Ep. 015 Knitting, Meditation, and Changing Your Brain (for the better)

Welcome to Episode 15:  Knitting, Meditation, and Changing Your Brain for the better

Brainy Stuff: 14:05

Behind the Redwood Curtain: 28:20

What We’re Learning from Our Knitting and Crochet:

Meadowlark progressCatherine is still persisting with her Meadowlark Shibori Jacket by Gina Wilde.  The beautiful Alchemy yarn requires some attention.  She also found a new pattern to work on — the Clapo-ktus by Loredana Gianferri. She’s knitting it with Goth Sock.

It’s a mix between the clapotis and the Baktus patterns and it’s free on Ravelry.


Catherine’s Clapo-Ktus

Margaret created a drop stitch scarf (her own free-style design) out of Sari Silk Handspun.   Although she describes the yarn as being plied, what she meant that the yarn was twisted.  She mentions that a long while ago, she saw a drop-stitch scarf on Knitting Help.com

Drop stitch closescarf steps

Brainy Stuff

Amygdala -- less grey matter here means a person is less reactive

Amygdala — less grey matter here means a person is less reactive

Catherine reports on research that shows that the grey matter of the brain — that part of the functioning brain cells — actually increases when a person meditates.  She mentions an article printed in the Harvard Gazette that features the  research of Dr. Sarah Lazar of Massachusetts General Hospital.  Lazar’s  Ted Talk on the topic iseasy to understand and has with lots of diagrams.  Drawing on prior research (reported in earlier podcasts)  that shows that knitting produces meditation-like brain waves, Catherine hypothesizes that knitting would then also increase grey matter.  There’s no specific research that supports that link yet, but we hope scientists explore it soon.  She concludes with a report on a program called Knitting Behind Bars started by Lynn Zwerling for prisoners at Jessup prison in Maryland.

Behind the Redwood Curtain

Margaret talks a little about the logging history of redwoods.  When a redwood is cut down, smaller “sprouts” grow out of the stump (if they are not suppressed by herbicides).  Check out the National Geographic Article on the Redwoods.

redwood cluster

Many “sprouts” coming up from a cut redwood planted too close to Margaret’s house which undisturbed would turn into the following photo.

Second Growth Redwoods. near Orick, CA

The “sprouts” have grown up in this tree. Second Growth Redwoods. near Orick, CA

A Knitting Tip

Catherine reminds us to to change up the needle size of different projects we have going at the same time to help promote good ergonomics and hand health.

A little podcast business.

The incentive to sign up in our Ravelry group for the second one hundred members is a skein of Venezia Sport –70% merino

Incentive for second 100 members who sign up in the group.  The color is a little more green.

Incentive for second 100 members who sign up in the group. The color is a little more green.

and 30% mulberry silk, 307 yards.

Ep. 012 Knitting Fights Dementia

Welcome to Episode 12:  Knitting Fights Age-related Dementia

Brainy Stuff starts at:15:40

Behind the Redwood Curtain starts at:26:55

What we’re learning from our knitting:

Catherine found what she wanted to do with her Great Adirondack Yarn Company’s Well Dressed Sheep (cotton/rayon/metallic in chunky weight)   in the Beach House colorway.   She’s adapting a border design “Cabled Lace”  from Leisure Arts’s 50 Fabulous Borders by Rita Weiss that she found at the Foggy Bottoms Yarn Store in Ferndale.

cowl startcowl and yarn

She also talks about making the Humboldt Squid, mythically known as the Kracken. 



Inspired by that project, she finished up a jellyfish she’s been working on for awhile.  jelly jelly 2


Both are from Hansi Singh’s Amigurumi Knits .


Catherine found the largest real jellyfish she’s seen around here recently on one of our beaches.

jelly beach 2


Margaret has gone crazy for the Lucci Yarns DK cotton tape yarn in luminescent colors and the Washcloth Wrapped Soaps (washcloth, border, and “ribbon”) created by Stitch Diva Jennifer Hansen who owns Stitch Diva Studios.

close up washloth Multiple washcloths lucci washcloth red

Margaret was wearing her Gallatin Scarf by Kris Basta in Hanelei Hand dyed yarn.



Brainy Stuff:

Studies are showing that knitting and other similar activities can cut the risk of age related dementia and Alzheimer’s disease although most reports are anecdotal and scientists say more studies need to be done.

You can hear Dr. Yonas Geda on this You Tube explanation.

Central Kentucky University publishes the Successful Aging Resource Guide and Greg Jicha MD and Sarah Tarrort MD discuss similar studies in the 2013 issue on page 6.

Even magazine reading and computer activities seem to help according to this article. 

Behind the Redwood Curtain:  Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Reserve

Located on an estuary, the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge is a stop on the International Pacific Flyway, which shelters and feeds birds as they migrate.

wildlife 4 wildlife 3 wildlife 2 wildlife

Knitting Tip:

Margaret suggests that on challenging projects, you chart out knitting or crochet instructions either formally (with the “official” symbols) or informally (with your own marks.)

Episode 9: The Therapeutic Benefits of Knitting

Welcome to Episode 9:  What are the therapeutic benefits of knitting?

Brainy Stuff begins at: 22:30

Behind the Redwood Curtain begins at: 39:00

What we’re learning from our knitting:

Catherine is attracted to Mystery Knitalongs.    She was first snagged by Laura Aylor’s Mystery Shawl and then Josh Ryks’s Scarfy Shenanigans caught her eye and which has proven to have interesting techniques.(His studio is listed as geoknittrix on Ravelry)

scarfy 4scarfy 3

scarfy 2

The two yarns used are Sanguine Gryphon Bugga (an old, beloved skein) in Cotton Stainer colorway.   (The Studio is no longer in business.)   Plus Becoming Art Dye Studio in the Twilight colorway.

Margaret is learning from three pairs of children’s socks.   She knit a generic toe up sock for her granddaughter (after getting an outline and making a template of her feet.)  The yarn is Knitterly Things Vesper Rainbow Love.

rainbows on feet 2


The first pair of zebra socks was Cat Bordhi’s pattern Cat’s Zebra Socks from her book Sweet Tomato Heel.   The yarn is one black and one white skein of Jang Yawool superwash    The sad story here is that the socks got accidentally thrown in the pile of Christmas wrapping debris and then thrown out.



The second pair used another sweet tomato heel and Knitter’s Brewing Company Sockaholic yarn made especially for “zebra-ing.”  Wendy’s    pattern offers a technique to really gets distinctive zebra patterning and you can buy the kits — one for children and one for adults.


zebs 2

Brainy Thing:   Therapeutic Benefits of Knitting

Catherine talks about how knitting changes brain chemistry to offer actual therapeutic benefits to the knitter.  You might be surprised how many actions of knitting help.   She references Betsan Corkhill and her (and others’) research documented on Stitchlinks.  For the chart Catherine references, check out this page which links to a pdf titled Knitting Engagement which lists benefits including patterns of movement, hand position, enriched environment plus social engagement.

Behind the Redwood Curtain:   Goat Cheese

There’s something special about the climate of the Pacific Northwest (including the Redwood Curtain)  that allows for the making of fantastic goat cheese.   Our most famous artisan goat cheese companies is Cyprus Grove. 





Knitting Tip:  Stitch markers

Margaret’s knitting tip is to help prevent yarn-overs from slipping before or after stitch markers, find stitch markers that are close to the size of the needles.  One of many Etsy sellers that has very small stitch markers is The Knitter’s Helper Another tip, especially for wrap and turns and the sweet tomato heel, is to mark the turning stitch by using very short bobby pins.