September 1, 2011

Sticks, Hooks, and the Mobius: Knit and Crochet Go Cerebral. Math- and science-inspired knit and crochet.

Daina Taimna's crocheted hyperbolic plane models a shape in non-Euclidian geometry.


An exhibit charting the frontier between textile art and the sciences, including geometry, opens with a “yarn bombing” on January 8 and runs until February 5 in the gallery of Lafayette College’s Williams Center for the Arts.

The exhibition showcases innovate ways that contemporary stitchers, both knitters and crocheters are redefining these crafts. Included are math and science-based “geek” knit and crocheted artworks, including the groundbreaking coral-shaped hyperbolic planes constructed by mathematician Daina Taimina. Her idea, to demonstrate complicated math concepts through crochet, was picked up by The Institute for Figuring and turned into the sensational Coral Reef project at the Smithsonian. To show the evolution of hyperbolic stitching, the Lafayette exhibit will preview almost 50 pieces that are scheduled for a satellite coral reef project in Maine later this year.

The exhibit kicks off with a “yarn bombing” at noon on Sunday, Jan. 8 by guest curator Susan Huxley of Easton who has been collecting afghans from thrift shops for the past six months. Members of the Lafayette and Easton communities are invited to help attach the afghans to the handrail of the staircase that links North Third Street to Lafayette’s campus as a symbol of unity. The colorful afghans will also add beauty to a stark urban landscape, a primary goal of the worldwide “yarn bombing/knit graffiti” phenomenon. Anyone can join the fun, all you need to bring is enthusiasm. Dress warmly.

The exhibit features a wall of mobius bands. All are the same shape—a circle with a twist that creates a single edge—yet none are the same. There are also knit or crocheted interpretations of a computer motherboard, a translation of binary code, a glow-in-the-dark jellyfish, an eyeball, a zebrafish embryo, a bacteriophage, a Sierpinski Sieve or triangle (a fractal) shawl, a Lorenz Manifold that’s made from VHS tape and almost as tall as a person, and sarah-marie belcastro’s two-holed torus which begins as a hyperbolic octagon and becomes a pair of toddler pants on the way to the final two-holed torus.

Easton artist D. Polly Kendrick will be in the gallery dressed as Madame Defarge, the character in Charles Dickens’  A Tale of Two Cities, who sat at the base of the guillotine and knitted the names of doomed French aristocrats into a shroud.  Kendrick invites visitors to write on tri-colored ribbon the emotions, habits and lifestyles that they would like to shed from their lives. She will be knitting the scraps into the ever-growing shroud. February 7 is the 200th anniversary of Dickens’ birthday.

Another collaborative, multi-event project is “Spring Comes Early.”  Visitors are invited to knit or crochet fanciful or anatomically/botanically correct flowers, leaves, bugs and birds which Huxley will attach to a knitted vine.

Susan Huxley is a found-object textile artist. She is considered among the best in the field of developmental and technical editing of home arts, with publishing houses in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States among her many clients. She is also a nationally and internationally published home-arts author and educator


posted in 2011-12, Williams Center Gallery

Locations and Hours

Morris R. Williams Center for the Arts
317 Hamilton Street (main campus)
(610) 330-5361, or email
Hours: Tues.-Fri. 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat. & Sun. 12-5 p.m.
Performance nights 7:30-9:30 p.m.

Richard A. and Rissa W. Grossman Gallery
Williams Visual Arts Building

243 North Third Street
(610) 330-5361, or email
Hours: Tues.-Fri. 1-5 p.m. and by appointment, Sat. 12-5 p.m.

Lass Gallery and Simon Room
David Bishop Skillman Library

(610) 330-5410, or email
Hours: Library hours

All exhibitions and related lectures are free and open to the public.