Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Division of E. Coli in crochet

Desiree Yang, who just graduated with a PhD from Tom Bernhardt's lab at Harvard, made this really awesome set of crocheted E. coli as a present for her thesis advisor. It shows the stages of cell division, with the Z ring embroidered in green.

I love her idea of adding molecular details to a larger-scale model with embroidery!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Side by Side

I found a wonderful surprise in my mailbox yesterday: Tsia Carson's Side by Side: 20 Collaborative Projects for Crafting with Your Kids. Tsia is a head editor of the beautiful, to which I contributed an article about sculptural crochet several years ago. Following that, Tsia invited me to submit to a book of paired craft projects that parents and children could work on together. I submitted a couple of necklaces: a frond of crocheted seaweed for adults, and a keepsake necklace with a precious object (coin, shell, etc) held in a fabric casing that kids can make.

The finished book is absolutely beautiful, with great photography and styling. Probably my favorite project is the child-drawn stuffed monster - with instructions for converting a kid's drawing into a plushie. It makes me wish I had some kids' drawings to work off of! I also love the instructions for indoor succulent gardens and GIANT newspaper snowflakes.

Congratulations on a gorgeous book, Tsia!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

16S rRNA

 A couple of days ago I showed you how to crochet RNA by making a very simple structure, tRNA. The same method, however, can be used to make much  more complicated molecules, like this 16S rRNA, which is based off of this image. Made in worsted weight yarn, it measures about two feet in each dimension. Naturally, on its own, it looks like crumpled mass of yarn - so it needs to be tacked to fabric to show its shape.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

How to crochet RNA secondary structure (with tRNA pattern)

Almost two years ago (...) I wrote a post describing how to make fern-like fronds out of chain and slip stitches. Someone named Johnny Swatts astutely commented:
"This scheme for crocheting fronds, etc, puts me in mind of DNA hairpinning and other self-hybridized structures."
I thought this was a fantastic idea.

You can make all kinds of structures pretty easily, generating your own patterns from looking at an RNA structure predictions like the tRNA at left (source:


This pattern begins at the 3' end. It's best to use a yarn that's not too fuzzy (so you can make out the individual stitches). Try to work tight to maintain structural integrity. I worked this pattern in the back loops only, which helps it to lay flat.
  1. Chain 23 stitches.
  2. Beginning with 8th chain stitch from hook (that is, skip 7) single crochet 5 stitches.
  3. Chain 5 stitches.
  4. SLIP into the 4rd from your  hook (that is, skip 3). Note, this is not real base pairing, but will help the structure maintain its shape when you're finished.
  5. Chain 12 stitches. Congratulations, you just made an anticodon arm.
  6. Beginning with 8th chain stitch from hook (that is, skip 7) single crochet 5 stitches.
  7. Chain 15 stitches.
  8. Beginning with 11th chain stitch from hook (that is, skip 10) single crochet 4 stitches.
  9. Chain 2 stitches.
  10. Beginning with the 11th chain stitch you made in step 1 (it's right next to where you started single crocheting in step 2), single crochet 7. 
  11. Finish off!
To help the RNA maintain its shape, you can stiffen with a little glue, or applique it onto something you feel is not dorky enough yet.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Thermoreactive beetle wings

I took a hot glue gun to strips of leather, mesh, and Sternocera aequisignata wings, and in the process noticed that the beetle wings appear to be thermoreactive - touch a glue gun (or glue) to them, and they turn blue at that spot, returning to their normal color (slowly!) when they cool. It seems like this would be a useful property for making weird displays - anyone know of an example of this?

Thanks to Tristan for the wings...

Notice blue patch over glue gun tip....

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Maker Faire talk uploaded

I had a fantastic time at Maker Faire today - met lots of wonderful people, witnessed creative and technically impressive projects, and had fun giving a talk about how to use fundamental stitches to generate almost any 3D object. As promised, I've uploaded a pdf of the talk, and below, list links for some great youtube videos showing the stitches and techniques I mentioned.

Here is a nice youtube playlist for more basic stitches than you need, a video for deceases and increases, and another for the ring start.

Enjoy, and I hope you find it useful!

Monday, May 7, 2012

See me at Maker Faire

I'm exciting to be giving a talk at the Bay Area Maker Faire in a couple of weeks! The goal is to give the audience an overview of how basic crochet transformations (increasing, decreasing, stitch height modulation, and branching) and be combined to fabricate virtually any 3D object from a series of tubes and sheets. This theoretical framework can be used to freeform shapes, and I'm working on more predictive techniques to generate written patterns based on a specified shape as well. We'll see if I can fit that into 20 minutes!

Maker Faire is one my favorite events of the year, so I'm thrilled to be presenting at 3pm on Saturday, May 19th.

Saturday, January 21, 2012