Thursday, July 18, 2013

knitting, the right brain, and making connections

If you've read much of my stuff, you know that when you are knitting (doing something physically repetitive, intellectually undemanding, and visually stimulating), you are in your right brain. And what the right brain does, among other things, is make connections.

So here are two that came to me recently.

The movie connection
 I was knitting while watching the movie TOAST. It's a pretty good British piece--based upon a real person and his memoirs--and I don't know what the reviews were like but I thought it quite good . . . good enough to recommend to a friend.

But nagging me throughout the movie was the father. Who was he? Where had I seen him before?

While watching this movie, I thought of another movie I'd recommend to my friend--one of my favourite-all-time movies, THE GIRL IN THE CAFE. No connection between the two occurred to me except that they were British.

But then I googled the father from TOAST and found that he was a major character in THE GIRL IN THE CAFE!

This is a fully characteristic right brain experience. It makes the connection--and solves your problem--even though you might not be aware that a connection has been made or a solution has been found. It's been said by many that to be creative, to solve problems, to harness intuition we need to listen very carefully to this wee, quiet voice that doesn't always explain itself logically.

The weather connection
We are having a deadly brutal heat wave here, and I don't know about yours but my entire family had a meltdown on Tuesday night. 

And then my right brain went for a wander. . . .

If we have meltdowns in the heat, what do we do in the cold? We don't get cranky, we don't vent, we don't meltdown. Rather, we do the opposite: we shut down, withdraw to our corners, find a place to cocoon.

Still wandering, I thought about knitting through the heat (pretty much all you can do when it's painful to move!) And I thought about what projects we might knit (small pieces) and what fibres we might wear (cotton).

We wear  cotton because it draws heat away from the body. If you hold a ball of cotton in your hand, your hand will feel cool because the cotton draws the heat out.

And what do we wear in winter? Wool. Why? Because it holds body heat in. If you hold a ball of wool in your hand, your hand will feel warm because the wool holds the heat in.

And then my right brain had a big WOW!  (Bear with me here!)
  • Cotton pulls the heat away from the body.
  • Wool  holds the heat in.
  • In hot weather, we vent (releasing emotion).
  • In cold weather, we withdraw (holding in emotion).
So in the winter we need to hold in our body heat and can't afford to get all passionate about stuff. But in the summer we need to release body heat, and so we get all worked up about stuff. And as silly as this all seems, it made me wonder if maybe it's not actually a stereotype that people from northern places are known for being cool (in the sense of restrained), while people from southern places are known for being hot-blooded. Maybe this makes as much sense as wearing wool or cotton? It's how we have learned to behave in order to survive.

Can this possibly make sense? I do not know. But this is what the right brain does! It makes connections. Sometimes they solve problems, sometimes they feel like pure silliness! The thing about the right brain is that is has no filter. It thinks all connections are equally interesting and worthy of consideration.

What I do know is that we are all desperate for this heat to be over!


  1. Makes total sense to me. :)

  2. cotton does not draw heat from your body! it's not a steam engine!!
    however it probably has a greater thermal diffusivity which basically means the temperature spreads more easily within the material like in metals. A metallic object feels colder than a wooden object with the same temperature...
    another reason I can think of is that since cotton is absorbent it absorbs the sweat on our skin more easily. The problem with humid air is that, because of the higher temperatures in summer, the saturation concentration of water is nearly reached in our surrounding air. The high concentration of water in air makes it harder for our sweat to cool us down since it can't vaporize as easily as it normally does and we feel even hotter even though the same temperature might not be "felt" as intensely in drier areas. Sweat tends to stay on our skin for a longer time. And that's why wearing cotton feels good...