Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Alchemy mittens

Right, continuing Operation Catch Up With Knit-Designing, I thought I'd post about the alchemy mittens I have underway.
So, what's the idea? I wanted to make a pair of mittens which would encode alchemy symbols and chemical information about certain chemical elements in a subtle enough way that they will look a bit arcane, while actually being entirely about chemistry.
Each mitten will represent a chemical element- I've picked antimony and tin for these ones, but others could be fairly easily substituted. It'll have the alchemical symbol for that element on the back, along with a pattern of spots which represent the atomic number of the element, arranged in a series of bands representing the number of electrons in each electron shell. On the front of the had there will be another collection of spots representing the number of neutrons in the commonest isotope of the element, so that the total number of spots on both sides gives the atomic weight of this isotope.

Why is a little harder to explain, but it has something to do with the different attitudes we have towards alchemy and chemistry. I think we have a tendency to see science as a bit dull and safe, as very *normal*. Alchemy, on the other hand, is a kind of magic- it's crazy and mystical and occult. I think we'd do better to see science a bit more that way - after all, it contains dragons(see also), time travel and guns that shoot lightning. And the really amazing thing is that science can *prove* that all these things exist(well, 'prove' isn't quite the right word in the last case, but hey).
So that's kinda what I'm aiming for with these mittens, that they will be based on chemistry, but in a slightly magical/arcane/alchemical sort of way.
Also, because alchemy symbols are neat.

I've done most of the knitting for them now, so hopefully will have some finished objects to show in the near future(and hopefully my explanation will be a little more coherent then).

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