The math for my mother-in-law’s shawl was done while my son was writing a math contest.
Did I mention the math contest? My grade 5 son tied for third, among 21 grade 5 and 6’s, and will go to provincials in the fall. It’s good to know he’s actually using my brain, since he stole it shortly after he was created.
Or maybe it’s just the way my brain works. Even when I was capable of five-page math problems, programming spreadsheets, running simulation software, and tuning control systems, I would still make stupid mistakes in setting up equations for anything not related to course-work.
So, I did the math. (24 stitches / 5.5 inches) * 22 inches = 96 stitches. Round down to 91 to fit the pattern. Easy call — the pattern pre-calculated for three widths, and 91 stitches was medium.
You may ask why I didn’t look at the finished size of the pattern and go by that. If you’re not a knitter, just skip the rest of this paragraph. It’s a flat shawl that calls for sock or fingering, 3.75mm needles. 22 st and 28 rows / 4 inches. My MIL chose DK and liked the 5mm swatch that gives 18 st / 4 inches. So it’s easier to start from scratch.
But before I cast on, I had to find the start of the yarn. I always pull from the middle, and can usually find the start, but this was a bust. In hindsight, I should have stuck a split ring in one of the outer wraps, just so when I finally got it untangled I would have some clue which end to start with. However, I didn’t, and several minutes of dragging it across my fingers gave no clue as to direction. So, I wrapped a centre-pull ball around my thumb, and cast-on.
After a few rows, I didn’t like the look of the cable-cast-on, so pulled it out, gritted my teeth, and did long-tail. I was impressed — even without a second smaller needle to wrap the tail around, my tension was about right. (Yes, I have a nifty way of wrapping the tail around a smaller needle to keep it even. Pictures … someday.)
After three inches (which was about six inches of knitting, thanks to one [YO k2tog] sequence that frequently became [k2tog YO]), I was more than suspicious. Yes, it always looks smaller on the needles, before blocking, but this looked even smaller.
I remeasured the swatch, to find it had shrunk. It was now 5.25 inches / 24 stitches.
Remember those 5 stitches I rounded down? Those are just over an inch. So the final product would have been only 20 inches.
My MIL won’t reblock it, so it will get even smaller over time. She’ll wear it out to lunch with the ladies, so it may get dirty. She’s careful, but it may need washing. So it will end up even smaller.
I know, I know, it’s only a shawl — what does it matter if it’s a bit narrow?. But my MIL and I had spent some time draping towels over her shoulders and measuring. The shawl will drape nicely, and bunch up well at her neck. Too wide would be much better than too narrow.
So, I redid the math.
(24 stitches / 5.25 inches) * 22 inches = 100.5 stitches. That’s the original 91 plus 12 more for one extra repeat, to get 103. It’s frogged, now to rewind the ball.
Husband, are you reading this? Our anniversary is just around the corner. http://www.knitpicks.com has a ball winder for $20, plus $9 shipping to Canada.
http://www.yarnfwd.com/ca/kalist.html and http://www.camillavalleyfarm.com/weave/winders.htm#5 also got good reviews on Ravelry.com. That big box craft store in the city south of us might have one, but if you’re buying local try the two stores in our city first.