Crafting Mathematical Objects
The world of math-inspired crafts is vast, and we’ve collected some of our favorite resources for you to explore below!
‘Knitting Is Coding’ and Yarn Is Programmable in This Physics Lab
Dr. Elisabetta Matsumoto, an applied mathematician and physicist at the Georgia Institute of Technology, is embarking on a five-year project, “What a Tangled Web We Weave,” funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), to investigate the mathematics and mechanics of “the ancient technology known as knitting.” Learn more about knitting and knot theory in this May 2019 New York Times article.
Textile art is one of the vehicles that Pat Ashforth and Steve Plummer used for making mathematics more accessible during their teaching careers. These ‘Mathekniticians’ focus on knitting and crochet projects that have expanded beyond their mathematical beginnings. (If you’d like to try some of these projects yourself, many of the patterns are available for purchase via Ravelry, and a few are free for download!)
Crocheting Hyperbolic Planes
A mathematician, artist, and lecturer at Cornell University, Daina Taimiņa one day picked up a crochet hook and started crocheting visualizations of complex mathematical ideas through yarn. Daina’s crocheted hyperbolic planes have created a tangible way for young scholars and artists alike to master these concepts. You can find more of Daina’s work on her website (opens new window).
The Beautiful Math of Coral
Margaret Wertheim leads a project to re-create the creatures of the coral reefs using a crochet technique invented by a mathematician — celebrating the amazements of the reef, and deep-diving into the hyperbolic geometry underlying coral creation.
The Mathematics of Knitting
Professor Sara Jensen (Carthage College) teaches advanced mathematical concepts with knitting needles and wool in her course “The Mathematics of Knitting”. Learn more about how she engages students in thinking about topology and other fields through hands-on crafting! This article includes a video link to Vanderbilt Peabody Professor Melissa Gresalfi explaining how knitting can help build math skills.