convergent threads (an equation)

I’m (slowly) working on a long essay, “Euclid’s Orchard”, which hovers in and around mathematics, horticulture, family history, and memory. Part of the work of the essay is puzzling through some theories and planning a quilt to accompany this thinking. I’ve gathered many images from my reading about math and genetics and am struck over and over again by their beauty. My mind is always drawn to pattern so looking at some of the graphic representations of Mendelian inheritance, Pascal’s triangle (esp. his own drawing of this, with his beautiful handwriting), the elegant Hardy-Weinberg principle, and others has been a fascinating journey into design and method. Friends Joe and Solveigh gave me Edward Frenkel’s Love & Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality¬†for my birthday in January and it’s been such a revelation to spend time in the company of this extraordinary mathematician. The book is part memoir, part explication of his introduction to, and life-long commitment to, the Langlands Program, essentially a grand unified theory of mathematics. I really enjoyed his joyous presentation of braid groups in Chapter Five (serendipitously titled “Threads of the Solution”); the illustrations are clear and nicely organized and I’ve been pondering how to translate one (or more) to a quilt block.

Sometimes a gift comes from an unexpected source. The other day an email friend, Andrea, sent a link to a Discover magazine feature on artists using math ideas to make art. 

A fashionable equation: the Yang Baxter scarf, by Robin Endelman, 2013. Manos del Uruguay’s Silk Blend (merino and silk, hand-dyed).

I’m not sure yet what my quilt block will look like but I was thrilled to see this scarf and am happy to know that others in the world experience math by translating its equations to thread and texture.