Sunday, February 17, 2008

Introducing Normality

Those of you who know me well (or even casually, I guess) would probably never put "fleegle" and "normality" in the same sentence unless there's a negative conjunction lurking somewhere between the two words.

Rest assured--I haven't misplaced my eccentricity, I am just talking about a different normality than, um, normal, that is, the geometric one:

normal. normals are lines that run perpendicular to a plane.

Wait! Don't go away! Normality is really a inspiring concept when applied to knitted objects. After fooling around with geometric normality for a day or two, I invented a seamless sideways sweater and a completely new shawl construction that begins in the center and works outward to the two ends.

The shawl begins with a provisional Turkish cast on. Each side is knitted by beginning in the center--the widest point--and decreasing at one edge until there are no stitches remaining. I illustrate the construction of the first and second half below. The top picture shows the first half being worked to the left. The shawl is then turned around, and the waiting provisional stitches are just knitted in the same way.



This construction has many intriguing and convenient aspects.

  • The border is knitted at the same time as the shawl body, so there is never a need to pick up any stitches and knit on an interminable border.

  • The shape is easily altered by changing the decrease rate. A faster rate of decrease produced a narrower shawl; a slower rate a wider one.

  • The size is easily changed by adjusting the number of pattern repeats.

  • If you have a knitting book with 300 patterns, it now contains 600 patterns, because normality shawls show patterns sideways. And trust me, you will be amazed at how lovely and unusual many patterns appear when you view them from a 90-degree angle.

  • You start at the widest point and your progression leads to fewer and fewer stitches on the needle. As you become sicker and tireder of the pattern, you will whiz through the rows faster and faster.

  • The construction allows for interesting top borders, a part of shawl anatomy that is usually neglected.

  • It's simple to make a little swatch with two or three repeats and see how the pattern looks. The micro-shawl is cute and can be used to wrap a chilly teddy bear.
Furthermore, normality can be applied to rectangular shawls as well by decreasing at both edges like this (only the first half is shown):


I have knitted a prototype mini-sweater and started two normality shawls--one simple, and one-complex. I promise to bore you to tears with the designs in a later post. For now, you can study how I constructed a normality Shetland.

32 comments:

errs said...

I picked up knitting because somebody said that there would be no math involved. I think they lied -- but you make it more interesting than my teachers did.

punkin said...

Interesting!

Laritza said...

Knit on edge! way to go!

Kenny said...

oooh, that's so interesting...... do you have your mini knitted up? I would love to see it!!

Dave said...

Woot!! Symmetricality without having to do that pesky grafting in the middle!!

I bow before your greatness.

nurhanne said...

I have seen triangular shawls knitted side to side, and this is such a logical extension of that concept I don't know why nobody's done it before. Something about forest and trees perhaps? Anyway, kudos to you for seeing what others didn't!

Katie K said...

Brilliant! The possibilities are mind boggling!

Judith said...

this is waaaay cool! I get so sick of knitting the same shapes over and over. And this gives you the option of making a rectangular shape scarf/shawl with assymetical endings, which I love. A sampler for the teddy bear - forget it - a sampler for moi!! thanks for posting the chart, will definitely give it a whirl.

Janice in GA said...

I'm obviously having a too-little-sleep/too-much-stress moment, but I'm having trouble seeing where you'd put the decreases in your sample pattern.

punkin said...

Thanks for your comment on the Posh socks, Fleegle. I think there will be more Posh yarn in my future. It is yummy.

Jane said...

Holy Mother Of God you are brilliant! I can't wait to see this in action and give it a try myself (Pattern books with 300 stitches? Who? Me?) This is way cool!

2trees said...

Hmm, think I'll have to play around with this a bit.
Would you have to restructure all of the edging patterns to make them work?

Kitty Kitty said...

Oh.... Thank you so much. This is such a cool idea.

knottykitty said...

Very interesting and educational....and way over my head! Sounds like genius to me, though!

Opal said...

I am endlessly intrigued with the new shawl construction. When do we get to see it in action?

Suna said...

You win! I had thought of doing this after deciding it would be a better way of doing those symmetrical scarves than making two halves and grafting in the center. But, I never did it. Lots of fun possibilities with this!

I enjoyed the comment about thinking there was no math with knitting. Knitting is what convinced me I wasn't a total math loser--I just didn't use it until I had GOOD reason. Much of the fun of knitting is seeing how all the beautiful numbers conspire to make beautiful items.

Ria said...

Hmmm, that's a really neat idea. I wopnder if it's work out well for a shawl idea I'm currently contemplating. I know I'm going to need to do some odd shaping to get it looking the way I want it to; it may just be that this way would work out well. I'll have to make that mini-shawl to find out, but heck, even if it doesn't, this has been pretty inspirational! I wonder what sorts of patterns would look really good turned on their sides!

Vicki Stammer said...

Brilliant, Fleegle!

I just used your tutorial on grafting edging to finish up a circle sweater, and it worked like a charm. The join is totally imperceptible.

I can't wait to see your development of the "normality" technique.

I've discovered your blog only recently. I've gone back through the history and have enjoyed it all. You're one of my daily clicks now just because you have so much actually useful content.

Many thanks for your work.

Carol said...

While it makes sense, it also makes my brain hurt on my day off. But the idea of not grafting sounds like a darn good one!

titianknitter said...

I love it when knitting and math collide. Can't wait to see the finished products!

KnitYoga said...

I love the way you always think out of the box and now I'm impatient for the next instalment! :-)

loribird said...

Took me a couple minutes to let that sink in, to really see how it works, and then - aha! So cool! Thank you (again!) Fleegle!

Courtney said...

Very interesting, thanks for sharing :-)

MelissaM said...

Now that is just so intriguing! I can't wait to see the sweater, and the Shetland looks right up my alley. Anxiously awaiting further posts :)

Karla (ThreadBndr) said...

OK, let me see if I've wrapped my mind around this concept.

On the neck edge, you'd work straight, but on the trailing (bottom) edge, you'd decrease without a corresponding YO between the edging and the body pattern???

The shawl I'm working on now (Bee Fields) starts at the center back neck and is increasing at approx 4 stitches every RS row, or two every row, but you are working on both sides of the center "spine" at the same time. Therefore a "normality" shawl would decrease one stitch on the trailing edge on each row (RS and WS). Hummm, gater stitch grounds might work best. Do I have the math right?

Fascinating concept.

BadCatDesigns said...

I can't wait to see the results. I love an interesting and fresh construction idea!

projektleiterin said...

I already see, your blog is going to be one of my favorite ones. :)

z's momma said...

Love it! Can't wait to see the results.

LittleBerry said...

another brilliant idea from Fleegle.... how on earth do you get these ideas....

Question: If you're working on something of your own design and you don't like it or it isn't working right, have you any qualms about pulling back and starting again?

I think you're Elizabeth Zimmermann II!!!

NeptuneNancy said...

I've yet to make a triangular or square lace shawl, but your idea intrigues me nonetheless! I can't wait to see the mini shawl you've knit up.

I also like the idea of doubling the number of patterns in my stitch dictionaries!!

Thanks for always making me think, when you're not making me laugh!

EGunn said...

Brilliant! I might be willing to try such a version of normality...it seems much more interesting than the "normal" kind. Can't wait to see what you come up with!

Ev said...

The mind boggles! This is the first time I've been to your blog, and I can see it won't be the last. I LOVE the concept of normality and I think I grasp what you're saying; it certainly opens up a whole new world of possiblities... now, where did I leave that stack of stitch books??