Each year, hundreds of animals are dissected in school biology classes in order to analyze the structure and function of their innards. If you’re an animal lover, you might remember fearing the grim, unethical experience and ultimately being put off a career in science. However, textile artist Emily Stoneking (of aKNITomy) shows that learning about anatomy doesn’t have to be all blood and guts. She creates knitted dissections of frogs, mice, bats, and other creatures that are a lot more pleasant than the real deal.
“I’m not a scientist, but I play one on the internet,” says Stoneking. “I am also interested in using cuddly materials (like cozy knitting) to create objects that many people are usually squeamish about.” Stoneking is inspired by the history of medicine—especially 19th century biological illustrations in old science books. “I wish I had the fine line drawing skills to be able to create anatomical illustrations like the ones that have long inspired me, but alas, I can’t really draw. But I can knit! So wooly illustrations it’ll have to be!”
Stoneking sells her knitted creations on Etsy, where many come playfully pinned on real dissection trays. Each piece is either hand-knitted or needle-felted using soft materials such as wool, mohair, and silk blends. Although Stoneking admits that her fuzzy creations aren’t totally anatomically correct, she continues to improve her craft each day. “I take a lot of artistic liberties,” she reveals. “I do spend a lot of time researching real anatomical structures, and my guts have evolved over time (they used to be pretty blobby and random). But now, they really look very human, which I have found people tend to gravitate to.”
Take a look at Stoneking’s knitted dissections below. If you’re a fan of her work, you can buy from her collection on Etsy. The talented textile artist even sells DIY animal anatomy kits for those who are interested in crafting their own.