Sun 2 Mar 2014
Here I’ll describe how to weave Fibonacci colors as I described in my article in Spin-off Magazine Spring 2014.
My first use of Fibonacci numbers was laying out my “Convergence Tri-Loom Shawl”. Every two years, the Handweavers’ Guild of America “converges” on a city for the HGA’s International Fiber Arts Conference. In 2008, they met in Tampa, Florida. To honor convergence, the Guild commissioned the creation of special yarn. The space-dyed yarn was dyed in colors of the tropics, brilliant pink, turquoise, green and orange. I plied the space-dyed convergence rayon singles with bright colored cotton for a tri-loom project.
I’m tall and wanted a generous shawl. Not satisfied with the available 7’ looms, I wanted an 8’ loom. That summer, we were planning a vacation in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, so I had my summer project. I had my husband cut three pieces of wood molding to create the tri-loom and had him bolt the corners together so I could disassemble it to take it to the mountains where I could reassemble it. He devised a transportation device, utilizing a PVC pipe which he capped on each end, the “limbs” of the tri-loom rode to the mountains on the roof rack in style.
Once we got to the mountains, I began to hammer nails. Yes, I’m obsessive, before the groceries were purchased, before the suitcases were stored, I was nailing. I carefully marked and nailed exactly the same number of nails across the top as were nailed into the other two sides of the triangle. When I started to weave, the threads became more and more angled; they weren’t straight up and down. I soon figured out that the ratio should be two to one; that is, two across the top for each along the adjoining sides. BUT, serendipity, it all worked out. When I first began to weave the shawl, I had found my weave very loose. I discovered that if I looped my yarn twice around the bottom nails for each time I looped the yarn around a top nail, I had a tight weave. (Twice the yarn and twice the work, but a very satisfactory result.) I finished the shawl by treating each loop separately, knotting fringe in each loop.
I wanted the stripes to blend into one another. I recalled when I was looking at sock knitting patterns reading that stripes are most pleasing to the eye when one uses stripes proportioned in additional adjoining numbers: 1, 1 (1 + 0), 2 (1 + 1), 3 (1+2), 5 (2+3), 8 (3 + 5), 13 (5 + 8), 21 (8 + 13), etc. The number sequence was named for Leonardo Fibonacci an Italian mathematician who introduced the relationship, also known as the golden ratio, to the West; it had been earlier described by an Indian mathematician.
By the nature of tri-loom weaving technique, each pass creates both warp and weft. It moves from the bottom left side to the top of the triangle and down again; it then crosses the loom and loops on the next available lower right nail before going up to the top right and then reverses the process, ending on a nail on the lower left. This process creates two warp and two weft threads for each pass. Therefore, my widest stripe was 8 pairs of two. The next stripe of the same color on either side of the mentioned stripe was 5 pairs of two. The next stripe of the same color on either side was 3 pairs of two; then 2 pairs of two; then 1 pair of two and finally 1 pair of two. I overlapped the colors, placing the narrowest strip of one color next to the thickest stripe of another. I love the final results.
I worked on the shawl in the summer and had to wait ‘til fall to return to the mountains to finish the project. (P.S. My husband took pity on me and my struggles at nail driving and purchased for me in Ashville a beautiful cherry Hill Creek Fiber Studio 6’ 10” tri-loom.) That next summer, I wore my Shawl as I wandered through Convergence. Yes, Florida in the summer but thanks to the air conditioning, it was freezing (at least to this Florida gal). A Convergence shawl with a tropical twist was just the thing.