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Fibonacci was a mathematician (back in the middle ages, I believe) for whom a sequence of numbers is named. The sequence is interesting because apparently, if you look closely at everything in nature that is segmented - pine cones, pineapples, flower petals, sections in a snail shell, etc. -the number of sections or segments will be one of these Fibonacci numbers. We can use this finding to help figure out/design stripe sequences in knitting and weaving.

If we tried to be random on our own, without Fibonacci numbers, we actually would end up falling into a pattern that might not come out pleasing to the eye. So using these numbers makes it much easier for us and also results in universally appealing aesthetics!

So the numbers are (Fibonacci sequence is...)

1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89....(the pattern for figuring the rest of the numbers is that you would sum 55 and 89 to get 144, and then sum 89 and 144 to get 233, etc...)

When using the numbers for design purposes, they don't have to be used in order, not all the numbers have to be used and the numbers can be repeated.

 

So, for example, if I wanted to set up a striped sequence for knitting or weaving and wanted to be sure it was visually appealing, I could use the numbers to figure out how many rows to knit per color. That is what I did in this afghan. I took the idea for this afghan from an old Colinette Ab Fab Kit but was using my own colors. And although I started out trying to follow the Colinette instruction for how many rows before changing to a different yarn, it was, frankly, too much bother to keep looking at the pattern! So after the first 6 inches or so, I just decided to use the Fibonacci numbers as my guidance and, keeping to the feather and fan stitch pattern, just changed yarns/colors when I hit a Fibonacci number and "felt" like it!

Soooo much easier than trying to keep track of a pattern!!

And for this hand woven jacket I did years ago (and actually won best in show at Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival for), I used Fibonacci numbers to warp the 3/2 twill warp. I had 6 or 7 different yarns I was using and just kept threading them based on Fibonacci numbers. Then I wove the warp using one weft that was light green and the next section of warp with a weft that was the darker blue in the warp. It made the warping so easy to distribute the colors and although the photo isn't great, it is a beautiful jacket that you'll sometimes still see me wear in the store!

So, if you want an example of how to go about using Fibonacci:

say I have 5 yarns, we'll call them A, B, C, D, and E.

I could figure my stripes like this: I could thread in the warp or knit 3 ends/rows of B, then 8 of C, then 1 of A, then 2 of C, then 34 of E, then 5 of D and 8 of C and 2 of E....you get the idea. As long as you stick to these numbers to figure the width (number of rows knit, ends threaded, etc) of the stripe you are good to go. Reuse numbers, don't use all the numbers, mix them up or repeat them sequentially. Anything goes as long as you stick to the numbers.

If you want a generally bolder fabric, then create thicker stripes by using just the higher numbers in the sequence (for example if you have just 2 colors, and don't want to alternate knitting the same number of rows of each, you could knit 8 rows of the first color, 21 rows of the second color, 13 rows of the first, 8 of the second, etc). And if you want thinner stripes or a more "blended" and subtler fabric, just use the lower numbers for your stripes ( 1, 2, 5, 2, 3, 5, etc)

Fibonacci numbers are a simple design tool that is easy and takes some of the guess work out of designing. And, according to hundreds of years of design and the nature of the universe.....your result will be pleasing to the eye!