Author Archive

The grand finale.

March 22, 2010

After many long hours of work stitching and labelling. Here it is. The finished piece.

We’re very proud but very tired. I read somewhere (I think the Times) that two hours of knitting burns a bowl of porridge of calories, so I think we’re owed a lot of porridge…Anyway, like proud parents. It’s hopefully going to be exhibited at Imperial (College) soon so we’ll keep you updated. If you click on the photo you can zoom in and read all the tags.


March 3, 2010

The first recorded description of the symptoms of Huntington’s disease go back as early as the 16th century. It was recognised as a hereditary disease and years of research finally established that the condition was due to a genetic variation on Chromosome 4 containing a repeat of the CAG codon. These DNA bases are traditionally given the colours blue, green, yellow.

So the stripes are Blue, Green, Yellow for C, A and G.

Let’s not forget Rosalind.

February 25, 2010

The discovery of the structure of DNA is famously attributed to Watson and Crick. But let’s not forget Rosalind Franklin. Her work on the X-ray diffraction images of DNA helped Watson and Crick formulate their hypothesis of the double helix. Sadly, her important contribution was not recognised until after her death.

We decided to represent Rosalind by reproducing the X-ray diffraction image in yarn. The white threads coming off the piece will then discreetly weave their way into Watson and Crick’s double helix…

Flavr Savr

February 25, 2010

The Flavr Savr tomato was the first commercially grown genetically engineered food to be granted a license for human consumption.

This is my attempt to recreate this landmark vegetable out of yarn. My knitted version might not be perfect, but neither was the actual GM tomato, first sold in 1994, it was only available for a couple of years before production ceased.

Pure Nobel Prize Gold

February 17, 2010

Thank you to the highly organised team who coordinated the search for this beautiful yellow and gold Nobel prize winning yarn. As we read about the history of genetics, we noticed a cluster of Nobel prizes in the field between the late 1950’s and the mid 1960’s, when the genetic code was understood. Here they are:

1957 – Alexander Robertus Todd received the Nobel Prize for chemistry for synthesising chemicals leading to the discovery of the structure of DNA.

1958 – Beadle and Tatum received the Nobel Prize for medicine and physiology for demonstrating that one gene controls the production of one enzyme.

1959 – Arthur Kornberg received the Nobel Prize for medicine and physiology for demonstrating that DNA can copy itself.

1962 – Watson and Crick received the Nobel Prize for medicine and physiology for their discovery of the structure of DNA.

1965 – Jacob and Monod received the Nobel Prize for medicine and physiology for demonstrating how genes are switched on and off.

5 gold pom-poms coming up…

Pea, by Mendel (circa 1860)

February 12, 2010

Mendel's perfect pea pod

This isn’t the best picture and it certainly doesn’t do the peas justice but I think it merits being posted. Huge thank you to our expert knitter for creating this beautiful knitted pea pod. Mendel would have been proud.

Mendel is often considered the father of modern genetics. At the time, his theory of genetic inheritance was largely ignored. It was not until it was rediscovered in the early 20th century that it all started making a bit more sense…

The Genetiknits maps.

February 10, 2010

In case this all seems a little abstract, here are a few maps of what is going to happen.

Turning a chronological timeline of historical events into a knitting plan hasn’t been easy and each of us has had a fair shot at it. It’s still a work in progress and develops as we discover what we can and can’t achieve with our knitting needles, but also as we begin to better understand the science of genetics and how the important events link together.

We’re not claiming to represent every single event in every stitch. We want to show our interpretation of it.

Translating the history of genetic engineering into a knitting pattern? Blue yarn. Definitely.

February 4, 2010

A few stitches later

The first attempt at purl stitch resulted in a large red knot and needles in a twist. This second attempt might not yet be Dolly the sheep, or even the Flavr Savr tomato but it’s getting there, building on human error, stitch by stitch.

The aim of the game

January 26, 2010

Our aim, bizarre though it may seem, is to knit a piece that explores the link between the craft of knitting and science.

We see knitting and science as similar. They are both based on structure, both man-made and involve certain tools. Luckily for us too, both inevitably involve human error which can be visible, or masked by repair. We are all novice knitters, but what we lack in skills, we make up for in ambition.

We are basing our creation on a rough plan (which we’ll put up when it’s a bit less rough), but like science, its evolution will depend on its progress: what is created will depend on what has been created beforehand.

Different colours, materials, stitches and techniques will be used to represent different scientists, theories and fields throughout the history of genetics. We see our creation as beginning with a few single, tentative strands, then broadening gradually, more and more noticeably after each key event. Rediscovered theories such as Mendel’s will feed back into the knit after a period of absence.  The discovery of the structure of DNA by Watson and Crick, and the later ‘cracking’ of the genetic code, are seen to be explosive events (we’re thinking bright coloured pom-poms)

Our final piece is going to be photographed and exhibited as a large poster, with annotations explaining its various features.

But first, we need to learn to knit…