Archive for the ‘Grand plans’ Category

1953 and onwards…the plan

March 4, 2010

Watson and Crick won the race to discover the structure of DNA in 1953.  After this, three other discoveries were essential to the development of genetics into the fields we recognise today.  Crick, Nirenberg and others managed to crack the genetic code in 1961, after 8 trying years.  In 1972 recombinant DNA technology was born, and in 1977 Gilbert and Sanger devised techniques for sequencing DNA.  Following this,  genetics research expanded rapidly, and different fields began to be identifiable.  The flared shape of each of the four fields represented here shows their growth.  Industry weaves its way across all fields.

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Classical genetics pattern

February 19, 2010
Classical genetics knitting pattern

Classical genetics knitting pattern

I’ve just finished my pattern for the early classical genetics years. Quite frankly it nearly killed me, not sure I’ve ever had a challenge like condensing and transforming over a hundred years of scientific work into an arts-and-craft plan. I don’t think I’ve ever been so grateful for Wikipedia too…

Doing it made me realise just how much of us is going to be in the final piece. In the beginning, I thought the size of each bit of knitting was going to end up roughly correspondent to the time over which the science developed, so we’d end up with a whole that was vaguely chronological, and proportionate to time. But I’m not doing this instinctively, and  keep having to check that I’m doing it at all (partly why I’ve added dates to the map).

What’s really been driving the shape of the plan is the importance I assign to each event, career, or development; and I guess what’s mostly imbued these ideas in me is my education and the prominence of the events and figures today. For instance the biggest, brightest and most attention grabbing so far is Darwin’s bit. Pretty obvious why he’s on my mind as significant, he’s bloody everywhere! Second largest is Mendel, drummed into every schoolchild, and third Francis Galton, who infamously laid the foundations of eugenics.  As well as imposing my own development as a knitter on the piece, I’m also refracting the science through my history and experiences.

When I was drawing it I was nearly exclusively bouncing from one Wiki link to another: I’d draw a bit for one scientist or field, and then look for a development or apprentice’s work to represent in the next and connected piece of knitting. I’ve been studying some narrative theory and there seem to be some parallels there too, in the way I was looking at pages and pages of information, but using causal links to navigate it all and tie pieces together.

Anyway, less biro more needle clicking for a bit now…

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.

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…