Textile Inspirations: Mathematics

October 19, 2008 at 6:08 pm | Posted in Inspiration, Knitting | 2 Comments

A friend of mine observed that I had quite a few projects with mathematical connections lately. And, looking back, she’s absolutely right. We’ve had hexagonal tilings, hyperbolic crochet and a fractal quilt:

I also finished Celestine, which I didn’t design myself, but which definitely appeals to me because it’s a regular geometric figure:

For me, mathematics and textile art fit perfectly together. A big part of mathematics is all about patterns of different kinds, and while not all of those can be visualized easily, a surprising number can. The works of M. C. Escher are just one example of what’s possible. And as soon as you go into three-dimensional structures, there are cases where visualization is much easier with a flexible medium like thread and fabric than stuck on a two-dimensional piece of paper or models built with paper and glue. The hyperbolic crochet is a very good example for this.

Today I had another possibility to let myself be inspired by mathematics, and I wasn’t disappointed. 2008 is the “Year of Mathematics” in Germany, and consequently the Munich Science Days are all about mathematics. Aimed at children and teenagers to get them interested in studying a maths-related subject, there were a lot of hands-on exhibits to play with. One thing to take home were different exhibits featuring computer graphics for visualizing mathematical structures. Imaginary allows to create impressive images. They are probably not as impressive on your own monitor as on the huge projections in the exhibit, but then exhibitions on the internet are open 24/7! 😉 For textile inspiration, I like the Ornaments program to draw on tiled surfaces, which leads to instant quilt patterns. I haven’t explored most of the other things on the page yet, but the possibilities are endless.

Taking different fields of mathematics for inspiration, I don’t think I could ever run out of ideas for textile projects, and I love to show off images from a field of science that’s often thought off as boring and dry.



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  1. that is the coolest thing I have ever seen! How did you do that? Is there a pattern somewhere? Would make a neat Christmas ornament.

  2. You mean Celestine? That’s a free pattern from Berroco, linked to in the post, just above the picture. They made it in white as a Xmas tree topper.

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