I was startled by a strange moebius experience this month. It's the "Bosni-Moiré" pictured at left. Some might say, "Any moebius is a bit strange, but you get used to it soon enough". No really, this one held me hostage on a different planet. I think I've identified why, and delve into it below.
I haven't done an issue on the moebius already? Let's give it the treatment. First, the name: it's the surname of a 19th century mathematician, spelled Möbius (or else Moebius) and pronounced sort of like "MER-bee-us". Like other American crocheters I'm going to use moebius (caps and special characters slow me down) and I often pronounce it "MOH-bee-us". The plural form seems to be moebiuses, but sometimes moebies is just more fun.
Quick Moebius basics: most schoolchildren have made a paper one. If you tape the two ends together of a rectangular strip of paper you get a loop. Give it a half-twist first for a moebius (a loop with a twist in it). Simple, easy, very important in the study of topology. Some kids then draw a line down the center of the strip and follow it all around the loop. Cut along this line and the result is not what you'd guess. It's one of many moebius oddities.
The "True" Crochet Moebius vs. "Fake"
The continuous moebius is crocheted all in one piece: in the round with no seaming. Start with a foundation chain as long as you'd like the circumference of your finished loop to be, give it a half-twist, and join it in a ring with a slip stitch. Then just crochet in rounds. Simple, right? It's only a tad weird in practice. For example, the foundation chain will end up in the center of the moebius, and each complete round appears to add stitches to both rims (it's actually one rim). Some crocheters and knitters consider this the "true" moebius.
I see the continuous moebius as a way to have a moebius experience while crocheting it. Doris Chan's Snow Day is this type. So is the Bosni-Moiré.
A seamed moebius is the simplest. Crochet a strip in flat rows. Give it a half-twist when you're done and seam the ends. You could do this right now with a rectangular crochet or knit scarf. (This is what some think of as a fake moebius even though it's like taping a strip of paper the way Herr Möbius did it in 1858.) I think of a seamed moebius as a way to experience a moebius after crocheting it. Starlooper, Shakti, and Mesmer shown in the upper right column are this type.
Wouldn't it be great if kids learned about a moebius in school by seaming a winter scarf? Then they could see what it's like to wear one. That little twist creates a dynamic "infinity scarf" that drapes around the body differently.
How Much Weirder* Can It Get?
*By weird I also mean magical, wondrous, exciting, pure grace—all actual terms used by crocheters and knitters to describe the moebius experience.
After Bosni-Moiré I now picture crocheted (and knitted) moebius experiences on a Magical Weirdness Spectrum. Bosni-Moiré falls on one extreme because it's crocheted with color-stacked slip stitches in the round in a continuous spiral.
The slip stitches make it tricky four ways!
1. Slip stitching in the round with no turning is called Bosnian Crochet. The stitch fronts and backs look very different. For a continuous moebius, this means that as you complete rounds, stitches are added on both sides of the foundation chain (picture it as a spine running down the center). Rounds of stitch fronts show on one side of the chain and the backs on the other side. I didn't want this look so I opted to invert some slip stitches. (Adds another layer of weird. I must say, it's very rewarding. I've been meaning to try it.)
2. Bosnian stitches lean. They don't stack on each other in perfect vertical columns. I wanted to stack up colors vertically, like I did with Jempool! Slip stitches are so fluidly interlaced, though, that I could work with the lean a bit. I like the resulting moiré look. (I think I could get them to stack more if I made another, but I'm not 100% certain!)
3. It takes different strategies to do contrasting textures and a striking border. Bosnian stitches that stack in colors has unusual built-in limits. Several stitch ideas wouldn't work. I so love how its lattice border worked out!
4. Setting up the first few moebius rounds is tricky when it's slip stitches into chains. I developed a low-stress fix: two-stranded chains.
At the other end of the Magical Weirdness Spectrum would go the mildest moebius experience. I think I'd put a seamed moebius here with no edging; it would have such a small inner circumference that it can only be worn one way, like a bracelet. Or, a wire crochet ring because its twist would be frozen in place.
Mobi-Dickie and Swizzle-Shakti moebies (pictured in the upper right column) became fascinating experiences at the seaming stage. The offset rows added a bias stretch and created angled ends.
Here's a pre-seaming image of the ends with a half-twist. The draping and wearing options were multiplied!
So much fun.
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