Developing a Mathematical Model for Bobbin Lace

Awarded Outstanding Paper 2015 by the Journal of Mathematics and the Arts


Veronika Irvine and Frank Ruskey. Developing a Mathematical Model for Bobbin Lace. Journal of Mathematics and the Arts, Volume 8, Issue 3-4, pages 95-110, December 2014.


Bobbin lace is a fibre art form in which intricate and delicate patterns are created by braiding together many threads. An overview of how bobbin lace is made is presented and illustrated with a simple, traditional bookmark design. Research on the topology of textiles and braid theory form a base for the current work and is briefly summarized. We define a new mathematical model that supports the enumeration and generation of bobbin lace patterns using an intelligent combinatorial search. Results of this new approach are presented and, by comparison to existing bobbin lace patterns, it is demonstrated that this model reveals new patterns that have never been seen before. Finally, we apply our new patterns to an original bookmark design and propose future areas for exploration.


PDF Preprint (arXiv)