Making Mathematics with Needlework: Ten Papers and Ten Projects


Mathematical craftwork has become extremely popular, and mathematicians and crafters alike are fascinated by the relationship between their crafts. The focus of this book, written for mathematicians, needleworkers, and teachers of mathematics, is on the relationship between mathematics and the fiber arts (including knitting, crocheting, cross-stitch, and quilting). Each chapter starts with an overview of the mathematics and the needlework at a level understandable to both mathematicians and needleworkers, ...

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Mathematical craftwork has become extremely popular, and mathematicians and crafters alike are fascinated by the relationship between their crafts. The focus of this book, written for mathematicians, needleworkers, and teachers of mathematics, is on the relationship between mathematics and the fiber arts (including knitting, crocheting, cross-stitch, and quilting). Each chapter starts with an overview of the mathematics and the needlework at a level understandable to both mathematicians and needleworkers, followed by more technical sections discussing the mathematics, how to introduce the mathematics in the classroom through needlework, and how to make the needlework project, including patterns and instructions.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
The most awesome book I’ve ever seen…
I opened the book and was hooked. … One thing I found wonderful about the book is that, while I’ve had quite a bit of math, I’m not a mathematician and struggle reading math journal articles. However, I haven’t had any difficulty reading and understanding the technical sections of the projects. While the authors use mathematical notation and equations to describe the work, they keep it at a level that any scientifically literate person should be able to understand. …
—FCIWYPSC blog, January 2011

The book contains interesting pictures and photographs. Anyone interested in mathematics or needlework will find new, interesting topics and inspiration in the book.
—The European Mathematical Society, October 2011

A ‘confluence of mathematics and fiber arts’ written for mathematicians, mathematics teachers, and devotees of needlework … . Thank you for providing me the opportunity to review this excellent book.
—Margaret A. Reilly, Ph.D., Association for Women in Science, August 2010

… The color photographs are delectable, and the illustrations in color are very helpful. It makes a great coffee table book for people to flip through and then decide to explore further. … As a member of the mathematics community, I thank the two editors for building a community of mathematicians and needleworkers, and for bringing their passion in all they do into their professional lives. …
AWM Newsletter, January 2010

…a charming book. It includes precise and detailed instructions for projects both practical and whimsical. The mathematics applied to knitting is particularly useful in the construction of knitted garments, providing simple formulae for ensuring that stitches are picked up evenly. The analysis of all possible variations in basic stocking stitch is fascinating, and the innovative ideas for the construction of knitted garments encourages further experiments in producing garments without seams.
Australian Mathematical Society Gazette, May 2009

…demonstrate[es] how knitting and other needlework techniques can provide interesting and useful models and the construction methods themselves yield interesting mathematical questions.
CMS Notes, November 2008

This book provides straightforward applications of traditional needlework skills to mathematically inspired craft projects. … contributes something quite innovative to the two areas it unites. More importantly, perhaps, this book will be an important starting point for scholars who want to show that the traditional activities of women require at least a tacit understanding of mathematics, and the mathematics embedded in such activities can be challenging, novel, and interesting.
Journal of Mathematics and the Arts, October 2008

For mathematically minded readers who know about and practice the fiber arts, this is a nice source of ideas and information … almost any reader will learn about both art and mathematics in this well-organized and amply-illustrated book.
Mathematical Reviews, August 2008

At first glance the patterns capture the reader’s attention: they are colorful, stylish, and have clear instructions. A second, slower paging through the book reveals the structural symmetry of each design, and the ‘ah, ha’ of mathematics makes its presence known … . Fiber arts enthusiasts who would like to improve their design skills will find the book useful and inspiring … . This meshing of mathematics theory and fiber arts applications is also useful for people who teach mathematics.
The Stereopticon, August 2008

Beautifully illustrated, and with complete patterns and the mathematics behind each project, this book successfully connects the worlds of mathematics and the fiber arts … will inspire mathematicians, mathematics educators, and crafters.
L'Enseignement Mathématique, August 2008

… an excellent synthesis, one that offers enough ideas to keep geeks (of both the crafty and mathematical varieties) busy with needles and yarn, pencil and paper, for years to come.
American Scientist, May 2008

Profusely illustrated, the text is fully accessible to non-specialist general readers with an interest in needlecraft, in the mathematics underlying needlecraft, as well as having a very special attraction for math students and fiber art enthusiasts alike.
The Midwest Book Review, February 2008

… I am soon charmed by the way that the laying out in mathematical terms of a process I know by heart can inspire a confident sense of knowledge.
—The London Mathematical Society, February 2008

I encourage you to let the authors’ passion for their projects speak for itself. It takes more than exclamation points to convey enthusiasm, and these authors have it leaping off the page throughout the book.
SIAM, December 2007

This book demonstrates the interplay between mathematics and needlework, including stories of what happens when mathematicians turn to their hobbies but still continue to think about mathematics. I hope this book will encourage mathematicians to develop more tactile ways to explore abstract ideas and to make them more accessible to their students. But even if you are just looking for ‘math craft’ ideas, this book—with clear instructions and beautiful pictures—is for you. Have fun with it!
—Daina Taimina, adjunct professor of mathematics, Cornell University

… I wish this had been one of my textbooks when I was in school.
—Norah Gaughan, author of Knitting Nature

A wonderful and validating book: mathematics from your fingertips to your brain and back again!
—Helaman Ferguson, mathematical sculptor

Library Journal

This unprecedented book contains scholarly mathematical papers in tandem with fiber arts projects illustrating math concepts. Crafts represented include knitting, crochet, cross-stitch, embroidery, and sewing; the topics covered range from the mathematics of knitted cables to the graph theory of blackwork embroidery. Each paper features an overview of the craft, the mathematics entailed, ideas for teaching related mathematical concepts, and project directions. Although the instructions do not require an understanding of the mathematics involved, this book will only fully reveal its magic to those fiber artisans with a background in the subject. Of special interest to educators and needleworkers with a mathematical bent; recommended for academic and large public libraries.

—Jan Zlendich
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781568813318
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 7/30/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 200
  • Sales rank: 530,006
  • Product dimensions: 8.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

sarah-marie belcastro and Carolyn Yackel earned their Ph.D.s in mathematics from the University of Michigan. Carolyn Yackel is an Associate Professor in the mathematics department at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, specializing in connections between mathematics and art. sarah-marie belcastro is a Research Associate at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2009

    Great book, but get the editor's name right.

    The co-editor spells her name "sarah-marie belcastro".

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 4, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent resource and lots of fun!

    This is not really a how to for needlework but the patterns presented are quite pretty and would be well worth making just for those reasons. What these wonderful authors do is show the connection between the needlework patterns and methods to various forms of mathematics, especially topology (geometry). Each chapter begins with an explanation of the mathematics and discussion of the kind of needlework, then moves on to the particular project. The authors also include good references and some insights about using the projects in teaching. I love to do needlework and found learning the mathematics was wonderful and fun. I would have benefited from these examples and projects in learning mathematics the first time around. Mathematics does apply to the more typically assumed "women's sphere of influence" and women can be great mathematicians with the right connections. Hats off to this wonderful mathematicians. I highly recommend this book especially for teachers, those drawn to needlework with any interest or curiosity in mathematics, and those interested in topology and related areas who need further examples (for instance, beyond mechanics and engineering.).

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