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Christmas yarn

written by Anna Harris

MAASTRICHT, 24TH December 2018 – It’s going to be a cold Christmas in Maastricht. The city lights are sparkling in the blue winter light. The fires are lit and the knitting is out. Wool from Norway and cotton from Ghana, a knitting pattern from the Wellcome archives found by John earlier in the year. The pattern: a knitted uterus. We have fallen in love with the knitted uterus and you will read more about it here soon, a wondrous woolly teaching tool used by educators for decades to teach childbirth. You can find the pattern below, a little Christmas present from the Making Clinical Sense team.

Images from the pattern in the Wellcome Library, see more here:

And for an inspiring essay on winter knitting, read Barbara Kingsolver’s piece here. In the spirit of our interest in materials and their sensuality, I have pasted her thoughts on texture below:

“It starts with a texture. There are nowhere near enough words for this, but fingers can sing whole arpeggios at a touch. Textures have their family trees: cloud and thistledown are cousin to catpelt and earlobe and infantscalp. Petal is also a texture, and limepeel and nickelback and nettle and five-o’clock-shadow and sandstone and ash and soap and slither. Drape is the child of loft and crimp; wool is a stalwart crone who remembers everything, while emptyhead white-haired cotton forgets. And in spite of their various natures, all these strings can be lured to sit down together and play a fiber concerto whole in the cloth. The virgin fleece of an April lamb can be blended and spun with the fleece of a fat blue hare or a twist of flax, anything, you name it, silkworm floss or twiny bamboo. Creatures never known to converse in nature can be introduced and then married right on the spot. The spindle is your altar, you are the matchmaker, steady on the treadle, fingers plying the helices of a beast and its unlikely kin, animal and vegetable, devising your new and surprisingly peaceable kingdoms. Fingers can coax and read and speak, they have their own secret libraries and illicit affairs and conventions. Twined into the wool of a hearty ewe on shearing day, hands can read the history of her winter: how many snows, how barren or sweet her mangers. For best results, stand in the pasture and throw your arms around her.”