Ravelings: Bio Knits

Life is equal parts awe-inspiring and terrifying, fragile and ruthless, and it is always associated with its absence: death. Its bilateral nature forces both sides to surface every single day. Taking a critical look at life also means assessing one’s mortality and fragility. As a result, many people avoid investigating the sciences—they can be a bit macabre and are often frightening. But talented people like Andrea Cull use their skills to make these topics more approachable through a craft called “bio” knits.

“Maybe it’s like a fear of the dark and thinking that turning on the light will reveal a monster. I’ve always been the type of person who wants to know what is there, no matter how strange or unsettling it might be.” Andrea Cull

Andrea is a biology teacher and knitwear designer (find her DNA Pullover pattern on page 68 of Interweave Knits Winter 2019) who enjoys exploring life and death with “bio” knits, a combination of biology, knitting, and art that often focuses on models of organisms and organ systems. She says the creation of anatomical models stems from the human drive to perceive and re-create the world around us.

Heart by Kristin Ledgett, knitted by Andrea Cull

Heart by Kristin Ledgett, knitted by Andrea Cull.

Knitting started as a practical endeavor for Andrea, but that changed when she saw Emily Stoneking’s Biology 101, a knitted version of a dissected frog. She found herself craving more, so she knitted dissected creatures, tiny animals, anatomical models, and whimsical plants.

“Bio knits are certainly not for everyone,” she says. “Personally, I find it fascinating how much of life is hidden from our eyes and want to understand how it works together.”

Andrea Cull with the skeleton that lives in her classroom.

Andrea Cull with the skeleton that lives in her classroom.

In the classroom, Andrea uses bio knits to show her students that science has a creative side, shocking them with the possibilities yarn offers. A knitted dissection helps them think about how organs are put together and how they connect to other systems. She dreams of making enough knitted frogs for the entire class and then teaching them how to make the organs and sew it all together.

SARAH ROTHBERG is the editor of knitscene magazine.

This article first appeared in Interweave Knits Winter 2019.

(Featured Image: This polar bear dissection, knitted by Andrea Cull, was inspired by the patterns Peabey the Polar Bear by Snowden Becker and Biology 101 by Emily Stoneking. Photos by Andrea Cull)

Explore the rest of Interweave Knits Winter 2019!