programming fibonacci knit scarf

It took me three years to perfect the Fibonacci Scarf pattern, and it takes hundreds of hours to hand knit one scarf. So I brought my Fibonacci Scarf pattern to the Textile Design Lab (TDL) in New Zealand to see if they would be able to manufacture them. They were able to program my design into the computer, hit “print”, and have their whole garment knitting machine spit out Fibonacci knit scarves, just like printing on a home inkjet printer. In this photo you see a sweater coming out, but that’s a project I will tell you about later.

At TDL very talented technician Gordon programs whole garment knitting machines and works with a lot of super soft merino wools. Whole garment knitting machines are able to knit an entire garment. You don’t need to sew up seams or attach sleeves, a finished garment comes out of the machine.

When you create the program for a knit garment, you can copy and paste sections of the code from other garments. So you can add a sleeve from something, and a collar from something else. There wasn’t anything like the Fibonacci Scarf, so Gordon had to create the program from scratch. It’s a complicated knit structure, and he was able to program in details like different amounts of tension for a lot of individual stitches. Above is a screen shot of the knit program getting debugged. You can actually go through, look at the individual stitches, and make corrections to the code.

Above is a video of the machine knitting. You can see the carriage moving back and forth as it knits the yarn across a bed of needles.

TDL specializes in making low quantity experimental designs. They work a lot with very soft merino wools and merino possum blends. After all merino wool is one of New Zealand’s top luxury exports. The Fibonacci Scarves are all knit from the local NZ stuff that TDL helped me to source. The scarves are knit on the very machine pictured above and then brought to the US. You can buy one in our shop.

By diana 1

One Comment

  1. n1kxe
    Posted October 21, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    That’s great!

    I think this counts as a giant step forward in nerdy math knitting. Also, to digress a bit, I think that if we extend this scheme, we can completely avoid all SkyNet computer overlord scenarios by encouraging more mathy computerized knitting. Colossus and Guardian (from The Forbin Project) will discover each other, generate a common language, communicate, and immediately begin exchanging patterns.