Episode 35: Superstitions, Magic, and Paranormal Beliefs

Episode 35 was inspired by the recent Friday the 13th, Ides of March, and St. Patrick’s Day, all of which have some kind of bad luck or good luck associated with them.  I finished recording this episode a couple of days ago, but this is the first chance I’ve had to upload it!  On our way to the classroom, you’ll hear about signs of spring, snail mail news, new podcasts that I’ve been listening to or watching, knitting projects that I’ve worked on, and Corriedale sheep, our sheep of the month for March.  I’ll also review a couple of books that I’ve finished listening to lately.  And then you’ll find out about the history and interesting research about superstitions, magic, and paranormal beliefs.

Welcome  to both new and returning listeners!  I invite you to join our amazing Ravelry group so you can participate in all the activities and contests and be eligible for prizes.  It’s always a pleasure to connect with listeners online as well as via snail mail.  I’m a huge fan of old-fashioned handwritten correspondence.  If you’re interested in writing to me, all of my contact information can be found on this site; click on the “About” tab at the top of the page.

This podcast is sponsored by Etsy shops Halcyarn Knitting Accessories and PHD Yarns.  Thank you so much to both sponsors! Listeners’ support of these sponsors is truly appreciated, and through them you are supporting this podcast and making it possible.

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Reminders and Announcements

  • Post your finished objects in our Graduating Class thread for March for a chance to win valedictorian prizes.
  • Post your comments and questions about Corriedale sheep/wool in our Year of the Sheep thread — one prize will be drawn from this thread at the end of the month.
  • We also have a Year of the Sheep: Random thread for discussion of sheep breeds that aren’t on our “official” list for this year.  We’ve been having some fun and interesting discussion of Babydoll Southdown sheep.
  • Thank you to SOBAHIME and MISSKNITS for helping to lead the Year of the Sheep discussions.  And thank you to VDIMILIA for leading the discussion of our read-along of the book Quiet last month!

Awards and Scholarships

I announce the prize winners for February, who are:

February Graduating Class Valedictorians

  • POCKETSES, who is Sharon from Washington (Post #134) — wins a drawstring bag from Halcyarn Knitting Accessories
  • KNITTINGLADY54, who is Gwyn from Arkansas (Post #95) — wins a skein of yarn from PHD Yarns

February Year of the Sheep

  • IRIBEIRO, who is Isa from Portugal (Post #27) — wins a skein of yarn from Marigoldjen

An update on our first Yarn Grant that was won last month by WUPPERSTRICKER, who is Steffi from Germany:  Steffi has received the yarn (Wollmeise dk in the colorway My Old Blue Jeans) and she has posted pictures of two swatches.  She’ll be working on the Persistence is Key cardigan pattern, and the completion date is June 13.  Go over to the thread called Reporting for Yarn Grant #1 and cheer Steffi on!

Around Campus

I talk a little bit about the weather as spring is trying to interject itself into winter, with mixed success.  Last weekend I attended the Timber Ridge Knitting Retreat, which was a nice day of knitting, spinning, chatting with friends, and relaxing.  The weather was nice so we all went for a walk after we ate our pot-luck lunch.  For a couple of hours in the afternoon, I worked on spinning my Babydoll Southdown fiber, which is a new fiber to me and is very different and interesting.  Our next retreat dates are Saturday, August 1, 2015 and Saturday January 16, 2016 — mark your calendars!

I give a little update on snail mail news — thanks so much to everyone who has written to me.  I also talk about a couple of yarn purchases I’ve made lately:

  • Plucky Knitter Primo Classic Subscription — I get a skein of yarn every other month in the Primo fingering base, which is a merino-cashmere-nylon blend.  This month’s colorway is called CC Bloom, and it is a pretty, bright coral inspired by the beach.

Plucky Yarn Feb

  • One Twisted Tree on Etsy had a shop update a couple of weeks ago, and I snatched this lovely out of the shop.  This shop is owned by the very sweet Dani, a co-cost of the Prairie Girls Knit and Spin podcast, one of my faves, and she just started her new line of yarn.  The yarn I got it in the Prime Sock base, which is a superwash merino-nylon blend in the Urban Hunter’s Arrow colorway.  It’s a gorgeous variegated yarn with purple, blue, turquoise, and teal in it.

One Twisted Tree Yarn

I’ve been watching or listening to a couple of new podcasts lately that I’ve been enjoying and wanted to pass along my recommendation to you:

  • Junkyarn with Kemper in North Carolina — video podcast features a delightful, funny, smart, and interesting host and topics; subscribe on Youtube
  • Teaching Your Brain to Knit with Margaret and Catherine (both theater professors) in Northern California — audio podcast includes scholarly topics similar to what we’ve discussed here at Ewe University, plus they talk about “what they’re learning from their knitting” as well as fascinating information about the area where they live; subscribe on iTunes

I also encourage you to check out a Kickstarter Program for A Riot of Color, a yarn dyeing enterprise.  Owner Susan is trying to raise money to purchase a van so that she can take her yarn to festivals and basically bring her products closer to us.  Deadline is March 28; I’ve already made my pledge — and Susan has great prizes for every level of giving.

The Academic Status of My Knitting Projects


  • Graduated:  Corriedale Mittens
    Pattern is Warmest Mittens by Kris Percival
    Yarn is 100% Corriedale (non-superwash) handspun that I bought from Giddy Transformations on Etsy
    Needles are US sizes 4 and 5 (3.5 and 3.75mm)


  •  Junior:  Kaleidoscopic Vanilla Socks that I started back in August
    Pattern is Vanilla Socks by Elizabeth Suarez
    Yarn is Vice Blurred Lines in the Family Jewels colorway
    Needles are US size 1 (2.25mm)

Vanilla SocksYear of the Sheep

Here at Ewe University we are celebrating 2015, which is the Year of the Sheep in the Chinese calendar.  During each month we are trying out yarn and fiber from different sheep breeds, and the breed of the month for March is Corriedale.  In this episode I talk about some history of the Corriedale sheep as well as the characteristics of its fleece and fiber.  Thank you so much to GRANNYSHEEP, who is Cory from Michigan — she has a Corriedale farm and has been adding some great information to our discussion on Ravelry.

In addition, I provide some information about another breed, the Olde English Babydoll Southdown, which we have been discussing in the “random” thread on Ravelry.  Thanks to MYLITTLESHEEP, Kristin from Missouri, who owns a Babydoll Southdown farm and has been telling us all about her sheep in addition to posting pictures of newly born lambs that are beyond adorable.

At the Library

I’ve recently finished listening to two audiobooks, which I review on the show.  They are:

  • The Handsome Man’s Deluxe Cafe by Alexander McCall Smith.  This is Book 15 in the Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency series, and I enjoyed it.  (3.5 stars)  The reader, Lisette Lecat, is awesome, as always.
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  I listened to this book back in 2012 when it was first published and loved it, even though it is in the fantasy genre, which I am not usually drawn to.  I just listened to it again as part of the read-along in the Bookish Stitcher podcast group on Ravelry.  I really enjoyed listening to it the second time.  (5 stars)  The reader, Jim Dale, was fabulous as well.

In the Classroom

People have been talking about luck and charms lately, with Friday the 13th, the Ides of March, and St. Patrick’s Day all happening earlier this month.  This got me thinking about the research on superstition, so that’s what I talk about in the classroom.  Why is Friday the 13th considered unlucky?  And is it really an unlucky day?  What are some superstitions in other cultures?  What are the characteristics of superstitious people?  Do superstitious behaviors like lucky charms and knocking on wood really improve people’s performance?  Listen to the show to find out the answers to these questions!