Thursday, January 12, 2012

Crochet Mathematics... without the anxiety

(c) Smithsonian Institute Website
I am planning a trip with my family to a museum in Iowa to look at a satellite piece of the Smithsonian's Community Reef, or the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef Project (pictured). I have a serious appreciate for this project on so many levels: 1) a person interested in preserving our environment, 2) a mother wishing to teach her children about nature and the destruction of our environment, 3) a crocheter that knows the effort involved in a project of this magnitute, and 4) a mathematician.

The last level of interest is what I wish to discuss in this post, and not necessarily only about the Commurnity Reef Project, but that crocheters are working in a mathematical craft.

No need for math anxiety though - there will not be a test at the end of this post. *smiles*

Hyperbolic crochet are advanced mathematical concepts being applied to make something beautiful. But my guess is that very few of us think about how crochet is mathematics, even at its most basic form.

I tell you to crochet me a scarf. I want it made of shell stitches with 2 double crochet at both ends to frame in the design. I want my scarf to be roughly 6 inches wide. How would you know how many to chain for the foundation?


I want you to crochet me a hat with a starting circle of 8 stitches. You need to increase over every row as you would a normal hat. How many stitches will you increase each row by as you work? How would you know?


You have an existing pattern but you want to make it wider or taller. How do you know how much more to add?

You got it.... mathematics.

We, as crocheters, use mathematics every time we pick up the hook. For those of you who follow patterns, you are working against someone else's calculations. For a person who wishes to adventure into designing your own patterns - you are working with mathematics, even if you aren't aware.

See - nothing to be scared of here. I didn't ask you once to figure out any of the problems presented, but if you want to just for funsies, you can post your answers in the comments box *chuckles*

My intent, as a mathematic lovin' crocheter, is to to explore different mathematical avenues and how crochet either helped advance the concepts, helps prove concepts, or just uses concepts to make really pretty pieces. The first of these will be a post about hyperbolic crochet.

Sites Referenced:
Smithsonian Institute Website:


Andrea Morrison said...

I am learning that Fiber Arts is a sneaky way to get me using math. Argh!  Now, if my math teachers had asked me to calculate the warp on my loom way back when, I may have enjoyed math more.

FoFo said...

I love that display!  What a creative use of yarn!

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