Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Knitting and Math

Now, I really like math, I always have. I never got far enough along for it to get messy, and I just always enjoyed the fact that there were right answers, and they could be worked out. I loved equations, I adored geometry. Calculus was where I met my Waterloo but up until then, I loved it. It's odd, given my love of black&white thinking, that I ended up in Philosophy and Psychology, both areas known for fuzziness.

(Total tangent, I've been reading a bit on the whole issue of illiteracy in the US, and I'm wondering if math illiteracy is also an issue. Is that even the right term? Not quite the right term, but yup, it's an issue. Thanks, Google!)

Anyway, so I love to read and I love math. And statistics.

So, I'm knitting on my Forest Canopy shawl, and looking at the pattern, which calls for 8 pattern repeats. I'm knitting a large gauge yarn on smaller needles (god, will you just stop with the whole SWATCH thing already!!!), which is looking nice, I think, but really, I'm already halfway through the 5th pattern repeat, and this thing is nowhere near shawl size. It's not even napkin size, should you, you know, want a wool/silk blend, lace, hand-wash-only napkin, which I'm not saying you would, but it takes all kinds, people, it really does. Wait, what was I saying? Oh yes, it's not big enough. I also don't appear to have used a whole lot of my 100g ball of yarn. Given that it's a triangular shawl, knit...well, how to describe it if you haven't done one, it's knit out from the center of the long side. So, you're increasing every other row for a bunch of rows (20 stitches per pattern repeat of 8 rows). So I was pondering how to figure out how much yarn I might be using.

So, I created a spreadsheet. Ahh, the noble spreadsheet.

I figured out how many rows the pattern calls for (this is just for the increases section, not the scalloped edging, I'll fudge that calculation later), and put those in, and figure out how many stitches you're doing on each row. Then I look at how many rows I'd already done, and weighed my ball to see how much I've used. (Caveat, I didn't weigh the ball to start with, so I don't know if I started exactly at 100 g or not. Which may make all my calculations way off.) Then I summed stitches completed (2974), and divided the weight I'd used (100-the weight of the ball, or 3 g) by the stitches I'd done, giving me, I think, a grams per stitch calculation. Just FYI, it's 0.0010.

Then I summed the total number of stitches for the lace body as the pattern is written (9706) and multiplied it by my grams per stitch variable, giving me just under 10 g for 8 pattern repeats. This seems low, so I'll be interested to see what it comes out to be! It is interesting to me that while I'm just over halfway through the lace repeats, I've done about less than a third of the pattern stitches.

This means, obviously, that I'm going to be doing far more pattern repeats than the pattern calls for. Which is so not a problem, but I was all psyched to get this thing done, and it's not going to happen that quickly.

And, since I'm home with one baby sleeping and two boys off at Machines Camp, I'm going to go knit on the thing right now! I *should* be doing housework, but knitting and math are way more fun.


addi knitting said...

Math is not the only subject that many kids are falling behind in. Science is really lagging as well. But I am not sure how you can tie knitting in with science.

Knitting with a Purpose said...

Hmm, I'm not sure about the science of knitting, but certainly there's science in dyeing, right?

addi knitting said...

There you go!