Thinking In 3 Dimensions

Filed in Out of Our Head by on March 12, 2015 0 Comments

Even when I was young I had a very good spatial sense. I loved working on 3-D puzzles and when I moved the furniture around in my room it always worked.

Photo Credit: pinguino via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: pinguino via Compfight cc

My guess is that is one of the many reasons I ultimately became so taken with knitting. Knitting is one of the only crafts where you start with something that is so nearly one-dimensional (yarn) and create something that is often three-dimensional (a tube for example).

This week as I work on several projects for April’s #NextLevelKAL projects I am reminded of the challenge of trying to design and thinking in 3 dimensions. In this case I am working on a bag, but instead of creating pieces and sewing them together as was done in the inspiration piece, I am striving to design it as a seamless piece. It is different, but a similar challenge that Kellie and I gave ourselves last year as we created our Quilt Inspired Bags (entrelac and miters).

Photo by Kellie Nuss Photography

Photo by Kellie Nuss Photography

As a teacher I often get asked why patterns are often knit flat and then the pieces are seamed together. The answer is varied and probably often depends on the designer but here are a few of the most common reasons:

  • Flat pieces sewn together resembles sewing and although this is not so much true now, back in the day it was safe to assume that most knitters would also know how to sew. This created familiarity with the construction.
  • Seams do provide structure and in some cases the structure of a seam is important.
  • Creating schematics and writing patterns for 3-dimensional objects is much more difficult that in 2 dimensions. So often for the sake of simplicity either in the designing and/or the presentation, a pieced method is selected.
  • Pieces are generally more portable than creating the entire project as one piece.

Even so, I do like the challenge of creating in 3 dimensions. However, there have been cases where I started down that path only to realize time or effort would have been saved by adding the step of seaming.

If you like to think and visualize in 3 dimensions, then a whole world is open in this hand-craft that is not the case in many others. If you like taking pieces and joining them together to create something complete new, that option is also available. And if you just like the magic of taking sticks and string and creating something wonderfully useful and creative, knitting (and crochet) are definitely the right answer.

Regardless of which aspects you are drawn to, knitting is a great tool in helping us think in 3 dimensions. And why does that matter you might ask? Here are just a few reasons this skill is useful:

  • Being able to visualize in 3 dimensions helps up figure out how to maximize space (like how much yarn can we REALLY get into that suitcase).
  • People who can translate 2-dimensional information into 3-dimensional mental images are often better problem solvers, approaching problems from a variety of directions.
  • Folks who create 3-dimensional objects are better at construction and assembly as they are used to seeing how pieces fit together.

So the next time you pick up your knitting project, think about its 3-dimensional nature and say “thanks” — it probably helped you solve a problem today!!

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