Thursday, June 15, 2006

Pearl of the Hyperbolic Plane

I love the melodic and mysterious sound of that phrase, which inspired this:
I was following the trail of Norah Gaughan's recommended reading list, which lead me to searching out some mathematical knitting links, and I was seized with the thought that I really should get on with crocheting a hyperbolic plane in silver. (It's not actually all that mathematically complex - you just crochet two stitches into one each round, effectively doubling every round.) It was so coral reef-y looking, that I thought a black pearl would set it off nicely, and the sound of the title pretty much clinched the design. I think it will become a pendant on a simple sterling silver chain.

Inspired by designers like Nora Gaughan, Teva Durham and Debbie New, I have begun to flesh out a design direction based on the notion of organic mathematical forms. I love the purity of math, and its elegant ability to discern unity in the complexity of living things. I want to explore the shape of the human body itself though, rather than just decorating it with the patterns of other creatures. What mathematical ideas could describe the curve of the hips leading to that delicious swoop into the waist, the symmetry of breasts designed to fill with milk? This harks all the way back to my grade school days when I used to play for hours with number sequences and geometric forms, entranced by the notion of making a brilliant discovery using only my mind and a pencil.

My other passion is incorporating symbol and meaning into design - to create garments and pieces of jewelry that flow out of my personal sense of spirituality and connectedness and being in the world. (It is particularly gratifying when I sell such a piece and the recipient writes to tell me how they connected with its intent).
Here is the yarn for a sundress I am designing for my daughter:

She spent considerable time stacking the balls in a variety of geometric configurations - perhaps she takes after me just a little. It is going to be a sleeveless sundress - an A-line, I think - and it will be knitted in the round in plain stockinette with a purl stitch design of a Norse dragon coiling up the body and a border of runes at the bottom. I'll divulge why as the dress progresses. I thought it would be fun to photograph the design process, particularly since this is going to take some very careful figuring and charting.
The swatch: Demonstrating already a need for caution because the yarn splits very easily. It's Katia Ancla - 100% cotton, quite bulky, and the color is even more deliciously saturated than the photo. It never ceases to amaze me that I produced a child whose skin tone actually complements intense reds and oranges, but it's a grand excuse to knit with them.