Category Archives: Knitting

The Maths of Knitting a Circle

This post is a response to Episode 130 of the Knit Knit Café, a knitting podcast of which I have become a regular listener.

‘Guest Barista’ Susan is trying to work out the maths of knitting a flat-topped hat, where the top is circular. Listen to the podcast section from 31:30 onwards and you can hear the original discussion, where Abby and Susan between them describe the problem much better than I can! But basically the question is this – what is the decrease formula for working out how to knit a flat circle from the outside in?

It’s just maths, of course*. I am a relatively new knitter and I have never actually tried this, but I am very mathematically inclined and I see no reason why the following wouldn’t work. Bear in mind that we are knitting in the round here, so each ’round’ is actually part of a long spiral.

Before you start you need three numbers:

  • S = the number of stitches that you are starting with around the outside edge of your circle (the circumference)
  • C = the length in inches of your circumference
  • G = your row gauge – that is, how many rows you knit for a vertical inch of knitting.

Step 1 is to calculate r = the radius of your eventual circle.

r = C ÷ 2 ÷ pi

circle

Step 2 is to times r by G, your row gauge. So let’s say you’ve worked our your radius to be 3 inches and your row gauge is 6 rows/inch, then you do 3 x 6 = 18 . The number that you end up with is the number of rounds that you need to work to get to the middle of your circle – let’s call is N.

Step 3 is to take S, the number of stitches around the outside of your circle, and to take away 3. Call this number D. D is the number of stitches that you need to decrease in total in order to end up with 3 stitches left at the middle of the hat.

So we now have the following: (if you are nervous of doing algebra then I suggest that you write these out in a separate list with the calculated number next to each letter so that you have an easy reference)

  • S = the number of stitches that you are starting with around the outside edge of your circle (the circumference)
  • C = the length in inches of your circumference
  • G = your row gauge – that is, how many rows you knit for a vertical inch of knitting.
  • r = the radius of your circle
  • N = the number of rounds that you’re going to need to work, and
  • D = the total number of decrease stitches

Step 4 (nearly there!): do D ÷ N. This will tell you how many stitches you need to decrease on each round, using your favourite decrease. In order to get a nice even circle, you should try and spread the decreases out around the circle as much as possible, and try not to decrease at the same point on next-door rounds.

At the end of this, you’ll end up with 3 stitches left. Break the yarn, and pull the tail through the stitches to secure them.

One important thing to note is that you will very rarely end up with nice whole numbers to work with, so you may have to do a bit of ‘fudging’ to end up with something sensible – it’s obviously not possible to decrease exactly 5.4 stitches per round, for example! Just bear in mind that you want to keep everything as symmetrical and even as possible in order to get a nice smooth circular shape. This will be easier in lighter weight yarns where a single stitch corresponds to a smaller measurement in inches.

If anyone tries these instructions, by the way, I’d love to hear about it and to see your results!

x

*This is one of the things that I love about knitting, incidentally – so much is “just maths”! Geek, me?

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My First Wollmeise

I cannot take credit for the title of this post – that goes to Minxy, who suggested it at Knit Night for a blog post of her own which she hasn’t even had time to type up yet. Sorrrrry. However it an apt one, as we have both purchased our first skein of Wollmeise within the past fortnight, both from destashes on Ravelry.

My skein is a Twin Sockenwolle (80% superwash merino, 20% nylon). I am intrigued. It is wound tightly – so much so that the 150g skein is no bigger in its current form than a standard 100g – and it feels much smoother than the ‘Pure’ (100% merino) that I briefly fondled I Loop earlier this summer.

There are a lot of people out there who rave about Wollmeise. I can’t tell how much of this is to do with the actual properties of the yarn and how much of it is about exclusivity value – it’s amazing how much more attractive something becomes when it’s hard to get. That said, there is talk of excellent stitch definition, and the colours… oh, the colours…

This is my skein, in the Zenzi WD colourway:

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I am not going to lie. I am in awe of those colours. I tried my best to capture them using a point-and-shoot digital camera and light image manipulation, but even that photo struggles to convey the intense saturation and the richness of the ginger and the caramel, the chestnut, the biscuit, the dark brown so inky that it’s almost black, but with almost blue-y tones where it merges into a lighter colour again…

I haven’t dared to unwind the skein yet. It’s just so beautiful. I almost don’t care what the base is like. I have a sneaky feeling that this first skein of Wollmeise may not be my last.

LIP: Life In Progress

This little blog is going to be pootling along in a low gear for a bit, because offline my life is taking some twists and turns that are both exciting and alarming at the same time.

Basically, I’ve been offered a new job, one which I start in eight days time! I’m going to be moving back to full-time – although when I say ‘moving back’, I only ever worked full-time for five months at the start of my very first job back in 2011 before my health and circumstances kicked in*. I’ll be moving up a band too, still within the University where I currently work, but most importantly I will be moving into the Finance division.

And hence starts my life as a woman with a career rather than a job.

This does mean, of course, that the accountancy study has to start again in earnest. I am hopeful that the new circumstances will make it easier than it has been over the past year, although it will still be hard, I am under no illusion about that. This will probably also mean that the time which I feel I can allocate to crafting (and blogging about crafting) goes down.

But that’s OK. This too will pass. I don’t know where it will take me, but right at the minute it feels really positive and really hopeful and that’s a really good place to be in.

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And for a quick knitted WIP photo, I’ve finished the first repeat of Chart 3 on my Orchid Thief shawlette as part of the STCLKAL:

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x

*which are best not extrapolated upon right here. All I can comment upon that front is that what goes around comes around.

UK Summer Stash

I blogged about my holiday haul from Holland at the end of July. Today it’s the turn of all the crafty bits and bobs that I have acquired during my various UK travels this summer.

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My in-laws moved to Richmond, North Yorkshire in July, and we visited them on their first weekend in their new house. It was a busy weekend, but we did poke our noses into Richmond market where I was delighted to discover Woolmouse*. The pictures on the website really don’t do it justice – it was a large and cheerful stall packed with nice-quality-but-not-extortionate yarns.

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I was tempted by the huge range of local Yorkshire yarns that they had for sale, but they were all in worsted weight which is not something that I’m really knitting with at the minute. It would have been rude to buy nothing, though, so I got some undyed Araucania Ranco and a pack of lovely little mother-of-pearl-esque buttons:

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Then there was Suffolk. We arrived in Southwold on the Saturday. On Sunday I was wandering down the high street and saw a sign pointing to a quilting display and fabric pop-up shop in a room at the Swan Hotel. Who was I to refuse?

In the downstairs, DaisyMay Quilting were showing off an assortment of their long-arm quilting work. They had some fantastic quilts on displays, but there was no contest when it came to picking a favourite:

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Upstairs, Glenroy Designs had a fabric sale. Even though I’m not normally one for quilting fabric, I spent about an hour in there, oohing and aahing over the fantastic range of cottons, chatting to the ladies in charge and trying to decide what to spend my pennies on (because there was no way that I was leaving empty handed). Eventually I settled on three fabrics. Two fat quarters – autumnal leaves for myself and a Japanese-inspired design as a present for K – and 1.5m of a rich berries design, which I intend to turn into a top of some sort.

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I came across some yarn which I didn’t buy, but totally would have done if they’d had it in the 4-ply weight. Dunwich Heath is one of my very favourite places to be and we were there at the very best time of year for it – when the heather is in full bloom and the bright purple sets off the yellow gorse, just-turning bracken and the blue of the sea behind. I think the notice displayed by the yarn speaks for itself really:

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And last but not least, I finally bought Simplicity 1882 because I found it on sale in John Lewis in Norwich!

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It’s been a great summer 🙂

x

*geddit?

Casting On for the KAL

Chrissy’s Crafting Library KAL launched yesterday, and I was totally prepared. Pattern: check. Yarn: check. Needles: check*. I had packed everything together in a new project bag in order that I could cast on in the car on the way back from a week’s holiday in Suffolk.

 

In the event, I cast on this morning instead. This will be my first time using a charted pattern, first time using 3-ply yarn, and first time knitting all-over lace, and I decided that I wanted to afford it proper concentration instead of getting distracted by trying to keep everything in my lap every time the car went round a bend.

But the upshot to all of this is that I am in! I have knitted the first tentative rows of Ysolda Teague’s Orchid Thief Shawlette pattern from Brave New Knits, and I’m really quite excited. The fact that I am under no pressure to finish quickly will definitely help too.

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D’you want to join in? Click on the button below to find out what it’s all about!

STCLKAL Button

*There is a story here involving my complete and utter lack of ability in taking care of my belongings, but it’s neither important nor that interesting – suffice to say that I don’t normally knit on wooden tips.

Letting Go

The inlaws are visiting next weekend.

Actually, that opening sentence with a full paragraph of its own is more there for comedic effect than an indication of any actual trepidation. I like my inlaws a lot and am really looking forward to spending some time with them because we don’t get to see them nearly as much as we do my parents.

However the sleeping arrangements that their visit will necessitate do mean that Jonathan and I are spending this weekend having something of a blitz on the house, of the deep-clean and proper sort-out variety (rather than the “ah, that lot can go into a pile for now” variety that happens most of the rest of the time).

All of this is a rather convoluted way to say that I discovered my second knitting project ever, my Fae Folk Hat amongst the pile of textiles in our bedroom.

Now let me say first that I loved this pattern when I started it, and I still do. It’s a quirky hat, designed for all sizes from newborn to adult, and all of the finished projects that I’ve seen strike that wonderful balance between whimsicality and practicality. Below is Carina Spencer’s project photo for her adult version, and, well, how could you not fall in love?

Photo from Ravelry

The problem is that when I knitted it, it was my second ever knitted thing. I used Artesano Aran in two shades – Sunset and Maple – and calculated the lengths exactly so that I’d end up with a perfectly mathematical, visually random striping effect leading from a predominance of Maple at the bottom to Sunset at the top. I also decided that as cute as the pixie crown was, I was a grown woman and might possibly be better with a standard rounded top to my hat.

I hadn’t realised that yarn requirements are often overestimated, so the colours didn’t work out as intended. I was a bit of a twit newbie knitter and didn’t add evenly worked height into the hat where I’d taken out the decrease rows for the pixie crown. My ribbing sagged out (what can you say, it’s alpaca…) and I ended up with prominent gaps at the stitch markers.

It doesn’t even fit onto my head properly, so wouldn’t keep me very warm without constant tugging down over the ears. In the long term, I am very loathe to call this hat a success.

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I am placing these shots here for posterity, and I am going to be brave. I am going to place my second ever knitted FO into the rag bag for the charity shop*.

All of that said? I’d really like to knit the pattern again at some point, ‘cos it is friggin’ cute.

x

*Charity shops in the UK can get £5 per bag of textile waste that goes to recycling.

WIP: a Quarter of an Omelette

After restarting my Omelette cardigan whilst on holiday, I’ve made speedy progress*. I started the holiday with just a faced hem – but now look!

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This pattern is SO CLEVER. I’m not going to expand on all of the details of the construction because you ought to go and buy the pattern to find out for yourself – but I am constantly tickled by just how much thought the designer has put into everything.

To give an example: I’m used to taking numbers in patterns with a bit of a pinch of salt – after all, I have to modify practically everything in order to fit me. But in order to do that effectively, you have to keep an eye on each number and really understand what it represents.

To start with I was knitting the fifth size up**. The pattern instruction read “…on the 19th (19th: 20th: 20th: 0th: 21st: 21st) row…”. I think that most people’s instincts would be as mine were; to assume that that zero was a typo and meant to read twenty. But actually no. Reading ahead a bit made me realise that it actually was a zero – but to truly persuade myself of that was a huge exercise in trust.

Annamária Ötvös has earned that trust a million times over already. I’m not an experienced knitter, but even I can tell that this is stellar pattern writing.

A couple more WIP details:

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Crochet provisional cast-on à la Woolly Wormhead. Now that the method’s clicked for me, I am never using another provisional cast-on ever again.

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Remember that I said I was doing an embossed-style motif on the left pocket? Can you tell what it is? I’m hoping that it will be that bit clearer after blocking!

I paused to take photos having got to the end of my first cake of yarn. According to my scales, the cardigan so far weighs roughly 70g. Nearly a quarter of the way through!

x

*Or as speedy as progress goes when you’re knitting an entire friggin’ cardigan in 4-ply. Ahem.

**I’ve now decreased to the third, because OHAI waist-hip ratio.