A crafty math application

A lot of people find math pretty dry. If math class is composed of going over pointless problem after pointless problem with very little practical application, then, frankly, I don’t blame them.

My favourite thing about math is its applicability. It can describe anything and everything! If I asked you to think of your favourite thing, I bet math could be used to describe, predict or analyze some part of it.

Don’t believe me? One of my favourite hobbies is crochet (the one that involves yarn, a hook and results in blankets that tend to be made up of granny squares). Now, crochet isn’t something that anyone would typically try to throw math at … unless of course you’re a serious math geek like me.

One day, when I found myself with some free time on my hands and an abundance of yarn, I decided that I wanted to crochet a perfect sphere. I wanted to know the exact number of stitches required in each row to make an ideal sphere. I thought to myself, if I sliced a sphere up into thin, horizontal slices, each slice would look like a circle. The circumference of each circle-slice would represent the number of stitches I would need in each row of my sphere – so that’s what I set out to find.

After I threw a little bit of math at it, I came up with a pattern for the number of stitches required in each row to make an ideal sphere! I posted the pattern on my craft blog along with a description of how I solved the problem.

Ideal Crochet Sphere

Voila! Math used in a decidedly non-mathy situation.

Here’s the cool thing: since I posted the sphere pattern, lots of people have used it! Not only did I share with people about how math can be applied to a real life problem, but I also created a pretty basic pattern that people took off with. Lots of people actually shared photos of things that they made using the sphere pattern on a craft website called Ravelry.

If you crochet and are interested in the pattern, here is the link to the pdf.


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3 thoughts on “A crafty math application

  1. Dave Lanovaz says:

    Very cool. Playing with math is so important. It makes math more meaningful and more enjoyable for a lot of people.

    Keep that playful spirit and bring it to your students as often as possible.

  2. Wow!! Very interesting. I wish we had this applications when I was a student! You’ve also done what so many people find very difficult and applied and connected the concept into a real life situation! Knowing this, how could you integrate this into a lesson?

  3. Dearl Topping says:

    answer to your reply Zoe is simple. have the students build or draw a sphere on paper, using the technique explained above. a sphere is no more than layers of circles on top each other. determine the diameter and circumference of each layer of sphere depending on the size of the sphere you want to create.

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