Engineering Yarn

One of the new skills I decided to learn this year was how to knit.  I am one of those people who has a hard time sitting still while watching TV.   I am always multi-tasking on my computer or cleaning.  Knitting has been on my radar for awhile.  When my grandmother passed away, my mom mailed me her knitting needles.  I figured it was time I did something with them and signed up for a knitting class this January.

The process of knitting amazes me.  You take a ball of yarn and two sticks.  You move the yard around with the two sticks and create scarves, blankets, hats….  This week was my third class.  The first two weeks we made what you would call a scarf, but tried out different types of stitches.  The result is sort of a hodge-podge of textures and mistakes that somewhat resembles a scarf.  (The first 4 inches of mine was a trapezoid with 3 unintentional button holes.)  At the beginning of this third class, I unraveled the “scarf” to start again.

My amazement really set in as I was unraveling.  To unravel you just take the scarf off your needles, grab an end of the yarn, and start pulling.  There are no knots, nothing to really “undo”.  The scarf I just made was gone in seconds.  How cool that you can just loop yarn around and make an amazing piece of clothing that looks dense and structurally secure?

It reminded me of when I really decided I wanted to be an engineer.  I was a freshman in college and learning about how computers worked, I had a similar sense of amazement.  Down at the core, computers are about moving electrons around.  How amazing is that?  Everything you see on a screen, games you play, videos you watch, skype conversations with people across the world…down at the core,  it’s all about forcing some electrons to move this way or that.

I continue to be fascinated by computers and technology.  My electrical and computer engineering degree focus was on the solid state physics side.  Actually understanding how you fabricate circuits and lay them out, and made that foundation for computers.  As I’ve advanced in my career I’ve added on additional firmware and software and system knowledge.  When you think about it, computers are just amazing complex systems with so many things that can go wrong.  The more I know, the more it seems to be a miracle each time I hit the “on” button and my laptop boots and does what it needs to for me that day.

I am happy I chose a study and career path that allows me to part of creating an advancing this technology.  I’m also happy when my new hobbies make me take a step back and remember how amazing and impactful engineering those little electrons can be.


One response to this post.

  1. That’s a very interesting way of thinking about it. It makes me think about some of the hobbies I’ve taken up in a whole new light.


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