…but not just in health and nutrition! Fiber (in the form of yarn) can be used to craft a neat digestive system as well. One of the first projects I learned to knit was this digestive system, thanks to a pattern I found on the Wayback Machine by Matie Trewe. Whenever someone asks about something fun, unique, or interesting I’ve made, this is my go-to project.
I used to work for a probiotic company several years ago. One day I found myself searching for images of the digestive system for a presentation, when I stumbled upon a picture of a knitted version. My brain filed that away–it was hard to forget seeing something so interesting! A few years later I thought it would be a fun idea to knit this for my husband, who happens to be a gastroenterologist specializing in hepatology. After I had a few scarves and hats under my belt, I figured this couldn’t be too hard, right?!
In actuality, it was far from the most complicated pattern I’ve ever attempted and it was the perfect time in my knitting journey to give this project a whirl. Full of a wide variety of increases, decreases, short rows, and other techniques, it was a perfect way to learn skills necessary to the art of knitting while not having to worry if the finished product would fit or look just right. I bought fairly inexpensive yarn for most of the project, with the exception of yarn used for the liver. I made that yarn had a little bit of cashmere since it is the most important organ, according to my husband (after understanding what the liver actually does I have to agree with him). There was much ripping back and restarting, some head scratching trying to decipher what the author meant, and many hours spent on our third floor watching weird television shows while knitting several feet of intestine. This project represents a good 60-70 hours worth of work.
In the end, I had a squishy, colorful work of anatomical art that I was delighted to present to my then-boyfriend on Valentine’s Day. (Yes, he still married me after receiving this as a gift!) He took it a step further and surprised me by paying an undisclosed sum of money to have the project mounted in a shadow box that to this day sits in his office at the hospital. There’s even a plaque with my name on it situated just below the anus–I still hope that was just a coincidence! He’s received several compliments on the display as well as comments like “the texture of the pancreas is very accurate” and “what are you supposed to do, cuddle with it?”
The moral of the story: opportunities to learn the craft of knitting can come from the most interesting of places. And opportunities to combine a love of science with the fiber arts are abundant; check out a few of my favorites below. There are nerdy knitter groups on Ravelry.com as well if you’re looking to connect with like-minded individuals.
- The Museum of Scientifically Accurate Fabric Brain Art (curated by Bill Harbaugh at the University of Oregon)
- Knitted laboratory dissections and patterns (Etsy Store by Emily Stoneking)
- Knitted uterus and fallopian tubes pattern (by MK Carroll)
- DNA double helix scarf pattern (by June Oshiro)
Have you knitted or crocheted any fun science-themed projects? Please share in the comments!