Friday, January 27, 2012

New Scientist TV - Friday Illusion - Einstein's face emerges from tapestry

Caitlin Stier, video intern

Don't be fooled: the pattern in this tapestry isn't as obvious as it seems. When viewed from an angle, Einstein's face suddenly emerges from the stripes.

The wall hanging, designed by husband-and-wife team Steve Plummer and Pat Ashforth from Woolly Thoughts, was created using a technique called shadow knitting, which requires two coloured yarns. By knitting alternate rows of each colour, and using a combination of raised and flat stitches, an image can be concealed within the ridges of the weave.
A tapestry design is planned out beforehand by overlaying a grid on a chosen image. Each square is assigned a type of stitch: either bumpy for a key feature or flat for a background element. Plummer starts to knit a pattern before he's finished encoding it, tweaking the grid as he goes along. It takes about 100 hours to produce a finished chart.
Although all shadow knitters use a grid to plan their tapestries, Plummer and Ashforth have developed a new charting process that allows for more complex images and detailed shading. The former mathematics teachers used their knowledge of 3D visualisation to come up with the revised technique.
If you enjoyed this video, check out our previous Friday Illusions to see, for example, how to stop a spinning object with your mind or how contrast can affect your perception of speed

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