Review: Crocheting Adventures With Hyperbolic Planes

Crocheting Adventures With Crocheting AdventuresHyperbolic Planes
Daina Taimina
A K Peters, Ltd., 2009

The other day, I read a recent article on this year’s Diagram Prize for oddest book title, and as fascinating as this year’s winner may be, I don’t personally have much use for dental-practice management tips inspired by a thirteenth-century Mongol warlord. I imagine that’s quite a niche audience.

I was intrigued, however, by an allusion to last year’s winner, Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes and immediately place a hold on our library’s copy. The author, Daina Taimina, is a Cornell professor of mathematics who uses crocheted models to illustrate various concepts of non-Euclidean geometry. The weirdness factor alone was enough to pique my interest, but since I also do a bit of knitting and crocheting myself, the idea struck me as extra full of win.

Hyperbolic Plane
My hyperbolic plane in progress

I won’t lie: the book is perhaps even more eclectic than you might expect, weaving somewhat haphazardly together descriptions of the geometrical concepts with accounts of the history of crocheting and notes on the geometrical forms as they appear in art, nature, and technology.

And it has only a handful of anything resembling actual crocheting patterns. But if you don’t mind your patterns including equations to solve with pi and hyperbolic functions, they’re pretty fun to play around with if you find yourself spending a crazy evening alone on the couch watching NOVA documentaries. You know, hypothetically…

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