Episode 2

In Episode 2 we talk about the social brain, language and gossip, and two different thinking processes.  In the background, you will hear someone revving a hot rod engine and an airplane flying overhead.  Boy, I live in a noisy town!

Thank you to show sponsor, Halcyarn Knitting Accessories.

Listen to the Show:



Thank you to everyone who sent encouraging feedback on last week’s show.

Around Campus

Last Saturday I went to Stitches Midwest for the day.  My friend Gail and I took a charter bus from Peoria — we joined a group of 30 knitters, and it was a fabulous trip.  We got to ride on a comfy bus and didn’t have to worry about Chicago traffic or parking.  The bus dropped us off right at the front door of the convention center.  We got door prizes that were donated by Stitches (Gail and I both won yarn!), lots of discount coupons for various vendors, and free admission tickets into the marketplace.  Once inside the marketplace, we met up with our friend, Lauren, and shopped for about 5-6 hours.  Here is what I got:

Stitches Stuff

  1. Half pound of cashmere (60%) merino (40%) sock yarn from Newton’s Yarn Country
  2. Pathways Sock superwash merino from Lost City Knits
  3. Some stitch markers I got at the swap
  4. Tiny sheep I got at one of the vendors
  5. Beautiful fabric
  6. Another Hiya Hiya Sharp size US #1 with a 9″ cable — my favorites for knitting socks
  7. Cascade Pacific Chunky that I won in the door prize drawing
  8. Lo Lo bergamot lotion bar by Bar Maids
  9. Serenity 20 MCN sock yarn from Zen Yarn Garden
  10. Silver Sock (65% merino, 20% silk, 15% nylon, 2% silver) from Holiday Yarns — it’s very sparkly

Tuesday I visited Serendipity Yarn Shoppe and got some Corriedale Superwash from HPKY:


The Academic Status of My Knitting Projects

SENIOR:  Basic Ribbed Socks by Kate Atherley, knit in Tough Love sock yarn (80% superwash merino, 20% nylon) in the Bill Weasley self-striping colorway by Knit and Fiber Creation on Hiya Hiya Sharps US size 1 (2.25mm) with a 9″ cable.  I just turned the heel on the second sock, so I only have to finish the foot and toe.

Striped Socks

FRESHMAN:  Melon Sorbet triangular shawl by Halbe Prinzessin.  I’m doing this in Walkabout yarn (100% Australian wool) by High Prairie Fibers in a colorway that I designed.  It’s on my Dreamz interchangeables, US size 8 (5mm) needles.  I’ve only finished 3 repeats so far.


FRESHMAN:  Out of the black hole of UFOs, I pulled out the Drape Front Sweater by Roberta Rosenfeld, which I started probably a year and a half ago.  It’s on my Dreamz interchangeables, US size 7 (4.5mm) needles, and I’m using Lana Grossa Meringo yarn (40% angora, 30% wool, 20% rayon, 10% polyamide).  Below is a picture of my progress so far, which is half the left sleeve and a tiny bit of the back.


At the Library

This week I’m about halfway through Heirs and Graces, the seventh book in Rhys Bowen’s Royal Spyness mystery series.  It is an audiobook read by Katherine Kellegren, who is an amazing voice actress.  I’m enjoying it.

While we’re still at the library, I wanted to talk about storage solutions for knitting magazines.  Over the years I have collected dozens of magazines, and I am trying to figure out what to do with them so I can still have access to the patterns.  Any suggestions?

In the Classroom

Today we’re talking about a couple of underlying themes in life:  the brain and how we think.

First, the brain:  It’s expensive to operate, takes up 2% of our body weight but uses about 20% of our energy.  I talk about Robin Dunbar’s research which shows a direct correlation between brain size and group size whereby  animals that live in larger groups tend to have larger brains.  Dunbar also suggests that, because humans live in extraordinarily large social groups, language developed so that we could gossip — talk about other people so that we can exchange information about who are good and bad relationship partners.

Second, how we think:  I review two types of thinking processes…

  1. Automatic Processing, which is characterized by making quick conclusions or assumptions, gut reactions, automatic analyses of people and situations based on our previous experience.  It is unconscious and unintentional, like being on autopilot.  When we are knitting an easy, mindless pattern, we are using automatic processing.  This is why we can talk and knit easy things at the same time.  Most  mental processes happen automatically, and this system can  handle many tasks at once.
  2. Controlled Processing takes conscious mental effort and requires our constant attention.  This type of thinking can only handle one task at a time.  When we are knitting a complex lace pattern, we are probably using controlled processing.  We really have to pay attention, and if we get sidetracked by talking or watching TV, it is likely that we will goof up and have to rip out a bunch of rows.

Take the Stroop Test:  As quickly as you can, name the color of the letters in each word listed below.


This is a difficult task for most people because reading (an automatic process) is interfering with naming the color of the letters (controlled process). We don’t consciously want to read the words, but we can’t help but do it.

Thanks for coming to class today!

Pilot Episode

Welcome to Ewe University, the podcast at the nexus of education and the fiber arts!  Here is the pilot episode — our topic today is the history of knitting.  In the background, you’ll hear train whistles, cars passing my house, papers shuffling, and my dog panting.  Yikes!  I’ll try to improve the sound quality in future episodes.  Show notes are below.  Enjoy!

A huge thank you to show sponsor Halcyarn Knitting Accessories.

Listen to the show:



Why this podcast?

  1. I’ve been a university professor for nearly 20 years and a knitter since junior high, so this podcast combines my love for both knitting and academics.  I also have a spinning wheel and quite a few drop spindles, so I want to incorporate all the fiber arts into the mix.
  2. For the past three years I’ve taught an honors seminar on knitting.  In addition to learning how to knit, in the class we relate knitting to many academic disciplines, such as neuroscience,  mathematics, psychology, history, economics, feminism.  Every knitter I know wants to sit in on this class!  So why not podcast it?
  3. Knitters and other fiber artists are generally high in the need for cognition.  This means that they like to think about things.  They like to hear about new ideas, discuss them, and learn.  With this podcast I hope to capitalize on the intellectual engagement of fiber artists.

So I’ve had the idea for Ewe University for several years and find that the time is right to start the podcast because I am on sabbatical this semester.  Besides having more time to devote to getting the podcast off the ground, one of my sabbatical goals is to contribute to the community and do something meaningful.  This is one way I can contribute to the knitting community.  I hope you learn something from every episode!

My plan is to run the podcast as a weekly show on a regular university schedule:  fall semester, spring semester, and summer school.

Today’s Segments

At the Library (fun books–not textbooks–I’m reading)

I am an Audible junkie.  I’m currently listening to Heirs and Graces, the newest Rhys Bowen book (Book 7) in the Royal Spyness mystery series.

The Academic Status of My Knitting Projects (where I rank my works in progress and finished objects as freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, or graduated)

GRADUATED:  the Oaklet Shawl by Megan Goodacre, knit out of Crystal Palace Mini Mochi on US size 5 (3.75mm) needles.

 Oaklet Shawl

GRADUATED:  A pair of Super Simple Short Socks by Meghann Holcomb.  These are knit with On Your Toes, a bamboo/nylon blend, which I did not like knitting with (it is discontinued anyway).  I knit these on my Hiya Hiya Sharps US size 1 (2.25mm), 9 inch circular needles — my favorites for knitting socks.

shortie socks

JUNIOR:  A pair of Basic Ribbed Socks by Kate Atherley, which I’m making with Tough Love sock yarn from Knit and Fiber Creations Etsy Shop.  Again, I’m using Hiya Hiya Sharps, size US #1 (2.25mm) with a 9″ cable.  So far I have one sock completed.


Athletics Department (where I talk about fitness and goals)

I’m trying to get back into a more regular fitness routine.  I used to compete in triathlons and 5k races but haven’t done that for the past few years.  I would like to get back into it and have been riding my bike a lot more this summer.  This morning I rode 25 miles at a 15 mph pace.

In the Classroom (a short lecture which relates to the fiber arts in some way)

Today’s topic is the history of knitting:

  • Oldest “real” knitting — cotton socks from Egypt ~ 1000 CE

Socks from Egypt

  • Knit liturgical gloves from Germany dated to 1297

Liturgical Gloves

  • Paintings of knitting Madonnas began appearing 1350’s

Knitting Madonna 1  Knitting Madonna 2

  • Knitting guilds…to be a master knitter a journeyman had 13 weeks to knit four “masterpieces,” including a carpet, beret or gloves, wool shirt, and a pair of decorated hose.
Knit Carpet

Hand Knit Carpet

If you’re interested in more information about the history of knitting, check out A History of Hand Knitting by Richard Rutt.

Thanks for coming to class today!  Please join our Ewe University group on Ravelry.  Feel free to leave your comments there or here on the blog.  You can also contact me by private message on Ravelry or regular email or snail mail.  All of my contact information is listed on the “About Me” page.