man’s own breath

I came across the beautiful cover for this book from Robin Sloan’s instagram feed, or maybe his twitter, I’m not sure. But I instantly wanted to make a scarf from it somehow—it’s the cover and two pages of plates and it was just begging to be fluttering in the breeze around someone’s neck. This felt like one of the harder designs I’ve tried to do, since I was basically starting from scratch and creating a pattern that wasn’t already there.

A delicate pattern that, upon closer view, is a bit more scary and relevant than you might have realized! Just remember, wear masks and ventilate.

Based on the cover and illustrations for the 1866-67 Lewis Leeds lectures on ventilation delivered in the Franklin Institute, “Man’s Own Breath Is His Greatest Enemy” and published in 1869 by Wiley. A copy of the full text was digitized by the University of California Libraries and may be seen at

Fabric, wallpaper, and household things are available for purchase at Spoonflower; scarves and bomber jackets are at Contrado.

I have this as a scarf and it worked came out nicely! I rejiggered the pattern slightly from what you see here; the fabric I chose was the Paris chiffon and I’m wearing the long and narrow size.

But what I really want is this bomber jacket I designed at Contrado. Is it funny or too on the nose in a pandemic? I’m not sure.