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.