Wednesday, May 31, 2006

...and the Geometry of Crochet

I don't want to leave this math theme without mentioning crocheted model of hyperbolic space. If a simple plane in geometry is completely flat, then a hyperbolic plane is full of curves, like ruffles. And it turns out that crochet is the perfect medium for representing hyperbolic space. The mathematician who originally created these models admitted in an interview that "at first I tried knitting, but after a while you had so many stitches on the needles it became impossible to handle. I realized that crochet was the best method." So score one for crochet!

If you are interested in crocheting a model of hyperbolic space for yourself (and they are attractive, almost like coral), then try this pattern. I have to admit, though, that this post has me thinking more about ruffles than geometry. I wonder how I can incorporate more ruffles into my crochet work? Ah, so many ideas, so little time...!

Monday, May 29, 2006

The Algebra of Knitting...

I got the new Knit Picks catalog a couple of days ago, and while I was perusing it, a sentence in one of the descriptions jumped out at me: "Knitters have been using this Fibonacci Sequence to create stripes for generations." My first thought was "really?" and my second thought was "what's the Fibonacci Sequence again?" However, thinking back to The Da Vinci Code, and after a quick web search, I was able to remember that in the Fibonacci Sequence, each number is the sum of the preceding two numbers. For example, 0+1=1, 1+1=2, 1+2=3, 2+3=5, so that the Fibonacci Sequence begins 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, etc. The numbers get rapidly bigger after that, so my guess is that knitters aren't going too far up the sequence when knitting stripes. (For a more mathematical explanation, try this Wikipeida article.)

With a little more research, I learned that knitters do indeed use the Fibonacci sequence as a design element. Apparently, designing with Fibonacci numbers and other mathematical ideas results in patterns that are pleasing to the human eye. Fuzzy Galore offers an interesting article on ways to use Fibonacci numbers specifically. Planet Shoup adds Lucas numbers and the Golden Ratio to the mix in an article called "Math for Craft Design". I particularly liked her discussion about the width and length of afghans. I have often wondered how to determine what the ratio of width to length should be. I would never have thought of using Fibonacci numbers and the Golden Ratio to figure it out.

Oddly, when I searched "Fibonacci Numbers" and crocheting, I didn't get any results. Everything I found, from Knit Picks to the websites linked to above, mentioned knitting specifically. So a crocheter looking for this information wouldn't necessarily find anything without doing a very broad search. Yet it seems to me that, at least in this case, what's good for the knitter is equally good for the crocheter. I think I will test this out, perhaps with the next preemie blanket I crochet.

Memorial Day Cat Blogging

I know this picture has nothing to do with knitting or crocheting, but I couldn't resist a little holiday cat blogging. Enjoy!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Hello and Welcome!

It's funny how one thing leads to another in life, isn't it? I have been contemplating buying a digital camera for a few months now, and I finally took the plunge last week. I bought it from Amazon, and while I was waiting for it to arrive, I realized that I had a newfound desire to blog. I think the connection is that a blog would give me somewhere to display all of the pictures of my knitting and crocheting that I intend to begin taking. So after some more thought and research, here I am writing the first post of my newly created blog!

Before I explain what I hope to accomplish with this blog, let me tell you a little something about myself. I have been knitting and crocheting for just about my entire life. I honestly don't remember learning either craft. I was raised by my mother and grandmother, and they always had one project or another going. I just picked up the skills along the way.

Almost 10 years ago now, I received a Ph.D in American History. As you can imagine, graduate school didn't leave a lot of time for crafts. Unfortunately, the job market for freshly minted doctoral graduates was rather tight when I graduated, and I was unable to get an interview, much less a job as a full time college professor. As luck would have it, though, about a year after I graduated, I found a part time job at my local public library, which morphed into a full time job in about 5 months time. I have been there ever since.

Since I have entered the work force and stopped studying all of the time, I have rediscovered my passion for knitting and crocheting. Actually, one of the best things about working full time is that I have money to buy yarn with! So when I began thinking about starting a blog, I knew that it would need a focus, but I also knew that the focus would need to take into consideration all of the parts of my life.

So here is what I would like to do with this blog. In addition to posting about my WIPs and uploading photos of my work, I would also like to offer some background (history, if you will) about the various types of knitting and crocheting I am trying out, from both the internet and some of the books in my collection. More and more novels seem to be set in yarn shops or feature the fiber arts prominently, so I also think it would be fun to compile a list of noncraft books that feature knitting and crocheting. Finally, I hope that this blog will build a bridge between those who only knit or only crochet by bringing resources from both crafts to everyone's attention. I realize that this is an ambitious agenda, and I am sure that I will refine my focus as I get used to blogging. But it seems like a good starting point for now.