Saturday, November 10, 2012

FO (with a Mathematical Perspective)

Just before leaving for Rhinebeck, I produced a Finished Object--a Fibonacci Neckerchief in BT's "Loft". Unfortunately, it was so warm in Rhinebeck that I didn't get to wear it. However, back in Kingston we've just had our first taste of really cold weather, so I've been making up for that. Yesterday, Bill and I drove to Ottawa, where he sat in on a talk by Larry Summers, before we spent the night with friends.While Bill was at his event, I took my Fibonacci over to one of my favourite Ottawa spots for a little photo shoot. The sun was low in the sky when I arrived at MacKay (pronounced Mac-eye) Lake.

It's hard to believe that this gem is tucked away in an urban area. The light was on the wrong side of the lake for me to get a photo of the Fibonacci to match the one I took of my MacKay Shawl, so I simply draped it over a bush near the water's edge.

The yarn has a soft, elastic tweediness that makes it very comfortable to wear, and because it's not superwash treated it's deliciously warm. FYI, the colour is "Longjohns". By the time I was done, the light was almost gone.

Bill and I drove back to Kingston via the village of Westport. While there, I checked on my e-mail and found this interesting mathematical analysis of the Fibonnaci from my friend Margaret Lamb, who also happens to one of Isabel's profs at Queen's University.

I'm almost done with the Fibonacci neckerchief.  And Fibonacci numbers just came up in my first-year class -- brought up by a student, not me.  So now I need to hurry and finish it so I can take it to class and show it off.  I'm very happy with the look of it.  It's a nice relaxing knit, with the pattern of stripes and increases keeping it from descending from relaxing to rewarding!  I actually got to the end of the pattern (minus edging) a few days ago, but I have a good bit of yarn left and I'm going to make an extra stripe.  If it's not enough for a 22-row stripe, I'll make it 8 or 15 rows to keep with the Fibonacci pattern but starting to go backwards. 

There's actually a mathematical point in that class that I sometimes illustrate with a knitting analogy, so the neckerchief will do double duty.   One of the things we study is the "efficiency" of algorithms and how they vary with the size of the problem.  For example, to search for number in a list of N numbers takes time proportional to N.  But to sort a list of N numbers in the obvious way takes time proportional to N squared.  So my knitting analogy is that to knit a rectangular scarf N inches long takes time proportion to N.  But to knit a triangular shawl N inches high takes time proportional to N squared because each row has more stitches than the last.  I like that because it puts a mathematical explanation to the feelings I always have while knitting a triangular project.  I get it what feels like "half done" in very little time -- I mean half of the height I want.  And then the second "half" seems to take forever....  It always takes me by surprise somehow.

I just love being able to be a math geek and a knitting geek at the same time...

Thanks, Margaret.


  1. Such beautiful pictures. Despite November being a mostly maligned month, I love November scenery. And thanks for the math class. It adds credibility to our craft.

  2. I also think November is often the most beautiful month of the year. The quality of the light changes when the leaves are gone.