One of Yackel’s math crafting books

Carolyn Yackel is a math teacher who uses the principles of mathematics to make crochet and needlework art. Crochet lends itself surprisingly well to a three dimensional representation of mathematical concepts. And the resulting figures lend themselves well to art since they are based on principles that are visually appealing. Let’s explore all this a bit more …

Crochet and Math

Yackel is not the first mathematician to use crochet to express the principles of math. One of the people who is most well known in this area is Daina Taimina. In the late ’90s she realized that she could use crochet to take mathematic ideas that were difficult to grasp because the concepts were elusive and show them in a tangible way so that they would make more sense. More specifically, Taimina realized that using a simple algorithm when crocheting could create mathematically pure figures that could help explain the complexities of geometry in a highly visual format. Margaret and Christine Wertheim used her ideas to create hyperbolic crochet pieces, which are the math-based crochet items used in their most famous project, the Hyperbolic Crochet Reef project. So to put it simply, math can be expressed through crochet.

The Beauty of Math

The next thing we have to consider here is that math naturally creates beauty. That sounds arguable but it’s actually got a basis. While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, there are certain things to which we are naturally drawn and those things are often based in math. The Fibonnaci sequence and the Golden Ratio are frequently correlated with things we find attractive and of course are both based on math. What this suggests then is that if you use mathematical principles to create visual items then you may increase your chances of creating an item that is visually appealing. And that’s how using crochet to express math can lead to crochet art.

Carolyn Yackel’s Crochet Art

Carolyn Yackel came to my attention because her work is part of a fiber art exhibit ending this week at 567 Center in Macon, Georgia. Here are some examples of her math in crochet action:

Fortunatus’s Purse Hat, a four-dimensional item which is tough for us to understand since we live in a three-dimensional world!

The Dual Seven Colored Tori, one knitted and one crocheted, which “which 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.”

The Lorenz Manifold, crocheted by Yackel but the original math-crochet idea for this one comes from Hinke M. Osinga & Bernd Krauskopf

Have you ever used math to make crochet, perhaps by trying hyperbolic crochet?


San Francisco based and crochet-obsessed writer, dreamer and creative spirit!


  1. Linda Skuja Reply

    This is great!

    btw – Daina Taimina is latvian (living in US).

    • Kathryn Reply

      Thanks for letting me know that @Linda … I had no idea!

  2. Victoria Hillon Reply

    I love this post, loving both crochet and maths as I do. There is beauty to be had in mathematics I think – for instance, I always find it amazing that both the area and circumference of a circle can be expressed in terms of pi. It just seems so tidy. Maybe you have to be a mathematician to find the beauty in it though!

    • Kathryn Reply

      @Victoria … I’m not a mathematician and I still find it totally beautiful!! Thanks for commenting.

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