Ep. 016 Knitting and the Need for Novelty

Welcome to Episode 16:  Knitting and the Need for Novelty or one reason we don’t finish our projects

Brainy Part:  Starts at 22:00

Behind the Redwood Curtain:  34:07

What We’re Learning from our Knitting:

ninja StarMargaret is playing around with different motifs to use her Lanaknits Hemp for Knitting #102 allhemp6 dk weight.  She found her copy of Kristen Omdahl’s Seamless Crochet:  Techniques and Motifs for Join-as-you-go Designs to figure out the Ninja Star motif shawlette.  While she was able to figure it out, she didn’t think the hemp was a good choice for the very open motif.  In the past, she had done the Radiance motif Sparkling Skinny Scarf in left-over sock yarn.  radiance

skinny 2

Catherine is still working on her Meadowlark Shibori Jacket by Gina Wilde in Alchemy Yarn and has fallen in love with the Paint Brush colorway.   She is nearly finished — the Clapo-ktus by Loredana Gianferri. clapo-ktusclapo-ktus unblocked

She’s knitting it with Goth Sock.  She was also motivated to finish the Some Pig dishcloth by Emily Guise who works at Knit

Picks and also likes to design dishcloths.

pigSome pig

Brainy Thing:  Knitting and the Need for Novelty

Margaret speculates that one of the many reasons we cast on a new project before we’re finished the one we’re working on is for the human need for novelty.  She discusses some of issues of novelty and how they relate the knitting.   Keith Hillman of Psychology24 has some interesting posts on this topic and other brain related ones.

Behind the Redwood Curtain

hudsonian-godwit-21895577 Catherine talks about the end of Godwit Days (celebrating one of the birds that migrates through the area) and the Arcata Zen Group.

A Knitting Tip

Margaret recommends trying different yarns and suggests that they (like the Hemp she was trying out) might require different tensions and yarn holding techniques

A Little Podcast Business

The incentive to join the Teaching Your Brain to Knit Podcast Group on Ravelry continues for each new 100 members.   The current incentive prize for members 101 to 200 is a skein of Venezia sport weight 70/30 merino/silk yarn by Cascade. Beginning with member 201, the prize is the Canon Hand Dyes skein in 80/20 merino/nylon sock yarn.

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.

Self Striping Cankon Hand Dyes in "Lover's to bed'  'tis almost fairy time" colorway.  It's a bit brighter than photograph suggests.

Self Striping Canon Hand Dyes in “Lover’s to bed’ ’tis almost fairy time” colorway. It’s a bit brighter than photograph suggests.

Ep. 014 Knitting Right or Left Brain

Welcome to Episode 14:  Is Knitting right or left brained?

Brainy Stuff starts at: 17:50

Behind the Redwood Curtain begins at: 32:20

What we’re learning from our knitting:

Margaret talks about her (right brained) knitting for the Crazy Triangle Crochet Shawl.   She verrrrry loosely adapted the Sweet November Shawl by Guylaine Godin.   The goal was a wide triangle with less open mesh but in fact, the shawl turned out deeper and less wide.   Well, maybe next time.  She used Crazy Zauberball in some unknown colorway.

crazy closeAfter the podcast was recorded and after Margaret took photos of both shawls together, it seems clear that the two shawls are pretty much the same in width.  However, the Sweet November is much more stretchy and uses about half the amount of yarn.


crochet triangles 2

The Sweet November shawl (on top) compared to Margaret’s adaptation on bottom.



Meadow lark 4.18

Catherine’s progress on her Meadowlark as of April 18, 2015

Catherine is making progress on her Sock Yarn Blanket by Shelley Kang and her Meadowlark Shibori Jacket (by Gina Wilde with Alchemy Yarns.)  She also mentions her Rockefeller shawl by Stephen West.







Brainy Thing:  Right and Left Brain


thMost scientists dispute the older theories of the right and left brain (that the right hemisphere is creative, free-flowing, big picture and the left hemisphere is linear, logical and temporal)  but think they might be useful metaphors.   Margaret explains what they are and how they relate to our knitting.  Some knitters identify as Left-brained knitters and delight in the math and the linear process.   Others see themselves as Right-brained and enjoy spontaneity and free-form patterns or else something that allows them to be more in the flow mode.  Even though everyone is using both sides of their brains, one mode may be more dominant than the other.  Catherine mentions The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron as a seminal book on creativity and Right-brained function.


Also note, that in observance of  National Stress Awareness Month, the Yarn Council of America has some special features on their website and a pattern for a Lemon stress ball by Twinkie Chan.  Follow the action on #StichAwayStress.

Behind the Redwood Curtain:  Blue Ox Millworks


Blue Ox Millworks in Eureka, CA

Blue Ox Millworks at number 1 “X” street in Eureka, CA is more than a place that uses 19th century tools to create authentic millwork for historic houses and business.   It has a school for artisans, a program for veterans, and a community gathering place for special events and theatre.  Recently it replicated the main carriage for Abraham Lincoln’s funeral hearse.

Photo of the original hearse used for Abraham Lincoln

Photo of the original hearse used for Abraham Lincoln








Check out the Blue Ox here

and a video about it here.

A Knitting Tip

Catherine advises us to build a library of cast-ons and bind-offs that we can draw from for different projects:  maybe a general medium stretch, a very stretchy and a firm version of each.   She offers some ideas.

A Little Podcast Business

Our incentive for joining our Group on Ravelry continues.  For the second 100 people we offer this skein of Venezia sport weight 70% merino and 30% mulberry silk, 307.5 yards from Cascade Yarns in Colorway 178 in a dusky teal.   And don’t forget to put in your nomination for the date for “Take Your Knitting to Work Day”  (and we’ll figure out something special for people who work at home.)  Should it be Ravelry’s Birthday?  Perry Klass’ birthday?   (EZ’s birthday is in the summer when most students and teachers are off.)

Incentive for second 100 members who sign up in the group

Incentive for second 100 members who sign up in the group

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 8: Happy Brain Chemicals

WELCOME TO EPISODE 8:   Does Knitting Make Your Brain Chemistry Happy?

Brainy Stuff:  28:25

Behind the Redwood Curtain: 44:50

What We’re Learning from Our Knitting:

Catherine is finished with Dahlia in Bloom’s PANEM Katniss Cowl Wrap. 

panem wrapped cropped panem 2 cropped

She also completed Maryann Walsh‘s Two Toned Tawashi.

single tawashi tawashi

Now she’s in that challenging (for her, delicious for Margaret) place of choosing her next project.

Margaret mentions how after she washes her handmade socks, she dries them on a Towel Warmer because the Arcata climate is so humid otherwise they don’t dry before they mildew.   Towels in her house don’t dry after they are used, so she uses the towel warmer for them — and why not for socks.

sock dryer

Margaret continued her exploration of long stranded bead necklaces/wrap bracelets.  She’s getting the hang of the Wrap Around Crochet Bracelet by Yuli Nilssen:  she’s using heavier weight yarn and a smaller crochet hook than last time.   Probably a little tighter stitch after the beads would help even more.  The last photo is a comparison of the first attempt and the second.  (It’s all about learning, right?)

industrial strand industrial wrapindustrial compare

She also started the Kaitlyn Necklace Rose Kit by Javori Designs.  She was having some problems figuring out some the pattern details but thinks she’ll enjoy the finished project.

Kaitlyn piece Kaitlyn

Catherine says that Cat Bordhi would be proud of her for cutting her knitting.

She discovered she prefers stringing beads with a dental floss threader dental-floss-threader-1rather than a beading needle.



Finally, she talks about the Gatsby Necklace by designer Shaina Bilow and taught in a class by Laura Lamers at NorthCoast Knittery.  


Brainy Part:  Does knitting make your brain chemistry happy?

Catherine offers a basic foundation on the brain chemical serotonin.  She discusses Dr. Barry Jacobs’ work.   She also mention EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and how eye movement plays a role in Knitting’s calming effect.   She then talks about Betsman Corkhill and her organization Stichlinks whose mission is to use knitting and other activities to improve health.

Behind the Redwood Curtain: The Mad River

The Mad River in California (there are other Mad Rivers elsewhere) runs 113 miles from the Trinity mountains to the Pacific between McKinleyville and Arcata.


Knitting Tip:   Flipping your Blocking Board

If finding enough space is an issue when you block your knits,layout your knitted item on your blocking board (or a piece of plywood or sturdy cardboard, pin it securely, then flip the board upright and lean against the wall.


Episode 7: Skill or Concentration?



What We’re Learning from our Knitting:

Margaret is knitting and crocheting long strands of beads to wear as necklaces or as wrapped bracelets.

On top:   Laura Nelkin‘s Ribband (knitted)

In the middle: a failed attempt at a crocheted strand:  no fault of the pattern– the yarn was too fine for the size of beads. Check out Wrap Around Crochet bracelets for lots of successful projects and Yuli Nilssen for her other designs.

On the bottom:  improvised icord with beads.

strands icord strand fail


Catherine is learning from the PANEM Katniss cowl wrap by Dahlia in Bloom whose Rav name is DevilintheO.

panem yarn panem progress 4 panem progress 3Yarn is Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick and Quick.

Brainy Stuff:  What determines your success or ease with a project — the level of difficulty or the level or concentration?

Many knitting and crochet patterns are labeled by skill level:  beginner, intermediate or advanced or easy and challenging.  But what do these terms mean?  If you are an expert lace knitter, does that mean you’ll find cables easy?  Catherine and Margaret discuss what the differences are and how they may or may not impact your experience creating a particular project.

Redwood Curtain:   Table Bluff, CA.

From the South Spit looking up to Table Bluff

dunes up table bluff looking up table bluff

From Table Bluff looking down: Humboldt Bay to the Right (East), Pacific Ocean to the Left (West)

table bluff 2

Viewing to the East, Humboldt Bay.

table bluff 1541

Beauty in the sand:

dunes on spit

Knitting Tip:

Use a Kitchen scale to determine amount of yarn you have left.


Number of yards in total skein            X (number of yards left) —————————    =    ——————–

Number of grams in total skein            Number of grams left in skein

X equals number of yards in total skein (times) Number of grams left in skein (divided by) number of grams in total skein.