USD Professor Uses Knitting to Show Students Hidden Mathematics

USD Professor Uses Knitting to Show Students Hidden Mathematics

Imagine finding mathematics in your knitting. That is just the discovery student Jordan Matuszewski made in a pop-up class titled Mathematics and Knitting, taught by Professor of Mathematics Jane Friedman, PhD, this past spring semester.

The course explored the interplay between mathematics and knitting from several perspectives. Matuszewski readily embraced the mathematical ideas behind the art. He explained, “I certainly spend a lot of time knitting. Though, when I pick up my needles, I'll perhaps only knit a row in an entire hour, but I'll toy with each stitch and think about what's happening.”

When the spring semester class was abruptly interrupted, students had to take their burgeoning skills home and to grow them remotely. When asked how his knitting was coming along, Matuszewski said, “I've been knitting some, but stubbornly, I find myself so much more interested in the science of knitting, and the techniques and patterns, than actually knitting. Consequently, I work slowly at best.”

Matuszewski's experience connected beyond this one class with others he took spring semester. “Interestingly, my upper-division math class called Topology, where we studied literal string-like knots, and stringy-shapes and braids, although not perfectly analogous to knitting had a lot of really fascinating overlap.” 

Considering the mathematics woven into creating knit and purl stitches creates a deeper connection to the art of using two needles and a length of yarn to create a wearable fabric. Hopefully, Matuszewski’s enjoyment of the mathematics, the science, and the magic of knitting will continue well beyond the end of his USD class.

begin quoteI find myself much more interested in the science of knitting, and the techniques and patterns, than actually knitting.
hands knitting with yarn

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