Thursday, August 18, 2005

Let Me Count...

Not only am I math-challenged, I appear to be counting-challenged as well. While being math-impaired creates challenges for knitting, I don't feel too embarrassed asking for help. After all, I'm a relatively new knitter and haven't learned all of the tricks of the trade. Asking for help with counting, on the other hand, is highly embarrassing.

What's so difficult about counting? It's not that I can't count; it's that I never seem to come up with the same number each time I count. I take to heart the carpenter's maxim "Measure twice, cut once." "Count twice, start the next row." It goes like this:

"Whew! I'm glad I finished that pattern row. Let's count...should have 113 stitches."
"2, 4, 6...110. Grrr...that's not right. Let's count again."
"2, 4, 6...114. Aargh! That's still not right. Let's check the knitting against the pattern."
"Everything's okay with the knitting. Let's count it again."
"2, 4, 6...113. Hmmm...let's count again just to make sure."
"2, 4, 6...113. Okay, let's go to the next row."

Now, I consider myself to be a reasonably intelligent person. I graduated from college with good GPA; I can grasp complex concepts. But the conversation above illustrates how I spend my mornings with the Fern Leaf Shawl. I've taken to putting lifelines in every other row. I count, and count again. This morning, I counted (after having ripped back to the lifeline because it looked liked a couple of yarn overs disappeared), knit the next row, moved the lifeline, and at the end of the pattern row I was short one stitch. How did that stitch go missing?!

It's enough to put a girl off knitting lace.

More Extreme Knitting

Emily submitted this photo for the Extreme Knitting Challenge:

The location is the Ansel Adams wilderness of the Sierra Nevada. But wait, you say, she's not knitting. Yes, she is. But when one is solo backpacking, one can't knit and snap a photo at the same time. Emily is knitting the Norsk Strikkedesign sweater sleeve at a high pass (10,000 feet altitude). You can read about Emily's (and her faithful dog, Tiko's) adventure here. Frankly, I'd be terrified of meeting up with a bear, even with a bear canister. And Emily? Nice spork!


Valerie said...

Counting: get yourself some coiless safety pins, plastic stitch markers that are like safety pins, or make yourself some beaded stitch markers with the removeable earring fastener.

Hang these on your knitting needle every "so many" stitches. (so many can be a number of lace repeats, or a number you find easy to count). You can use them only on the rows that you count, or just keep them on the needles and slip them as you work each row.

When I cast on a large number of stitches, I put markers on every 25 for 25 and green for 50. Keeps me from starting over each time I lose count.

natasha said...

hey! i was going to say that! i forget everything thirty seconds after doing it, so use whatever you need to use...also, knitting in plain english, is a fantastic book with really clever tips all the way thru for everything you can think of. it is actually readable....

msubulldog said...

I taught myself to knit from Knitting in Plain English! :) I just drug out my "idiot tags" (little paper tags on strings) so I could set down my cable project without forgetting what the heck I was doing. Definitely a life saver. Great book!

Anonymous said...

Yep. Stitch markers. Them little devils have saved my life on my current project - a baby blanket with the alpabet in lace stitches. First time for me trying lace, and if it wasn't for those markers keeping me honest every 30 or 40 stitches, I'd never have made it past the mistake in the pattern in row 10.

Anonymous said...

At least you were counting to a high number. I was recently doing a feather and fan pattern, and had trouble counting to 6. More than once. Apparently 6 became 7 once and 5 another time. Sigh.