop Blown Away on in the shop TV during the day. (Next time you visit Corning, stop at Rabbit Row Yarns and say Hi!)

  • Oh my!! Now I MUST find this show! We have a friend who is a glass blower and we have been privileged to visit his studio a lot. It’s such a scary thing to watch, but mesmerizing at the same time. Thanks for the heads up. I’m on a quest now!

  • Get a VPN (like Express VPN) and you can watch Sewing Bee to your hearts content!

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