Monday, 7 May 2007

More fun with numbers

So I've mentioned a few times recently that I'm getting back into Steeked jacket territory. I thought maybe I could amuse you all for a few minutes with tales of how painful it is to do this stuff.

For those of you who haven't been around long, this is the steeked jacket and there is no pattern for it. We're making it up as we go along, more or less. Step by step, with numbers. Nasty, painful numbers. I started working it out on new year's day, this year.

I need to say up front, I'm not putting myself down unecessarily in this post. I really, really struggle with numbers. It's hard. But I'm trying to have a laugh at myself throughout this learning process.

I suppose the one good thing I can say is that in casting on the sleeves, it's probably not as painful for either me or Julie as it was when I cast on the body. Now that was a birthing process and a half. That process involved an embarrassing number of equally embarrassing emails from me to Julie, saying things like, 'hang on, you said it had to be X% of Y and I don't seem to be able to come up with that figure,' and then having Julie write back saying, 'well, you were close but really it'd be better if you did THIS instead.'

I had images of her at her computer, shaking her head at this oh so thick person from Australia who just so clearly did not have a clue.

We got there. She was patient. I was doggedly persistent.

Then there was the month of frogging. But I try not to think about that. I think i frogged the thing at least three times. Then I found my groove and was very, very happy.

Now, I'm up to the sleeves.

It's all based on the percentage system by Elizabeth Zimmermann, so I have had to flex some maths muscles. I'd never heard of this system before Julie started explaining it, so I'm in a whole new world right now.

Clever people out there, don't laugh.

When I'm given an instruction that says, work out 20% of your total number of stitches, I get a loud ringing in my ears and it takes me some time to think, ok, I know what 10% is, but how can I be sure what 20% is.

Yes, it's that hard for me.

This is where a mathematically clever husband comes in very handy. We have a mutually satisfying relationship. I bake things for him. He saves me from the jellied quagmire that is my brain when confronted by numbers.

We spent some time on Saturday with sheets of graph paper and Julie's instructions. I'd managed to figure out the 20% figure. That was cool. But there's this whole bit, and I won't bore you, but trust me it's tricky, where you have to figure out how many repeats of the pattern you will need to do to get this nice mirror image thing happening on either side of the sleeve seam.

Sean knows next to nothing about knitting (well, he can do garter stitch, but that's just between you and me. He doesn't like it spread around) but he knows numbers so after about an hour of me nodding and making noises like, 'oh yes, right, I see,' (when clearly i didn't) we figured it out.

A-ha! All set to go!

No. We're not.

Two things were wrong.

I'd cast on the hem with the wrong size DPNs and it was clearly too chunky (huh? what was I thinking?) and the circular needle I'd bought for the purpose was clearly too long. You can't make 69 stitches stretch that far and not warp the fabric. You just can't. I know that now.

The whole thing is ripped out and a new needle has been ordered.

I'd like to wear this thing some time this winter!