Wovember Words: WOOL and electricity

Sheep and WOOL really do get into everything and, if you have purchased a copy of the KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook you will already know that “everything” even includes a 1930s book about electricity entitled “The Wonders of Electricity”.

Published in the 1930s, this book provides fascinating glimpses into the domestic interior of the 1930s and wool and steel knitting needles are mentioned throughout as commonplace materials with which to explore insulation and conduction, respectively. However in addition to this, the very discovery of magnetism is credited to a shepherd and his iron crook in the book’s introduction! Magnetism is described in “The Wonders of Electricity” as one of the fundamental principles of the theory of electricity. Though it is impossible to prove the veracity of the story and though the author himself doubts its accuracy, I love that this story from “The Wonders of Electricity” connects the currents that we now use on our smartphones to share pictures of wool on instagram with the shepherds of the ancient past.

Like I said, sheep and WOOL really do get into everything!

The wonders of electricity, published in 1935, pictured with iron filings + magnets experiment

The wonders of electricity, published in 1930s, pictured with iron filings + magnets experiment

A Queer Story. There are many stories – all probably untrue – to account for the discovery of “magnetite”. One is that a shepherd, while feeding his flocks on Mount Ida, near the ancient city of Troy in Asia Minor, sought shelter from the heat of the sun in the shade of an overhanging rock. As he approached the shelter, his iron-headed crook was drawn from his hand, and clung to the rock above him. We know that the black iron oxide is found in the country to the south, towards Magnesia ; and it is from this fact that the name “magnetite” was given to the strange stone. From this word, again, we get out word “magnet”.

– A.T. McDougall. BA., B.Sc., The Wonders of Electricity, published by Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons Ltd., London, 1935

100% WOOL wristwarmers, inspired by "The Wonders of Electricity" and perfect for experiments with iron filings + magnets

100% WOOL wristwarmers, inspired by “The Wonders of Electricity” and perfect for experiments with iron filings + magnets

100% WOOL wristwarmers, inspired by "The Wonders of Electricity" and perfect for experiments with iron filings + magnets

100% WOOL wristwarmers, inspired by “The Wonders of Electricity” and perfect for experiments with iron filings + magnets

100% Shetland Wool “Wonders of Electricity Mitts” knitted by Liz Ashdowne for the KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook
Photos from the KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook and taken by turbo talented Fergus Ford

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This entry was posted by Felicity Ford.

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