Yarn Theory...science meets craft yarn.

Last week I heard on CBC Radio that the winner of Britain's Diagram Prize for the most unusual book title of 2009 is: Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes by Daina Taimina. Daina was a mathematics professor at the University of Latvia for 20 years and has now been at Cornell University for the past 10 years. She also crochets objects to illustrate hyperbolic space and makes truly appealing books about them. Follow this link to see more examples of her technical/beautiful work.

So, living as we do in a world where every piece of information is about 2 minutes away with the help of GOOGLE, I wondered what other math and science minds had turned their techno brains to yarn crafts and WOW, what a treasure chest is out there.

The Yarn Theory Project was an art exhibition in 2009 which explored the relationship between knitting, crochet, mathematics and science. It operated out of an old public school, turned into a community art gallery, bringing art to the city and the city into the studio.

In areas of Britain, breast feeding clinics had found themselves short of expensive models of breasts for demonstrations. They issued a plea to knitters and patterns were made available for breasts of varying shapes and sizes from the Lactation Consultants Association of Great Britain. This is a picture of Audrey Horncastle who at 84 has found a whole new way to make her crafts valuable to the community by knitting "boobs" for the group.
Where there's a will, the knitters have a way of solving any dilemma. Link here for the pattern.

Follow the link below for more examples of the collisions between craft and science, such as a knitted brain, a view of the nature of the chaotic system with 25 500 stitches, a womb, the digestive system.

And most beautiful of all, is the Crocheted Coral Reef Project, which will be exhibited at the Science Gallery in Dublin until June 2010.
From the Crocheted Coral Reef site here is a description of the project:
"One of the acknowledged wonders of the natural world, the Great Barrier Reef stretches along the coast of Queensland like a psychadelic serpent, a riotous profusion of color and form unparalleled on our planet. But global warming and pollutants so threaten this fragile monster that scientists now believe the reef will be devastated in coming years. As a homage to the Great One, IFF directors Margaret and Christine Wertheim instigated a project to crochet a woolen reef. The sisters, who grew up in Queensand, have been spearheading the project since 2005, quiety watching as it has morphed into an unexpected and far-reaching wordwide movement. "

Check it out. It's almost worth the trip to Dublin just to witness how our lovely yarns can be made to emulate nature.


I thought that it was supposed to be a LION and a lamb that lay down.

So this afternoon I was going through my email and had received notice of a new book being published in Britain on the social history of knitting in the past decade or so. Interesting as that could be, the subject matter paled in comparison to the picture that they featured as part of their book. It showed an adult elephant wearing a knitted (or perhaps crocheted) coat, similar to a dog's coat.

Now, as I am committed in this blog to find and share things from the knitting world that I find of interest, I couldn't let the elephant coat go. So I started searching Google for the original picture for some background from where it might have come. Well, I guess I'll have to buy the book as I wasn't able to come up with anything...but look what I found: Themba, the elephant and Albert, the sheep. Follow this link to read about their strange friendship and to see more pictures. http://geniusbeauty.com/cute/baby-elephant-adopted-sheep/cute/baby-elephant-adopted-sheep/

Also, while looking up "knitted elephant coat" I came up with this dishcloth pattern, which can be purchased for $2. at http://digknittydesigns.blogspot.com/2009/07/elephant-knit-dishcloth-pattern.html

And although I didn't find the actual picture of the elephant wearing the coat, perhaps we have a clue in this cartoon as to who the crafty lady was who produced it? Papa elephant doesn't look to happy about waiting for his new knitted garment.

Enough about elephants: Google being what it is, I could spend the rest of this year telling you about 212,000 pictures that I found in .11 seconds that referred to "elephant knitting."
This is the other activity that has been keeping me occupied for the past few weeks. This is a picture of a basket of "Goodie Bags" that we've prepared to bring to the spring conference of Ontario Hook Craft Guild members, taking place at the end of April in Cobourg. We made up 300 hundred of these bags, each containing 5 strands of fun yarn that can be incorporated in a rug hooking project.
The idea is to let the rug hookers of Eastern Ontario know how much fun it can be to have a world of spun fibres at your fingertips, ready to be worked in to their latest creations and also that WOOL-TYME Kingston is now offering a whole array of rug hooking supplies.

So for those of you who think that the life of the staff at a knitting store is the essence of creative bliss, consider the 12.5 person/hours required to cut and assemble 1500 of these skeins, the sheer blind confusion of trying to sort them into groups each containing 5 coordinating colours, and the extra 10 hours to bag and tie them and get them ready for transport to Cobourg next week. But I'll let you in on a little secret: I love this kind of mindless drudgery...Reminds me of the years when we (my kids and I) would fold, address and mail over 1 000 copies of the paper newsletter at least 3 times a year.
According to an article in the March issue of O(prah) Magazine, a Harvard affiliated study found that "repetitive motion and focus of needlework can elicit what's known as the relaxation response, a calming meditationlike state." Perhaps it refers to the repetitive motion of putting little skeins in bags too.


Interesting knitting blogs

It has taken me a while but I finally got around to reviewing the links to other blogs that I have on this site and was thrilled to discover and rediscover some fun things.

First, the discovery: Lynn One, Purl Two is a great
little site written by Lynn Cullen who, with her Mom, runs Mary's Yarns in Unionville, just north of Scarborough, ON.

Lynn represents what so many of our younger custoners would love to have: a good excuse to spend the majority of her day in a yarn store, knitting, designing, blogging and all the other fun things that this job offers.

Above is a picture of Lynn's thumb holding up a book from Japan that a friend brought her, showing a cozy sweater knit for together couples. Check out the blog, it really is fun.

The redicsovered blogsite is a lovely story. In January 2007, The knitnotwar 1,0o0 project announced its intention to mount an art display of 1000 knitted, felted origami cranes by late 2007 in Portland, Oregon.

Their latest post dated Feb. 19th, 2010, announces that they are just 60 cranes away from the 1000 target. This says so much to me about commitment: achieving a goal 3 years after the anticipated deadline to my way of thinking would require much more tenacity than achieving the original goal on time.

And besides that, they also announced that the Peace Promotion Division of The City of Hiroshima will be hanging the final project in one of the booths (for displaying folded cranes) surrounding the Children's Peace Monument after it has been shown in Portland. What an honour for them.
I do believe that linking here will get you to the pattern if you'd like to try it. Aren't the cranes lovely in this picture? I'm sure the group would be thrilled to have any of you join them in their last efforts.

And finally, just in case any of you think that the only interesting knitting stuff comes to us through cyberspace, this is a picture of a real fellow in Jamaica selling his wares and knitting caps from his table, not on etsy. It's a picture taken by the sister of one our customers who actually met the real live guy and didn't even need to go to a website to get his picture.


What a great city Montreal is, yet not one where people usually choose to spend a spring break. But it's close and Mother Nature was ridiculously kind to us with magnificent sunshine all last week, and there is always lots of great food and beautiful things to see.
You will all be glad to hear that the concept of knitting is alive and well in the city. Witness one of the "knitted" toques which adorned many of the bus stops. Actually it isn't really knitted (are you surprised?) but an extremely clever design of black stitching on a padded fabric that looked a lot like stitches. Notice they even took pains to shape the ribbing around the bottom, although the stitches didn't change to represent the knits and purls which we know produce this indented effect in real knitting. But they get major points for trying.
Actually the whole toque-on-the-bus-shelter thing was part of an ad campaign for milk and a comforting evening of entertainment coming up soon. The poster pictured here, which is in fact a picture of an actual knitted piece, is really impressive for the quality of the reproduction and the persistence they show in getting their message out there: The ad campaign is EVERYWHERE throughout the city. But the most impressive version of the poster that I saw was an entire subway car covered with a reproduction of the knitted fabric. It made me wonder how long a real knitted "metro car cozy" would last at those speeds.
We also got to go to the Museum of Fine Arts which was featuring a presentation of the stained glass work of Louis C. Tiffany, son of the great Mr Tiffany from Tiffany and Co. of NYC and consequently "Breakfast at Tiffany's" fame.
I saw this beautiful piece that I've pictured here, and it was my one little glimpse of real spring flowers in these magnolias. What surprised me most when examining these pieces of stained glass up close is that the individual pieces of glass are not flat. Some can be up to an inch thicker in some sections than the piece next to it, or even from one part of the same piece to another part of it. I guess it's part of what makes the amazing textures and colours jump out at us.
Well, back to the store today. It's nice to have work that one is glad to get back to after a holiday.