Selfish knitting with bonus maths homework ;)

Recently I saw a lovely green Cowl Scarf on the Dressing the Role blog and wanted one for myself. Since I’d been furtling through my yarn stash recently I remembered that I had 2 balls of a mainly burgandyish yarn with subtle gold/purple highlights variegated through it (technical details: Attimo trends, colour 088, shade 001, 47% wool, 29% acrylic, 17% mohair, 7% alpaca, by Adriafil, the band suggests that 13 stitches and 18 rows on 6.5mm needles should make a square, I’m presuming that is supposed to be a 10cm/4″ square the bar code was printed over that information rendering it illegible) in my stash, which I’d originally bought thinking of making myself some kind of giant cowl scarf. I don’t think I had a pattern in mind, so decided this must be it.

Close up - loving the moss stitch texture, not so keen on the uneven edges that changing colour in moss stitch leaves

Close up showing the lovely colours in the yarn. I’ve fallen in love with the moss stitch texture (and have been daydreaming about knitting a jumper in moss stitch, like I have the patience to finish something that large, ha), but I’m not so keen on the uneven edges that changing colour in moss stitch leaves

I also used Jen Geigley’s GAP-tastic cowl pattern (free download from ravelry) which is basically just a large circular scarf knitted in moss stitch. I only referred to it at the beginning to know how many stitches to cast on. I did a short piece of swatching before casting on to check my tension. Unfortunately this was finished in the pub (hubby and I have an hour in the pub each week while the kids are at a club together) and I didn’t have the foresight to take a tape measure with me, so the swatch was evaluated by comparing stitches to our thumb widths and guesstimating (plus trying to remember the pattern instructions from memory as I’d not printed it out), so I’m not really sure you could say I followed the pattern, more was inspired by it.

another close up

another close up

In the end I had 134 stitches on 6.5 mm needles and I think I knitted 42 rows (if in doubt, stick to the Answer to Life the Universe and Everything, but really I was just trying to eek the most out of my 2 balls of yarn without leaving myself short). The pattern is for 131 stitches but that bugged me because whilst an odd number means that you can keep knitting alternating plain/purl stitches as you go round it also means that you end up with two stitches the same at the beginning/end of each row, so you’d have a stripe of matching stitches up going up the scarf marking the row ends. An even number of stitches makes the end product look right (if you’re bothered about these things, I suspect no one would ever notice if I’d used an odd number of stitches, but it really bothered me) but an even number of stitches means you have to pay attention and knit or purl two of the same stitches together each time you start a new row. It took me a couple of rows to figure out what was going on (I was out and about at the time), hence my row increased from 131 as in the pattern to 134. I used both balls of the Attimo for the cowl plus a leftover bit of some grey/blue yarn (band and details lost in the mists of time, I think it’s some wool/acrylic blend), which is less hairy and seemed the same chunkiness. I liked how the grey/blue looked with the other yarn, so I put a 4 row stripe of it 5 rows in from each side. As the Attimo yarn balls had been reduced to £2.40 each (from £3 something. the original price was obscured) this means this cost me under £5 to make, which I think is a bargain (if you discount all the knitting time, ha). Oh and the finished dimensions: a mere 7″ wide (not 15″ as the pattern suggests) and 53″ around, which I think is slightly longer than the pattern, so maybe I could’ve got a bit more width out of my yarn with more careful swatch measuring.

It got finished in about 10 days, which is quicker than I thought, due to me spending a day and a half in bed being ill and not feeling up to going downstairs to the sewing project I have on the go (sure sign of illness) but this is a good portable project that doesn’t require much brain power (knit, purl, knit, purl, knit, ….). (Except that The Boy cannot get his head around how you start a new row in circular knitting and got quite cross with me for it not making sense, it just aint lego).

Successful scarf for under coat on cold and windy day (I'm beginning to think the myseterious yellow glow is something to do with taking photo's near my front door)

Successful scarf for under coat on cold and windy day (I’m beginning to think the myseterious yellow glow is something to do with taking photo’s near my front door)

There is an obvious mistake variation I made. I started of on some cheap and cheerful circular needles from Lidl. They broke after a few rows, the plastic bit just pulled off the end of the needle it was attached to and obviously wasn’t going to stay back on. So I bought some new circular needles, Pony ones with interchangeable bamboo ends, that the woman in the shop said she uses all the time (even over her more expensive ones and for straight knitting as well as circular). I really like them and shall be buying more needles for them. Anyway, I decided I’d have to start the knitting again, so I pulled all the stitches off the broken needles and tried it on to check that the cowl was long enough (it didn’t seem so when bunched up on the needles). Then I realised I could pick them up on the new needles, so I did. At the time I was allegedly watching a fencing lesson and was fielding off comments from other non-knitting parents. I was concentrating on picking up my stitches, getting the purls and knits the right way around, knitting up dropped stitches and in all that excitement I didn’t notice until a couple of rows later that I’d picked them up twisted. So I then realised I was knitting a twisted loop, which I thought was a Moebius strip. Now, if this was a jumper knitted in the round that would be pretty catastrophic, but for a scarf that is meant to be worn looped twice around the neck, I decided I couldn’t be bothered ripping it all out and starting again that it would be fine. Plus I’m a maths geek, I like the idea of having a Moebius scarf, like a character in The Crow Road, one of my favourite books.

never mind the quality, check  out the length

never mind the quality, check out the length

Of course, once I finished, I realised it had a full twist in, not a half twist, so it isn’t a Moebius strip (and it isn’t a non-orientable surface, any fellow maths geeks may understand my disappointment). This is not really surprising as if I’d thought about it, as my stitches were hanging down from my needle, I had to have a multiple of a full number of twists. Making a proper Moebius scarf require a bit more thinking, hmm, maybe one for another day. (OMG, this page is from the home of mathematical knitting, I daren’t look, one for the Christmas holidays!) Also, the full twist is a bit bulky, it probably would’ve been best without it, but I’m not unpicking it now!


    Bonus fun maths idea’s (no really) to play around with at home:

Take a strip paper, put a twist in, glue/tape the ends back together. You now have your own moebious strip.

Things to try with your moebius strip:

Colour in one side of it.

Make another one by twisting the paper the other way. Are they the same?

What will happen if you cut it in half down the middle (ie think of it as a road and cut along the centre line)? Go ahead and try.

Now cut the result in half again.

Make a new moebius strip and cut it one third of the way across instead of in the middle.

Make a strip with 2 twists instead of 1, repeat all of the the above.

Now try with 3 twists.

Want more Moebius fun, check out this link for more ideas (or search for MoebiusMobius (the o should have an umlaut over it really) band/strip, but some hits will have quite a lot of techy maths stuff in, no, I don’t understand most of it either (not without sitting down with a pen and paper and some reference books), but the pictures are pretty).

Bonus photo of ridiculous fask mask option - for those of you who read through the maths ;)

Bonus photo of ridiculous face mask option – for those of you who read through the maths 😉

2 thoughts on “Selfish knitting with bonus maths homework ;)

  1. I love this type of scarf, it’s got a look to it if you know what I mean. If I could knit this would be the first thing I would make!

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