Episode 5

In Episode 5 I talk about the power of the fiber arts to prevent and alleviate depression.  Listen in as I discuss the research on how important it is to use not only your brain but also both of your hands together in creative ways that result in rewarding products.  Other ramblings include my new Jamberry nails, a class project assignment, and more historical tidbits about Dracula.  You’ll also find out who made the Dean’s List this week.

Welcome to everyone who has joined the Ewe University group on Ravelry and to all who contacted me this week.  I love hearing from you!  You can subscribe to the show on iTunes or on this web site by clicking on the “Follow” tab at the bottom of the page and entering your email address.

Thank you to show sponsor Halcyarn Knitting Accessories.

Listen to the Show:



Around Campus

The tomato plants have pushed out an end-of-summer bumper crop this week.  I am thinking I need to start canning, which I’ve never done.

Some of our roma tomatoes. (And yes, that sign is in my kitchen.)

Some of our roma tomatoes.
(And yes, that sign is in my kitchen.)

This week I got some new Jamberry nails.  These are rather wild and crazy for me, but they’re fun.  My colleagues are mesmerized by them, and my students think they’re cool, so that makes me feel hip.

Left:  My crazy chevron nails this week Right:  Jamberries as they come out of the package

Left: My crazy chevron nails this week
Right: Jamberries as they come out of the package


The Dean’s List

This week I am thankful for Susan B. Anderson.  I just bought her Topsy-Turvey Inside-Out Knit Toys book and am also knitting one of her patterns, the Happily Ever After Mitts.


The Academic Status of My Knitting Projects

FRESHMAN:  Sock Circle Socks

I knit a pair of cuffs for my own socks and then passed them on to Gail, who will knit the next section of them.  The yarn I used is Austerman Step on a U.S. size 1 (2.25mm) needle.  For the cuffs I just knit 2 inches of 3 x 1 ribbing.

My sock cuffs that went to Gail for the next section.

My sock cuffs that went to Gail for the next section.

This week I received a pair of sock cuffs from Rose and I am knitting the next section on those.  So far I have my part done on one sock.  I am using Lorna’s Laces Sole Mate in the Mixed Berries colorway.  The zig-zag pattern I am using is from Elphaba by Valerie Johnson of Wandering Cat Studio.

Rose's sock cuff with my section added

Rose’s sock cuff with my section added

FRESHMAN:  Fingerless mitts for my niece

My niece’s birthday is coming up next month, so I thought I would knit her a pair of these lovely Happily Ever After Mitts by Susan B. Anderson.  I’m using Panda Soy yarn by Crystal Palace, which my ball band says is 60% bamboo (but the info on Ravelry says 49% bamboo).  As you know, bamboo is definitely not my favorite yarn to work with, but I think the first mitt is looking pretty nice on U.S. size 2 (2.75mm) needles.

My niece is going to love the purple.

My niece is going to love the purple.


A Class Project

Listen in as I assign a class project, should you choose to participate.  It involves thinking of a meaningful teacher in your life and writing them an old-fashioned letter.  Post a brief teacher tribute on our Ravelry thread and you’ll be entered in the prize drawing.  The project deadline is October 31, and I will be drawing two random entries for these prizes:

  1. Choice of any knitting project bag from Halcyarn Knitting Accessories.
  2. Choice of any hank of yarn from Evermore Studios.

This project is a joint activity involving both Ewe University listeners and Yarns at Yin Hoo listeners.  So you can double dip by posting in both Ravelry threads.


At the Library

This week I’m on Chapter 17 of Dracula.

In an effort to expand my literary horizons, a few years ago I started a tradition of reading a horror classic for Halloween.  I am looking for suggestions for good book.  Please go over to the thread on Ravelry and post your recommendations.

Gail provided some intriguing information on Dracula, a brand new TV series which will be on NBC this fall.  The official trailer is worth watching!

In this week’s show I give some more history on the real Vlad Dracula and how some of the accounts of his behavior may be greatly exaggerated or even fabricated with the intent of besmirching his image.  (Yes, I do get to use the word besmirch in a real sentence!)  Thus, Vlad’s reputation is considerably darker in  Western Europe than in Eastern Europe.  In Romania he is an important historical figure and considered a hero.  The Western idea of Dracula the vampire is not a part of Romanian culture at all.


In the Classroom

Martin Seligman, the researcher who started the positive psychology movement that we discussed in class last week, was one of the pioneering researchers on depression.  I talk about his seminal work on learned helplessness and how this was applied to the human problem of depression.  Then I introduce neuroscientist Kelly Lambert and her research on “effort-driven rewards” which is the idea that our brains are wired for exerting effort to achieve a goal.  When we are handed out rewards without any work at all, it makes us less motivated, less persistent, and less resilient.  Lambert includes knitting as an example of the antidepressant brain circuit in action.  We are using our brains to plan and design something, working with both of our hands in tandem to create something that is rewarding to us.  She says activities like this are way better than popping antidepressant pills.  So next time you are knitting, spinning, weaving, crocheting, take comfort in the fact that you are preventing brain disorders like depression.