01 February 2006

It's All in the Numbers

Shhh, don’t tell anybody, but this crafty business, it’s math, lots and lots of math.

Don’t get me wrong, I love that part of it. Makes me feel like the analytical part of my brain still exists even in a tiny, mutated form. But there’s also something that makes me feel like those of us spreading the crafty love are tricking people. “Here, pick out colors and move some pointy sticks around and woo-hoo, you’re making a scarf.” All the while we’re snickering in the background knowing that once we get ‘em hooked on scarf-making, we’re going to bring them into sweaters where they have to figure proportions or we’ll have them using protractors to do quilts. All a big pro-math conspiracy, I tell ya…

Anyway, I learned me some figurin’ yesterday. I had to run into the yarn shop and pick up a skein* because my previous figurin’ of the blue/grey yarn proportion on my Ribby Cardigan was a little skewed. Lots of blue for future felted bags, not enough grey for a collar. So while I was there getting dye-lot lucky** I got a handy dandy equation for picking up stitches to do button bands. The rest of the knitting universe probably knows it, but I’m going to write it down here so I remember it in the future.

stitch gauge*** / row gauge = picked up stitches / total rows

That’s clear as mud. Basically, here’s the deal. If you get 4 stitches to the inch horizontally and 6 rows to the inch vertically, you need to pick up 4 stitches for every 6 rows. Or, after that whole reducing the fraction magic, you pick up 2 stitches and skip a row 4/6 = 2/3. Believe it or not, it makes sense to me. And a knitting teacher I only claim to be after a few drinks. And so long as my students stick to scarves…

So, now that I’ve got button bands in the works, time to start training for those Olympics. I’m in the process of collecting my sock data, i.e. so much info on socks that my head is starting to spin. I’m going to do a blog entry in the next few days with all possible patterns and so on but for now, here’s the start of the process… the math. I have managed to actually knit a sock on double points before. It doesn’t really fit and doesn’t have a consistent gauge so I’m not sure it even counts though. Yes, I'll show pics. It's not pretty.

In the latest training endeavor, I’ve managed to come up with this.

I think this is a sign the Magic Loop method works, at least for now. I started to play with some Lion Brand Magic Stripes that I picked up on sale somewhere as “practice” yarn (don’t worry, before the yarn embargo started…). I started with the pattern on the label and it says to cast on 56 stitches. I’m getting a fairly consistent 8 stitches to the inch, so that’s a 7 inch circumference. Hmm, will that work? I’ve got numbers for average length of the foot, but don’t think I’ve come across any for average circumference.

I’m using Addi needles which seem to be somewhere between a 1 and a 2. I know the Opal yarn will be different, but I’m wondering about numbers for casting on. One pattern I have says to cast on 60, one says 64 and another gives 72, all for sock weight yarn. Ay yi yi, back to the math…

And noooo, I’m not knitting to avoid reading that page turner Ian Watt, not at all… I loooooove prepping for class.

*Yes, you read that correctly, I went into the yarn shop and bought one skein of yarn. It’s still within my rules since this is only yarn to finish a project. No other yarn was adopted by yours truly. Yes, it was difficult, but I restrained. Picture of strength, this girl.

**If they have the same dye lot 9 months after you buy your yarn, you’ve picked an unpopular color. I’m sure it’s the other people who have bad taste and can't recognize a great color, not me.

*** or whatever you call it, the usual gauge you measure, at least if you’re ambitious enough to measure your horizontal gauge but not the vertical gauge.

1 comment:

Lone Knitter said...

Leslie, your magic loop result looks awesome! I tried the magic loop for the first time last night and well, let's just say I managed to knit in the round but I had a major ladder. I found a magic loop video on this website: http://www.knittinghelp.com/knitting/advanced_techniques/. So I'm going to give it another try...