Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Off to Wyoming

I'm off to Wyoming tomorrow to speak about how I use mathematics in my art, as well as how I use art to teach mathematics.  Here's the flier for my talks, workshops, and art exhibit. So if you're in Cheyenne, I hope you'll drop by.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Finally my own bloomers design

I've been working on making up my own pattern for bloomers with ruffles.  I had tried making a few other pairs that I discussed earlier, but I didn't like the gathering at the knee and the bow tie in the back.  Tying my pants up behind my back is a little fiddly, so I decided to try other options.

This pair above is made from a wonderful blue black hand dyed cotton I bought during my quilting days.  I designed a wide leg cropped pant, decorated with two rows of double edged ruffles and no gathering at the knee.  The ruffles are hemmed on both edges.  (That's a lot of hemming!)  These have an elastic waistband which makes them much easier to take on and off than a bow in the back.  Super comfy, too, but they're a bit big on me, so I've listed them for sale.  I also added some pockets with piping on the edge because I can't successfully leave the house without pockets in my pants.

The problem with an elastic waistband is you still need extra fabric in the waist to get them over your hips.  You can remove the extra fabric by adding a zipper instead, but up until this week, I didn't know how to sew a zipper.   For MONTHS, I've been trying to learn how to set a zipper.  I keep reading instructions, but hadn't actually tried to do it. Finally,  I decided that if I started with a lapped zipper, I could sew anything.  So, I found a pattern for a lapped zipper, and after following the pattern with some scrap cotton, I found that the pattern didn't produce a very stylish result.  I found at least three errors.  So I spent a full day designing my own pattern off of the faulty one, until I got everything to line up properly.  It took my 5 iterations to get it just right and ready for use.  Since the green fabric isn't stretchy at all, I also decided to add a bit of elastic in the back of the waistband.  For this reason, my sister dubbed them "buffet pants." 

The green pair of bloomers include the lapped zipper, back darts, ruffles, and two front pockets with piping.  I also added a little tag with my name and the fiber content because it's the law if you want to sell clothing that it be labeled with fiber content.  Who knew?  I'm thrilled with the workmanship on this pair.  The details are very nearly perfect.   But, they're still a little big on me, so I'm selling them in anticipation of making myself a perfectly fitting pair.

Topologically Equivalent Surfaces in Felt for the Math Nerd in You

This is a set of 4 topologically equivalent surfaces that I just listed. Each surface has two faces shown in the two colors of felt, and each surface also has exactly two edges, shown with button hole stitching in green and black.

All of these surfaces can be THEORETICALLY* deformed into any of the other three, but you might have to allow the surface to intersect itself to do it. In mathematical terms, each of the four surfaces is homeomorphic to the other three since they all have Euler characteristic -2. Secondly, three of the surfaces are isotopic to each other, but one of the surfaces is not isotopic to the other three.  The one with the three-fold spiral is the odd man out (rightmost piece in the first photo).  You can see that this one is weird since the black edge is a trefoil knot.   That's how you know that you would have to intersect the suface to deform it into the other surfaces.  Each of the other edges on all four pieces can be deformed to a circle without crossing itself.

*Note, you can't physically deform these felt models to make the other surfaces.  You have to imagine or visualize how to do this.  

The Euler characteristic is calculated by drawing a map on the surface and counting the number of faces, edges and vertices as V + F - E.  For 3D polyhedra, the Euler characteristic is always positive 2.  For example, the cube gives 8 + 6 - 12 = 2.  The tetrahedron gives 4 + 4 - 6 = 2.

I made these by wet felting pure wool over a cotton base, and when they were dry, I hand stitched the edges with cotton yarn. These little sculptures are stiff enough to hold their shape, but flexible enough to be folded. Three of them can be arranged to sit in at least two different configurations.  It's hard to measure how big these are exactly, but they range from about 2 to 4 inches.
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