Place-Based Ecology 2 was defined by phenology. Not only did the course itself span the change from winter to spring, but the culmination of our studies was a project that documented and creatively displayed some aspect of seasonal change in our local environments. I chose to study snow pack data, and wanted to showcase that data with my favorite handcraft: knitting. The result is a length of knitting roughly 14 inches wide and 4 feet long, with bands of color documenting the depth of the snowpack from November to March and symbols within those bands representing the percentage of snow water content in the snowpack.

Reading the knitting:  The snowpack data represented in this knitting comes from a SNOTEL site located at Bear Basin in McCall, Idaho. The data begins with the second half of November 2017 (the periwinkle blue band at the very bottom of the knitting) and continues on until the end of March 2018. Each month is assigned its own color, and its own unique symbol. The height of a band of color represents the relative depth of the snowpack for the first or second half of the month (each month and half of a month are separated by a line of gray). The number of symbols within that band of color represents the relative percent of snow water content in the snowpack. 

Reading the knitting:

The snowpack data represented in this knitting comes from a SNOTEL site located at Bear Basin in McCall, Idaho. The data begins with the second half of November 2017 (the periwinkle blue band at the very bottom of the knitting) and continues on until the end of March 2018. Each month is assigned its own color, and its own unique symbol. The height of a band of color represents the relative depth of the snowpack for the first or second half of the month (each month and half of a month are separated by a line of gray). The number of symbols within that band of color represents the relative percent of snow water content in the snowpack. 

            Knitting the data was more complicated than I originally anticipated. I found myself working and reworking my designs so that they would be both visually appealing and accurately represent the scientific data. Early on, what I had anticipated would mostly be a project about knitting quickly became a project that balanced exactly between the craft and the science. In the process of working the snow data through my hands, I found myself coming to feel more comfortable with the numbers and their significance. Math and science have typically felt less accessible to me, without much meaning in relation to my everyday life. This project marked a change in that perception. With every row of knitting I had to rip out, with every time I was forced to go back to my designs and begin anew, I built my relationship with the science. The project witnessed a change not only in the seasons, but also in my understanding of the very real ties between the numbers and my day-to-day life.

I finished my snowpack knitting while at Taylor Ranch. In this image I am about to soak my knitting in Pioneer Creek. This is called "wet blocking" and is a common last step in the knitting process, helping the stitches to lay flat and for the project to settle into its shape.

I finished my snowpack knitting while at Taylor Ranch. In this image I am about to soak my knitting in Pioneer Creek. This is called "wet blocking" and is a common last step in the knitting process, helping the stitches to lay flat and for the project to settle into its shape.

            As I near the end of my time at MOSS, it is incredible to look back on the last year and recognize the change in my self-confidence as both teacher and scientist. Moving forward, I am excited to continue my growth in the sciences and to help students find their own connections in a field that can appear so intimidating. While there are undoubtedly many people who are comfortable with numbers as they are, others like myself find more connection to science through art and the humanities. I look forward to applying this knowledge to my teaching, integrating a variety of mediums and ways of knowing when working with data. In this way, I hope to facilitate a greater connection between my students and the fields of STEM, assisting them in their journeys as they find their own science identities.

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