3KCBWDAY6 Skill Set

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.


  1. Oh gosh, I'm awful at the math. I usually ask for help: "Uh... so I have 75 stitches and I need to increase by six evenly across the row, but six doesn't go into 75, so um... help?" That's me.

    1. Oops. I posted my day 6 blog a little early. Blogger just switched me over to a new interface a couple of days ago, and I'm still getting used to how things work. Thanks for reading, though.

  2. Love that image, have you every thought of putting it on a T-shirt. I'd wear it!

  3. Thanks. I posted for day 6 a little early by mistake--I'm not used to a new blogger interface.

  4. That is one awesome image. I agree - t shirts!
    Steeking is just too terrifying for words....

  5. steeking would truly by the last skill to master as far as I'm concerned

  6. A really good book for learning about the maths side of things is Debbie Abrahams Design Your Own Knits book. You don't have to design anything if you don't want, but it breaks down gauge and maths into really easy sections. I learned a lot from the book.

  7. I am extremely uneasy with numbers! They and I do not get on at all easily so I am seriously impressed at your determination to crack this aspect of your hobby. I am sure that it will free up all sorts of deign possibilities and understanding of how patterns etc work. Should be an exciting journey! Love your pic and I agree with the suggestion above it would make a fab t-shirt design.

  8. I'm working on my math skills, too, and when they work, it's like magic. When they don't, I feel so tired! Now steeking: I am anxious to try but also terrified.


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