13 July 2007

sleepyhead stole

I have always struggled with the math. Granted, I made As in high school math, did well enough on the SATs and GREs, but that was only due to my ability to pick the right formula, stick in the numbers, and get an answer. I'm completely positive that most of the problems I've ever missed in my life do not come down to problems with formulas but rather the more basic and simpler level of arithmetic.

Since I've become a teacher I have learned the fancy word for this is "number sense", I have none. Well not none, but what I have is not strong. This is what enabled me to argue passionately with my mother that, yes, 29-12 COULD be 32 and why does math have to have one right answer anyway?

Luckily just like children learn better number sense, adults can too. Of course, having passed the best years to do this (ie the years where you are building a foundation for math rather than going back in and doing some major renovations and hoping the structural integrity of the building survives. Which it isn't really, have you ever really tried to figure out why the fancy stuff you do when you add unlike fractions works?) it is slower going. But, I like to think that over the past decade or so I have learned a lot about math that I didn't know or at least really understand before.

Imagine my surprise today when I realized all of that counts for nothing. Apparently I am now having difficulty just counting. The reason I know this is the beloved mystery stole. As I was happily knitting, I was working on this section that should have had 14 stitches. As I came to the end of the section I had one left over. So I unknitted the section and counted the number of stitches. There were 16.

Odd, I thought. Next I decided to count the section that followed this one as sometimes stitches leap over the little stitch markers. Maybe the extra 2 stitches go there. So I counted.

There were 12. There should have been 14. "Ah-hah!" I announced, feeling very proud. Clearly section 1 has two extra stitches and section 2 is MISSING two stitches. It is clear what has happened.

So. I started knitting thinking that I could just move the last two in section 1 over to section 2. Unfortunately, when I finished section 1 I (yet again) only had 1 stitch left over. How could this be? How can you have a section of 16 stitches, work 14 of them, and have 1 left over? I know enough math to say this Does Not Make Sense.

So, I took it out and tried again. Yet again, only 1 stitch left over. Apparantly late at night 16-14=1. I thought, "Well now I am certainly going to be screwed on section two since I NEED 2 extra stitches and only have 1." My slight but improving number sense also tell me that 12+2=14 (so do my fingers when I double check that I am not crazy).

But, since I was in a bizarre math black hole anyway, I decided to go in deeper. I knit the second section of 12 stitches adding in the extra one. And after I had worked all the stitches in the section (12) there were none missing and none left over. Apparently, not only does 16-14=1 BUT 12+1=14.

Who knew? Somehow everything worked out and the stole is looking beautiful....

(Everything above the white line is Clue #3 that I worked today, see the pretty beads?)

I think maybe the stole is mad at me and is warping the time space continuum to make 16-14=1. I think it is tired. There it is resting on the couch and all of a sudden it gets picked up, prodded, poked, and pulled on. What can it do but screw with my head mathmatically to make me stop and go to bed?

Good night stole. I hope you are less grouchy in the morning (my fragile number sense can't take much more)


Heatherly said...

i love the malbrigio! yummy

paige said...

Screw the numbers. When you are wearing your gorgeous mystery stole and looking fabulous in it, you will not be counting the stitches and neither will anyone else. Unless you sit near someone who suffers from OCD and notices that your pattern isn't exactly symmetrical.