05 August 2009

Crocheting a Coral Reef

I had my first crochet lesson on Wednesday (Thank you Holly.) "Why crochet" you might ask? It is something that I have been contemplating doing for a while. Knitting, crochet, embroidery, tapestry and other sewing crafts are perfect for passing time (and also being productive) whilst crammed in that 21 inches of space you call your own on an aeroplane (and buses and trains). They keep the fingers busy, but don't require too much concentration. The problem is that the security regulations make it next-to impossible to bring needles onto the flight, so I decided to learn to crochet.

Then, co-incidentally, over the weekend (and appropriately enough on a diving trip) a friend shared the following video:

The Crochet Coral Reef is the brain-child of the mathematician Margaret Wertheim. Drawing on her childhood experiences with "feminine handicrafts" she came up with the idea of using knitted or crocheted shapes to illustrate the mathematical concept of the hyperbolic plane and she convinced her sister to join her. I am not going to get into the details of the hyperbolic plane, but you can read more here. It was a visitor who noticed how all the pieces of crochet accumulating on the sisters' coffee table looked like coral. Wertheim recalls her sister saying: "We could crochet a coral reef" and so the project was born. It has been displayed across the US, Australia and London and highlights the impact of global warming on the amazing eco system of the coral reef.

The concept is amazingly simple. By adding in an additional stitch every 2nd, 3rd or 4th stitch you create a ruff-like surface that looks like some of the shapes found in the reef. At the moment I am not up to completing my piece of coral, but when I have I will share it with you.


Rachel Cotterill said...

I like crochet for the exact same reason :)

Daphne @ Joyful Days said...


The video was fascinating! I feel smarter already, just watching it :)

Thanks for sharing. And have fun with your crochet!

Flying Fish said...

Kim, so glad you've been inspired to start the crochet project. I'm forever slow-going on these. I think i'll tackle the actual crochet exercize on the next dive excursion. looking forward to seeing your reef! cheers, Aimee

Kim said...

@ Rachel: Once I'm up and running we'll have to compare notes

@ Daphne: Glad you enjoyed the vid

@ Aimee: Me too... (perhaps we'll give the guys some lessons?)

Laura | The Journal of Cultural Conversation said...

So interesting Kim! I am terrible at anything to do with knitting, etc. Thanks for sharing your creative perspective and the TED video!

julochka said...

that is a brilliant video...making crochet highbrow makes me want to learn it properly even more!!! i love it!!

Margie Oomen said...

i loved that video having only previously read about Margaret in science magazines.
She is so engaging and lovely to listen to not to mention how very brilliant she is.

Kim said...

Hi, I'm back from my travels, so apologies for the delay in responding, but here I am.

@ Laura: This is something that would go well with your post on Little House on the Prairie.

@ Julochka: Thank you

@ Margie: Glad you enjoyed it.