Posts Tagged ‘science knitting’

COUNTDOWN – 4 days left

March 19, 2010

It’s now just four days until we’re unveiling and presenting the project. We’ve got ourselves a rather swanky (and also brilliantly cheap) artist’s canvas and are starting to stitch it all together. After being hunched over our little individual patches of knitting it’s a bit of a shock, but really satisfying, to see it all together. It does look a bit like a primary school mural at the moment, in the best possible way. However we’re going to add museum style labels to explain what each piece represents (we wanted to play with it being an artist and also a scientific representation) so those should lend it some gravitas.

The only concern now is our stunning centre-piece, a very colourful double helix currently being slaved over by my sister. She’s an expert knitter but whether it’ll all come together in time is balancing on a needle point…

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A brief beta knitted history of genetics – 1800-1940

March 10, 2010

Here’s the knitting we’ve got so far for the pre-Watson and Crick era. It’s still missing a few bits and pieces (pompoms, some post-Darwin thinking, JBS Haldane’s moth) but it’s getting there. It’s quite exciting to see it all together after hours of being hunched over individual pieces.

It’s all going to be mounted up next week onto a big canvas, and we’re planning on adding museum-style labels too so it all makes sense. We will be stitching them on though, of course. Grand presentation and possibly exhibition coming soon…

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.

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…

The world’s most famous sheep

February 21, 2010
Dolly

Dolly

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.

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…

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.

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…