Interdisciplinary knitter

All this talk of robots and robotics has gotten me into this kick about understanding the science and mathematics of knitting. Quite a while back on my other blog I posted a set of links I found on “mathematical knitting.”

crochetlorenz.jpgI may have mentioned in a previous post that I find knitting lace soothing because of it’s soothing effect on me. Numbers and patterns have a calming effect on me not just because they can repeat and the repeats have the same effects as chanting sometimes the challenge of figuring out problems in my knitting, or undoing mistakes can keep me focused (and sadly other times it can also drive me buttons).

Knitting is not an easy skill for very young hands to learn, but from my own experience learning how to knit as an adolescent, it has taught me patience and that the fruits of patience and labor can result in something both satisfying and aesthetically pleasing. Perhaps learning to knit can help teach children and young people who have been raised in the frenetic age of instant-wow how to slow down, step back and learn tactilely. The article linked above “Teaching Mathematics with Knitting” described ways that some educators use to teach mathematics with knitting, namely multiplication. However, there are so many other ways to teach mathematical type subjects and concepts:

  • Tessellations
  • Numerical Patterns
  • Modular Arithmetic
  • Arrays
  • Probability
  • Area
  • Algebra
  • Trigonometry
  • Geometry
  • Measurement
  • Estimation
  • Quadrants/Coordinate Plotting
  • To name a few…

As Knitting fool points out…

All knitters are mathematicians. Knitters count the stitches (arithmetic), figure out the number of stitches needed (algebra) and create shapes (topology, geometry, and trigonometry). Knitting was one of the first applications of computer programming. Knitted fabrics were commercially produced using punch cards long before anyone ever heard of IBM or Microsoft.

I no longer teach in the classroom, but I think it would be wonderful to create a mini-curriculum for math focused on knitting. Now, imagine the possibilities for teaching chemistry (fiber identification and dying)

Image above, from an article in Science News Online, is of a crocheted Lorenz manifold (pattern and paper on the subject). Image below is of a Mobius band knit by Sarah-Marie.




Filed under Colors, Knit, Knitting, Math, Reflection, Techniques, Yarn

2 responses to “Interdisciplinary knitter

  1. Hi there!

    I just wanted to say that I really find this blog of yours VERY interesting! I’m going to pass it along to my math teacher friend who is an avid knitter.

    Thanks for all your hard work!

  2. You’re absolutely welcome, Marylynne. I’ll probably put more posts here that are math and science related. I think that knitting and other needle craft is a good tactile way to teach math concepts.

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