BMW Residency: the Knitted Engine

Saturday, May 28, 2011

I’m just getting started on a very exciting project – a residency at BMW Plant Hams Hall in Coleshill as part of Lichfield Festival.

Local schoolchildren and staff from BMW Hams Hall  will be joining me to create ‘The Knitted Engine’, a collaborative piece exploring the hidden similarities between engineering and knitting. Traditional knitting and crochet techniques will be used to construct a replica BMW engine – presented as a three-dimensional exploded diagram – in a clash of making cultures.

This is my early (and slightly vague) ‘artist’s impression’ of the finished piece (which, I have to confess was based on elements of a lawnmower engine, rather than a fancy BMW one!).

I’ll be making most of the parts in workshops with the schoolchildren, but I have made a start on my crankshaft, and will add pictures of the work in progress.

The finished piece will first be on display for staff at the BMW plant, and then on show to the public in the South Choir Aisle of Lichfield Cathedral from 11-17 July, as part of the festival. I’m also running a ‘learn to crochet’ workshop at the festival.

Update: there are 5 posts in total about the Knitted Engine, from initial sketches and workshops to photos of the finished piece. View them all here.



As an engineer / knitter, I say “Brava!” This is awesome. Did BMW provide you with CAD drawings to work off of, or an actual dismantled engine? (Or an engine you dismantled yourself?)

  • Amy 

    Hi Mel, thank you! I was based at the BMW plant for a couple of days, so first I looked at some engine parts in one of their workshops just to get an idea of what everything was (and looked round the plant, seeing the production line was ace). Then one of the staff put together a load of diagrams for me, to show how the bits go together and remember the names. That enabled me to get my head round the structure of the engine – and finally I looked in more detail at the engine parts, measuring / photographing / drawing them to give me instructions to work from when I was back in my studio.


Latitude: knitters needed

Sunday, May 22, 2011

 As part of my Keep & Share activities, I run a knitting tent at various summer festivals. We sell Keep & Share knitwear and knitting supplies, and run a free drop-in activity where people can learn to knit and crochet, or just borrow needles and yarn to knit a contribution to a communal knitting project.I’m currently on the lookout for 4 competent knitters to join our knitting team for Latitude Festival this July (15th-17th). The deal is that you get a free festival ticket in exchange for spending most of your time at the knitting tent teaching people to knit! It’s a fun place to hang out (knitting being such a convivial activity and all) and you get plenty of breaks to run off and see bands etc – plus you have each evening free.Interested? Please drop me a line at, outlining your knitting/crochet abilities (at a minimum, you need to be able to teach knit/purl/cast on/cast off, and any crochet skills are a welcome bonus) and your availability for the festival (ideally, you would arrive at the festival on Thursday afternoon/evening and stay until Sunday night or Monday morning, though there is scope for some flexibility).You’ll find more info on Latitude Festival, including travel information, here.


Pearce Jones in the Cob Scarf

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

It’s taken me a long time to get round to starting this blog, and only time will tell whether I have the self-discipline to keep up to date! The idea of the blog is that I have somewhere to show off the work I’m doing that doesn’t (currently) have a home on the Keep & Share website, and to post details of projects – and my PhD research – as they unfold.

I’ve got lots of projects to write about, from lovely community knitting events that I’ve organised in the last couple of years to new developments hot off the press.

So, lots to catch up on – but I thought I would kick off with a little personal project. My grandad died last December, and when we visited Porthmadog (in North Wales) for his memorial service I spotted a poster about a community knitting project taking place to commemorate the anniversary of the Cob – a sea wall built in 1811 to reclaim farming land from the sea. The idea is to Knit the Cob - a scarf long enough to go right across the Cob. I knitted a panel in memory of grandad…