i may have mentioned before that i have a fraught relationship with the discipline of mathematics. this has sometimes proved challenging for my knitting. i can look at numbers and see overall patterns (which helps with IQ tests) but if i have to concentrate on the detail things start to go blurry, theres a funny noise in my head (like a child singing lalalalalalaimnotlisteningtoyou) and i get this glazed look on my face, like ive suddenly turned into the ultimate bimbo. so working out gauge, yarn substitution and resizing in my knitting does not come naturally.
one of my current works-in-progress, the summer solstice cardigan, requires a little more thought than your standard top down raglan. i understood the beginning, which is a provisional cast on in the middle of the back of the neck, which is then worked outwards with some shaping. after about the first 30 rows, it gets a little more complicated. i had to provisionally cast on more stitches and then join that to the first piece, and then start some even more complicated shaping as you work the front and back yoke at the same time and head down the shoulder and sleeve. i thought if i just followed line by line i would understand what was happening, but i was nervous, given my gauge wasnt exact. and the part where i had to join the front and back part of the yoke together just made no sense as written instructions. theres that visual thing again. luckily, i am blessed with some very clever knitting friends who can take your knitting from you, turn it the right way around and say ‘you just do this and then this’ and suddenly, you have something that starts to make sense:
its not all smooth sailing from here though. the complicated shaping to make a shoulder and the top of a sleeve is written with those dreaded instructions “At The Same Time”. those 4 words have brought me undone a number of times before, and given the two things that required doing were not happening on the same row, or the same number of times, a simple row counter wasnt going to cut it here. i realised i was going to have to write the next section out line by line, and then clever knitting friend suggested “trying excel or something”. so i did:
lo and behold, computer programs, using algorithms, formulas and other complicated maths type things, come to the rescue of the humble knitter:
while i feel a little pathetic that i need to write out (or in this case, spreadsheet) 60 rows of a pattern, i am much more confident about proceeding now, and think the end result (that is, something thats actually knitted properly) is probably worth it. i am hoping now that i can convince the resident geek to turn my spreadsheet and print out into a little app for my android phone.
knitting goes high tech. who knew? im pretty sure my high school maths teacher (oh yes mr howarth i remember you) would be laughing his smug self-righteous ‘i told you so’ laugh at me now.
i bet he cant knit though.