You canna escape the math.

So yesterday’s glib I don’t need no stinkin math post wasn’t entirely sincere. I knew I’d gotten pretty far without any significant math. But I also knew there was no way I could accurately place the sleeve openings without pulling out the calculator.

Backstory: I hit my math wall in the middle of grade 10. I just stopped understanding the concepts in any way that would allow me to get even a passing grade. Word problems tie up my brain so that it cannot function at all. And math wasn’t important enough for me to get a tutor. I just wanted it to go away, so my parents [uncharacteristcally] let me drop the class.

Thankfully, I seem to have retained enough of the basics to get me through the knitting stuff I need to work out. Like these blasted sleeves. Actually, it wasn’t so bad. I took the original stitch count from the one-size pattern. Then I started randomly multiplying it by 1.something until I got a number that was very close to my actual stitch count. It turned out to be 1.27, I believe. I’ve already blocked it out — math is traumatic for me.

Then I multiplied each unit [front, sleeve, back, sleeve, front] by this number until I had what looked like workable numbers. Then I added up all the numbers and they DID match my stitch count. I was feeling rather clever by this point.

I went ahead with these numbers, and then, as I have been doing all along, pulled the work off the needles and onto spare yarn to see how it would fit and — like the original, found the sleeve opening went much too far into the back for my taste. With Lise’s help at The Purple Purl last night, we pinned where we thought the sleeves should start opening and closing, and then I counted how many stitches to move about. After that, I had to recalculate the number of stitches to cast on at the underarms [using my stitch gauge and the desired width of the sweater at the chest, minus the actual stitches left on the needle after all that binding off for sleeves]. Rip and reknit 4 rows…no biggie. I have one more try-on to do to make sure it’s a good fit, and then I’m going to motor on until I hit the hem.

All of this is to say that if you’re lucky enough to be able to visualize what changes need to be made and do the math before you cast on, good for you. But if not, and you want to wing it [ish], you can make it work. But there is never any escape from the math.

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7 thoughts on “You canna escape the math.

  1. TravelingAnn

    So are you using lifelines for all this ripping out? or is the yarn sticky enough to not need them.
    I just finished designing my first sweater, a bottom up raglan.
    Your math gave me flashbacks.
    I put a lifeline on the sleeve/body join row and again near the collar so it would be easy to rip back if it didn’t fit.

  2. Gamba Girl

    Repeat after me: “Math is my friend.”

    You can do it. I know you can. If you can do the whole Knitty thing (and I’m sure I have no idea how complicated all that is AND you do it so well), you can handle a little arithmetic.

  3. Wool Free and Lovin' Knit

    It’s called “math anxiety” and someone actually wrote a book about it and I tell you, I feel SO much better having a label to explain why I hate math so much. Good luck with the guestimating — oh and say hi to Karen at “Shall We Knit” for me – wish I could be there to join in the fun!!

  4. Seanna Lea

    I believe in the power of math, but sometimes I just want to cast on so badly that I don’t even think about the math before casting on. It’s just very willy nilly. I need to remember top down as a way of life for those moments.

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