Designer uses algorithms to create unique knit scarves

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Designer uses algorithms to create unique knit scarves

If you fall within the intersection of a Venn diagram, wherein circle A is labeled "knitting enthusiast" and circle B is "math geek," then you've got to see this Kickstarter campaign. It's called KnitYak, and its creator promises 100 percent unique black-and-white scarves for each backer. How? By using elementary cellular automaton algorithms, which follow several different "rules" to determine the value (specifically, the color) of each square cell, or in this case, each knit stitch. That's oversimplifying it, of course, but you can read more about it and look at the patterns different rules generate on Wolfram Mathworld. As you can see from the website, each rule produces a distinct pattern, though the designer can make a lot of unique scarves using the same rule just by starting from different rows.

Take for example:

The campaign's mastermind, Fabienne "fbz" Serriere*, is a hand-knitter (and mathematician -- duh!), but she plans to use an industrial knitting machine to make her backers' rewards. In fact, part of the $100,000 she aims to raise will go towards the purchase of that machine. By the way, despite the campaign's name, the scarves will not be made of yak wool -- sorry to disappoint, yak fans -- but of US-spun merino yarn. The lowest price you can pledge to get a 7 x 75-inch scarf is $150, while for 20 x 62-inch wraps, you need to pony up at least $380. If all goes according to plan, the rewards should ship out by June 2016, and you can show off your mad love for math by winter next year.

*PS: Serriere wrote a few posts for Engadget way back in 2005, but we've never met or talked before. We assure you that she didn't pay us in geeky knit scarves to write this up.

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