Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The ART of Knitting & Crochet

Yarn art has often intrigued me. As a child I primarily knitted clothes for my dolls...especially Barbie. I still have the moth-eaten little clothes I made for Barbie...Mom made the top and as you can see, I clumsily made the skirt!
Later, in an art class in college I decided to incorporate a crocheted piece into a multi-media project. I was a last-minute homework type of person, so the fastest thing I could think of to complete the assignment was to crochet a net, then twist it and attach it to a painted board using nails, wire and glued-on found objects....my first multi-media piece. Sadly, I didn't think to photograph this work of art, however I received an "A" on the project....one of my only good grades during my college career. I was slightly more interested in boys at the time than in studying!
Last spring I received a postcard from the Velaslavasay Panorama (another interesting L.A. place) about Crocheting the Hyperbolic Plane. It seems that scientist Daina Taimina came up with a crocheted model to illustrate the structure of hyperbolic planes. Huh? I didn't know anything about the hyperbolic stuff, but of course I was interested in the crochet connection. I attended the lecture and brought along extra yarn and my crochet hooks. There were about 20 people sitting around crocheting these little models. The more you crochet on the models, the bigger and more interesting they become. Here are some samples. Daina Taimina explains her epiphany like this:
“I was seeing patterns and algorithms in knitting and crochet but I was not connecting it with my professional work in mathematics until I became a Visiting Associate Professor at Cornell University. Professor David Henderson was showing a paper model of hyperbolic plane that was made using William Thurston's idea of annuli. And then it came in my mind - if one can make it out of a paper, then I should be able to crochet it and to get a more durable model to use in my geometry class. In 1997 I crocheted my first classroom set of hyperbolic planes and used them in my geometry class. It was amazing to see how much they helped my students to understand the nature of hyperbolic planes.”
There have been many articles and radio stories on Taimina. One of my favorite magazines, "Interweave" has an article on Taimina in the special Crochet issue. There's this wonderful site, Knitting as Art: Sculptural Knitting and Crochet that highlights Taimina's work and the work of others. Click on the ARTISTS link at the bottom of the page. Knitting and Crochet are not only useful skills to use to make garments, they can function as ART too!!!



At 3:23 PM PDT, Blogger ladylinoleum said...

Okay so I've seen tons of stuff on this hyperbolic plane thing. Do you inc every round?

At 4:22 PM PDT, Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

Your Ladyship of Linoleum: After attending the hyperbolic plane workshop, I surmised that you could increase whenever you wanted to to crochet the plane. The professors were increasing every other stitch!! I increased every third stitch on my orange example at the bottom of my post. I have since made some more crocheted hyperbolic planes (and being the impatient person that I am), I increased every other stitch. The piece quickly became verrrrry ruffle-y. So ruffle-y in fact that the ruffles started clibming up very high and the piece became somewhat sphere-like with this cones emanating from it. It looks spectacular in blacy acrylic on a glass table....very artsy!


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