I have a crochet coral reef in my living room.
My Coral reef is full of tiny sea creatures, mostly sea turtles, octopuses, and snails, because I find them the most fun to crochet.
When kids come to visit, I like having something completely indestructible for them to play with. It’s extra fun when they find a tiny albino sea turtle hiding inside a sea-weedy coral. Very often, a guest will pick up a coral to play with and sometimes I send the coral home with them. Everyone should have an encounter with a coral garden I feel.
Corals and Climate Change
Coral is, not surprisingly, a bit scarce on the Canadian Prairies. Not really it’s natural habitat. So I don’t know too many people lucky enough to have a real-life encounter with coral. And with climate change hitting coral with all of the subtlety of a runaway freight train,I have a feeling that it isn’t going to be long before that is the common state of affairs globally.
Coral is very sensitive to temperature changes. So are we of course, even if some loud-mouthed, close-minded, anti-science, people think ‘not believing’ in facts make them go away.
So what does all of this have to do with crochet? It’s an interesting story. It starts with hyperbolic geometry.
There are essentially three kinds of geometry. Here is my overly simplistic run-down.
- The first, Euclidean geometry is concerned with geometry on flat surfaces. Two dimensions.
- The second, Spherical geometry is concerned with geometry of curved surfaces, in three dimensions.
- The third is Hyperbolic geometry. It is concerned with the geometry of hyperbolic surfaces or saddle shaped space. Hyperbolic geometry is crucial to certain areas of science such as the orbit prediction of objects within intense gravitational fields, space travel and astronomy. Einstein stated that space is curved and his general theory of relativity uses hyperbolic geometry.
Enter The Mathematician Crocheteur!
This can be tough to visualize, in fact it was thought to be impossible to model – that is until a mathematician crocheteur, Dr. Daina Taimina, figured out how to do it via crochet! To do it you crochet three stitches and then increase one stitch in the next stitch. You can increase every third stitch, every fifth stitch, or every tenth stitch, as long as you keep it regular, as long as you always increase at the same rate. Ta da! A model of hyperbolic geometry!
The Crochet Coral Reef Project – Putting It All Together
Science writer Margaret Wertheim (along with her twin sister, Christine) figured out that coral does this naturally, and they began the Coral Reef Project – all done in crochet.
I was immediately caught up in the wonder of the intersection between non-Euclidean geometry, feminism, crochet, and environmentalism, and I set out to make my own Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Garden. The TED talk about this is a must and it’s right below:-)
A Gallery of Corals
To learn all about this, here is the TED Talk about the project, it’s worth a listen! Margaret Wertheim’s TED talk: The beautiful math of coral
Article on Dr Daina Taimina and her amazing work. Math and Fiber Hyperbolic Geometry meets Fiber Art Crochet
I hope you are inspired to crochet your own bit of coral!
With lots of love from Winnipeg,