Geek Knitting

Despite majoring in philosophy in college, earning a master of fine arts degree in writing, and committing most of my free time to producing fiction, I’ve somehow managed to end up surrounded by scientists, doctors, and other people of a left-brain persuasion. There’s my cousin Matt, who recently completed his PhD in chemistry and now has a postdoctoral position at Harvard; my friend Danica, who is the proud owner of a PhD in biophysics; Marissa just started her residency in internal medicine at Oregon Health Sciences University; Will, who is working on devices that will eventually end on Mars; and then, of course, there’s just about everyone who I work with at my day job.

While this makes for particularly interesting dinner parties, it also means that my knitting often takes a serious left turn. Just last week, one of the physicians for whom I work asked me to knit her this:

Now, I have actually seen one of these first-hand (a real one, not a knitted one) and while some of the anatomy is exaggerated here, I have to admit that it’s a pretty good representation of a uterus. And who would have thought that fallopian tubes could be so cute? It thrills me to no end that I have a job where someone can ask me for one of these with a straight face. Can you imagine your supervisor asking you to knit this for her? I didn’t think so.

But it doesn’t stop there! In a few weeks Z and I will be visiting the east coast, and one of our stops will be Boston, where we’ll be seeing the aforementioned Matt. He’s way too busy running experiments and getting published in Cell to read this blog, which means that I can show you this:

This is a slightly modified version of June Oshiro’s brilliant DNA scarf, which I am knitting with my new favorite scarf yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca. It’s 50/50 alpaca and wool, which keeps its price reasonable while still retaining some of that alpaca coolness. Matt just moved to Boston from San Francisco this past June, which means he’s really going to appreciate this scarf in about one month. Okay, okay, I know what you’re saying; Matt works with methyl-lysine analogs and recombinant histones, and what do they have to do with DNA? Nothing, probably, but DNA makes a much nicer cable pattern than either of the above items. At least I think it does. I can’t find a picture of recombinant histones.

If you have a scientist in your life——or happen to be one yourself——you should check out this handy guide to geeky knitting patterns. There’s already so much math involved in knitting, it’s really not such a big leap. Besides, in case you haven’t noticed, we geeks rule the world now anyway.


  • Eikon says:

    Oh I like that scarf. I’ve started a new blog;

    Happy to see another post from you.

    : )

  • Noelle says:

    niiiiiice… a Chemist/programmer married to an electronic musician/interactive artist/software engineer I’m quite deligted by the nerdy knitting. does one have to listen to Jonathan Coulton whilst knitting these projects?

  • Corvus says:

    I lust for a DNA scarf. Pretty!

  • Sean says:

    Ooh, another blog post! It’s like heroin! (Or so I imagine.)

    Nice to know that someone makes those freaky patterns that sometimes appear in Knitty…

  • kate says:

    glad to see you’re back! just letting you know that the link for the DNA scarf pattern is a bit wonky. 🙂

  • yarn boy says:

    Thanks for the catch, Kate. It’s fixed now.

  • Veronique says:

    You’ll be happy to know that DNA wraps itself around histones, thereby making your scarf totally relevant to Matt’s research!
    I found this image of histones (to prove my geekiness I suppose):
    I made the same scarf for my PhD advisor, and he loves it so much he wears it indoors 🙂

  • ktussey says:

    I have been instructed by my son to get to the blogs to begin to let everyone know that I have some of the best prices for wool/mohair yarns out there. So…..this is my first! I love the dialogue of some of these and am amazed at the lovely garments and projects everyone is showing and sharing! Keep up the great work and I will continue to look around and try to feel more comfortable with this!
    Thanks for the moment and check out for some excellent prices!

  • Rugs says:

    The DNA scarf is beautiful… I’m loving the design. So its 50% wool, huh? Well, I actually ordered some rugs from Rug Link Outlet and I think it was 100% wool. I love the texture of wool!

  • Cricket says:

    Apparently it’s Textile Uterus season, and I didn’t know. One of the many worthwhile links I visited courtesy of Linktastic Friday on the A Dress A Day blog sent me to this:

    Just stumbled upon your accidentally. Love the DNA scarf, though, complete with full explanation. Thanks!

  • KK says:

    I loooove your uterus! Its perfectly pink and precious.

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