Celebrating complex knots and loops on International Tatting Day

It’s the 1st of April, and we all know what that means. It’s the day that every story you hear has to be taken with a bit of scepticism – you don’t want to be the fool falling for the crazy, almost-believable story on April Fool’s Day!

However, rather than spinning a yarn, or weaving a tall tale , I’ll focus on yarns and weaving of a different kind – today is International Tatting Day, the day we celebrate the age-old art of handcrafting lace-like edges using an intricate series of knots and loops. Tatting is usually done for decoration, for example to create fancy edges for doilies, collars, etc.

There's a thin line between tatting and crocheting, which also creates patterns with knotted yarn. Both these crafts are used to create patterns that are almost mathematical in their complexity. With apology to tatters everywhere, my illustration above is a piece of crochet work rather than tatting, but unfortunately I wasn't able to find a nice example of tatting to photograph.(© All Rights Reserved)
There’s a thin line between tatting and crocheting, which also creates patterns with knotted yarn. Both these crafts are used to create patterns that are almost mathematical in their complexity. With apology to tatters everywhere, I believe my illustration above is a piece of crochet work rather than tatting, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to find a nice example of tatting to photograph.
(© All Rights Reserved)

A range of different knots and loops can be used to create amazingly delicate and intricate patterns that have an almost mathematical complexity about them. In fact, with a little imagination the tatted patterns can almost resemble the beautiful fractal patterns created in mathematical topology.

Those engaged in the art of tatting are called ‘tatters’, and according to a number of sources, tatters celebrate International Tatting Day by “making tatted lace and eating chocolates”.

So, Happy Tatting Day, everyone! I don’t have the skill to join in on the tatting, but where did I leave that slab of chocolate?

Fascination of Plants Day

So today, 18 May 2012, is the first ever official “Fascination of Plants Day”, launched under the umbrella of the European Plant Science Organisation (EPSO).

In a way it is sad that there’s a need for an official day to get us humans to appreciate the many wonders of plants and the natural world around us. Expounding at length on the virtues of plants would fill volumes, so I’ll just touch on one aspect that leaves me forever fascinated.

Mathematical marvels

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A feast of Fibonacci – this marguerite daisy flaunts its mathematical side by not only sporting 21 petals (a Fibonacci number), but also displaying some intricate Fibonacci spirals in the flower head.
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Plants are truly the physical embodiment of mathematical precision.  The more time we devote to the study of the mathematical structure of our flora, the more fascinating it becomes.  Ferns curve according to the golden section, fibonacci numbers appear all over the place, in the patterns of leaves, the number of petals on flowers, and the wonderfully intricate spirals appearing on flower heads. Then there’s the uncanny fractal structures created by veins of leaves, and beautifully displayed on the broccoflower.

So go on, spend some time in the garden – its good for you, not just physically, but mentally as well!

The lovely little Manuka flower. Not only does it provide another lesson in fibonacci numbers, with 1 stigma, 5 petals, 5 sepals and and 21 anthers, but its also a little medical miracle, source of an abundance of naturally-occuring antibacterial and anti-fungal constituents.
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Natural fractal patterns in the broccoflower.
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Even a garden thistle is a marvel of mathematical structure.
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