Multiple Sclerosis: the big knit was a collaborative knitting science project to promote awareness and understanding of the disease Multiple Sclerosis (MS) by creating a woollyart installation. The project aim was to engage people with science through the act of creating and via the social nature of knitting.
The installation consists of three tableaux, designed with Alison Thomson
, each highlighting a different aspect of MS: the nature of the disease, the role of genetics and the impact of our environment on the disease.
|Knitters from around the United Kingdom were invited to take part in the project, through our website, by knitting elements of the tableaux and sending then in to be included in the final installation. In addition to this open invitation we ran a series of events with knitting and community groups in the Cheltenham area to provide an opportunity for knitters to engage with scientists and discuss MS. Over 90 knitters contributed to the creation of the tableaux, between them knitting over 300 items including brain cells, DNA helices and sunshines.
This installation was created for The Times Cheltenham Science Festival 2011
to support a festival talk ‘MS’ held on Sunday 12 June. During the Festival it was the centrepiece of a drop-in knitting corner where visitors to the festival could knit their own piece of science, while talking to experts in the field of MS research.
Details of any further exhibitions of the finished tableaux will be posted here.
MS: the big knit tableaux
Find out more about the science behind the tableaux and the patterns used here
||Multiple Sclerosis, the disease
This tableau shows a section of brain, revealing the changes that occur during MS. There is an area of normal tissue, an area of inflammation and demyelination, and finally the scar that is left once all the myelin is removed.
||DNA and Multiple Sclerosis
Each human cell contains approximately 2 m of DNA. In this tableau we're exploring how that DNA is packaged so that it fits inside the cell without getting tangled. Secondly we've shown some of the mechanisms that are used to control the reading of DNA to make protein, (a process known as transcription) that are thought to be involved in MS. These are epigenetic modifications and transcription factors.
||Vitamin D and Multiple Sclerosis
The structure of Vitamin D is very complicated, so this tableau represents sources of vitamin D. We've got the sun, vitamin D supplements, and two food groups that contain vitamin D: eggs and oily fish.
We thank the following companies and organisations for their support with aspects of this project.