WE DO THE MATH,
SO YOU CAN KNIT THESE
HYPERBOLIC BABY PANTS.
What do a stop sign and a pair of
pants have in common? They can both
be made from octagons. This strange
observation raises two important
questions. If pants can be made from
octagons, then why don’t tailors make
pants from octagonal patterns? And, if
tailors don’t make pants from octagonal
patterns, why did anyone ever think that
pants could be made from octagons?
This article, adapted from a new
book that shows the connections
between needlework and mathematics,
will show you some of the geometry
Photograph by Sam Murphy; illustrations by Tim Lillis
behind knitting a pair of hyperbolic
baby pants; a completed pattern is
also provided so that you can get
right to work!
» Dr. Daina Taimina of Cornell
University developed a way to
crochet hyperbolic planes, which
have curves that undulate
» The Museum of Fabric Brain
Art has an anatomically correct
» The Crochet Coral Reef project
theiff.org) show-cases an
underwater array of crochet
sea cacti, kelp, and coral reefs.
Among sarah-marie belcastro’s many not-pure-mathematics interests are the feminist philosophy of science, dance,
her 17-plus-year-old cat, and changing the world. She is a visiting assistant professor of mathematics at Smith
College, and co-directs the Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics.
Carolyn Yackel teaches mathematics at Mercer University, where she has developed a general-education
course in mathematics through fiber arts, and regularly teaches for the Interdisciplinary Studies program.
She has more interests than any ten normal people put together.