Crocheting to Change the Planet

Yes, crocheting really is that important. In case you don’t quite understand why, I’ll start at the beginning.

Two women in LA, Margaret Wertheim and her twin sister, were concerned about climate change. If left to continue along its current trajectory, the world’s climate will heat up (even more than it has for the past decades). This climate change promises to bring a  number of disasters upon the human race and our planet.  One of the potential disasters that climate change could cause is the loss of many of the world’s coral reefs.

The total area of the world’s coral reefs comprises less than .25% of the ocean, yet one fourth of all marine life (about 2 million species) live in, on, and around reefs. Even slight changes in ocean temperature can kill reefs.

It is estimated that many of the world’s reefs will be destroyed or significantly damaged in the next 20 years. General estimates approximate that 10% of the coral reefs around the world are already dead.

When coral reefs die, the species that live on them are threatened. Loss of biodiversity at this scale is not only tragic, but could have significant impacts on humans. The sisters found this particular disaster very troubling.

This is where the story gets less tragic and a lot more inspiring. The twins started crocheting corals. They used a crocheting technique invented by mathematicians in 1997 to model hyperbolic shapes called hyperbolic crocheting. It has nothing to do with gross exaggeration. This ended up being a perfect technique for producing coral reproductions.

One of the sisters, Margaret Wertheim, described the technique saying, “there is a direct line between feminine handicraft, Euclid, and general relativity.”

They crocheted a lot of corals, then they did something to change the world. They shared their corals with art museums. They got a community in Chicago to crochet with them. Then the crafting became a movement and groups all over the world started to crochet corals.

Margaret Wertheim talks about the project at a TED talk, “The beautiful math of coral (and crochet)”. She explains the project beautifully.

In Saint Petersburg, Florida, a city of about 250,000 people which is deeply connected to the ocean, 300 people crocheted corals. The pieces were collected in a gallery and on the opening day 600 visitors came to see the reefs that were constructed from their handiwork.

The project in Saint Petersburg was a melding of math and art and science and community. Workshops were held all over the city for people to come learn about crocheting, corals, and the problems affecting coral reefs. All ages and genders contributed their corals. Some created the fish, invertebrates, and other creatures that depend on coral reefs.

The gallery featured a bleached coral, showing what a reef decimated by hot ocean waters looks like.

Other threats to corals besides climate change were also addressed. The Deepwater Horizon spill killed corals in the Gulf of Mexico and inspired a blackened reef at the exhibit.

Reefs are also threatened by water pollution, careless collection of coral specimens, clouding of water by construction or mining projects, and even introduction of an invasive species, like the lion fish in Florida, to an area.

The project has yet to save the world’s corals, but crocheting might be the first step that leads to the protection of this precious resource.


About pickledtoo

I am currently a marine educator on my way to grad school in the next year or so. I want to be an industrial chemist and I want to make things that might make peoples lives better. I love to talk and write and think and dream about science!
This entry was posted in Biology, DIY, Fun, Funny?, Geekism, Science and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

199 Responses to Crocheting to Change the Planet

  1. xtg120 says:

    Reblogged this on I Always Creative.

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  5. Emma says:

    I want to go!

  6. CloudyDayz says:

    Beautiful! Thank you!

  7. howimetyoursister says:

    This definitely want me to do more crocheting. It’s incredible, pickledtoo!

    • Tiffany says:

      I’ve seen this in person in St Pete,FL and it is stunning!!!!! If you get a chance to see it I recommend it.

  8. This is beautiful! A friend of mine makes wonderful crochet characters from various universes – Batman, Pokémon, Disney et cetera – but seeing so many creations together is simply incredible. Every day I am more amazed at the marvels that can be created from a ball of yarn and a couple of hooks.

    I also love your philosophy in the top-right corner – it makes me feel better about blogging when I sh/could be doing uni coursework!

  9. Pingback: Saturday, July 21st… | For Every Atom Belonging To Me As Good Belongs To You

  10. meghan11 says:

    What a really wonderful idea. I am a fiber artist too! We depict petroglyphs and I make many things from fabric, fiber and beads. Keep up the wonderful work.

  11. lizzieme says:

    Reblogged this on Being Real and commented:
    THIS is amazing and beautiful and wonderful and lovely. + I have just been to the seaside so I feel particularly inspired for the fishes (and corals but unfortunately there is only the slimy brown seaweed as a Cornish equivalent, which I feel average about).

  12. Girlsunknown says:

    Reblogged this on 马克图布 and commented:

  13. Reblogged this on William Penn University Study Abroad and commented:
    Learning about the world can be done through a variety of ways – movies, articles, and even art! Check out this interesting post on how two women have been using the craft of crocheting to make a difference in the world of understanding!

  14. Tom says:

    Very cool! Thanks for sharing!

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  16. vkkapoor says:

    The topic is need of hour…i like it…

  17. The Clarences says:

    Hope all is well.
    The Clarences

  18. Reblogged this on sustainably smitten and commented:
    Ugly Sweaters No More… Interesting way to educate about the importance of biodiversity and climate change. Maybe school science fairs could look more like this?

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  20. arpella says:

    Reblogged this on GRUP WWF-BARCELONA and commented:
    Haciendo calceta por el planeta! genial!

  21. I like the uniqueness of this idea! Great post.

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  23. amymacmahon says:

    So nice, thanks. I’ve re-blogged on ‘pet rock and half pant’.

  24. amymacmahon says:

    Reblogged this on pet rock & half pant.

  25. mariannegv says:

    Wow! Amazing crochet work!

  26. a ferreira says:

    Excellent post, incredible idea, splendid work! I would very much like to share it on my WordPress blog, if you could add the option? Or I will ping it back if you prefer. Congratulations, really!

  27. Thank you for this article!
    I have heard about the project and seen the sisters on TV during an interview. Very inspiring! 🙂

  28. Reblogged this on Open Science's Blog and commented:
    Ganchillo y media para salvar al planeta, una original manera de concienciar sobre el cambio climático.

  29. kizzylee says:

    brilliant idea and i just had to reblog thank you for such an excellent idea i know the hardwork as i crochet knit sew but the idea is what i admire the most

  30. kizzylee says:

    Reblogged this on kizzylee and commented:
    how brilliant is this, i crochet and knit though not for a while i am so busy with sewing but the idea is just fab loved it

  31. trixyschaos says:

    These are amazing! Congrats on the beautiful work!

  32. Vasantha says:

    It is too wonderful a story and a very inspiring work too ! I shall follow it up with my crochet work ! I love it tremendously.

  33. Connie McClain says:

    I crochet. How can I help?

  34. GiaMedia3 says:

    This is so super cool makes me want to pick up my needles again!

  35. Great work! I shared this with our facebook followers, really interesting and a work of art too.

  36. Pingback: Freshly Pressed’s Best Of July 2012 | Festivals in Scotland

  37. This is wonderful, so inspiring. The melding of the art and science is so powerful. Thank you for sharing this project.

  38. futuredoll says:

    Gorgeous! Esp. the jelly fish!

  39. shovonc says:

    Great report. Thanks!

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  41. chouchouu says:

    Graceful crocheting world! Thank you for sharing the moment changing the world.

  42. Pingback: Freshly Pressed’s Best Of July 2012 | Rex Qerax

  43. suzysomething says:

    These are incredible. May I use them on my own blog The Purple Sweater? it’s a site for knitting and other needle arts and I’d love to be able to put it to some good use to raise awareness about what is happening to the seas. You can see my blog it’s a wordpress site too..all of mine are. Look for me as so you can get to know that I’m just a harmless little old lady who has the heart of an activist.

      • suzysomething says:

        I posted the story and pix this evening and included a link to your blog (I computer seems possessed by gremlins today and I’m not sure what it has actually done and what I think it has actually done!). Thanks for your generosity in letting me share this on my blog.

  44. Wow, just amazing. I am a knitter and know how much work this takes. Great work.

  45. redbeads says:

    Reblogged this on redbeads.

  46. Amazing, touching, and inspiring. Thank you!

  47. Pingback: submarinismo?… “el mundo no es suficiente” ;) «

  48. FeyGirl says:

    Simply beautiful… What an amazingly creative project to highlight our most beautiful reefs. I would love to see this in person — I grew up on a coral reef (an atoll), so their continued deterioration at our hands hits very close to home. THANKS so much… and CONGRATS for the FP! ♥

  49. We have been following the “Crochet Coral Reef” work for quite a while, always amazed at its beauty and significance. Congrats! Could we reproduce your post in our recently established BLOG? Please contact us, and best of luck!

  50. Abbas Mehran says:

    Wow This is wonderful creative idea and work. Thans

  51. Great post. Thank you for sharing this wonderful project. I just tweeted it.

  52. Pingback: Crocheted coral reef | The Lakes District Hivemind

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  55. Christine says:

    These are all beautiful. I do crochet but not anything like this. A credit to you all.

  56. ravelstudio says:

    Reblogged this on ravelstudio and commented:
    Another reason why Everyday is Earth Day !

  57. ravelstudio says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I have my degree in Industrial Design and focused my work on social entrepreneurship. So happy to see people doing work like this 🙂

    Best of luck!


  58. John says:

    Magnificent work!

  59. Reblogged this on Falling In Paris and commented:
    What a fantastic blend!

  60. strutdogg says:

    Reblogged this on strutdogg and commented:
    good to see

  61. Pingback: Freshly Pressed’s Best Of July 2012 » Blog Free for All

  62. catladysher says:

    Thoroughly enjoye the crocheted underwater world of crochet. I too crochet, but this was so much more stunning than the items I make…Thanks for sharing…

  63. Sandra England says:

    Reblogged this on ASV LEARNING AND TEACHING and commented:
    This amazing crocheted art project brings attention to the loss of corals on our Great Barrier Reef, as well as reefs world wide. The state of marine biology is important world wide as we learn to take care of our planet!

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  66. friendlytm says:

    This is a wonderful project , very educational to me. Appreciate the art and the meaningful component of the project. No wonder…you deserve the best of the best in freshly pressed in July 2012. Congrats! Thanks for sharing.

  67. air2h2o says:

    Thank you so much for this. It’s really cool to see people take their passions and skills and just using them.

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  70. I’m a knitter, hoping to do my next project in crochet. This makes much more sense than yarn bombing! Great post and photos. Congrats on FP.

  71. shanz83 says:

    Gorgeous! I’m writing an MA thesis on marine biodiversity conservation at the moment and can’t believe I hadn’t heard of this project. I’m truly amazed with the ingenuity.

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  74. What a great project! The crocheted corals look amazing!

  75. dhphotosite says:

    Terrific!!! It’s a great cause and fabulous work of everyone !!!

  76. What a wonderful project! Such glorious work!

  77. niasunset says:

    Reblogged this on photographyofnia and commented:
    Great Project, amazing Creative works and beautiful blog.

  78. niasunset says:

    Congratulations on the Freshly Pressed! This is great project and amazing creative works. Thank you for sharing with us. With my love, nia

  79. carinissima says:

    Magnifique, j’adore l’idée!!!

  80. pip earl says:

    Fabulously creative..powerful

  81. reneebaccaro says:

    I love to snorkel and have done a little scuba in Hawaii and California. I understand that the end of the coral reefs is the beginning of the end of our planet. When are Nations, Corporations, and people…going to learn, that we can not have it all. I am guilty too!

  82. marian g says:

    Reblogged this on @ life and commented:
    Interesting. 🙂

  83. Victoria says:

    Incredibly beautiful and creative! So wonderful!

  84. Daniela says:

    I am amazed!

  85. Amazing!!! So beautiful.Love it..

  86. shannmark says:

    This is beyond amazing. I am a scuba diver, and I am deeply concerned about the long term damage that climate change (and human wrecklessness) have on our reefs. Thank you for sharing a beautiful and inspiring project. Congrats on FP!

  87. I’ve been doing hyperbolic crochet for a while – this is so inspiring! Hooray for crochet … =D

  88. I love when art becomes a cause, an inspiration for change. Thank you for sharing this story, it is wonderfully fascinating!

  89. Truly, those are works of art 🙂

  90. I have crocheted since I was 12 and never have I seen this kind of application.This is wonderful! What an amazing use of a old fashioned craft. Thanks for sharing! Really enjoyed it.

  91. susanbright says:

    Amazing and beautiful too!

  92. Beautiful and inspiring.

  93. dyefeltsool says:

    Hyperbolic Crochet! That makes me smile. Thank you so much for sharing such an incredible and interesting story. It is amazing what passionate people can do.

  94. dyefeltsool says:

    Reblogged this on dyefeltsool and commented:
    Seriously – Hyperbolic Crocheting! Check out the link. Those crazy Cornell- ians!

  95. Never thought I’d say this, but this crochet is badass! So do the sisters just raise awareness? Or do they raise money for conservation or restoration (is that possible?) of coral? Very cool.

  96. meganchapple says:

    The jelly fishes are awesome

  97. Needle Lady says:

    That is phenomenal! Both the crocheting and the attention it is bringing to a huge world issue.

  98. I’ve been crocheting since I was teenager and this far surpasses anything I could ever do! Absolutely stunning!

  99. silvachiqa says:

    This is totally over the top crocheting, I am not good at it at all, maybe some knitting in my bag of tricks. This is conscious crocheting, and beautiful for the planet. You continue the great job you’re doing. Cheers!

  100. Marti Parham says:

    Great post! I plan on reposting it this Sunday on my blog Marti Ink in the Week’s Head-turning Headlines section under “Creativity.” Congrats on being Pressed!

  101. groovylove says:

    Amazing! It takes crocheting to a whole new level!! Beautiful work, and congrats on being Freshly Pressed!!!!

  102. Bindu says:

    Hats off to the effort and the message.

  103. patchcath says:

    très beau travail! jolie création! magnifique intention!
    je suis admirative! vraiment grandiose!

  104. Alyssa says:

    This is such an awesome work of art. Craft and Art combined is way too genius. Added these on pinterest; hope you won’t mind. 🙂

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  105. simplycarola says:

    Nice pics & details! Gave you guys (and your hedgie, though I’d go for tonic rather than martini and I’d imbibe rather than tote) a shout in own cuddly science entry (April 2012).

  106. Joanna says:

    Stunning work. As an avid crocheter I am extremely impressed by the handiwork itself. Thank you for sharing this artistry. God bless.

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  108. Crafting is good for the soul!


  110. wooow!! keren sekali!!
    it’s amazing! I was like diving into the sea!!

  111. Karen says:

    Wow! So beautiful in so many ways for so many reasons!! I shared this w/ my 11-yr old daughter. Fantastic!

  112. christine says:

    What a wonderful project. I had no idea–thanks for sharing this with the blogosphere. And congrats on FP!

  113. Elizabeth says:

    I am in awe of all the work done here. I crochet myself but have never done anything like this! it’s so creative!

  114. Joe Labriola says:

    Beautiful mingling of beauty and sustainability. Creativety meets practicality!

  115. Pingback: Crocheting to Change the Planet | Pickled Hedgehog Dilemma « The 50-something life of a Southern gal

  116. suzannesmom says:

    Fantastic post. Thank you!

  117. etcher101 says:

    That is the most unique way I’ve ever seen crochet utilized, absolutely beautiful!!

  118. portablesix says:

    You’re doing great work. Keep it up.

  119. zorro42 says:

    great idea,i wish you well!
    and thank you!

  120. Amazing. I’m a knitter. Are there any patterns for knitters?

  121. What a great post!! I might start crocheting coral reefs myself! Thanks for sharing!

  122. kafemandela says:

    Reblogged this on KafeMandela and commented:
    Hooking to save the planet!!!

  123. Love, love, love this! It is amazing to see people’s talents effect the world so much! Thanks for sharing and congrats on being freshly pressed 😉

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  125. didiita says:

    Amazing! Thank you for sharing this information! I’m glad you were freshly pressed because I would’ve never found out about this!! Thank you! 🙂

  126. As an artist who started out as a marine biology major, I love this effort! Wish I had the time to commit to a project like this.

  127. Steph Medeiros says:

    What a great way to spread awareness on an important topic! I wish the coastal community I live in had something like this. I would so get involved, as I am a crocheter and sea life enthusiast. Great post!

  128. pezcita says:

    This is breathtaking! Is there any way knitters can get involved?

  129. lexy3587 says:

    WOW, what an amazing effort – a beautiful way to show the things that we could lose so easily.

  130. Myriad says:

    Reblogged this on Star Ten Thousand and commented:
    Things Myriad likes: Science, fiber arts, awesome women, hedgehogs
    Things Myriad blogs about: Science, fiber arts, awesome women, cute critters (including hedgehogs)
    Things in this blog post: Science, fiber arts, and awesome women on a blog called Pickled Hedgehog Dilemma.
    Plus I’ve developed Heat Exhaustion (you mean seeing an outdoor play in 100+ degree weather is not a good idea when one’s medication makes one prone to dizziness? Do tell…) so this may be the most coherent thought I produce for a while.

  131. Lovely post. Now they should send some of their work to underprivileged kids to cuddle.

  132. emocrippled says:

    wonderful. so wonderful!!

  133. emocrippled says:

    Reblogged this on emocrippled.


  135. Reblogged this on Taking On A Cause by Patsy McCaw-Yager,Englewood, Fl. and commented:

  136. artquench says:

    We love your article. We would like to post it in the next few weeks. Please contact us.
    Thank you.

  137. Such beautiful work…love the medium and the message!

  138. Twin sisters, one an art prof and one a science writer. The world needs more of those!

  139. Reblogged this on wildwomanswimming and commented:
    Inspirational 🙂

  140. What a wonderful concept. I’ve shared this with my wild swimming friends…. thank you for such an inspirational blog!

  141. I adore her quote, “There is a direct line between feminine handicraft, Euclid, and general relativity.” What an inspiring initiative!

  142. Pingback: Borrowing from the Pickled Hedgehog Blog « Fiber College of Maine

  143. Astrig says:

    This is a great post…I hope it’s OK that I re-posted the URL for this post to our blog:…I gave you full credit and hope that our post will send more people to your blog!

  144. elfkat says:

    Reblogged this on Adventures and Musings of a Hedgewitch and commented:
    This is wonderful!

  145. IfIWasFree says:

    I love the jellyfish

  146. anniespickns says:

    Fascinating project and an incredible TED talk. Thanks for bringing this to us and for being Freshly Pressed.

  147. chrisandfawn says:

    This is really amazing! Well done.

  148. What a fantastic blog, really inspiring and hopefully will help people to connect to and understand their planet. The crochet is amazing, what a wonderful use of the craft.

  149. Truly inspirational. thank you.

  150. willyouhavemorecake says:

    Nice post – I took part in this when it came to the Royal Festival Hall in London a couple of years ago. So much fun and cool to see people using old plastic bags instead of wool to create our reef.

  151. lexiesnana says:

    Loved this,I can’t imagine how long this took,did more than one person do it?I learned to crochet at my grandma’s knee and still pick up a hook once in a while.I can be very theraputic.Thank you for the amazing pics,I loved it.

  152. I love science! I love the environment! I love to crochet! My goodness what a beautiful combination!

  153. Pingback: environmental note: coral reef education in crochet form. « Living with Other People's Gods

  154. lisaamartin says:

    Science, coral reefs and needlecraft – three of my favorite things in one post. A-MAZING! Thanks for sharing!

  155. Lisa says:

    Three of my favourite things in one post – needlecraft, science and coral reefs. A-MAZING!

  156. theyellowranger says:

    Such a cool way to raise awareness and make steps toward saving our reefs.

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  158. This work is amazing. What a great way to get people to think about coral reefs! I’ve just been to Niue in the South Pacific where there is still beautiful unspoilt coral, and I hope that it will remain that way.

  159. jacktweeter says:


  160. Heidi says:

    I just wrote a short article about your post Crocheting to Change the Planet, referring to your article: Euklid, Häckeln und allgemeine Relativitätstheorie. There is a photo of your post in it, I hope you don’t mind.
    It’s really just wonderful!
    Kind regards

  161. jule says:

    Beautiful pictures. Love them.
    I recently got infected with corallitis, too. 🙂

  162. Pingback: Euklid, Häckeln und allgemeine Relativitätstheorie « Heidis Mist

  163. Mr. Chopp says:

    Reblogged this on Mr. Chopp Australia and commented:
    Awesome blog about crocheting, climate change and coral reefs.

  164. I find very interesting your article!!! Congrats!!!

  165. Mr. Chopp says:

    Very awesome post. I am in Australia right now researching algae. I visited the largest great barrier reef aquarium last week and the crocheted version looked remarkably similar. Great post, and good luck with grad school in the near future. I feel a great sense of science educator solidarity.

  166. Samantha says:

    What an amazing idea, and the product is beautiful. The cause is excellent…I didn’t realize that so many coral reefs were being destroyed or that so many species lived in them. (I guess it’s been a couple years since I took biology). Congrats on Freshly Pressed!

  167. Wow. This is truly amazing. As an avid crocheter and environmentalist, I am deeply touched by both the creative genius and philanthropic vision of these women’s work. Thank you so much for sharing!

  168. Ann says:

    Amazing! Loved the work. I am glad to hear that people are working hard towards changing the planet! Saving the planet from danger. Loved the post! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  169. SydneyJoTo says:

    Incredible. Shocking and Incredible and Beautiful… I absolutley love this. Thank You 🙂

  170. So amazing in the world

  171. Wow the crocheted jellyfish are really something!

    J. G. Burdette

  172. ღ ‏LeeNa766hi ღ ‏ says:

    Woww… u bring this Crocheting topic by using art. thats amazing! ^^d

  173. writercat81 says:

    I crochet (mostly amiguruumi) but this takes the cake! Absolutely amazing!!!! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  174. Wow those are awesome! I can barely crochet a beanie or a pot holder. Simply amazing!

  175. jmunpy88 says:

    These creations by crocheting is beautiful. Can easily relate this to the young children on preservation of the ocean especially the marine life. Great for show & tell session in school.

  176. These pieces are amazing! How much time did the more complex ones take? Phew!

  177. I never knew that Crocheting was an art, but the above pix proved me wrong. I’ve always wanted to learn but never had the time.

  178. Sarah Doyle says:

    I just discovered Margaret Wertheim a few weeks ago when I read her book “Pythagoras’s Trousers: God, Physics & the Gender Wars” — great stuff! Delighted to learn of this new (to me) initiative. So glad you’ve been FP so I can get to hear about it!

  179. This is beautiful! Seeing the picture in the miniature form I actually though it was real coral reef. Thanks for sharing this work!

  180. Seeing it in person was AMAZING!

    And congrats on the Freshly Pressed!

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