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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Lost in Numberland

Where have I been, you wonder?  Lost in Numberland, I reply.  Wandering vaguely.

There’s this blouse, you see, that inspired a vision, a vision of a yoke embracing back and shoulders but transforming into a ruffled front.  Simple enough, thought I, knowing that it’s all in the numbers.

But a merry chase those numbers have led. 

Sideways wouldn’t work; beginning at the front, relying on short rows, proved a dead end.  Rip and try again.

Top-down held promise, relying on regular increases.  The yoke, a series of wedges, complied.  The ruffle perplexed.  Follow along:

(Row 1: *KLL, k9.  Row 2: Purl.   Row 3: *KLL, k10.  Row 4:  Purl.  Row 5:  *KLL, k11.  Purl.) 

Can you see the wedges developing?  So far, so good.

Now the ruffle for 12 stitches: 
(Row 1:  *KLL.  Row 2:  Purl.  Row 3:  *KLL.  Row 4:  Purl.) 

What’s happening?
Right:  all jammed up.  Rip and try again.  Give it more room.

Same song, second verse, ruffle for 12: 
(Row 1:  *KLL, k1.  Row 2:  Purl.  Row 3:  *KLL, k1.  Row 4:  Purl.) 

Any better?  A little, but needing more room.  Rip and try again.

Same song, third verse, ruffle for 12: 
(Row 1:  *KLL, k2.  Row 2:  Purl.  Row 3:  *KLL, k2.  Row 4:  Purl.) 

After 18 rows of this logic, the ruffle-for-12 no longer fit on the needles, the increases were crowded in so tight. 

Then came my epiphany:  the yoke worked because, numerically, it resembled a slice of a Fibonacci sequence, an ever-expanding spiral.  The ruffle didn’t work because it didn’t build on itself in the same way; it was creating a spiral whose width didn’t expand.  I was merely building wider corkscrews.

Palm to forehead.  Duh! 

Here’s what I know and had forgotten:  Numbers only look flat.  Beyond that deception, their implications play out as replicating wedges, expanding spirals, constrained corkscrews.  Because every number has its numberNESS, its geometry as a result of its arithmetic. 

This is what designers go through.  Or avoid, if they’re experienced/smart enough. 

We rip so you don’t have to.   

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