The mechanics, mathematics, and ancient technology of knitting is the subject of a new study, “What a Tangled Web We Weave,” by Elisabetta Matsumoto, an applied mathematician and physicist at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
This great New York Times article describes her study in greater depth.
Knitted fabric is also a metamaterial. A length of yarn is all but inelastic, but when configured in slipknots — in patterns of knits and purls — varying degrees of elasticity emerge.
“Just based on these two stitches, these two fundamental units, we can make a whole series of fabrics, and each of these fabrics has remarkably different elastic properties,” Dr. Matsumoto told the audience.
Myself, I am no knitter – my mother and sister are, and many friends – and now I am more intrigued to learn. I experiment with paper and its own structural and elastic properties when folded and manipulated – those models can often be extrapolated and used with other materials. If you don’t follow Kelli Anderson‘s work, you should – so cool.
I wonder at the crossover applications with fabric analysis. The article mentions applications in game engines and animation software (also check out this amazing organization in Africa using knitting to teach coding), but I wonder at applications even in cell regrowth and larger scale constructions.