Crochet is a craft that has been used in very interesting ways in the world of mathematics. Several artists have taken that inspiration and used math-based crochet in their art. It’s something that I love to see because it blends several areas of study into one beautiful product.
Today we’ll look at ten different examples of how math and crochet have come together in artwork:
1. Mathematical Bead Crochet
Math professor Susan Goldstine has collaborated with computer scientist and artist Ellie Baker on applications of mathematics to bead crochet. On the Mathematical Art Galleries website, she explains the math behind these beaded crochet bracelets this project saying: “Successful bead crochet bracelet patterns are best considered as infinite plane tilings, with the tiles composed of contiguous beads that obey certain placement rules dictated by the circumference of the beaded rope and the structure of the crochet.”
2. H-Fractal Crochet Blanket
This amazing crochet blanket was also one of the Mathematical Art Galleries items I found; it’s a great creative site! This is from Associate Math Professor Kyle Calderhead who explains: “This piece is a crocheted blanket with an H-fractal pattern, using an interlocking mesh technique.”
3. Dihedral Granny Pillow
The math in a crochet project is rarely obvious to the eye. Mathematical grad student Andrea Heald explained: “This throw pillow is made of granny crochet hexagons. The pattern was determined by associating each color with an element of the dihedral group of order 6 and letting it “act” on the multicolored hexagons.”
4. Crochet Cumulus Clouds
Architectural artist Ciro Najle used mathematical fractals to create these crochet clouds. Learn more here.
5. Crochet Hexaflexagon/ Hexaflexacube
6. Dual Seven Colored Tori
Carolyn Yackel explains that the dual seven colored tori seen here (one knitted and one crocheted) “implies that a graph on a torus requires at most seven colors in order to color the vertices so that no vertices connected by an edge are the same color.”
7. Crochet Lorenz Manifold
The website for this project explains: “Dr. Hinke Osinga and Professor Bernd Krauskopf have turned the famous Lorenz equations that describe the nature of chaotic systems into a beautiful real-life object, by crocheting computer-generated instructions. Together all the stitches define a complicated surface, called the Lorenz manifold.”
8. Fibonacci Crochet
Many artists use the Fibonacci sequence to create art that is pleasing to the eye. Sculptural textile artist Sophie Buckley explored this, shown above, for her final degree show at school.
9. Hyperbolic Crochet Reef Project
There is no way that I could write this article without including the hyperbolic crochet reef project and the various spin-off projects that have come out of that. It was a mathematician who realized that crochet can be used to express hyperbolic math principles that weren’t easily understandable. The Wertheim Sisters, one of whom is an artist and the other a scientist, used these principles to develop the eco-awareness coral reef project, which has grown and grown and been showcased around the world. The image above comes from Helle Jorgensen, an artist who has been greatly inspired by the coral reef project.
There are many other mathematical artists who incorporate hyperbolic crochet into their work, which is not necessarily reefwork. In fact, hyperbolic crochet is probably the most popular type of math based crochet. Consider, for example, this hyperbolic flower blossom by Gabriele Meyer:
10. Variations on Hyperbolic Crochet
Other artists have taken the basic idea of hyperbolic crochet and expanded on it. For example, freelance artist Mickey Shaw-Hubbard says of the hyperbolic mushroom forest shown above: ”This crocheted fiber soft sculpture installation is based on non-Euclidean geometry. It represents a variation of the hyperbolic plane ruffle effect.”