When a knitter has one sweater OTN that isn't cooperating, a pair of socks that need contrasting toes because she ran out of yarn, another sweater OTN that has been sitting for nine months because she got distracted, and a single sock that needs a mate, what is the most logical thing for her to do?
Did you say, "Cast on for a new project"? Ding ding ding! We have a winner!
This is some cotton handspun yarn I bought last spring at the Shepherd's Harvest festival in St. Paul. I envisioned it as a scarf to wear with my jean jacket -- the colors cried out to be worn next to slightly faded denim.
[digression] Although I bought the yarn in St. Paul, it is from a local producer, Loretta Pedersen of Blackberry Hills, who lives much closer to me than to the Twin Cities. When I chatted with her at last year's Shepherd's Harvest, I learned that her foster parents were former neighbors of mine on the lake. It's a small, small world around here. [/digression]
On Friday I cast on 32 stitches on a size 9 needle and started knitting garter stitch. I hoped that by using such a large needle for yarn that was lace to fingering weight with an occasional slub that approximated DK, I would get a slightly lacy effect. So far, so good.
As I worked, I remembered seeing somewhere a scarf that had the occasional intentional yo/k2tog, creating random holes in the scarf. It was a cool idea, I thought, so every so often I'd throw a yo/k2tog into the hopper of my garter stitch. It turned out that the holes made by a yo/k2tog were not very noticeable, so I changed to a double yo to create a larger hole. That worked better.
I was doing all this while watching the first episode of The Elegant Universe, a series of three Nova episodes about physicists' pursuit of the Theory of Everything/Grand Unified Theory. The first episode starts with Einstein discovering relativity and moves on to how quantum mechanics replaced the certainty of the Newtonian and Einsteinian theories with uncertainly and probability. They never mentioned Schrödinger's cat, though.
Suddenly I realized that my knitting was echoing what I was watching. In the midst of the certainty of my garter stitch, randomness popped up in the form of the occasional yo/k2tog. This gave me a good chuckle.
After four or five inches of deterministic garter stitch and quantum holes, it became increasingly clear that the whole thing was NOT working as intended. Instead of a whimsical scarf made by an accomplished knitter, it looked like something made by a beginner who couldn't keep track of her stitches or whether the working yarn was supposed to be in front or in back. The variegation of the yarn just compounded the randomness until the knitting was... a mess. So I frogged.
On Saturday, Barbara Walker came to my rescue as she has for countless knitters before me. I found this stitch:
I chose the faggoting variation in the outlined area over the others because it required p2tog as opposed to the ssk and k2tog of variations one and two. If I get to choose the maneuver I will make hundreds (or thousands) of times in the next week or so I'm gonna pick the one that is the easiest on my hands and on my patience.
So I cast on and began faggoting, once again while watching the Nova DVD. This episode focused on string theory and how it may be the theory that unifies Einstein's gravity with quantum mechanics' strong nuclear force, weak nuclear force, and electromagnetism.
Tra la, tra la, knitknitknit, yo, p2tog, yo p2tog, to produce this:
Guess what? String theory!
Amusingly, one of the early problems with string theory was anomalies in the math. Yeah, and I had numerous anomalies in my knitting, too, but unlike the physicists I just ignored them. Those poor schumcks had to keep working on their equations and assumptions until they got rid of the anomalies. Neener, neener. Knitting is easier than theoretical physics.