A record of the 2023 Rose Bowl – in yarn

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February 8, 2023 by Dr. G

Recently, I obtained a copy of the book Knit the Sky, as I’ve been fascinated by the different patterns people stitch from observations in the world around them. I was familiar with the Sky Scarf Project, but had no idea there were so many more ways to put data into visualizations with yarn!

One of the chapters in the book discussed knitting a tennis match, switching the stitches for which player hit the ball. As I purchased the book during the NFL Playoffs, I was starting wondering if I could do a football game. As I wanted to crochet a completed game and not try to stitch during a game (after all, the Philadelphia Eagles had been playing so well, and as the writing of this post, are on their way to the Super Bowl!), I turned to a recently-completed football game – the Rose Bowl. My university, Penn State, played University of Utah and won the game. So why not see if I could capture the play-by-play with crochet?

I found a record of each play and how many possessions each team had throughout the game. I used dark blue yarn to represent Penn State, and red yarn to represent University of Utah, the school colors. I decided to use bright green to represent a touchdown and orange for when there was an interception. The grey yarn is for the beginning/halftime/end of game.

Each row represents a play, or a down. Penn State started the game with the ball, but when three downs and then had to punt; therefore, I crocheted four blue rows. Next, Utah did the same – three plays then a punt, so four red rows. Next, Penn State had a first down, another first down, then a second, a third, and a punt, resulting in five crocheted rows. And I continued this pattern from there.

To me, this visualization shows that Utah made more plays, and Penn State made both the interceptions. Penn State went on to win the game with a score of 35 to 21.

I struggled with how many colors of yarn to use to represent the different plays. There were no field goals, so I didn’t need another color yarn for a field goal versus a touch down. And with non two-point conversions, this was an easy game to lay out and stitch!

This ended up being too short for a scarf, but I think it makes a nice wall hanging – and certainly, a conversation piece!

If the Eagles win the Super Bowl, I’ll do another football play-by-play visualization – but after the game. My eyes will be glued to the TV for this game, not to my crochet hook!

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