Perfect Shuffle Scarf

Perfect Shuffle Scarf
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Designed by Rachel Bishop at Math Scarves. The pattern is based on a "perfect shuffle", a shuffle that perfectly interleaves the cards. Do it enough times, and the cards will return to the original configuration - the "enough times" is represented by the number of caston stitches in the scarf. Certain cards will group together, and are represented by the same color - modular arithmetic provides the logic behind the groupings. Rachel provides the full explanation under What is a perfect shuffle?.

I think this is very exciting, since I love the underlying pattern behind the Fibonacci sequence, but this is really only a means to grade two colors. I do not find the practice of rotating different colors within the Fibonacci sequence to use more colors to be emotionally satisfying (or a true Fibonacci sequence - and it is not based on modular arithmetic, either). I have a lot of green yarn in worsted and DK weight with different shades and textures, that I think would work well in a scarf like this. Instructions to knit your own perfect scarf. Alas, *.exe files will not run on the mac, so I will be using old fashioned pencil and paper.

It is also exciting since Rachel's was the first request to be added to the geeky knitting section. So she gets the first geeky knitting update - several more in (hopefully) the near future. The good news is that geeky knitting is burgeoning on the web; the bad is that it might not be possible to archive it all. When I first started a year ago, I did extensive searches and felt pretty confident that I got nearly all the available material. Now I feel that I am barely scratching the surface. But, overall that is a good thing - better too much geek knitting than not enough.

Knitted DNA redux

Knit DNA
Yes, I've heard all of the criticisms: the twist is backwards, not the right offset between the two coils, not enough base pairs per twist... But really this trumps all objections - you recognize instantly what it is.

Guts, gut persuasion

Knitted digestive system
Why yes, I have seen the knitted digestive system that has been taking the 'net by storm. Probably, so has everyone else. But I'm updating the geeky knitting section, so this is going in too. I'm also starting to put in thumbnails - I don't want to step on any copyrighted toes, but small photos fall under fair use, and the illustrations really add to the link collection.

Open source knitting

I've already blogged Heidi Antila's design of a knitted illusion scarf featuring Linux and Tux, originally published in the Finnish online knitting magazine Ulla. In true open source fashion, the designer is generously allowing translations (which are released under a creative commons license): currently English and French, with Spanish coming soon.


I have had a fractal pattern that has been stewing for awhile (so old it is not in the notebook that my SP gifted me, but rather on random scraps of paper). I have had a real block with translating it into knitting, since the principle of fractals means increasing amounts of negative space; so fair isle would work on the small scale, but on the larger scale it would mean intarsia. Or else making smaller blocks and joining together. Ugh to both, since it seems very inelegant. I just realized, while answering a question on what to do with two colors other than intarsia or fair isle, that the solution is double-knitting! *slaps forehead* Though for larger projects, joining blocks might be the way to go.

The other issue is distortion; I was thinking of a felting project, since the typical felting shrinkage results in stitch height becoming about equal to width, instead of stretched 2:3 for stockinette. Perhaps done in garter? That would be awfully stretchy for a large project. Must think more on this issue. The distortion does not matter to the fractal, it would still be self-similar, but it might not be pleasing to the eye.

The Fractal patterns I was thinking of knitting were based on the Cantor set, where in each iteration, the middle third of the line is removed and becomes negative space. This could make a really striking cuff or neckband. Or a sideways knit scarf. I was thinking of using the Sierpinski triangle on the side of a felted bag (I'm now working on a cellular automata pattern, though). The Sierpinski carpet would make a stunning afghan. Or, the triangle could be tiled into a hexagon, which would also be gorgeous.

This game called life

Or John Conway's Life, in any case. Introduced in 1970 in an article in Scientific American, this was the first example of cellular automata. Counters placed on a two-dimensional grid live, die, and reproduce based on certain rules (in this case, live if surrounded by two or three counters, and reproduce into empty squares surrounded by three counters) - the entire board changes with each timestep. Of course knitting is not going to blink around in this fashion! - but the stitches already knitted can be used to formulate rules for the next stitch. The easiest way to think of it is the row beneath (1-dimensional) generates the row above in the next "timestep." Though technically, you can also include the stitch just knitted in your rules (the coming stitch determined by the three stitches below, or the three stitches below plus the one just knitted).

I was thinking about developing a fractal pattern (more thoughts on that later, Sahara! - I will get to that eventually) - but wasn't enthused about combining fair isle with intarsia, which would be necessary for the pattern I was going to use. Enter Debbie New's Unexpected Knitting, with her cellular automata knitting. Voila! What could be geekier?

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Okay, maybe it is all about me

The swatch that ate Manhattan
Originally uploaded by thomasina.
Presenting the giant swatch - what a way to overcome the fear of "wasting" yarn and running out. It's only a $6.60 skein of Cascade, if I need to use the whole dang thing to figure out the design, then so be it. I can get more.

I'm trying for a felted bag pattern, that can be used as a knitting bag for a 1-2 skein project. It needs to accomodate DPNs, a couple skeins, patterns, notions, etc. Of course, it also has to be geeky! The design I'm trying, including "how to knit a circle" -

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Going for the double geek!

This was just brought to my attention by adriennec on the knittyboard. In a bout of double geekiness, Heidi Antila has designed a Linux illusion scarf, with Tux, the Linux penguin, on one side and the word 'Linux' on the other. The pattern is in Finnish - it appears to be an online Finnish knitting magazine - but the two charts and a basic knowledge of shadow / illusion knitting should be enough to reproduce the pattern.

Geeky knitting, redux

Now that my Geeky Knitting page is starting to get more exposure, I'm becoming more motivated to update and add the links. I'm going to feature them as separate blog posts, so that the new content is more apparent, and also update the original post.

First off, the most important update: the DNA scarf pattern has moved, and even worse, fallen off the google search engine front pages. In case you have forgotten, it was created by June Oshiro, and is now hosted on her own server at - also check out her blog. I consider this pattern the pinnacle of geeky knitting (I've done it! Twice!), so I hope the pagerank increases quickly so that it becomes widely available again.

thomasina's Guide to Geeky Knitting

Oddly enough, knitting and geekiness are like chocolate and peanut butter -- what at first seems like an odd combination is very complimentary. The mathematics that underlies knitting probably helps...

Geology and Paleontology (I have to start with this...)

MathematicsComputer Science

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