Needlepoint and Mathematics

I always thought needlepoint had a lot of math in it, with its formula for forming smooth bezier curves out of 13-count bargello stitching, it’s pattern tessellations, and of course 3-dimensional color space. But it turns out that at least one mathematician, Daina Taimina, has actually written a whole book about it, Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes, recipient of the Diagram Prize for year’s oddest book title. Prize overseer Horace Bent said:

The public proclivity towards non-Euclidian needlework proved too strong for the competition.

The title of a recent press report on the matter led me to believe that the book amply covers needlepoint’s intersection with geometry. Sadly, however, it seems that the book deals chiefly with crocheting, and there’s scant mention of actual needlepoint. Of course, crocheting is a perfectly fine needleworking pursuit. Why, some of my best friends are crocheters.

Read more about math and fibers in a Wikipedia article on the subject. And here is Daina’s own website.

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