I do love math. Its predictable and dependable. I’m pretty good at everything from factoring a number into its primes to mid-level calculus. A lot of my thinking is in math and I apologize for that.
Its like the open secret in my life. Not a dirty, hidden, or shameful secret. I’ve never been beaten for knowing the answer or socially shunned for sketching out a graph. Everyone who knows me seems to know I’m good at math. They tolerate this about me as long as I, you know, keep it to myself and don’t inflict it on them.
I see math everywhere. There is math in the way my living room is laid out. In yours too I’m sure. There calculations going on when I’m mixing ingredients and making dinner. That’s why we all own measure cups and spoon sets right? Yeah, I think everyone is pretty much with me up to there. But have you have counted up the number of jeans you own (8 pairs) and the number of cowboy boots (3 pairs) and figured out that meant you had 24 possible combinations of jeans and boots? I have and I apologize for that.
About a year and a half ago I designed a stole that creates an optical illusion on each end and uses some clever mosaic color work in the center (I think I’ll FINALLY get it published this week.) Then I gave the pattern to a wonderful, talented and fast knitter I know to test for me. She finished hers in about a third of the time it took me to make mine. When she was done we went over the pattern line by line and made some clarifications. I asked her what her general, overall thoughts were. She said….
“Its very mathematical,” she said.
“Oh my God! Really? Crap,” I said. Or I said something along those lines. Then I apologized.
When I first learned to crochet I did it mostly on my own with a hook and a book and some yarn. On the second or third attempt at a pot holder I had that moment where I realized … “I’m taking this string…. and turning it into fabric… and its magical!” I think we all have that moment. As a knit and crochet teacher I’m often there for that moment when it comes to other people. Its a really kick every time.
About two weeks after realizing I could make a crochet square any size I wanted and no one could stop me, I had another moment. I realized every line of crochet instruction was really a simple algebra formula. “I’m taking this string…. and making a real world representation of this formula… and its magical!” In all my years as a knit and crochet instructor no one else, ever has had that moment. Not in front of me anyway.
Row 7: Ch3 (counts as a dc), 2 dc first space, *skip next 2 spaces, 5 dc in next* 8 times, skip next 2 spaces, 3 dc in last (46 dc)
x +2x +8(5x)+ 3x = 46
Whoops. Sorry. That just slipped out and I apologize.
When I started hanging out with knitters and crocheters I foolishly thought I had discovered a enclave of fellow math lovers. Here was a whole group of applied mathematicians using their skills to make pretty, pretty things right? Nope. Just because the lady sitting next to me had a tablet of graph paper, tape measure, colored pencils and a ruler and was creating an adult-size intarsia color block sweater (using a child-sized sweater pattern as a guide) for her husband did NOT MEAN SHE COULD DO MATH.
Okay. My bad. I apologize.
I’m more careful these days. I know that a crocheter making a bedspread in fillet crochet does not want to hear that patterns made with just open squares and closed squares is just like the binary language computers think in. I know that a knitter who just finished a flawless lace shawl made with shifting and repeating sequences of numbers over 10,000+ stitches will need a calculator to add the shipping charges to her next on-line yarn order.
So at my next craft night I’ll sit there, with people doing math all around me, and pretend I’m the only one who likes math. Again.