Natalie Solent

Politics, news, libertarianism, Science Fiction, religion, sewing. You got a problem, bud? I like sewing.

E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)

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I also sometimes write for Samizdata and Biased BBC.)

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Thursday, March 31, 2005
Knitting. The truth is out there.
The full history of the Alsos Mission has not yet been told. The basics are well known: General Groves selected a team of civilian scientists and military personnel headed by Colonel Boris T Pash, and later joined by the discoverer of electron spin, Samuel Goudsmit, and set them to follow the Allied advance across Europe and uncover Nazi progress towards the atom bomb. Both Pash and Goudsmit wrote books about their experiences.

But did they tell the whole story? There is a tantalising hint in the chapter of Goudsmit's book called The Gestapo in Science. (Chapter available separately as one of the essays in Martin Gardner's The Sacred Beetle.) This chapter touches on Himmler's Ahnenerbe, or Academy of Ancestral Heritage. The administrative head of this body was SS Colonel Wolfram Sievers, a man who felt it meet always to write the initial and final S's of his name in runic style, thus making the SS emblem. In 1943 Sievers wrote to a woman minion in these terms:

Dear Fraulein Piffl:

There was a recent report in the press that there is an old woman living in Ribe in Jutland, who still possesses knowledge of the knitting methods of the Vikings.

The Reichsleader [Himmler] desires that we send someone to Jutland immediately to visit the old woman and learn these knitting methods.

Heil Hitler!

Sievers ["Sievers" written with the runic sandwich]

"Unfortunately for the future of science," wrote Goudsmit, "the records fail to reveal if Miss Piffl's mission was successful."

I begin to wonder if the records are complete.

Some bloggers, myself among them, were inclined to jeer at those who sought to bring healing to a world sundered by the US War on Terror by knitting willies. We were unkind. (There must be many lonely Al-Qaeda servicemen out there who would be much comforted by a knitted willy. Ladies, can you help?) We may also have laughed too soon. It could be that the courageous woman who runs these risks for all of our sakes, "guerilla knitter" Rachael Matthews, has stumbled on a secret kept for nearly sixty years.

Consider. In 1943 as the slow crushing of the Third Reich began, Heinrich Himmler himself was willing to spend SS resources in searching out the knitting methods of the notoriously warlike Vikings. Was this merely a unique instance of harmless curiosity on the part of Himmler? Or was he searching for a Strickvergeltungswaffe or "Knitted-Vengeance-Weapon"? It's very odd that the trail goes suddenly cold at that point. Even more mysteriously, despite the fact that multiply cross-indexed records of the Nazi scientific war effort were kept by the compulsively efficient Osenberg, in no source that I can find does the word Strickpenisvergeltungwaffe even appear.

Consider. I have always known that there is something mysterious about knitting, just as it has always been plain to me that the way a sewing machine sews things from underneath even though the needle is on top is simply inexplicable without reference to the fourth dimension. Last time I mentioned this some CIA plant tried to fob me off with some explanation about a sewing machine really being a knotting machine. As if!

Could it be that the much-publicised way in which Werner Von Braun and other Nazi scientists were nabbed by the US or the USSR was nothing more than a "stitch up" to hide a much more ambitious project? Could the oft-heard advice to "stick to your knitting" actually be a coded exhortation to workers on this New Manhattan Project? Significantly, when I have tried to discuss my theory with scientists they have dared say only one word in reply: the last name of Fraulein Erna Piffl of the SS!

In an important post Angie Schultz pulls together some very suspicious strands. (Strands! hah!) What is the real reason behind these Crocheted Hyperbolic Models? What is the Vauban fortress in the same image trying to tell us? Are you asking me to believe that the University of Bristol's crocheted Lorentz Manifold was made without NATO funding?

By gum, there is evidence for the hyperspatial nature of knitting in my own home. We own a knitted Klein bottle. But I haven't seen it in years. It must be ... somewhere else.