Thursday, 11 April 2013

Doing it for yourself

Now then, we said that we're all done with Knit a Neuron. But we met so many people at the Barbican's Wonderseason who were enthused by Knit a Neuron that I thought it might be useful to share a few top tips for running a Knit a Neuron event yourself.

1. Knit a Neuron events are easy to run: you need some yarn, some needles, patterns, a neuroscientist, and a comfy space. A good audience for KAN events are adults who can knit, but we've also had success with families. 

2. It helps if you have a focus for the knitting. Think about where the neurons are going. Perhaps you're going to create an installation in your place of work, at a local charity or school. People like to know that their efforts aren't in vain. Some people like to take their neurons home, but not many.

3. Events can be timed or drop-in. It takes about an hour for a competent knitter to make a neuron. If you are running a timed event make sure it's leisurely eg two hours. Your local Cafe Scientifique could be a good place to start. Drop-in format works well at festivals where people have time to kill and are looking for something fun and interesting to do (we knitters miss our knitting when we are at festivals so relish the chance to pick up some yarn and needles).

4. Not everyone can knit. If you are running your event where you likely to encounter people who can't knit or are a bit rusty it really helps to have an expert knitter on hand. However, you'll likely find that expert knitters join in and will help anyway. Have some knitting Nancies on hand for French knitting. These are great for kids and create lovely axons. Axons and dendrites can be plaited.

5. Market your events in knitter speak. For example you could encourage people to "dive into their stash" to find odd bits of yarn they could bring to the event for people to make neurons. We've found knitters to be very generous with their stashes and their old needles. Charity shops are great sources for needles and yarn.

6. Other people will want to join in too. Think about who might be interested in taking part and market through those routes. Knitters are social beings and like to knit and natter, it doesn't take much to persuade them to come along. Especially when there's something a bit unusual (and knitting neurons is pretty unusual!) - find your local Ravelry or Stitch n Bitch group. Other people who might be interested include folk who have some experience of brains eg friends/family of people with brain injury. Find local support groups and see if they'd be interested. If you are doing this through work - send out the information through your regular mailing lists.

7. Work with a neuroscientist. If you are not a neuroscientist and are asking one to join in the fun then this might help:
  • reassure them they don't need to knit!
  • they are there to talk neuroscience but that won't be the only topic conversation. Encourage them to talk neuro, but they don't need to force it.
  • be prepared for all and any brainy question, be prepared for personal and moving stories, be prepared to hear funny stories, be prepared to speak with a neuro Prof and someone who left school at 16 without a single qualification. Everyone has amazing stories to tell and they will.
  • they might want to bring a model brain or pictures of neurons to help illustrate the conversations
We hope you enjoy running your Knit a Neuron events. Do get in touch if you want any advice - we're happy to help.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

End of an era

Well, with Anne delivering the artwork to Headway Knit a Neuron must draw to a close. We've had an amazing couple of years meeting so many interesting people who have taken the time to knit, knatter and create neurons. Neurons have travelled in from all over the world, the artwork's been up and down the UK and now has a proud home at Headway.

While Knit a Neuron is ending, other woolly science projects abound. From Stitch London's fantastic weekend at the Science Museum, the British Society of Immunology project The Big Knit: Multiple Sclerosis and just today I've heard from someone wanting to set up a craft science charity. There are others - too many to mention!

We'd like to take this chance to thank everyone who's been involved with Knit a Neuron. It's a project that could only happen with the support, energy and enthusiasm of people all over the world. It's been a great honour to be part of such a great project - we hope you feel the same way too.

We won't continue to update this blog, however we hope that it can remain here for a while to serve as record of a unique woolly science project.

Now then, where did put that chemistry crochet...

Knit a Neuron reaches its new home!

I'm sure that all KAN Fans will be please to hear that the artwork created out of our wonderful selection of donated, knitted neurons has now been presented to the ‘Headway’ centre in Henley-on-Thames, which will be its final home. Headway is a national charity that, “works to improve life after brain injury”. The Henley centre runs a day care program of physical and cognitive therapy and provides vital support to sufferers and carers affected by head injury.

Anne visited Headway on 21 November to present the artwork. She also spoke about the project, brain injury research going on in Bristol, and answered lots of questions on neuroscience (and other things besides!). Anne had a great day, enjoying the opportunity to meet and chat with all the clients in that day. Some had knitted their own neurons, and all of them were very interested in seeing the artwork depicting brain injury. One lady, Jane, was particularly thrilled with it as a brain haemorrhage had damaged her sight, but she could feel all the neurons and make out the colours.

The KAN neurons are now installed as a wall hanging in one of the rooms at Headway that is used for therapy or as a quiet space by clients.

Big thanks to everyone at Headway for welcoming KAN and giving it a new home!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

One year on...

...from Green Man (OK, so it's 11 months on, but it's close enough for me!) where we met Elaine from the Encephalitis Society. We've just heard that Elaine and the knitters at the Encephalitis Society have finished their neural display. Doesn't it look great? Taking pride of place in the office. We're delighted that she's taken the KAN concept and reworked it for the Encephalitis Society.

Stitched science - the evidence

It doesn't seem so long ago that we were packing our needles and yarn to wend our way to the great temple of science that is the Science Museum for their Stitched Science weekend. What a great weekend it was! So many knitting, creative, sciencey folk with amazing creations. See flickr for stacks of photos.

Here are some of our favourite pictures from Knit a Neuron corner. It was lovely meeting so many people who wanted to knit and natter about neuroscience.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Stitched Science

Here at Knit a Neuron Towers we're really looking forward to being part of Stitched Science at the Science Museum in London. There's so much on from stitching the solar system, to cross stitch emoticons and illusion knitting from our friends at Woolly Thoughts.

If you missed out on knitting a neuron, or want to make one for yourself - come along this weekend. It's free and we'd love to see you there!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Knitted MS is revealed

Our friends at the British Society for Immunology have spent a week knitting and nattering at the Times Cheltenham Science Festival.

We popped along over the weekend to join in the fun. It was really exciting to see so many knitters coming along to talk with Sandra, Nicola and David. Knitters talked about the latest research looking into stressed oligodendrocites, population dynamics, genetic links and living with MS. The finished tableaux look stunning and brightened up the stage on a rainy windy Sunday.