HerStory May 2018: Françoise Barré-Sinoussi

We are sharing our love letters for the HerStory Sock Club here, just in case you misplaced yours, didn’t get one, or want to check out what we send prior to signing up. Remember that there are many LYS’s that carry HerStory (listed on our front page), but if your local shop doesn’t, or if you love getting unicorn-encrusted mail from us, you can purchase a 3-month or year-long subscription from us here

This month, our HerStory recipient is the scientist who discovered the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the cause of AIDS. Françoise Barré-Sinoussi was born in Paris, France, in July of 1947. As a young girl, she was fascinated by the workings of the natural world. She’d spend hours observing insect behavior on family vacations, and quickly realized that she was destined for a life in the natural sciences. Once grown and schooled, she joined the Pasteur Institute in Paris in the 1970s, and worked on retrovirus research. In 1996, she became the head of the Retrovirus Biology Unit (later called Regulation of Retroviral Infections Unit). For all of her work and dedication, Barré-Sinoussi won the Nobel Prize in 2008, along with the colleagues she discovered HIV with.
Françoise Barré-Sinoussi thought she’d have the typical life of a research scientist, specializing in retroviruses, doing the work, putting in the time. And that all would have created a wonderful life, full of good work on important diseases without a huge effect on her entire life. That is, until an infectious-disease specialist called the Pasteur Institute and asked her to look for a retrovirus in a new disease that had been wreaking havoc all over the world. This disease was AIDS, and her work on it would change her life forever.

Once she and her colleagues began working on the research into whether or not AIDS was caused by a retrovirus, that was it. She was forever inextricably linked to the disease. Discovering that AIDS was, indeed, caused by a retrovirus took a relatively short period of time, and since that discovery, Barré-Sinoussi has worked tirelessly with patients and doctors and other researchers to try to discover a treatment and pave the way for a potential cure for the disease. She spent time in San Francisco at the height of the US AIDS epidemic, holding the hands of AIDS patients as the disease took them further and further into illness. Over the years, she has befriended many AIDS patients and watched as they sickened and died. She threw her entire self into the study of the disease, and at points in her life, has told her loved ones that “I feel that I’m not my own personality any more. I look like a virus. My face is like HIV.”

In 1996, a therapy was introduced that completely changed the course of the AIDS epidemic. Not necessarily a cure, antiretroviral (or combination) therapy proved to be very effective in saving lives and curbing the effects of the disease. Although a huge relief, Barré-Sinoussi fell into a depression once this happened (as did many of her colleagues), as the relentless push against the virus finally lessened, and they were all left with a feeling of almost let-down. We are strange creatures, human beings; sometimes that which should give us the most joy opens our eyes to all we have lost, and we think that must have been what happened to Barré-Sinoussi: the weight of all of the lives lost to the disease pressed down relentlessly on her. She stepped away from the public eye for a while, and was able to find her way back to the good fight, once again working on a deeper understanding of the disease, and being a relentless advocate for those whose lives have been affected by the infection.

In reading about Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, who is, to this day, intimately involved in fighting AIDS and advocating for those afflicted with HIV, we are once again touched to our very cores by these strong women in HerStory who have given so much of themselves to making the world a better place. For where would we be without them?

The colorway this month, inspired by the 1980s era, is called Prendre le Coeur (take heart). The colors are decidedly 1980’s Laura Ashley fabric and dresses, the message decidedly Françoise Barré-Sinoussi. Take heart, everyone, for there are people like Françoise Barré-Sinoussi working tirelessly to make this world a better place.

Remember to share your HerStory projects with us. Tag me @knittedwit, and use hashtags #knittedwit and #herstory2018kal. On Facebook, make sure to join our new Knitted Wit Knitalongs Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/572482266432576), where folks have been sharing their HerStory projects so far. We have so many fabulous women to talk about with you, and hope you’ve loved the lessons so far!

2018 National Parks. Week 1: American Samoa

We’re starting our 2018 National Parks releases a week early, because Socks on Vacay 2018 starts on 5/28, and we want you to have this skein in your hot little hands if you’d like to cast on with us on 5/28. Starting on 6/4, we’ll be releasing a new National Parks colorway every single Monday, and they are all so different and inspiring and beautiful and we could not be more proud.

Now, for those who just simply cannot wait, we do have the whole 2018 mega amazing bundle of yarn available, with free shipping. So much amazingness in one shipment.

Our first colorway for the 2018 National Parks line is American Samoa. We’re kicking it off with a park we’d really, REALLY like to visit. (Honestly, we’d love to visit any or all of the National Parks we’re showcasing, as well as the ones we showcased last year, but this one is particularly gorgeous). Here’s a link to the photo that inspired the colorway. It’s an image of Ofu Island’s coral reef, part of the American Samoa National Park. The park was the first US National Park in the Southern Hemisphere.

Get this colorway on our website starting today! Make socks with us this Summer as a part of our 2nd Annual Summertime Sock Knitting Extravaganza, otherwise known as Socks on Vacay. Use #socksonvacay2018 on IG while sharing photos of your Knitted Wit/Shannon Squire socks (must use our yarn and Shannon’s patterns to be eligible), and you might just win a prize!

Socks on Vacay 2018

It’s almost Memorial Day, which means it’s almost time for the 2nd annual Summertime Sock Knitting Extravaganza, hosted by Shannon Squire and me. We had such a great time last year, making all of the socks and drooling over yours, that we can’t NOT do it again this year. And for 2018, we’ve got some fun new things, including amazeballs stitch markers from the amazeballs maker Maria from A Needle Runs Through It (coming soon), the 2018 National Parks colorways from me (the first colorway will be on sale on 5/21), AND a new three-pattern sock collection from Shannon (publishing 5/28). And the Summer of Socks, aka #socksonvacay2018 officially kicks off  on Monday, May 28th.

Just like last year, we are going to be giving prizes, and, just like last year, we aren’t entirely sure what kinds of things we’ll be looking for, but to give you an idea, last year, we gave prizes for:

  • Most Exotic Photo
  • Most Finished Socks
  • Coolest Place to Knit

Among other things. Just knit socks, and have fun doing it, and you’ll be entered to win!

The rules are simple:

  1. You must make socks between Monday, May 28th and Monday, September 3rd, 2018 (aka Memorial Day and Labor Day here in the US);
  2. socks must be made with Knitted Wit yarn;
  3. socks must be made using one of Shannon Squire’s sock patterns; and
  4. you must share photos on IG and use #socksonvacay #socksonvacay2018 AND tag @knittedwit and @shannonsq.

And that’s it! Try to cast on and bind off between those two dates, but if you have a wee bit started before Memorial Day, we’ll try not to ding you.

We are releasing a brand-spanking-new National Parks colorway every single Monday for the entire span of Socks on Vacay (if you know you’re going to need them all, you can even order every.single.one with free shipping in one massively gorgeous bundle here. You can also get all of the 2017 colors here.)

We’re getting so excited about spending our summer surrounded by sock knitting once again, and sure hope you’ll join us!