Saturday, April 29, 2017

Knitting is my super power - science outreach goals

As I reflect on the March for Science that was held this past Saturday, there are a lot of conversations and themes I'd like to cover (diversity, sexism, GMO's, how to engage and interact with non-scientists, funding, peer review, just to name a few). I look forward to elaborating on those topics later, but for now, I want to focus on my action goals following the march.

Knitting is my superpower

I have discovered through going viral after designing the "Resistor Hat" that knitting is a very powerful tool. In a way, it is a super power. Through knitting I can transform balls of yarn into hats and sweaters, which is a super power in itself. In addition, knitting is an extremely powerful tool for outreach. 
My lab and friends posing in some of the hats I designed
for the March for Science (photo credit L.A. Cicero)

If you are a non-scientist, imagine meeting a scientist such as myself in a bar. You say, "So, what do you do?" I respond, "I'm a microbiologist." This is perhaps intimidating, right? I have found through my informal experiences that about half of the people respond, "That is really cool, tell me more" (or some variation thereof) while the other half respond, "You must be really smart" or "Sounds complicated" or something related to that. However, when I introduce myself as a microbiologist who designs science-themed knitting patterns, the second half of people who may have been intimidated or unlikely to engage with me before now are more likely to ask me about my science and my knitting. In addition to talking about my own work, I can talk about all of my friends' research and the knitting patterns I made for that. Through all of the media attention associated with the Resistor Hat, I have found out that knitting is a powerful tool that makes me more approachable and engaging as a scientist. 

Beyond the march - Utilizing knitting as a forum for science outreach

Many people do not realize that science outreach is something that scientists take on in their own outside of the lab. Scientists donate their time to these projects and then must work extra long hours in lab to keep on progressing. I plan on donating more of my time, money, and efforts to such outreach programs in the future as I place a high value on science outreach and education.

Speaking about my recent fame and how I will use my knitting as science outreach at the Taste of Science Bay Area event.
My goals and action plans for the near future and beyond:
  1. Continue to design science-themed knit items and expand to include more information about the science behind the patterns geared toward a general audience. Similar to my video explaining the science behind the Resistor Hat, I will also make more youtube videos explaining the science behind the items. This will help knitters and others who visit my website understand what they are knitting. Some existing examples of this science-themed outreach are my #KnityourPhD series of hats including the Prairie Dog Patterned knit hat designed for my friend Dr. Loren Cassin-Sackett and the Uterus Patterned knit hat designed for my friend, Dr. Erin Reinl when they defended their PhD's.
  2. Develop in person science outreach to knitters and the general public - this will give me an opportunity to interface with people and expand my outreach ability. I will also raise awareness about my efforts to do knitting as science outreach at these events. If you have any ideas of events or Maker's Fairs, where I can present of have a table, let me know!
    • On April 24, I talked about Knitting as Science outreach at the Bay Area Taste of Science event in Redwood City. To expand the reach of this event, I broadcast my talk on Facebook live in the March for Science Knitting and Crafting group.
    • On April 29th, I will present my knitting at an art exhibit as part of the Berkeley Microbiology Student Symposium. I plan to feature my Phage and E. coli knit hats along with some knit microbe pins.
    • On May 4th, I will run a table at the California Academy of Science's Nightlife - as part of their Maker's night
  3. In the next few years, I'd love to develop a weekly knitting after school program to inspire the next generation of citizens. 
    • I will focus on areas with economically disadvantaged children in late elementary/middle school. I hope that providing these youth with the skill to knit and celebrating each stitch and finished object might provide a ray of hope in an uncertain world. 
    • I am seeking to make connections to help achieve this aim - contact me if you would like to help.
Please help contribute to my science outreach (use the "Donate" button on the top right of this website). Any donations will go toward:
  1. Website hosting fees
  2. Outreach activities (yarn, needles, supplies, displays)
  3. If I become overwhelmed with donations or cannot fulfill my outreach plans for any reason, I will donate any extra $ to other science outreach programs such as Girls who Code

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Resistor Headband DIY from T-shirt

There is only one week before the March for Science (it is on April 22, 2017) and if you are looking for a quick and easy design to make and wear in solidarity with Project Thinking Cap, this could be just the solution for you. Also, it is environmentally friendly, as you can upcycle an old T-shirt into a fabric headband. You can use acrylic paint or fabric paint to add on a design.

To learn more about my scientific research, why I am marching, and the Resistor Knit Hat I designed, check out this blog post: Resistor Knit Hat - March for Science.

Step 1. Find a T-shirt - I did not want to part with any of my blue or green T-shirts so I found one at a garage sale for $1. :)

2. Cut T-shirt ~3 inches from bottom

3. Cut bottom seam from the strip.

4. Option 1: Cut the T-shirt so that it is ~1-2 inches shorter than the diameter of your head 
(mine is folded in half and was made for a 24 inch hat brim). 
Option 2 (not pictured): leave T-shirt strip original diameter, but cut to open up the strip. This will make a long strip of T-shirt that can be tied around your head ninja style. :)

5. Assemble paint - I used a white acrylic paint for the design. You can also use fabric paint (the puffy paint type). Tug the fabric a little laterally so that you can see which side of the fabric naturally folds under. You will want to paint on the side that does not fold under (so your head can keep the fabric flat). I am having trouble explaining this, so comment if it seems unclear. For my T-shirt, I ended up painting on the side that originally was the interior of the shirt.

6. Paint on desired design. I used a design showing a circuit with the symbols for a battery and two resistors.

 7. Let paint dry, then fold in half with the painted side in. Seam the edge with a sewing machine or by hand using a whip stitch.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

March for Science Knit Designs ebook

Hi all,

If you've been following along you will know that I have been busy designing knit hats and headbands for the March for Science. I've tried to be as inclusive as possible to the sciences and have designs that represent agricultural science, chemistry, physics, biology, renewable energy, computer science, archaeology and medicine. I hope you enjoy this ebook full of patterns!

In the next few weeks, I will update the pdf with some science outreach about each of the areas of science represented by each hat. Stay tuned!


Click here for more about Project Thinking Cap and the March for Science.

Click here to see the original Resistor Hat post.

Click here for a pdf of the March for Science Knit Designs ebook.
Note, there is one error in the pattern that will be fixed in the next edition: "41 stitch charts, repeat twice" should read "42 stitch charts, repeat twice"

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Mini Erlenmeyer Flask and Water Drop

I was challenged to design a mini Erlenmeyer Flask that could be used as a pin in the March for Science. I think I rose to the challenge and designed this super fun and fast knit. I also designed a water drop that symbolizes the need for safe drinking water. 

These could be attached to a safety pin and used as a pin. They also could be sewn onto any simple knit hat or headband for Project Thinking Cap.

Would you like to see more science minis? Let me know what you would like in the comments.

Click here for the pattern.

I designed a wider option for the flask - pictured here. Apologies for the poor picture quality. Will get a better one in time. See this PDF (Click here) for the original flask and water drop pattern, use modifications below for a wider flask.

Wide-bottomed erlenmeyer flask
© Heidi Arjes, 2017. This pattern is for personal use only. Commercial use without written permission of the author is prohibited.

With bottom color:
Cast on 16, divide onto 2 needles (8 stitches per needle), join to knit in the round.
Knit 1 round
*K2tog, K6* repeat twice

Switch to off white:
*K2tog, K5* repeat twice
*K2tog, K4* repeat twice
*K2tog, K3* repeat twice
Now you should have 5 stitches on your needles.
Knit around for 4 rounds
Bind off by cutting yarn and weaving yarn tail through the 5 stitches and pull tight. Weave in ends

Monday, March 20, 2017

Resistor Armband/cup cozy Pattern

I have extended my line of Resistor knit items for the March for Science (see also my Resistor Hat and my Resistor Headband). I now have Resistor armbands and mug cozies! I have included an easy option with single color knitting and double knitting the pattern as well as a colorwork pattern.

A printer-friendly version of the pattern is available here.

If you would like a "Resist" bracelet with a real resistor, please check out my Etsy page here. I am selling these as a fundraiser for the ACLU.




Sunday, March 12, 2017

Laboratory Glassware Headband (with option for hat)

Has anyone else ever seen the Corning glassware logo and thought "That would make a swell knit hat design." Just me? 

Anyway, I used this logo as inspiration for my latest March for Science knit hat. This headband features laboratory glassware and a bunsen burner.

The pattern will be available HERE for free until the March for Science on April 22.

If you'd like to learn more about the 3 scientists organizing the effort to get hats to DC, check it out HERE.
If you'd like to contribute to the effort to donate hats to marchers in DC,  check out

Also, join our Facebook group (HERE) and Ravelry group (HERE).

Friday, March 10, 2017

Fabric Resistor Headbands - Make your own for the March for Science

These Resistor Headbands are perfect for working out. They are made of a quick-dry polyester knit fabric and are very light-weight and comfortable.

Purchase the fabric here via Spoonflower! If you order today, March 10th, Spoonflower is offering free shipping! The printing/shipping process usually takes about 3 weeks, so order now to have these ready to go by the March for Science.

Make sure to choose "Performance Knit" as your fabric. 1 yard will make 20 seamed headbands and 3 tie-in-the-back headbands. Contact me if you would like to see other designs!

The instructions are in the image below. Click here for a printer-friendly pdf. :)

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Beginner armband/cup cozy and headband pattern - March for Science

Hi everyone! After several requests, I made a beginner pattern suitable for newbie knitters who want to make a headband for the March for Science. I have a video tutorial in the works and I will post it here tomorrow. I want to go live so that you can have early access to the pdf.

The pattern for all 3 options (headband, armband, and mug cozy) is here. I rushed it out just a bit - let me know if there is anything unclear (or typos, I hate typos) and I'll fix it.


If you were not aware, together with two other postdoctoral researchers (scientists who have obtained their PhD's and are doing semi-independent research), I am helping organize the effort to get blue and green knit items to DC for the March for Science. If you would like to get involved, please join "March for Science - official knitting/crocheting/sewing/crafting group." Hope to see you and your projects there! Feel free to ask for help or advice there or in the comments below.

Also, use #ProjectThinkingCap when sharing items on social media! To see more about crafting items for the march, check out!

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram (Craftimism) and Twitter (hidkid85) for a closer look at my creative process and designs. 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Resistor Headbands (with option for DNA double helix) - March for Science

Last week I posted a photo of myself wearing the Resistor Knit Hat that I designed in the  March for Science's Facebook group. (Click here to see the hat pattern as well as a little bit about resistors, my science, and why I will march in the March for Science on April 22.) Anyway, that post took off and has 13,258 "likes", "loves", and "wows" and 600 comments in the week since posting, most pouring in that very afternoon. This was my first experience going viral and I was thrilled to see the responses from everyone and I was sitting in my local coffee shop with a huge grin on my face watching them come in and trying to respond to the comments. I could hardly sleep that night I was so excited! So if you liked or commented on that photo, Thank You! You really made my day!

To celebrate, I made several variations on the resistor hat - and I even made a "Show and Tell" video with my designs:

Family Photo- 1st generation
The activation energy I gained from all of the comments was amazing! I spent pretty much all of my free time this past week knitting and designing new variations of the hat. I had several requests for a Resistor Headband pattern and for a DNA double helix pattern. While there is already a great set of DNA patterned hats here, I decided to make my own version. I made the pattern to accommodate my larger gauge and it has an option with base pairs and without. The option with just the double helix backbone is pictured above while the option with base pairs is pictured in the "family photo."

The pattern for the headbands is FREE here. If you are new to knitting and don't want to tackle the colorwork, I included an option to make a simple headband and embroider the Resistor or DNA pattern on after it is finished. Remember to use #ResistorHat to tag your projects on social media so I can see what you make. :)

For hot locations, the headband fits on a straw hat

Please contact me at my Etsy shop ( if you are interested in purchasing any of these hats. I am taking orders in the order I receive requests and hopefully will be able to accommodate everyone. A portion of the sale of these Resistor/DNA hats and accessories will be donated to the March for Science.  

Sunday, February 12, 2017

DNA double helix knit hat

Hi everyone! This is a super short post that will be filled in at a later date. I wanted to share my pattern for the DNA double helix pattern. It is pretty much identical to the Resistor Hat pattern with a different colorwork pattern. Enjoy!

The link to the knitting pattern is here.

I hope to have a real knit hat to share with you within a day or so. :)

Update 2/12/17 in the evening - working on this now and not super happy with the base pairing - it makes the pattern look messy - I'd recommend leaving the base pairs out and just going with the backbone in the pattern.

Update 2/18/17 - the double helix pattern with base pairs is growing on me. I think I like it better than the double helix without basepairs. Waiting for a sunny day to get some better photos.
My prototype double helix hat and a double helix headband (without base pairs)

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Resistor Knit Hat - March for Science

Posing in the Resistor Hat at my lab bench at Stanford University
I designed this to wear in the March for Science on April 22, 2017. This hat pattern features a circuit with a battery and 3 resistors in series (to increase the resistance). Resistors are commonly used in electronics to slow down the electric current - the 4 vertical lines on the hat represent the battery while the zig-zag represents resistors.

The bacterium Bacillus subtilis growing as individual cells (left)
and as a multicellular biofilm (right) (my photos)
I am a scientist in the Department of Bioengineering and Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Stanford University. I study bacteria - in particular, I study bacteria that grow and interact in together in communities called biofilms. In particular, I am studying how life in a community can serve as a niche for genetic diversity. I love scientific research and the scientific process. In particular, I enjoy designing the experiments to answer a specific question, performing the experiments, and analyzing the data. As a scientist, I have to be very open minded about the data - often, experiments give results that are not predicted and I have to objectively view the data and the facts and make conclusions based on all the evidence at hand. 

I have rarely used my political voice, but the current administration's disregard for scientific facts is troubling and, quite frankly, very frightening. In particular, I am continuously astounded by both the disregard for the overwhelming evidence that climate change is real and humans are causing it and the undisputed evidence that vaccines are safe and the best way to protect our communities from diseases and that they DO NOT cause autism (the one study that claimed this has long been revoked and the paper's author fully discredited). 

I would like to share a personal vignette. I was chatting with a college-educated family member who is extremely smart about antibiotic resistance and how we may very well be living in a post-antibiotic world within the next few decades. The family member responded (and I paraphrase), we live in America, we should be able to make new antibiotics. I was a flabbergasted by this argument, because science knows no boundaries and antibiotic resistant bacteria do not discriminate who they infect. For more on this topic by reputable sources, see this 2015 BBC article, this news article from the Journal Nature, and this 2005 review article from the archives of medical research

Scientists need to stand up and demand evidence-based policy and facts. Science is not partisan. Protecting our world and the people in it is not a partisan issue. This is why I will march on April 22nd. I hope you join in the cause!

Check out this "show and tell" video about the Resistor hat and the designs that were inspired by it. :)

Here is an example of catching long floats on the wrong side .

Click here for a FREE pdf of the pattern. I hope you enjoy knitting this nerdy hat! If you are new to Fair-isle stranded colorwork, there are some good tutorials here and a good video tutorial here. I personally don't use either of those fancy techniques and I simply wrap the non-worked color around the working color before knitting the working color every few stitches during the long floats as shown in the photo above. :)

Since originally posting this, I have designed a DNA helix colorwork option (here) and headband/hatband options (here). 

Update at 7:30 pm PT 2/12/17 - found an error in the original pattern - at the end there should only be 6 stitches on the needles and I wrote 9. I've uploaded a revised pattern (linked above).

The vertical lines represent the battery which provides the current and the zig-zag pattern represents the resistors.
I am working on a series of Resistor Hats (pun intended) and other resistor knit items. Please see my Etsy shop, Craftimism on Etsy for some of the smaller items and contact me on Etsy for custom made to order knit items. Follow my Facebook page to stay up-to-date on my knitting designs. 

Thanks to Andrés Aranda Diaz for taking the photos and Dave Gutekunst for the conversation that inspired this hat.