Lab Goddess Fibre Club, Q4 2016

So somewhere in the haze that was October-December, I managed to completely forget about a) this blog and b) sharing the monthly fibre club colourways. What this means is that I now get to do one biiiiig blog post about all of them, and remind you to sign up for the first quarter of 2017, which is currently being dyed...;-)

First up: October's lovely Alchemy on moorit Shetland, inspired by Irène Joliot-Curie:

As the Lab Goddess Fibre Club came around to its one year anniversary, it seemed appropriate to highlight the daughter of the inaugural Lab Goddess, Marie Curie. Like her mother, Irène Joliot-Curie worked on radioactivity. However, her path to scientific success took a different route. Her scientific studies were interrupted by World War I, and she spent time with her mother running the mobile field hospitals equipped with the first X-ray machines used in the field. After the war, she returned to Paris to study at the Radium Institute, and met her husband, Frédéric Joliot. They combined their efforts to study atomic nuclei, identifying positrons and neutrons.

In 1934, the Joliot-Curies made the discovery that would later earn them the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1935; they converted boron into nitrogen, aluminium into phosphorus and magnesium into silicon, all through the use of radioactive irradiation. In their successful conversion of one element into another, the Joliot-Curies realised a long-held dream of natural philosophers for hundreds of years: alchemical transmutation. The transformation of aluminium into phosphorus is, perhaps, not as impressive as turning lead into gold, but the actual conversion of one element into another is a stunning achievement.

For the colour inspiration, I found an image of a poster for a modern musical by Clive Nolan, a progressive rock musician and composer, called Alchemy. The colours were a perfect match for the fibre I chose for this month’s club – swirling dark black, blues and greys, with pops of red and orange.

Next up: November - Hive on superwash Bluefaced Leicester, inspired by nuclear physicist Eva Crane:

Eva Crane (née Eva Widdowson) obtained her doctorate in nuclear physics, and was a lecturer on nuclear physics at Sheffield University, beginning in 1941. The following year, she married James Crane and they received a swarm of bees as a wedding present – the giver hoped the hive would help supplement their wartime sugar ration. Dr. Crane soon became fascinated with the hive and joined a local bee club. This unusual wedding present sparked an interest that dominated the rest of her life.

Dr. Crane wrote over 180 papers, articles and books on bees. They ranged from the history of beekeeping through beekeeping methods and the nutritional aspects of honey. Her studies took her all over the world, to more than 60 countries, and she was regarded as one of the world’s foremost experts on apiculture. The US Department of Agriculture used her research to help bees in Louisiana develop resistance to mites that had been devastating the local population by breeding them to the Russian mite-resistant bees mentioned in her book.

With the arrival of winter, I was craving some bright, summer colours on my wheel! Enter this colourway, inspired by the buzz of summer: there’s dark amber for sweet, sticky honey, some really dark brown and bright yellow for the stripes of the bees, and some paler tones to even everything out.

Which finally brings us to the last instalment of 2016: Typhi, inspired by toxicologist and occupational health pioneer, Alice Hamilton.

Alice Hamilton was born in New York City and raised in Indiana. She received her medical degree in 1893, and developed an interest in public health, bacteriology and pathology. These interests found common ground when, in 1897, she moved to Chicago to take a position at Northwestern University and became a member and resident of Hull House.

Hull House was founded 1889 by Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr, and based on the Toynbee Hall, a centre for social reform in the East End of London. The mission of Hull House was to provide social and educational opportunities for working class people, particularly recent immigrants.

During her time at Hull House, Dr. Hamilton focused her efforts identifying the causes of typhoid and tuberculosis in the surrounding community. Her work led to an overhaul of sanitary practices in the city. In 1908, she was appointed to the newly formed state Commission on Occupational Diseases, and focused on industrial poisons. Their report resulted in the passage of occupational disease laws in a number of states. She continued working on occupational health for the rest of her career, as well as continuing her efforts for the wormen’s rights and peace movements.

In 1919, Hamilton was offered a position in the new Department of Industrial Medicine at Harvard Medical School. In going to Harvard, she became the first woman to be appointed to the university faculty in any field.



The colourway for the December club was derived from an image from the CDC of multi-antibiotic-resistant typhoid bacteria. The bacteria in the image have been depicted as pink, a somewhat fluffy colour for something so deadly. I found the black/pink contrast too stark when I tested it though, so I paired pinks and burgundy with shades of brown. These supplemental colours also reflect the places in the human body where the Salmonella typhi bacteria live – the blood and intestines.


So that's the overview of the fourth quarter of 2016 from the Lab Goddess Fibre Club. Spaces are still available in the next round, running from January-March - the first colourway is in progress and will be shipping out the week of 16th January. Fibre club sign ups will close at the end of the day on Friday the 13th of January, so don't miss out!