I used to be a math wiz (whiz? probably not). Not only was I really an excellent student (my highschool teacher used to gush and fawn over my homework and test scores), I actually enjoyed doing maths. I loved that it was so predictable and orderly, and that if you just followed the steps, you would always arrive at the proper solution to the problem. Math suited
Of course, that was 20 years ago (Aack! TWENTY years!!!!). After high school I shunned the ways of math and earned a coupla degrees in History, followed by another degree in library and information sciences, none of which use math all that much. Sure, I can add and subtract (sometimes I even do it in my head!), but those multiplication/division skills are, apparently, somewhat rusty. As evidenced by my sad, sad attempts to knit a button-hole row on the Castlegar cardigan earlier this week.
The pattern calls for 8 buttons (thusly, 8 button-holes), to be spaced evenly along the button band. Laura (I've knit 3 of her cardigans. I feel I'm allowed to call her by her given name) has you place stitch markers along the buttonband where you want your buttons to be, and then knit button-holes in the corresponding area into the opposing band. No counting, you just sort of wing it.
Now, Laura may be one of those free-spirit types of knitters who can just place buttons wherever they strike her fancy, but I, my friends, am not. I need structure, precision, and a little f*%$ing discipline. Place stitch markers on a whim? Was the woman high on wool fumes when she wrote this? No, this simply wouldn't do. Would. Not. I, fellow knitters, had a Plan. I would simply dig into my admittedly rusty math skills and figure out the perfect button-hole placement formula. Symmetry and beauty would be MINE.
Here's how that worked out:
- Each button-hole uses 4 stitches. I have 166 stitches on the needles. Decide I want a 4 stitch cushion between the edges of the band and the first/last button. Pull numbers out of my arse and decide that proper placement of 6 remaining buttons should occur every 21 stitches.
- Knit smugly, arrive at end of row with 2 button-holes yet to knit. Sit bemused for a moment, and reluctantly tink back.
- Decide to reduce the "cushion" zone to 3 stitches, and to reduce spacing between button-holes to 16 stitches. Feel certain that this should ABSOLUTELY work (because 16 + 4 = 20, and 20 x 8 - 160. Factor in the 3 "cushion" stitches on each edge, and voilà: 166 stitches).
- Knit smugly, arrive at end of row with not eight but NINE button-holes (whaaaa???). Curse. Tink back.
- Actually LOOK at the cardi and decide I don't really want a button at the top of the neckband anyway. Decide Laura might be onto something after all (why I ever doubted her at all is completely beyond me), and decide to just wing it.
- Retain the 16 stitch spacing as a guide (because you can lead an old knitter to water...), knit 16 stitches BEFORE placing the first button-hole, and knit nervously, praying to the knitting muses that they throw this poor, tired knitter a freakin' bone already.
- Arrive at the end of the row with a most fetching 6 stitch "cushion" zone. Feel profound sense of relief and victory.
- Said feeling of victory is promptly crushed when I realize that I've somehow managed to confuse the top and bottom of the cardigan, and that the longer "cushion" zone I had planned to be at the neck is, in fact, at the bottom of the button-hole band.
- Decide I'd rather set my hair on fire than tink back AGAIN, and that furthermore, only crazy people give a flying fart about button placement anyway.
- Finish button-band, graft underarm stitches and weave in ends. Do a small dance of joy that the cardigan is finally done, and immediately begin swatching for another project to take the edge off, thus thoroughly freaking out Muggle husband ("Honestly Dear, do you ever stop knitting???")
I'm hoping to get pictures of Castlegar this weekend. I'm actually wearing it today, and it looks fabulous. Absolutely fabulous. Here's the ironic part though: I haven't sewn in the buttons yet. Kinda makes me wonder why I even bothered with that stupid row anyway? Laura?
Happy Knitting Everyone!