Big Yes! Chaos Theory Scarf by Lesley Starke

Prepare your nerdy heart for some seriously geeky and gorgeous patterns generated by an eight-point, early chaos theory computer code.

Science + Craft = Joy.

No, you did not read that wrong. My Durham String Thing buddy Lesley Starke is knitting up this double-sided scarf using Rule 30 from early chaos theory, written by Steven Wolfram (father of Mathematica.)

She is knitting with two skeins of yarn at the same time.

Lesley is a scientist in ecology. She says that the project is the brainchild of her friend Joe Sexton (not a knitter). “He and I use similar approaches to the ecology work that we do. To put it broadly, we use satellite images to detect and analyze changes in the landscape.”

Back in 2009, while he was finishing up his PhD in Ecology from Duke University, they had a conversation about their work that exploded into this wildly beautiful creation.

Random triangles and shoots!

I love the stark black-and-white translation of the computer code and the random waterfalls and pools it creates.

The Code (pattern) runs along the bottom of the scarf.

Lesley claims that there is no pattern to this double-knit scarf. Here she explains how it works:

“I'm using a code that has 8 keys to it-- each produces a single answer: black or white, to create a random/chaotic image of black and white. The keys are each three-stitch sequences that I read on the row below to determine what color I should stitch in the present row. Four of the keys yield black and four yield white”

Their friends on Facebook
 recognize the code.

Don’t you adore this combination of computer code, utility (this is a scarf, after all, and will eventually warm Joe’s neck), wildly open creativity and the randomly beautiful patterns it creates?

Lesley, mad scientist & knitter, at work.

Big Yes to Lesley! 

"Big Yes!" is a blog feature where I share, with their permission, a piece of textile art that has opened my eyes to the possibility of what we can create.  When faced with things that are truly beautiful or moving or that fill me with awe, I try to say yes. More than that, Big Yes.

Durham, You have been Gnomed!

Yesterday was Gnoming Day in Durham!

Over 120 Cork Gnomes hit the streets and parks of Durham, NC, yesterday, thanks the devious plotting and maniacal knitting of the Durham String Thing.

The little cuties found new homes in the toes of an enormous metal camel sculpture, nestled in the bells of beautiful spring tulips, cuddled up against an enormous houka pipe on Ninth Street, leaning against the gothic spirals of the Duke Chapel and hiding inside parking meters, among many other locations.  One even flew into the open car window of a passing car and was caught by a lucky, suspiciously festive young Durham man.

Updates of their adventures can be found at their official site

For now, here is a fantastic composite created by the amazing Kay (a.k.a. “little red”) featuring the adventures of Katherine, Kay and myself as we found new homes for some of the little gnomes. Click on the image to see it better.

(I’m the dark haired one in black making a lot of crazy faces.)

Cork Gnomes to Invade Durham this weekend!

Tonight in the Independent Weekly Online, "Heaps of little creatures are prepping for debut, from bitty bunnies to budding bulbs and... lucky little cork gnomes, as the Indy staff has learned.
The news came in an "a-gnome-ymous" letter of Lilliputian proportion, attached to this little guy (or gal?). Locals will start spotting these little cuties beginning March 20, according to the message." Read the complete Indy piece here.
And don't forget to track their adventures at the newly created tumblr blog, Cork Gnome Home.
A little friend was just spotted in Seattle!!  Oh my!!

Something Gnomish this way comes

Look out, Durham, NC! On March 20th, an unholy army of cork gnomes will descend upon you! They will be hiding in secret places downtown, on Ninth Street and in other locations TBD.

Look at these murderous faces.

And if you’re lucky enough to stumble upon one and take it home… alas, I cannot say what will befall you. 

Brought to you by the devious fiberistas of Durham String Thing, of which I am a card-carrying member. 

My days have been consumed with knitting these Korknisse. To make my gnomes, I’ve modified the original pattern, found on raverly and designed by Manne. (An English version of the pattern, translated from the Norwegian by Saartje, can be found here: )

More details to come, gentle Durham.  Do not be afraid!

String Thing Ornament Swap-O-Rama!!

String Thing, the fabulous fiber arts group founded by my amazing friend Rebecca, had our Third Annual Holiday Ornament Swap today.  WOW!  I shouldn't be surprised, but I was just freaking floored by the creativity and generosity of all 11 crafters.

This was my second year organizing the swap and, as always, I was inspired by the variety of crafts represented and the quality of the ornaments themselves.  We had pzyanky eggs, basket-woven stars, Swedish paper stars, beaded and embroidered felties, crocheted pieces, knitted plush, colorful paper spheres, embellished glass balls, needlefelted woodland cameos, tatted snowflakes and, of course, my own felt ninjas.

Without further ado, in no particular order, take a look at these amazing ornaments!  (Warning, light is a little low, sorry!)

Kay made these gorgeous, needlefelted animal cameos.  I confess that when I saw the little rabbit, I knew that I had to have it for myself!  Her husband says the bunny looks a little angry and drunk, but that is right up my alley!  I only wish you could see the detail on these better, because they are just lovely.

Juline made pzyanky eggs!  I can't believe that she only learned this craft a few weeks ago, because her designs are just stunning.  She held a little workshop at her house on Thursday night, and I think I'm hooked. But it will take me a loooong time before I can ever make anything as lovely as Juline's eggs.

And here are some felties.  Sarah's happy gingerbread men!  These all have adorable fabric scraps on the back, which I failed to photograph.  Just looking at them makes me smile.

Lesley made snuggly acorns, which is actually part of (I believe) German holiday tradition.  (Forgive me if I got this wrong.)

And here are my String Thing Ninjas.  I think they look vaguely like zombies.

We saw some gorgeous paper crafts represented.  Naomi made these elegant Swedish stars.

And Monique made these fabulous paper orbs or spheres.  I'm not sure what the name of the tradition is for these pieces, but they are so cool!

And then we have knitted and crocheted ornaments.  Rebecca made these almost Victorian snowflakes.

And Sandy covered red balls with delicate iridescent knitted lace.  So pretty!

In addition to the Swedish Stars, Naomi TATTED snowflakes! I wish I got better photos of these, because they are so intricate and almost fragile looking.  Naomi had a mini tatting workshop a few years ago, and I have to confess that tatting is just beyond my stringy ability.  I don't know how she does it!

And Teresa made these beautiful wicker stars!  I desperately want one... hint, hint.

And finally, Kate, someone that I'm just starting to get to know, just blew me away with these amazing Angry Coal plushies!!  This is so TOTALLY up my alley, I just cannot believe it.  They are made from acrylic mohair yarn (allergy free) and have these fantastic expressions and eyebrows.  My coal man is going to be out all year.  I totally adore him!  (Sorry for the blurry photo.)

I can't tell you how happy and inspired I am by all of these crafters.  The thing is, most folks made these ornaments in something outside of their normal medium, and they are still just so wonderful.  I can't even begin to tell you about the beautiful things they knit and crochet... the lace, the fair isle mittens, the double knitted Chaos Theory scarf, the sweaters and hats.  I mean, they all make just BEAUTIFUL pieces.  There are several spinners in the group.  You should see their sumptuous yarns.  And they design knitwear and crochet patterns like you wouldn't believe.  And that is not to mention the sewing and quilting some of them do.  I'm just floored by the talent and creative energy of everyone in this group.  My favorite part of our Sunday morning get togethers (aside from laughing my butt off at all of our crazy conversations) is seeing what everyone is working on.


I know this is a long post, but I'm still flying from today and seeing all of the work my buddies created.  Makes this work week infinitely easier to get through.  The beige, RTP cube will have a much happier woman slaving away in corporate hell!

If you're on ravelry, come check out the Durham String Thing group so you can see more of their work.

Hot damn.