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Design for Weavers: Fibonacci & Division of Space

Division of Space In my colour and design workshops, we always look to the world around to gain our initial source of inspiration. Photographs, gardening, travel, and fashion magazines can provide you with images that make your heart sing. I have a huge stash of magazines for students to thumb through, and once they find the right one we get started on the second step of the design process.

It starts with division of space.

The weaver has a canvas in my mind—perhaps a tea towel, blanket, or a scarf. They have already decided what yarns they want to use, what the EPI/PPI is, and the overall size of the canvas. Then they divide up the space on paper.

You can divide a canvas any way you want, but I usually start with a division of two and build from there. I draw vertical lines first that represent the warp and then I play with horizontal division of space which represents the weft. You can add a frame, you can imagine a darker line or zinger. It’s playtime!

Sketching should be fun, fast, and quick. Leave your rulers in the drawer; this isn’t about straight lines.

Our guiding light for division of space is the Fibonacci numeric sequence. Basically, it works like this: Start by counting 1, 2.

1, 2

Now add those together. The sum is your next number: 3.

1, 2, 3

Now just keep going: add the last two numbers in the sequence to get the next number.

1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21

…until you want to stop. —Sounds a bit contrived, but this sequence underlies some of the most stunning designs in nature—including your own DNA, the spiral formed by the hairs on your head, the leaves of a lettuce, the seeds of a sunflower, and the shell of the nautilus snail.

Now that’s magic in design. And we can leverage that magic to help us make decisions in weaving.

There are so many ways to use this numerical series. My first decision is the big division of space. I can divide the canvas in 2, 3, 5, or whatever number I want.

I use it to help me create striping sequences, like in the example below.

  • 1 end of yellow
  • 2 ends of orange
  • 3 ends of red
  • 2 ends of orange
  • 1 end of yellow

I use it when I’m working with block structures and it helps me create with unit weaves, like in the example below.

  • 2 units of A
  • 5 units of B
  • 8 units of A
  • 5 units of B
  • 2 units of A

I use it when I trying to figure out how many inches…..hmmmm,

  • 1” of green
  • 3” of blue
  • 2” of purple
  • 3” of blue
  • 1” of green

The numbers don’t have to be used in sequence. Use them however you want.

I never let it lock me in a corner. Say I have a perfect gradation of 7 reds…..and they all move beautifully into each other, I don’t worry that it isn’t a 5 or an 8. I just put them all together.

But if I can’t decide how wide a border should be, then I trust that it will be either 2”, or 3”, or 5” depending on the width of the entire piece. It gives me peace of mind when I need to make decisions and I don’t get analysis paralysis.

After the initial division of space, I think about other words…

  • Framing
  • Zingers
  • Stripes
  • Plaid
  • Checks

I can add any of these things to the big division of space. It is a development.

Look at the photos below and see all the different ways the Fibonacci Numerical series has been used.

Plain Weave: Division of Space in 2 with a black zinger. Weft stripes are 3’s with a little zinger between them.
Plain Weave: Stripes are 2,3,5,3,2. Division of Space in 2 with a border and stripes. Weft colours are 3’s and 1’s in the colour changes.
Log Cabin: 5 Blocks of Log Cabin, 3 grey stripes.
Repp Weave: Asymmetrical Division in 3: Solid Left, Centre developed into 3, Right hand 3 blocks.
Repp Weave: Asymmetrical Division 5: Log Cabin Blocks of 3 and 1, Zingers of 2 and 1.

We go into this in great detail on the School of Weaving – click here to learn more & download your free Project Planning 101 PDF.

Hope you enjoy Fibonacci. If you liked this post, be sure to save it to Pinterest for future reference!

9 thoughts on “Design for Weavers: Fibonacci & Division of Space

  1. Thank you for this. You are the best teacher!

  2. I’m not able to print this…. anyone else?

    1. Hi Bonnie,
      I’m sorry but they aren’t printable. You could copy and paste it into word and then print it.
      Hope this helps,

  3. Awesome lesson Jane… the tips are terrific reminders that we fit so beautifully into this magical world of easy numerical sequences… as humans, as weavers and as design savvy and confident as we can be with your great guidance… thank you! And your team.
    Bethany in Kingston, ON

  4. Thanks Jane, for continuing our valuable learning experiences with a blog. I’m so enjoying the online guild and have promoted it to my guild members and friends every month when I show them my sample towel projects in show and share. Still catching up with season 2 samples, have a few more to weave but I learn lots with each one, it’s a whole new way of seeing color and design in weaving for me. Looking forward to next year’s adventures too, have a wonderful holiday season. Linda Gettmann, Bend, OR

  5. Life has been unexpectedly crazy for me with an unplanned move, so I am very behind in the watching the online guild sessions. How do I actually save the written lessons to Pintrest for later reference?
    I love the sessions I have seen and am eager to get back to them and catch up!

    1. I use Pocket on my computer and iPad to store articles that I want to keep to read later. This way I have it handy when I want to get back to reading an article. Feedly is another way to make sure you don’t miss a blog post – when you are “over the top” busy. Hope this helps and good luck with your move!

  6. I’ve been looking for more info on fib and weaving for a long time! Thanks for making this easy….Jane always makes things easy. I get “analysis paralysis” most of the time when planning a project…in fact I’d say I spend more time in AP than doing anything else….that needs to stop! Hopefully Jane will be able to help me with that 🙂

  7. Thank you for all the wonderful and challenging information. I think the hardest thing for me is to stick with one modification at a time…like making asymmetrical towels and then trying to divide the weft into a unit of three…makes for very busy towels….less is more! Getting bolder with colors…always learning and experimenting.

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