Making My Pi and Wearing It Too (Handspun Pi Shawl)

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This post has been far too long in the making, but at last, I shall show you this thing that I made that I love.

Last November, I spun up this yarn:

"Slumber" on Polwarth/Silk

“Slumber” on Polwarth/Silk

It’s 4 ounces Hello Yarn “Slumber” on Polwarth/Silk, spun up as low-twist singles. It was one of those cases where I was suddenly struck by an idea of what I wanted to knit with the fiber and so immediately spun it for that particular project. And then as soon as the yarn was dry, I cast on for a Pi Shawl:

Handspun Pi Shawl beginnings

Handspun Pi Shawl beginnings

Ravelry tells me I cast on almost exactly a year ago (November 7, 2014). It was such a delicious and entrancing knitting experience. Just round and round I went, throwing in the occasional yarnover row. It went with me everywhere and grew quickly.

knitting during kids' piano lessons

knitting during kids’ piano lessons

I set it aside as needed to finish up holiday knits and such, and then picked it back up every time I could. Sometime mid-January I got to the end:

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I did a little picot bind-off all the way around, and then still had a little bit left and threw in some extra picots in about four or five places.

And then the shawl sat around till April waiting to be photographed. And then those pictures sat around waiting to be blogged, until now. So without further ado, here they are. (Get ready for picture overload)

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Despite all these action shots, how I usually wear it is like this:

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I want to spin and knit more of these. I want to make bigger ones and maybe smaller ones. I want to make more that are just like this one (plain stockinette) and some that have more yarnover rows and some that have lace designs in them. It is one of the most soothing knits imaginable, and highly wearable, not to mention a fantastic pattern for showing off handspun. Perhaps it will take me less than a year to show you my next effort.

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But knowing me, I wouldn’t bet on it.

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Or, Perhaps the Opposite Will Happen

 

So yesterday I did a bunch of math to figure out whether to rip back and add a few rounds to my shawl, and, if so, how many rounds to add, and I determined that yes, I did have enough yarn for that, and the answer was three rounds, and that was what I would do.

And then I proceeded to do the opposite, which was to move forward by intuition instead of math and keep doing the border I was already doing.

What happened was this. First, John pointed out that adding a second picot crochet cast-off border might be a nice idea. I experimented with how that would look and decided that it looked very nice indeed and that this was exactly what I wanted to do.

And then secondly, Annika and Kelly-Ann both commented on my post yesterday, pointing out that of course the picot crochet bind-off was eating a lot more yarn than a regular bind-off. Which is, in fact, extremely true. And my calculations didn’t take that into consideration at all. I mean, I knew it was taking more and yet I had no idea how much, so I didn’t know how to calculate for that. But I decided it would be unwise to add additional knit rounds without knowing the true amount of yarn this cast-off is consuming.

So I decided to just keep doing the border as I’ve been doing, and to weigh the ball of yarn when I’m done to calculate how many yards I have left.

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Then I began to get concerned – what if this bind-off is taking up so much yarn that I will run out before I even finish? Ack. So late last night, without a little less than three-quarters of the bind-off done, I weighed the ball of yarn. It was 3 grams. Three grams! That’s not very much! I calculated that at maybe 20 yards.

But then this morning, I did some more binding off. I worked and worked and worked. And then I weighed the ball of yarn – 3 grams! Hmm. I guess with this light yarn (laceweight-ish), it’s not going to register at less than that for awhile. So I’m just going to keep moving and hope I can out-crochet the yarn. And then, when I’m done with this bind-off, if I do have yarn left (and currently my intuition tells me I will), I will go back and add a double set of picots here and there at various places around the shawl. That sounds pretty, right? Don’t tell me if you don’t think it sounds pretty because I’m very excited about it!

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Right now the shawl looks like an indistinct blog with a curling border. I can’t wait to see it transformed by blocking. SOON!

 

Adventures in Mathletic Knitting: Calculating the Completion of My Pi Shawl

I’m interrupting my parade of last year’s projects to bring you actual up-to-the-date knitting news!

In November, I began working on a handspun Pi Shawl:

Handspun Pi Shawl beginnings

Handspun Pi Shawl beginnings

I have absolutely adored working on this project. It’s my in-between knitting, the thing I pick up when I have a gap between binding off and casting on for other projects, or for when I need to knit something that requires little attention. It has made for good knitting in the morning when I’m still waking up…

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… and in the afternoons when I’m waiting for my kids to be done with music lessons and rehearsals…

knitting during kids' piano lessons

knitting during kids’ piano lessons

… and in the car on my many-miles holiday journeys…

with coordinated nail polish

with coordinated nail polish

It has become such a good companion, that it’s been with a bid of sad surprise to realize this week that I was nearly out of yarn and so needed to go ahead and finish the shawl.

I did a couple of rounds of faggotting and then tried out a sideways garter border.

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Though this was great fun, I didn’t like how it was looking, so after a few inches, I ripped back and tried a picot crochet cast-off:

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I like this a lot. Love it, actually. It’s so easy and fun and gives the perfect finish to this particular project. However, I am about a third of the way done with the bind-off and it turns out I still have plenty of yarn left. I hoarded one long stripe of purple yarn to save for the end and I would love to use all of it, if possible.

Time for some math! Let’s take this step-by-step.

  1. I weighed the yarn – .2 ounces. I started with 768 yards out of 4 ounces of this yarn. So .2 ounces is roughly 38 yards.
  2. I measured the radius with my measuring tape – 23 inches, stretched but unblocked.
  3. The diameter is the radius doubled – 46 inches (again, unblocked).
  4. I had to look up how to determine the circumference from the diameter, and then I felt a bit sheepish. Circumference is the diameter times pi. Of course it is! This being the Pi Shawl should have been a nice reminder to me of that basic equation. At any rate, Circumference times Pi is 46×3.14=144.44.
  5. A good rule of thumb for figuring out how much yarn you need for the bind-off is 3 times the amount of knitting you have left. Let’s round the circumference up (I always round up in knitting, to safe-side things). 145×3=435. This is how many inches of yarn I need to bind off.
  6. Let’s put it in terms of yards since that’s usually how we think of yarn. So let’s divide the number of inches of yarn required by 36, to give me the number of yards required. 435/36=12.08. Again, let’s round up to be safe. I only need 13 yards of yarn to bind off the shawl.
  7. I have 38 yards of yarn left, but I’ve already bound off about a third of the shawl. Since the circumference of the shawl is roughly 145 inches, let’s divide that by 3 to see how much I’ve bound off: 145/3=48.33. But then we multiply it by 3 to estimate how much yarn I’ve used to bind this much off: 48.33×3=145. But then we divide that by 36 to see how many yards: 145/36=4.02. Add that to the 38 I have left in the ball, and I have roughly 42 yards of yarn left.

In other words: I’m ripping back. I have 29 yards of yarn I can knit with before I need to begin the bind-off.

I’m thinking I could probably do three more rounds of faggotting before doing the bind-off, what do you think? (I’m doing a generous estimate of needing twice as much yarn as the circumference for each round of faggotting, but this could be way off.) Of course, once I’ve added a few more rounds, the circumference will have grown a bit (probably by nearly an inch), but I think I’ve allowed enough cushion in my figures to make this work.

I do so much of my knitting by intuition, but sometimes it just makes sense to sit down and deal with the numbers. In this case, I’m especially glad that I did, even though it means ripping back. I have loved the process of this shawl so much that spending a little more time with it is pure joy.

Have you begun to see the well-known geometric theory behind what you have been doing? If you are a man, you will have spotted it right away. If you are a woman (sorry, lib), you probably expunged such theories from your memory the minute you finish high school, or even college, to make room for more useful stuff. It’s Pi; the geometry of the circle hinging on the mysterious relationship of the circumference of a circle to its radius. A circle will double its circumference in infinitely themselves-doubling distances, or, in knitters’ terms, the distance between the increase rounds, in which you double the number of stitches, goes 3, 6, 12, 24, 48, 96 round, and so on to 192, 394, 788, 1576 rounds for all I know. Theory is theory, and I have no intention of putting it into practice, as I do not plan to make a lace carpet for a football field.

– Elizabeth Zimmermann, Knitter’s Almanac: Projects for Each Month of the Year

 

 

How to Grow a Shawl, in 3 Easy Steps

1 – Get obsessed.

knitting during kids' piano lessons

knitting during kids’ piano lessons

2 – Get very obsessed.

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3 – Just get really, really super-obsessed.

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And then it just grows!

2 more oz. ready to be wound

2 more oz. ready to be wound and knit

Mornings Are My Favorite

Even on Mondays.

all my favorite things at once

all my favorite things at once

I get up early so I can do all the things I love:

  • read (this morning I was old-schooling it with a printed magazine – my favorite, and the only one I get in print anymore The Week)
  • do a crossword puzzle on my NYT Crossword app (not shown here but represented by my crossword jammies #nerd)
  • drink coffee
  • hang out with the cats
  • knit (to state the perfectly obvious)

Not shown: spinning (very brief hiatus right now, while I knit All The Things and also figure out what goes on the wheel next), Spanish practice (on my Duolingo app), and prayer. Also not shown is what comes next: all the chaos of getting kids ready for school, getting myself ready for work, and tending to our menagerie. But I find if I can get even a few minutes of time at the beginning of the day to start with all the things that make me feel centered, grounded, and content, then the crush of everything that comes next is a little less daunting. My only regret is that, while I can read and knit at the same time, and read and drink coffee at the same time, I cannot drink coffee without putting my knitting down (and vice versa).

I hope your Monday morning includes some of the things that give you joy!

Sometimes I Get Carried Away

I hadn’t planned to cast on for something new. I just couldn’t help myself. First I made the yarn. Then I had the idea. Then I had this conversation:

Insta conversation on my Slumber pic

Insta conversation on my Slumber pic

Then I wound the yarn:

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with cat, for scale

And I swear, that was all I was going to do! I was going to let it sit around while I finished up my sweater. But then my family went to see Big Hero 6 (thumbs-up all around, especially from the 10 year-old set) and I thought, “wouldn’t it be nice to have a little easy knitting with me?” So I packed up my yarn and cast on during the previews. But it turned out not to be super-enjoyable in the dark, because the yarn was just thin and slippery enough that I made a couple of mistakes I couldn’t see to correct. So after a few rounds, I put it aside and just watched the movie.

I really meant to stop there. I was going to get back to my sweater when I got home. But then I got even more inspired when I discovered on Twitter that a bunch more of my friends are also knitting Pi Shawls (Glenna is cheerleader-in-chief). What’s more, both Ann and Kiki are both going to do theirs in handspun “Slumber,” like I am. What fun! I couldn’t help it. I just got swept up in the excitement of it all.

So between last night and this morning this happened:

Handspun Pi Shawl beginnings

Handspun Pi Shawl beginnings

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