When Nobel Prize winner Dorothy Hodgkin was young, she would accompany her father on archeological digs in Egypt. I once had in my possession a print of a drawing she had done of a Byzantine mosaic floor that had been excavated, and the drawing looked uncannily similar to her later drawings based on her work in X-ray crystallography. In the 1930s there was already an interest in applying scientific patterns to domestic items. Assistant Director of Research at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, Dr Helen Megaw had embroidered the crystal structure of aluminium hydroxide on a cushion as a wedding gift for Hodgkin. Much later an exhibition put together by The Festival Pattern Group featured at the Festival of Britain in 1951.

Hodgkin’s Insulin drawing and the wallpaper pattern made for the 1951 exhibition:

Here is one based on Max Perutz’s work on horse methaemoglobin crystals. His wife, Gisela, had a dress made from the fabric and wore it to the exhibition.

It does bring to mind the Möbius strip which is rather popular with the knitters (because as you know, knitting is all about maths).

So if you want to have a go Making Mathematics with Needlework is purportedly a very good read.

Making Mathematics with Needlework, eds Sarah-Marie Belcastro and Carolyn Yackel

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