Sunday, May 15, 2011

More DNA knitting

I few weeks ago, I posted about a DNA-themed scarf I'd knitted for a friend of mine. As it was the seventh time I'd knitted that scarf, I took the opportunity to think less about the yarn and needles, but the social relationships the making and sharing the scarves and the pattern reflected. Here's another, different, DNA-themed piece. Again, I want to reflect on the social connections this pattern reflects, because I think it's important.

DNA baby sweater


It’s a cardigan for a baby. The baby’s father is a science writer (another one) who is especially interested in genetics, so I used the cable pattern from June Oshiro's famous DNA scarf. It's a lovely pattern, with a lovely story behind it. In many ways, it inspired both my DNA illusion pattern (googledoc link) and the cosmic radiation scarf I made for my PhD supervisor. I've thought about knitting Oshiro's pattern many times, but just never got around to it.

The crafting of this cardigan reflects my friendship with the new baby’s parents, but it also reflects a sort of parasocial relationship with Oshiro (as in, I’ve never met her and doubt she knows who I am, but I feel as if I know her, as I know odd bits about her life through her blog). Beyond that, it reflects the relationship Oshiro had with a colleague who challenged her to design that scarf, over a decade ago now. Indeed, it reflects decades and decades of scientists connections with each other and broader popular culture. In many ways, the image of the double helix has become part of popular culture, or at least parts of public culture. That's one of the reasons so many people knit it. The book behind the cardigan in the photo is about this issue, and I guess my desire to knit the image reflects the fact I've studied this as a sociology undergraduate.

I used to work in the Science Museum, and would walk past the 1953 Watson and Crick model they have on display there a couple of time a day. So I have an odd set of personal and professional relationships with it too - ones that are different from the relationship a geneticist would have - and have seen people from all over the world stop and think through their relationships with the icon of the double helix as they stop by the exhibit too.

Back to that baby cardigan. It's actually a mash-up of two patterns, as I also used Elizabeth Zimmerman’s 'February baby cardigan' as the basic garment. Thus, it reflecting an older and broader set of connections to knitting communities, as well as, more personally, a connection to my friend Kirsty who gave me a book of Zimmerman patterns for my birthday a few years ago. In terms of my use of both patterns, crafting this piece also reflects various other social connections, of varying degrees of tangibility, throughout the online knitting community as I’ve tracked other uses of these two patterns.

Now I’m sharing it with you – and on ravelry – it reflects another set of connections, and opens itself to further possible ones too.

13 comments:

birdwoman said...

I love all the connections here! Biological and knitting heritage, all bound up in a baby garment - how apt! (I knit your Rosalind scarf years ago, and it still gets regularly worn every winter).

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Love all the photos you included in your blog and I can’t wait for the finished stuff to come out. It already looks like it will be a comfy, cozy sweater…just perfect for a cold winter’s day!Am I right?

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