Knitting a Trilobite

I am totally a knit nerd. (knerd?)

I have this lovely yarn, that I wound up yesterday in knit group. The thin one on the left is going to be a super simple cowl (aka neck warmer, infinity scarf etc) for knitting on brain foggy days. The thick one on the right needs to be a hat, and since it’s a gradient I need to be sure to find a pattern that will use nearly all of it.


So I did a Ravelry search  – which is astonishingly good, thanks to Casey – and was reminded that I had the Trilobite Hat  in my queueueueueue. (It’s too long to just be a queue).  This should use most of the yarn – but only if the pattern is correct that it uses a full 200g skein of worsted weight. I worry that it might not, though: sometimes people don’t weigh their remnants and just report the number of full skeins they’ve cracked open. Sometimes they make more than one, or use the pattern to make a scarf or a blanket instead. So the ravelry meterage use ranges enormously. Oh well. I’ll use the brim as a kind of swatch and see what it’s likely to do.

This is what it should end up looking like (image from the Knitty pattern linked above). Approximately. With a dark blue shading to white oceanic theme instead of brown rocky like. And some changes to the shape of the trilobite.


I did see one project that modified it “for scientific accuracy” but after a little research, I believe that was unfair. I mean, I knew trilobites were more than one species, but I had no idea quite how MANY species there were! And genera. And families. In fact, there are ten whole different orders, and about twenty thousand species, according to this massive trilobite information site. This knitted version looks like one of the Phacopida, which don’t have the flared head shape often seen in illustrations. It’s not far off from this Flexicalymene meeki, though the central section is a bit narrow.


So why would I want to modify it? Because knerd. This yarn is from the Falkland Islands, and so I’d like to make a locally appropriate species. Unfortunately the most aptly named Bainella falklandica has not been found in a complete fossil, so we don’t know what the head looked like. (Carvalho, 2004.) I’ve been trying to find an appropriate one, but since I’m neither a paleontologist nor a zoologist I’ve been finding the academic papers a bit heavy going. Only readable in non-brain-foggy windows of time.

I’ve managed to work out that the main varieties found in the Falklands are from the early Devonian period and their closest relatives are found in Bolivia and the Cape region of South Africa. The ones nearest to Port Stanley, the capital and the only part of the Falklands that I’ve visited, are from Caneja Creek. (Sadly none at Canard Cove,  a more fun name.

Caneja Creek. The outcrop consists of about 4 m of friable, dark brown to black silty shales and thin, laminated, very fine-grained sandstone. Trilobites were collected from the shales, including a large specimen of the homalonotid Burmeisteria herscheli and calmoniids (Bainella nilesi and Metacryphaeus cf. M. caffer).

The Burmeisteria has very widely spaced eyes in comparison to the pattern, and a very, very much wider central section, but it does have the flat head:body join (Plate 1 in the Carvalho paper shows this very clearly). Homalonotids are also found in Australia, though not the Burmeisteriae. There’s a very detailed schematic drawing at fig. 7 of Sandford 2005. But the best thing I found is a sculpture of this very same trilobite from Brasil. It’s the big one here.


The artist is Vitor Silva, a paleo-artist from Brazil who blogs in Portuguese. These models were made for a 2015 museum exhibition. He works in several media, and has illustrated academic texts. It’s the real deal. Click on the sculpture image to go to his blog. Yeah, I don’t speak Portuguese either, but there are pictures. Smilodons! Weird crocodiley things! Most cool. You may prefer to browse his DeviantArt gallery.

So, this has been a fun little excursion around the internet, and I now feel ready to start redesigning. Probably do two of those cable-y things up the side and have the garter ridges for the centre. The tail join can have some short rows for the curve. Eye bobbles can easily move out to the edge.  The only part I’m not sure about is the centre of the cephalon. Easiest would be just to do reverse stocking stitch for the centre and plain stocking for the flatter sides.  I’d prefer to raise it a bit, maybe by knitting that section doubled – but that would mean some kind of intarsia in the round for the extra yarn, and I believe that’s some kind of black magic. Not impossible, though. I’ll consider it. Perhaps some other idea will come to mind.

I’m not sure when I’ll be able to update with the finished product. I can usually knit a hat in under a week but this one requires thought. Some days I will not work on it at all. But anyway, I’ll post pictures whenever it finally happens.





2 thoughts on “Knitting a Trilobite

  1. Pingback: Knitting: The Brioche and the Brainless – The Canberra Chronic

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