Knitting equals math.

Don’t let anyone tell you differently: though it’s tempting to jump right in and start knitting away, careful planning can help you avoid a trip to the frog pond.

You’d think I would have learned my lesson from this little fiasco, but no, my thought process for my aunt’s garter-stitch scarf (a Christmas gift due in exactly eight days) went like this:

Saturday, 11:30 a.m. Dammit, I dropped a stitch in this other garter-stitch scarf I’m making – it’s not responding to my attempts to fix it, so I’ll put it aside for the moment. I’m glad I brought another project to work on for this car ride.

Saturday, 11:45 a.m. Pattern says cast on 15 stitches on size 11 needles, knit every row. I brought size 10 needles because I’m a loose knitter – I’ll cast on two extra stitches to make it a little wider. That should work out fine (right?) because smaller stitches on a smaller needle take less yarn, so it will all even out in the end.

Sunday, 8:45 a.m. Wow, this is going fast. I’m almost done with the first ball of yarn, and it’s only taken a day. I might actually finish all of my Christmas knitting on time.

Sunday, 10:03 a.m. I’m running out of yarn – this scarf is going to be too short. Cripes.

Sunday, 10:04 a.m. Panicking seems to be a good idea. Does anyone carry the yarn I need locally? No? Should I pay nearly the cost of the yarn in postage to buy more? Should I *gasp* frog the entire thing and start over? I. am. the. worst. knitter. ever. (See, that’s the panic talking.)

It was at this point that Knit One, Purl Too’s official Scarf Knitting Technician (my husband) took over, reminding me that if I knew my gauge and did some simple math, I could say “I want a four foot scarf, how many stitches should I cast on on size 10 needles?” and get my answer. My answer was thirteen. See? Math helps because my earlier guess that took me in the other direction (more stitches) was wrong! Guessing=bad. Math=good!

So now, I am in a thirteen-stitches-wide knitting frenzy, almost back to where I was before I frogged (actually, since this picture was taken, showing the tiny yarn nugget remaining from the first ball, I’ve knitted through lunch and watched three hours of television and am nearly halfway through the second ball). For what it’s worth, I’ve also done a decent job of picking up the dropped stitch in garter scarf #1, so that’s three out of four holiday gifts close to completion. Thank goodness! But I’ve made some rules for next year:

1. All holiday knitting must be completed by Halloween. Start anytime during the year, finish by November 1.

2. If I participate in gift exchanges with family or co-workers, where I don’t know the recipient’s taste far in advance, those will be the only holiday projects allowed after November 1.

3. Ideally, those gifts will be another version of an item I’ve previously knitted, to avoid finding out midstream that a particular technique takes far longer than I thought.

4. Only under the most dire knitting circumstances will I allow myself to knit under time constraints that cause me to utter the words “I don’t have time to make a mistake with this project.” For then, I surely will do just that.

5. If I make a mistake, I am not allowed to abandon or perform major frogging on a gift project for at least 24 hours – I’ll let the error mellow rather than acting out of panic. Perspective is everything.

6. When all holiday knitting is done, I’ll reward myself with a large, relaxing (perhaps even complex) project to wind down from all the hats and scarves – knitted at whatever pace I want.

4 thoughts on “Knitting equals math.

  1. Lisa

    I like your rules, and I think I will (try) to adopt them for next year, too. 🙂
    Doesn’t it suck to really learn the value of a gauge swatch? And you’d think it’d stick with us, the lesson learned, but still we all will go ahead and say “screw that gauge swatch…i’m feeling wild today!” and probably regret it 🙂

  2. Lisa

    I like your rules too! Especially as I’m frantically knitting the last three feet of a scarf-present. Bah.

    Three out of four knitted gifts sounds like great progress to me! Happy knitting!

  3. Lisa

    I can relate to your guessing game…I once made my hubby a sweater (as an experienced beginner) and when completed, it would’ve fit Danny DiVito perfectly! You would think that I would have learned to never guess again; but I still do it in a pinch…but not on large projects like adult sweaters! Merry Christmas!

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