don’t trust car math

This is a lesson (mostly for myself) in doing my pattern math properly, and not just winging it.

I’m working on this shawl – the body of the shawl is a simple but beautiful stitch pattern with increases every right side row. The pattern* says to knit the chart repeat 12 times total. At 6 increases per right side row and 6 right side rows per chart repeat that equals 432 stitches increased (467 stitches total, in case you care).

Somewhere around 395 stitches I got tired of counting pattern repeats. So I counted all my stitches, subtracted from the final number, divided by 6, and noted how many more increase rows I needed. Now I could just keep track of each right side row with a simple hatch mark on the pattern (we’ve all done this, right? It’s like counting the number of increases in a sleeve rather than counting all the stitches) I figured I needed nine more increase rows.

I finished the eighth increase row sitting in my car** waiting for yoga class to start and I thought “hey, I should actually count my stitches just in case!”

This is where I loose track. I don’t know what happened, but when I counted I didn’t get 461 stitches, I got something less than 400. I double checked my counting. I counted from the other edge of the needle (as if that would help) But I seemed to be getting the same number every time.

So then I complained LOUDLY about screwing up my math the first time. I complained about having another 13 increase rows before I could start my edging. Yes, according to my car math I needed another 78 stitches.

This would actually have put me at FEWER stitches than I had after my first count. You’d think maybe some red flags would’ve been raised? I mean, we’ve all had black hole knitting experiences – where you knitandknitandknit and don’t seem to make any progress, but this is just crazy. Somehow I convinced myself that working 8 increase rows had given me fewer stitches than I had before.

I might’ve caught this mistake sooner, except I was snowed in with friends on Saturday. So I spent the whole day chatting and knitting and not paying attention. By the end of Saturday I’d finished 12 of the 13 additional increases. Then I thought, maybe I should count my stitches again.

521. I had 521 stitches. Somehow I’d overshot and was NINE increase rows beyond where I needed to switch from the body of the lace to the edging. This left me frogging back 18 rows of lace shawl which (by the way) has patterning worked on both the right and wrong sides AND which didn’t have a single lifeline ANYWHERE in the shawl.***

And you know what the worst part is? The pattern is correct. If I’d just kept track of the chart repeats like the designer (that’s me) told me to I wouldn’t have this problem. I’d have sailed through the body and by now I’d be 18 rows into the edging. But I had to second guess the designer (yeah, still me) and try and come up with a better way of counting things. And then I let car math sway my judgement even further.

The lessons: Just follow the pattern. And don’t make big decisions based on math you do in the car.

*yes, it’s my pattern, but the point of writing the directions out first is so I don’t have to think while I knit.

**yoga is in a loud and stinky gym until our teacher finishes building her studio. I’m convinced that waiting in the car is part of why my math got all thrown off.

***not my proudest moment.


4 responses to “don’t trust car math

  1. This seems to happen to me all of the time and can be both frustrating and makes me wonder if I should throw in the towel on ever designing again. Good luck!

    • Thanks! I’m trying not to look at it as a reflection on my designing skills because at least the pattern is correct. Of course what it says about my knitting skills is another matter :-)

  2. Lol!! Been there, done that!! Even in the car waiting for yoga class. But it’s a whole lot funnier when it’s some one elses knitting. Sorry, Becky But it really is funny.

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