WEAVING AS SPACE TRAVEL
I'd been reading Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything" and generally thinking about our existence in the universe when the idea for this piece launched itself into my life. I can remember being curious (and frankly overwhelmed) by space and the idea of a possible "infinity" as it applies to our universe as far back as early grade school science class (thank you Mrs. Satuffer, Hauder, and Minchow).
I'm also slightly space documentary obsessed, and Google knows enough to recommend all of the latest NASA news.
That being said, my greatest fear is slowly drifting away into space, watching earth become smaller and smaller whilst running out of oxygen (you know... because my space suit accidentally became detached from the ISS). Suffice it to say I have no intention of ever leaving this planet, but I love that other people do. We have been talking about manned missions to Mars since the 50s.
The New Horizons space probe lauched its cute little self off our planet in 2006. It hit up Mars and the Asteroid belt later that same year. It passed Jupiter in 2007. It took another EIGHT years before it was finally passing by Pluto (which was still a planet when I was in school... sorry Pluto, I still love you).
I realized I had no actual sense of the scale of our solar system. Those fun little models you see in labs are a bunch of nonsense. Josh Worth's website IF THE MOON WERE A PIXEL: A TEDIOUSLY ACCURATE SCALE MODEL OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM was everything my little space nerd brain could have hoped for. I began my digital light speed tour of the solar system with much excitement. I think I got to Jupiter before I gave up and broke the rules of the universe and visited the rest of the planets warp-speed style.
So ashamed by my hyperspeed cheating, I concocted a plan to pay penance in my own creative medium: fiber.
We'd just moved into our new house and our walls were screaming for something to clothe their nakedness. Awesome, I thought... I'll weave a space-tastic wall hanging.
So, spoiler alert for all of you artsy weaver hopefuls:
Weaving is basically a bunch of yarn math.
Initially, I had planned for each pass of weft (crosswise) yarn to represent the speed of light, until I realized that if I wanted to weave my way to Neptune, I would end up with over 40 yards (36.5 meters) of finished fabric. Maybe next time...
I compromised to the tune of 5 million miles. At that rate, starting from the "Sun" it took 7 passes of yarn (or 35,000,000 miles) to get to Mercury, another 6 passes to Venus, 6 after that to our little blue dot of the solar system, then 9 more passes to Mars. Easy peasy, I wove my way from the sun to the asteroid belt in half an hour.
Friends... our outer plants are REALLY far away. Jupiter and Saturn weren't miserably far, but I stopped tracking how long I was weaving because I was attempting to meticulously count my way to Uranus [insert crude butt joke here].
I wove all the way to Pluto (I still harbor a soft spot for our little dwarf planet). To put the planetary scale into some perspective, it is only about 2 inches from the Sun to Earth. It was over 2 yards from Earth to Pluto.
TL;DR I wove a scale model of the solar system. It took a while.