Guinness World Record

knitted neuron

Be a world record breaker! 

Help us attempt to break the Guiness World record for 'longest knitted chain' by creating a motor neuron entirely out of wool.

What are motor neurons?

Motor neurons are a type of nerve cell that carry messages from the brain to muscles, responsible for movements including walking, picking up a cup, and breathing.  They are one of the longest types of nerves, running all the way from the brain's motor cortex to the spinal cord, and from the spinal cord to the furthest muscles - which can be a very long way indeed in animals such as giraffes or blue whales!

Why make one out of wool?!

As a way to share interest in neuroscience, as a chance to enjoy some creativity, as a way to bring people together when we can't meet in person, and as a way to raise awareness of motor neuron disease (also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig disease). 

How long will it be?

Motor neurons are remarkable in many ways. As well as being up to metres in length, they are incredibly thin: only a few microns in diameter. To make a motor neuron to scale (taking the longest motor neuron in humans, about 1 metre in length) we need to knit over 1 km. This will also break the official world record for the world's longest knitted chain!

How can I take part?

You can be a record-breaker by knitting your own length of motor neuron!  Here's how:

  • Select your technique of choice: Knitting; french or rope knitting; i-cord knitting; or crochet (see more info below)
  • Knit as much as you like
  • Send to us at the BNA offices at the Dorothy Hodgkin Building, Whitson Street, Bristol BS1 3NY
  • Please send us your name if you would like to be listed as a contributor
  • Please include your email address if you would like us to update you on progress (see the BNA's data protection notice)
  • There's no deadline - we’ll finish when we break the record! 

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Knitting your length of motor neuron

knitted cordYou can use any method you like to produce a length of motor neuron axon, just so long as:

  • it's made from wool
  • it is approximately 1 cm diameter or width - see image
  • it involves linking loops of wool together to create a chain (knitting, french knitting, crochet or similar)

French or rope knitting: Use a knitting dolly and medium weight wool (e.g. 8 ply or DK) to create a circular tube, around 1 cm across. A crochet hook is useful for this method.

Knitting on two needles: Cast on 4 stiches of medium weight wool (e.g. 8 ply or DK), using size 7-8 (UK), 6-7 (US) or 4-4.5 mm single-pointed needles. Continue knitting rows of 4 stiches, to create a long and very thin scarf, approximately 1 cm across. Cast off.

Knitting an I-cord on double-pointed or circular needles: Cast on 5 stiches of medium weight wool (e.g. 8 ply or DK) using size 7-8 (UK), 6-7 (US) or 4-4.5 mm double-pointed or cicular needles. Instead of knitting rows back and forth, bring the wool back to the first stich so that you create a circular tube of knitting. 

Crochet I-cord: Use a crochet hook and needle to create an I-cord.

Once you have knitted your length of axon, please send to:

The BNA
The Dorothy Hodgkin Building
Whitson Street, Bristol BS1 3NY

Please end us your name if you would like to be listed as a contributor.
Please include your email address if you would like us to update you on progress (see the BNA's data protection notice)

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