Sticks, Hooks and the Mobius: Knit and Crochet Go Cerebral

Knitting and math, together again.

“Knitting and crocheting are used to explain complex mathematical formulas and to portray scientific forms — from fish embryos to molecules.
….The show features a crocheted piece listed in Guinness World Records as the largest hyperbolic plane. The piece was made by Daina Taimina, author of the award-winning book “Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes.””

Read more here.

Thanks WL.

Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef

If you enjoyed Jender’s earlier post on the work by Daina Taimina, a Cornel mathematician, to realize a crocheted hyperbolic space, do check out a related article in today’s NY Times

In part inspired by Dr Taimina, Margaret Wertheim, a science writer, and her twin sister, Christine, who teaches at the California Institute for the Arts, came up with the idea of creating a woolly homage to the Great Barrier Reef about two and a half years ago. The Wertheims, 49, grew up in Queensland in Australia, where the approximately 135,000-square-mile reef — and the billions of tiny organisms that it comprises — is located. But the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef … is much more than a warning about global warming. It marks the intersection of the Wertheims’ various passions: science, mathematics, art, feminism, handicrafts and social activism.

When maths and traditionally feminine crafts meet

You can get something great:

In 1997 Cornell University mathematician Daina Taimina finally worked out how to make a physical model of hyperbolic space that allows us to feel, and to tactilely explore, the properties of this unique geometry. The method she used was crochet.Dr Taimina’s inspiration was based on a suggestion that had been put forward in the 1970’s by the geometer William Thurston (also now at Cornell). Noting that one of the qualities of hyperbolic space is that as you move away from a point the space around it expands exponentially, Thurston designed a paper model made up of thin cresent-shaped annuli taped together. But Thurston’s model is difficult to make, hard to handle, and inherently fragile. Taimina intuited that the essence of this construction could be implemented with knitting or crochet simply by increasing the number of stitches in each row. As you increase, the surface naturally begins to ruffle and crenellate. Taimina, who grew up in Latvia with a childhood steeped in feminine handicrafts, immediately set about making a model. At first she tried knitting – and you can indeed knit hyperbolic surfaces – but the large number of stitches on the needles quickly becomes unmanageable and Taimina realized that crochet offered the better approach.


The beauty of Taimina’s method is that many of the intrinsic properties of hyperbolic space now become visible to the eye and can be directly experienced by playing with the models. Geodesics – or straight lines – on the hyperbolic surface can be sewn onto the crochet texture for easy examination. Through the yellow lines in the model below look curved, folding along them demonstrably produces a clean straight line.


For more, go here. (Thanks, Jender-Parents!)