Fibonacci’s Palindrome Scarf

I wanted to make a quick, easy scarf, something that didn’t take a lot of thought that I could work on while watching TV, riding in the car, or sitting in public. Nerd that I am, I’ve also been thinking that Fibonacci numbers really lend themselves to knitting patterns. I found some patterns that use them for color changes, but since I’m still a new enough knitter that I’ve never had to join yarn much less tried using more than one color of yarn in a project, I decided to go with ribs instead.

A blue-grey knitted scarf with ribs in a Fibonacci sequence, forward and backward

There are probably geekier things than this, but I'm still pretty proud of it.

In a Fibonacci sequence, each consecutive number is the sum of the two numbers preceding it. So, for example, 0+1=1. Add that sum (1) to the number before it (1), and you get 2. Add the 2 to the number before it (1), and you get 3. Add the 3 to the number before it (2), and you get 5. So, going out to 5, that Fibonacci sequence would be 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5.

I wasn’t sure about having a scarf edge that was a one stitch rib followed by another one stitch rib, so I added in a bit of word nerdery, too — palindromes. I wanted a fairly wide scarf, so I took the sequence out to 13.

A palindrome is a word or phrase that reads the same backward as it does forward. “Racecar” and “eye” are both palindromes. Other famous ones are “Able was I ere I saw Elba” (about Napolean), “Madam I’m Adam,” and “A Toyota’s a Toyota.”

So, for this Fibonacci sequence palindrome scarf, I just mirrored the sequence.

13, 8, 5, 3, 2, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13

The 1’s are where the two Fibonacci sequences interleave.

I worked the scarf in rib stitch, with each number change being a stitch change. I also added an extra stitch on each end, for a total of 66 stitches, so the scarf could have a selvedged edge. Number purists can consider those the braces that enclose the set.

So, slip one knitwise (for the selvedge), k13, p8, k5, p3, k2, p1, k1, p2, k3, p5, k8, p13, purl the last stitch (for the selvedge).

The sharp eyed among you will notice that the last actually becomes p14 (13 for the rib, plus 1 for the selvedge). But I didn’t want to confuse anyone about the Fibonacci sequence there.

For a narrower scarf, cast on 26 fewer stitches (40) and knit the ribs as 8, 5, 3, 2, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8. For a wider scarf, cast on 42 more stitches (108). The ribs would then be 21, 13, 8, 5, 3, 2, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21. You can take this out as wide (or narrow) as you want, as long as you follow the Fibonacci sequence. It would be just as easy to do a blanket with this. It would just take longer to knit.

I found placing markers at each stitch change made the scarf knit even faster. I didn’t have to worry about counting stitches. I just changed from knit to purl or vice versa each time I reached a marker.

Fair warning that the edges on this scarf do curl, since it’s 13 stitches of stockinette. I’m not concerned about that myself because it’s a wide enough scarf that I’ll be bunching it up when I wear it. If it bothers you, though, add a few stitches of your favorite border stitch to each side. If the number purists nag you that it breaks the Fibonacci sequence, tell them it’s the braces enclosing the number set. Or you could use a different stitch for the “ribs”. As long as you follow the number of stitches per each change, you’ll still have a Fibonacci sequence.

I’ve got about 7″ done on the scarf so far. I’m aiming for 50-60″ total. I have an out-of-state trip coming up soon — 5 hours in the car each way — so I hope to make some serious progress on the scarf then. Especially since the temps around here have dropped to an unseasonably cold 50 degrees. I swear, last time I looked, we were below the Mason-Dixon line!

This scarf is proving so much fun to knit that I plan to come up with more designs using Fibonacci sequences and other math or linguistic elements. Yeah, I’m a geek. 😉

Happy knitting!

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One Response to Fibonacci’s Palindrome Scarf

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