Friday, 4 July 2014

Knitting a neuron

For the past 21 years I've worked for CRS Ltd who are involved in Vision research (that's me on the first page with my head inside a headcoil used in a scanner!) My hobbies and job don't normally merge but when I received this picture from Moorfields I just had to share it with you. Moorfields Eye Hospital London and the Institute of Ophthalmology are long standing customers of CRS; their research work is vital for treating eye conditions. I didn't know that they had a team of knitters who have recently completed this masterpiece, isn't it great? I got in touch with Susan Sandford Smith at the Institute of Visual Neuroscience straight away and she sent me further information on their project. Not only have they produced a work of art but some of the group couldn't knit two years ago, just shows what can be done when you put your mind to it!



the talented knitting team

Here's what Susan had to say about the project

The idea of knitting a neuron isn’t new, in fact it was because one of our members saw the knit a neuron knitted brain that this whole project came about. We are the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology knitting group, we meet once a week in our Common Room (though we’re on our summer break at the moment). We’re of differing abilities and normally we work on our own projects. The group has been going a couple of years now, when it started lots of the knitters were complete beginners so I started them off knitting beanie hats in the round, some took to knitting like ducks to water and are ‘real’ knitters now with stashes and multiple projects on the go. We were trying to think of a project that we could all work on that would make sense for us and Phillippa, who had seen the knitted brain, suggested that we knit the retina. We thought that this was an excellent idea and set to planning how it could work. We knew that we would need to enlist help but that we still wanted to keep control on the project so Phillippa bought a load of wool, colour coded for each cell, and along with the patterns that she and another member of the group developed (with help for the original knit a neuron patterns, I think) the patterns for each of the cells in the retina, we sent out the wool to various friends and friends of friends.


and idea of the size with some crochet too!

laying out the pieces

laying out the pieces


The whole project took about a year, with lapses in enthusiasm, but Moorfields Eye Hospital had said that they would like to have the retina once it was finished to put on display in their Medical Retina unit (so we had to finish it!).

The retina was up for the launch of artwork, commissioned for the unit, but is back in storage, waiting for a glass cabinet to be made – we’re hoping that it will be on permanent display within the next few weeks.


The Building
The design of the Richard Desmond Children’s Eye Centre (below) dispels preconceptions of hospitals to create an holistic, child-focused and welcoming environment. A potentially traumatic experience becomes a positive one, supported by a clear layout which gives a sense of security, engaging colour schemes and large relaxation and play areas. Overall, the design offers a textured and engaging experience, and a sense of discovery for patients whose ages range from 0 to 16 and who may find their treatment lasting for months or even years.

An integrated art programme includes lighting, interiors and the building’s entrance façade which features an arrangement of freely placed folded aluminium louvres to minimise solar gain and create an iconic street presence. A lighting sequence programmed for dusk floods the building with dynamic,glowing colours. (text from architect’s website)


The Richard Desmond Children’s Eye Centre Moorfields Eye Hospital, 2007

2 comments:

Amy at love made my home said...

Fascinating!!! I have never heard of knitting neurons before, but it looks great and is a wonderful achievement for all involved! xx

Sara Turner said...

very cool! Makes me think I should knit a neuromuscular junction or something!