Microbes 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.
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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Okay Isobel. Now you’ve done it. I want to learn to knit. I think I could master some of these things without growing impatient.
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…”
That sounds perfect…it will work beautifully with my collection of unsewn fabric, empty needlepoint and cross stitch canvases, and unused watercolor paints…
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).
And perhaps I type too quickly :)
We’ll get you started on the tubercle bacillus, and if you go wrong you can make it an amoeba.
I’m ready…bought the yarn and two size 8 needles over lunch…I can knit while I’m transforming xml docs into pdfs
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!!!!
Ok, I had to post this link. A DNA double helix scarf anyone? I haven’t tried to make it, as cables still intimidate me. Has anyone else seen/knitted this pattern?
Okay Isobel. Here’s the result of your knitting blog post: http://wp.me/przld-ax
Not every one can claim to have written something that motivates a person to take up a new hobby and accomplish something good.
This post reminds of the Giant Microbes plush toys: http://www.giantmicrobes.com/.
If you think cuddly bacteria are bizarre, try the neurons, dissected frog and coral reef in this posting about Knitted Science: http://discovermagazine.com/photos/03-the-bizarre-and-brilliant-world-of-knitted-science (tweeted by @toraks).
Just got a tweet about “The Bizarre and Brilliant World of Knitted Science” from @LabSpaces (via @toraks). Some more knitted works to add to the fray…no pun intended!
Sara, looks like you and I had the same idea! :)
Here’s another good one–a knitted GI tract.