In Other News

I don’t have much new knitting to show you, partially because I don’t want to show pictures of Matt’s scarf until it’s done & in his hands, and partially because I haven’t had much time for knitting lately — the start of the school year is, as always, a monstrous timesuck. But I do have some interesting pieces of textile news to share with you.

First of all, the Poetry Society of Britain is apparently celebrating its hundred-year anniversary by organizing the knitting of an enormous (secret) poem. A project like this seems calculated to delight me, a scholar of poetry and avid knitter, but the font choice is singularly uninspired. I would be much more on board with this project if each knitter got to design her own letter, resulting in a poem that would look like the most beautiful ransom note of all time. But apparently you have to follow their chart, and their chart sucks. However, if you are so inclined, there may still be time to send away for your letter kit & send it back before October. I am completely mystified by that last photo, however — what word are they spelling?? What letter could that sheepish fellow in the middle possibly be holding?

Second of all, a cloth went on display earlier this week at the American Museum of Natural History that was woven from the silk of over a million wild spiders. That gold color is apparently natural; that’s just what silk looks like when it comes out of these special fancy spiders from Madagascar. “[Simon] Peers came up with the idea of weaving spider silk after learning about the French missionary Jacob Paul CambouĂ©, who worked with spiders in Madagascar during the 1880s and 1890s. CambouĂ© built a small, hand-driven machine to extract silk from up to 24 spiders at once, without harming them.” — Peers went on to build a replica of this machine, which was used to milk over a million spiders over the course of several months. Let us pause to think about this feat: were there little harnesses? Apparently spider silk has amazing properties; it’s “very elastic, and it has a tensile strength that is incredibly strong compared to steel or Kevlar,” according to Peers, the mad spider-milking genius behind this scheme. I just might have to go see it in New York the next time I’m in town. As a fiber geek, I will want to pet it, but that’s probably not allowed. The spiders in my shower had better watch out, is all I’m saying.