An artist in her thirties weaves and unravels connections between the loom and the computer, DNA and technology, dreams and decisions
Thread Ripper is a double-stranded novel about weaving, programming, and pioneering women. A tapestry-weaver in her thirties embarks on her first big commission: a digitally woven tapestry for a public building. As she works, devoting all her waking hours to the commission, she draws engrossing connections between the stuff that life is made from – DNA, plant tissue, algorithms, text, and textile – and that which disrupts it – radiation, pests, entropy, and doubt. In the novel’s second strand, we meet Ada Lovelace, the 1830s mathematician and pioneer of computer programming, and mythical figures such as Penelope, the faithful wife of Odysseus, who wove and unpicked a shroud to put off her 108 suitors.
Contemplative yet clear-sighted, and reviving women’s histories, Amalie Smith’s bracing hybrid of a novel bares the aching interwovenness of art and life.