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.

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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!