Archive for the ‘Evolution of the project’ Category

Evolving moths

March 10, 2010

It’s two weeks till the project is going to be presented, so I called upon some professor-level expertise to help with the finishing touches: that of my Mum.

She’s knitted this peppered moth for us, complete with pipe-cleaner antennae  and legs. The evolution of this species has been studied in detail over the last hundred years, especially the changes to the colour of the population over the industrial revolution. Originally, the vast majority of peppered moths were lightly coloured, camouflaging them against pale trees and lichen. But widespread pollution caused by the revolution caused many of the lichens to die out, and the trees that the moths rested on became blackened by soot. Most of the light-coloured moths died off through predation, whereas the darker ones flourished, hidden against the soot-covered trees. JBS Haldane figured out the finer points of this change in 1924.

This one’s photographed on my chopping board but you get the idea.


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.

The world’s most famous sheep

February 21, 2010


A big big thank you to my housemate Woolhelmina for creating our Dolly, dubbed by Scientific American as the “world’s most famous sheep” after her landmark role in cloning research. Woolhelmina put together the design from scratch, and even Dolly’s facial wool ‘side-burns’ are an accurate representation from google images. Her fleece is made from bobble stitch, where you build a ball of stitches onto a single stitch. Just how much you can do with essentially glorified string and sticks keeps on astonishing me.

Cast-on Clarissa finally CASTS ON!

February 17, 2010

Yesterday I produced my first piece of actual knitting!

I have a bit of catching up to do to be able to create masterpieces like those of Needle-fingered Sue and Drop-stitch Dorothy…better get moving….I’m starting with genomics – in red.

The influence of Industry…it’s pink and fluffy??

February 17, 2010

I found a new tool to aid my one handed knitting attempts!  Her names is Knitting Nancy.  She was found lurking in my parents’ house.  Using the four staples that protrude from her head (no wonder she looks fed up) you can create a long piece of what’s called French Knitting.  It looks a bit like a long worm – I can’t think how else to describe it!

We decided to use this pink fluffy ‘wool’ to represent Industry.  The ‘wool’ is synthetic, which we thought apt, and somewhat alien in appearance.  Our Industrial worm will weave its way into the various fields of genetics that emerged after the genetic code had been cracked, and DNA sequencing had been made possible.

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…

Mendel rediscovered

February 14, 2010

Knitting the work of Hugo de Vries

Our Mendelian pea is a beauty.

His work was rediscovered in 1900, 35 years after he published his paper, so I’m cracking on with knitting this. Completely by chance, three different scientists came across it independently: Hugo de Vries from Holland, Carl Correns from Germany, and Erich von Tschermak from Austria. We’ve decided to represented this through their national flags, so above I’m working on Hugo de Vries’s discovery.

It’s a bit knotty and wonky next to our lovely pea, but how can you compare with so simple and elegant a theory?

Coming up: William Bateson champions Mendel in England via garter stitch.

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…