|I made this design using text from Lucinda Mathews article "Knitting By Numbers" in A+ Magazine . . . Living Mathematics.|
For three-and-a-half years I’ve been knitting . . . every day. But I still have a long way to go in developing my skill set, especially regarding my understanding of the mathematical foundation of this craft. In the area of numbers, I seem to be a slow learner. In fact, it is only recently that I fully absorbed the concept of gauge and how it changes depending upon the weight of the yarn and size of the needles. Because of this sort of blindness to the facts and figures of knitting, for much of my limited time engaging in this craft, I have unseeingly followed charts or instructions, without grasping the concepts behind the actual construction of the pieces I knit. At present, I’m working on a fairly complicated lace capelet designed by Louisa Harding, and, while I understand some of the basic principles of lace-making, I’m still awed and perplexed by how the designer calculated how the rows fit together to form beautiful lace. I'm similarly flumoxed by how anyone could design a computer or calculate advanced physics (or any kind of physics, for that matter).
I keep plodding on, however, and, barring early senility, do aspire to one day have a complete understanding of how to do the math to create decreases and increases and textured knitted patterns. I’ve set my sights on seven years from the time I first picked up needles to gain the skills I desire in this area. While this time frame might seem to be a bit prolonged to some, as a full-time working mother, my quiet, extended time to truly spent concentrated time digesting information and practicing is a bit limited.
While during my harried present way of life, I will probably merely contemplate rather than practice focusing on mathematical concepts, I will, however, attempt to get some skills under my belt in a more timely manner, including mastering: intarsia, double, and Fair Isle knitting; and two-at-a-time and top-Down Socks (I learned toe up first and have stuck with this method.) I also plan to learn how to properly block pieces. (I'm not certain that washing them in Woolite and haphazardly placing them on a towel in front of my fireplace leads to the best results.)
Once all of my goals are achieved, and if I ever find myself as a bored master knitter and designer, retired from teaching, with my children having fled my stash-filled nest, I might take on gaining skills in the esoteric (and truly terrifying) knitting practice of cutting steeks. Wendy Johnson presents a great tutorial with lots of helpful photos Knitty. Brave individuals should check out this piece here.