Channeling Andy Rooney

What is it with the knitted mug warmers? Has anyone ever used one? Don’t they get dirty a lot? Wouldn’t yarn against ceramic make for a slippery combination? How much does tying the little thing around the cup add to your coffee-drinking time? How slowly do you have to drink your coffee to receive any warming benefit from said warmer? And if you wash one and it felts up, do you have to save it to use with Dixie Cups?

Last night I started working on my version of the December Lights Tam from Interweave Knit’s Holiday Gifts (you’ll have to scroll down for the picture). I’m only using two yarns: a solid black that is taking the place of all the pink/red colors and a gold and pink Koigu that is taking the place of all the green/blue colors. So far, it looks great, but I have a complaint about the instructions.

After knitting the first ten rows with 136 stitches on the needles, we’re told to (I’m working from memory here—this is approximate; the quotation marks are for effect, not a promise of exactitutde) “add twenty-four stitches evenly for a total of 160 stitches.” Now, 136 is not a multiple of 24, so I knew “evenly” wasn’t possible—but, of course, I suspected there was some arrangement that would be most even and that the designer must have figured this our herself at some point (the finished product in the photo most certainly is not lop-sided).

It turns out that 17 goes into 136 eight times. (I did not know this intuitively. It took me twenty minutes of looking for a calculator, then giving up and settling for long division all over the margins of the magazine.) And 24 divided by 8 is 3. Hence, we need to add three stitches for every seventeen stitches already on the needles. Which means this: *K 4, K into front and back of next stitch, [K5, K into front and back of next stitch] two times, then repeat from the * two more times.

So let’s compare:

“Add twenty-four stitches evenly for a total of 160 stitches.”

“*K 4, K into front and back of next stitch, [K5, K into front and back of next stitch] two times, then repeat from * two more times.”

Now, perhaps IK is just doing its part to improve our nation’s numeracy; perhaps everyone else on the planet looks at the 136/24/160 problem and just knows that seventeen is the lucky number and this will mean increasing every fifth, sixth, and sixth stitch; perhaps space was really, really tight and IK just couldn’t squeeze in one more line of text—but puh-leeze. Given that this pattern has been worked up (I’m assuming) several times during the design and publication process, couldn’t someone have said, “Those increases are a lot of math. Since there is a solution let’s spell it out for our readers.” Apparently not.

I do like the pattern. I do like they way my knitted piece is shaping up. I did not like using my limited knitting time doing long division.

And on a completely separate note, if you are a fan of Charlotte, her web, and little Wilbur, you’ll want to check out the Charlotte A. Cavatica pattern from The AntiCraft. Some Pig! And lace motifs that look like spiders! If only I had a grade-school teacher to knit one for.

P.S. I know my pronoun reference is all over the place, and this is exactly the sort of stylistic issue I would expect my students to address, but I’m just leaving things as they are—so there!

P.P.S. Don’t remember who Andy Rooney is? Click here.

P.P.P.S. The best Halloween costume last night? A girl dressed as a hippogriff.

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