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These Mathematical Scarves Are Designed By a Computer Algorithm

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It’s still summer, but these mathematical merino scarves designed with a computer algorithm are getting us in the mood for colder temps. And making us wonder if we need to improve our coding skills.

They’re called KnitYak: black-and-white merino scarves that each have a snowflake-unique design that’s generated by a computer algorithm. The woman behind the project is mathematician Fabienne Serriere, who loved the idea of computer generated patterns for fashion but couldn’t find a textile factory that was interested in producing one-off knitwear. So she started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for an industrial knitting machine that’ll generate “provably unique scarves” using “elementary cellular automata.” Translation? Geeky, beautiful winter wear. (Cellular automation is referring to the algorithm she ended up choosing for the design.)


“I set out on a journey to find code that created images that look great ‘pixelly’ as a knit. Knitting is made up of tiny ‘v’’s, not square pixels, so that also played into the choice of algorithms,” Serriere describes on the Kickstarter page.


Each scarf is shipped with the code used in its design, plus the generating key used to make the pattern. “There is something powerful about knowing the mathematics and code behind the pattern you are wearing,” she says. Don’t like the black-and-white? Serrine says you can easily dye it to be black-and-blue, black-and-purple, and so on. Her Kickstarter has just over a day to go, but it’s hit its goal of $100,000.

Math you can wear: We like it.