It seems most people (especially women) who don’t work in math-related fields feel the need to declare things like, “I’ve never been any good at math,” or “I just don’t have a head for numbers.” Is that true? Or do people just not want to be thought of as nerdy? I don’t know. But I’m going to admit something straight up: I like math. I might even say I love it (except Calculus). And I’ll go even farther and admit this: I’m pretty good at it (except Calculus). There, I said it. Call me a math nerd, if you wish.
Better yet, call me a “mathlete.” I was on the math team in elementary, junior high, and high school, and y’all, I love me a math competition. The pressure, the camaraderie, the glory. Okay, I’m just kidding about the glory. Winning a medal or a trophy at a math tournament really does not win you any cool points with your peers, trust me.
In 6th grade, I went to Mathews Elementary, and our math teacher named our math team the “Mathews Mathletes.” She got us little t-shirts in our school colors with our school mascot (a tiger) on it. He was spouting off algebraic formulas and such. Dude. We were so cool. She told us that if we won our division and went to the region tournament she would rent us a limo to go to it in, and we did. So the local news had a little spot: four little mathletes in matching little blue-and-white tees, getting out of limo at a math meet. I really did think we were cool. So cool that I wore that t-shirt throughout my first year of junior high before I realized that there were a lot of things you could say about the girl who wore swag from an elementary school math team – and “she’s so cool” was not one of them.
Over the years, I learned to supress my inner mathlete. In high school, fitting in definitely trumped winning math awards. Also, Calculus kicked my butt. Twice. (once in high school and again in college). Somewhere along the way, I shut my inner mathlete away, sent her off to the same internal gulag where all my other embarrassed and embarrassing alter-egos live: the 11 year-old with the big curly red clown hair and the nicknames to go with it; the 12 year-old in the rainbow-striped legwarmers and bright blue eyeshadow; the 13 year-old who got broken up with – in a note passed through all her friends – in science class.
I wish that young girl had not felt so acutely that she was a freak. Or I wish, at least, that she had realized that most everyone else around her felt the same way. And I wish that all of them could have been able to just be who they were, claim what they loved, without such an intense fear of rejection and ridicule.
So on behalf of my 13 year-old self, I am claiming it now. I am a Mathlete. Hear me roar!
So maybe you will understand why what happened at my LYS in the fall felt something like a gauntlet being thrown down. I was happily chatting with the woman behind the counter, about Jared Flood’s Cobblestone pattern. Telling her how I really wanted to make one for one of my 3 year-old sons. Going on about how I just loved the pattern and couldn’t wait to get started on it for him. She looked at me like I might be a little crazy. “I know I’ll have to modify the pattern for fit,” I explained. She snorted. She shook her head. “I don’t know if you want to do that. That’s a complicated pattern – there will be a lot of calculations.”
And also: oh yeah? Watch me.
pattern: Cobblestone, by Jared Flood, Interweave Knits Fall 2007
yarn: Classic Elite Skye Tweed, color 1257, purchased from Webs clearance sale last summer, 4 skeins (440 yards)
made for: Tiny Dancer
cast on: December 22 (yes, gentle reader, that was the same day I was sewing 6 Christmas stockings)
finished: January 4
notes: There is more than one way to approach modifying fit. Here’s how I did it: I determined my gauge (4.25″/inch). Then I decided what size I wanted the sweater to be (24″). Then I multiplied my gauge by my desired size. 4.25 x 24 = 102. That’s how many stitches I needed to cast on in order to get the fit I wanted. From there, I looked at the CO number of the smallest size listed in the original pattern. I divided my CO number by the CO number in the original pattern and got a factor of 60%. Then I multiplied all relevant pattern numbers by that factor (.6). Other than that, I reduced the size of the garter edge and cuffs (to slightly over 1″) and made the yoke based on Tiny Dancer’s child measurements.
verdict: I love this sweater.
The yarn? Yum. It’s my first experience with Skye Tweed (now discontinued, sadly – but I did stock up at the clearance sale and got enough to make a sweater for both boys, My Old Man, and myself!). It was a bit rougher than I expected (and in general, I really love wooly yarns, so “rough” does not put me off); this was just harder to work with than most of the wooly yarns I’ve tried. But it softens up and blooms nicely after a wet block. I love this color, with its tweedy flecks. And I love how garter loves tweed.
The only downside of this sweater?
I’m afraid for Tiny Dancer to wear it, because I don’t want it to get messed up. (Apparently part of the job description of being a three year-old boy is to make as big a mess as possible, and on a daily basis. Extra points if the mess involves jelly.)
I want this sweater to remain perfect, pristine.
I sort of want to frame it.
I couldn’t get Tiny Dancer to give me any shots straight-on (even with bribes), but Little Buddha is always happy to oblige with the poses. Since he’s a bit bigger than his brother, the sleeves are too short on him. But otherwise, you get the idea.