8 Math Concepts Explained by Knitting and Crocheting

Breaking Down Barriers One Equation at a Time

Mathematics! Just the word makes many people cringe! Giving away my age, when I was a child long, long ago, math and science were areas that boys were good at, not girls! That was really because there was no promotion of girls in these areas of learning, and the legend of how difficult math was lived on.

Except....I love math! Many years later, I figured out what I loved about balancing library budgets, analyzing statistics for grant writing, or working on a knit project. Numbers don't lie! I love that when working with regular numbers, they either equate or they don't!  

Today, schools promote STEM with no gender constraints! Wonderful and how cool that other schools like Waldorf bring knitting in to their curriculum for all students. Think about the kids in your life-can you bring math and crafting together for them? Here are a few basic concepts that are great for combining math with knitting or crocheting.

Do the Math!

White and blue knitting needle gauge ruler on a black background

1. Gauge-Whatever your project, unless a nondescript scarf or blanket, the size does matter. Calculating what size tools you will need with which yarn is all about math. Adjusting your pattern to accommodate unique yarns is all part of the preparation-always make a test swatch to help you calculate!

Pink retractable measuring tape with a long pink cord for hanging sitting on a white background

2. Addition- Casting on with needles or chaining stitches in crochet, we need to count our stitches. Sounds simple and can be-you may want pen and paper! If you are working with a more challenging pattern, you will want to pay close attention to your stitch count, and may even prefer a counter to see you through.

White mannequin wearing a black knit shawl in front of a white background

3. Subtraction-Yes, I am going through the basics here! Ever knit two together (k2tog) or go from a double crochet (dc) and then skip for a few stitches? Decreasing (and increasing) in patterns is what creates lacey effects, shaping, and pattern nuances. Again, those stitches matter to create the look that you seek.

 4. Multiplication-Okay, I have a hat pattern that can be knit in multiples of 8's. How do I decide how many stitches I need? I use a tape measure for the head and then I consider multiples of 8's. Progressing in that way, I find the perfect sizing by using those math tables I learned a million years ago (slight Math guesstimation!!).

5 skeins of chiffon ribbon yarn all with white Darn Good Yarn labels sitting on a white background

Multiplication is also what happens with my yarn stash on a regular basis! What can I say?!!!

5. Division-I have always loved division but how do I use it for crafting? Working with 4 double pointed needles, I need to "divide" the stitches between three of the needles. Again, a simple concept but yes, math is integral to our crafting!

Back view of woman wearing a black tee shirt and holding a multicolored crochet shawl behind her back, standing in front of a wooden fence

6. Geometry is build right in to our crafting. As we measure and plan, the shape unfolds before us long before the project is complete! Something as simple as our QuardaMesh Crochet Shawl Pattern is "fun squared" - a math concept we all understand!

7. Basic, right? Well, here are some much more technical math concepts used in knitting and crocheting as explained courtesy of mentalfloss.com . This might be more math than you need and remember, the idea is to enjoy the math that comes with crafting!

Life IS a Math Problem

8. Art and math have a very strong and healthy relationship. Creating with unique fibers and going places no one has gone is exciting. But don't be fooled, and don't think it is unplanned, because there are many artists who really work with numbers to create their art.

Check out the Mathematical Art Galleries for 2017 for some incredibly inspiring hits about art, math, learning, and life. The reason I share this with you is that I want you to enjoy the math that will come with your unique crafting. Its inevitable, interesting, and innovative. Do plan your piece and incorporate some wild abandon! The results will really add up!