Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bacteriophage Virus Featured in Guru Magazine

Guru Magazine is a brand new free crowd-sourced digital magazine combining science with art, opinion, entertainment and lifestyle. Started by Dr. Stuart Farrimond out of frustration when he couldn't find any magazines he wanted to read, Guru Magazine seeks to provide high quality content accessible to everyone. New issues are released every other month, and are written by talented people from all over the world.

Issue 2 was released about two weeks ago and features an article on science based knit and crochet written by Michele Banks.She saw my crochet bacteriophage virus on Etsy and contacted me about including it in her article. Her article explores the relationship between science and needlecraft and what inspired the artists to create scientific based works of art.

So why did I crochet a bacteriophage virus? My degree is in Agricultural Engineering, and I've always had a love for science and nature. I also had a father who loved microscopy and looking at pond water critters. My grandmother taught me to crochet when I was about 10 or 11 years old and I especially loved to crochet stuffed animals - long before the hugely popular Japanese amigurumi craze swept the nation.

About a year and a half ago, I ventured into creating my own patterns because I wanted to be able to sell finished items, and many designers strictly forbid commercial use of their patterns. At the same time, Instrucatables, along with Lion Brand yarn, sponsored a yarn Critter Contest, which provided the motivation to finish some of my patterns. I try to create patterns that no one else has thought to make, and bacteriophages had a cute, cool shape that lent itself well to crochet.

The "head" of the virus is an icosahedron, a solid geometrical shape made up of triangles, so I started with a paper pattern and then crocheted 20 triangles, 10 each of two different sizes. I first tried whip stitching the triangles together, but didn't feel that gave the shape enough definition, so I went back and crocheted the pieces together. The "body" was a circular cylinder and the base plate was hexagonal. Hexagons are easy to crochet - six increases in each round are placed in the same location, instead of staggered. Because the "head" is so much larger than the "body", I added a piece of PVC pipe to provide support. I crocheted the tail fibers as long rectangles, instead of in the round, so that I could more easily add  upholstery foam and wire to support the weight of the virus.

An abbreviated overview of how to make the virus can be found on the Instructables website here. The detailed pattern is available in my Etsy store and on Ravelry. My first attempt at the pattern is currently residing at my husband's office, where it receives a lot of "what is it" queries. The second version, the one in the photos above, is at Harvey Mudd College, living in my son's dorm room.

I want to thank Michele for featuring my crochet virus and writing an excellent article about scientific needlecrafting. Be sure to check out her article and the rest of Guru Magazine.