Crafting Novel Knotted Textiles with Mathematics

Author: Nithikul Nimkulrat

peer-reviewed journal article, 2022

Textile craft media, such as crochet, needlework, and beadwork, have been utilized by mathematicians as a means of conveying abstract mathematical ideas with tangible objects. The use of textile objects facilitates the understanding of both mathematics and craft and provides textile practitioners with insights into the underlying mathematics. This article aims to shed light on ways in which textile knot practice can be influenced by mathematics and how novel knotted textiles can consequently be designed using mathematical concepts, in particular knot theory and tiling theory (Wang tiling and rhombille tiling). The article presents collaborative artistic research between the author, who is a textile practitioner and researcher, and two mathematicians. Prior to the collaboration, the author’s textile knot practice had evolved around the material expression and form of knotted textile sculptures. All work had been created using one color, one pattern, and one structure. Although the author had wished to incorporate colors in her textile knot practice, she had not tried it. The task of determining what strands and in which combinations they should be used to achieve different color patterns seemed too difficult even for an experienced practitioner like her. Through the application of knot diagrams and tiling notations, a multitude of two-tone knotted patterns and two- and three-dimensional knotted structures are originated. The article concludes that mathematical diagrams and notations have the potential to reveal the nature of textile knots and to be used as design tools to create new knotted textiles.

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Suggested Citation: Nimkulrat, N. (2022). Crafting Novel Knotted Textiles with Mathematics. The Textile Museum Journal, 49, 28–49.