Cuddly Bacterium Anyone?

Knitted MicrobesMicrobes get a bad press. Some of them undoubtedly deserve it. And even although there are many bacteria that perform useful, necessary functions, they somehow have never really made the leap into the cuddly toy category. They have left that to the fish and the mammals.

Until now.

At the Manchester Science Festival, which looks like a great event for scientists and budding scientists of every age, you can attend a workshop called “The Big Microbe Knit“. It sounds like a fun event, where participants can find out about microbes and learn how to knit at the same time!

Until I saw the microbe patterns, I had assumed that microbiology and knitting were mutually exclusive pursuits. It had never crossed my mind that one could deliberately set out to knit a tubercle bacillus (although I must admit to having produced a few accidentally on my way to mastering the intricacies of socks). There is a simple pattern for Salmonella, and a rather nice one for the ever-topical H1N1 virus, which looks remarkably like a hat I once tried to make. Perhaps I’ll dig out my needles and have a go at the Cholera, just to be able to put a flagellum on my knitting resume.

It turns out that the microbe patterns are just the tip of the science-knitting iceberg. After I found them I found many other science-inspired products from inventive knitters. Here is a sampling:

I wonder if any of my friends would appreciate a nice set of bacteria for Christmas…?

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Isobel Maciver

Isobel is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh and of Aston University in Birmingham, U.K. She is a technical writer and editor, and is also manager of the Scientific Communications group at Promega. She enjoys writing about issues in science and communication.

15 thoughts on “Cuddly Bacterium Anyone?

  1. Be careful, Michele…knitting is a slippery slope. You start off with a couple straight needles and a simple scarf pattern, and before you know it, there are bins and baskets of yarn you buy even though you DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’LL USE IT FOR, tangles of circular needles, books and random patterns scattered all around your life. And then, one day, you think, “Gee, I think I’d like to learn how to crochet, too…”

  2. Michele,
    You might as well bite the bullet and learn to knit and crochet at the same time! Then you can add hooks of every size and half-finished afghans to your collection. Beware of projects for children though; they tend to grow out of the project before it is finished (perhapse I knit to slowly).
    Kelly

  3. Ok, I have got it. This is what I am making for everyone for holiday gifts. What could possibly express my love more than some soft cute tubercle bacillus????

    Thanks you guys for the FANTASTIC GEEKY idea!!!!

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