Monthly Archives: July 2011

The Knitted Engine, part 5

Here are some more images of the Knitted Engine in situ at BMW Plant Hams Hall. Thanks to BMW for organising the photos. This first one shows my favourite part, the crankshaft, with the con-rods and pistons shooting up towards the cylinders of the engine. If you look closely you can see the little twisted stitch detail I used to make a ridge down to centre of each crank web.

On this one look out for the crocheted BMW badge and lettering hanging on the edge of the cylinder block, about halfway up the picture.

And on this one check out the spark plugs and camshafts at the top of the picture! One of the BMW associates pointed out that the timing (positioning of the cams in relation to each other) was off on my camshafts, but then was impressed to see I could fix the problem just by swivelling the cams round. Apparently you can’t do that on metal ones!

Update: there are 5 posts in total about the Knitted Engine, from initial sketches and workshops to photos of the finished piece. View them all here.


Latitude 2011

Last weekend we took the Keep & Share Knitting Tent to the lovely Latitude festival near Southwold. As well as plying our wares, we taught loads of people to knit and crochet and ran a communal knitting project (mentioned in the very first paragraph of the Guardian’s Latitude review). The idea was to knit ‘ribbons’ (narrow strips of knitting), with each one knitted by lots of different people. We asked people to knit or crochet as much or as little as they liked, and then to leave a message for the next knitter.

At the end of the festival, we had lots of knitted ribbons! Despite the rain, we had a great time and I’d like to thank Lily, Sarah, Steph, Rhian and Deb for their hard work as members of the knitting team.

A few of the ribbons were intriguingly shaped…

What next? Well, we’ll be continuing the same project at Green Man and End of the Road festivals during the summer, then I’ll turn all the ribbons into something – as yet top secret. Keep following the blog to find out what!

The Knitted Engine, part 4

It’s finished and installed! Hurrah!

I spent 8 hours in the BMW Hams Hall foyer installing the engine on Friday, which gave me plenty of opportunity to chat to passing employees about the project. I was particularly touched by several people who said ‘it’s a good job you’ve got those tags on, otherwise we’d take that [e.g. crankshaft] and put it in one of our engines!’

We’re moving the whole display to Lichfield Cathedral tomorrow where it’ll be on show to the public as part of Lichfield Festival until Sunday 17th July (free entry). These are just some quick snaps I took once it was up – I’ll add some nicer images soon.

Here’s the interpretation that goes with the display:

While I’d like to lie in a darkened room for a week to recover from this mad but rewarding project, it’s onward and upward – we’re heading to Latitude with our knitting tent on Wednesday. I’ll report back about our festival shenanigans when we’re home again!

Update: there are 5 posts in total about the Knitted Engine, from initial sketches and workshops to photos of the finished piece. View them all here.

The Knitted Engine, part 3

I’ve realised over the past few weeks that it’s difficult to blog about all the exciting projects you’re doing when you’re so busy doing them, there’s barely time to eat, let alone type.

Anyhow, work on the Knitted Engine is coming on a treat. Since my last post, I did two days at BMW Plant Hams Hall. I was able to quiz BMW associates about the intricacies of engine design (turns out I’d got most of the bits right on my last diagram, apart from a random belt assembly on the right hand side that I’d totally invented, and misplacing the clutch and flywheel). I also measured all the engine parts that I’d been trying to assess the size of via photos (much easier).

The main activity at BMW was running workshops with thirty year 6 pupils from Coleshill Primary School. They learned to knit, crochet, french knit and finger knit and I was so impressed with them! Four BMW apprentices joined in too. I don’t think they were really expecting knitting to be part of their training but they took to it with good grace.

I then went into school for two more days of workshops, using the children’s development samples to inform the design of the final components. It required loads of french knitting (on bobbins ranging from the traditional 4 pins in a wooden bobbin to a customised 25cm plantpot), hand knitting and crocheting round metal rings. They worked really hard and they were really positive about the experience of learning to knit, which was lovely to hear.

I’ve now got all the bits the kids made and I’m madly forming them into the final engine components! I made the exhaust yesterday, and now I’m onto the pistons which connect to the con-rods I’ve already made. Still lots of knitting and stitching to be done, but it’ll all be sorted by next Friday when I install at BMW for a few days before moving it to Lichfield Cathedral on Monday 11th July. Exciting!

Update: there are 5 posts in total about the Knitted Engine, from initial sketches and workshops to photos of the finished piece. View them all here.