The other day, I tweeted something like “I don’t care how uncool this make me sound, knitting something this complicated is exciting!”, but I think this may need a little bit more explanation.

Aside from providing warm fluffy things to wear on various extremities during the winter months, and being a handy passtime, knitting is also quite an interesting thing in itself. And just the other day, I realised that I actually get the same kind of kick out of it as I do from programming. Computer programming, that is, not setting up the sky+ box to record True Blood on Wednesdays.

Programming is basically getting a machine to do what you want it to do by using a set of instructions. You only have a limited amount of different instructions, so it’s the way you combine them and the order you use them in which will make the machine do stuff. So getting a machine to do something fairly complex when you only have a basic set of instructions, solving that problem, is quite a satisfying thing. It’s a bit like building with LEGO blocks, depending on how you assemble them, they can be a bunny or a castle.

Well, knitting is just like that, without the bricks. Because knitting with bricks would be awfully hard. Not to mention just plain silly. You have 2 basic stitches, knit and purl, and a few extra things like casting on or off, increasing or decreasing, but that’s pretty much it for the basics, almost everything else is a combo of those basic elements.

So once you know those elements, you can knit yourself a scarf, with just casting on, knit stitch, and casting off. Then you can start having some fun: alternating rows of knit and purl will give you the classic jersey stitch, the nice flat one we all know. Alternating the two stitches on the same row and reversing that alternation will give you a ribbed pattern, and so on until you get some really complex patterns, and that’s before we even talk about using different coloured wools…

And then you get the insanely complicated knitting patterns, the kind that look like the secret plans for D-Day, that take up several pages with diagrams all over the place, and extra explanations for the special stitches you’ll need. And even then you’ll probably need to look up half the words used in the explanations.

You’ll probably have to start over a few times, you’ll spend a lot of time unraveling and cursing, but that’s pretty much the same as debugging a complex programme (except IE6 doesn’t mentioned quite so often when it comes to knitting). However, when things start to come together, in knitting as in programming, when it starts to look like what it should, and you’re really getting the hang of how it actually functions, you properly understand what’s making it tick, then, dear Reader, then it gets properly exciting and you just can’t put it down. You just want to get back to it, add another line of code, another row of stitches, get one step closer to the final result…

I mean, just look at this:

Does that make any sense to you? Nope?

Well, me neither for a good long while… But now the actual knitting is beginning to look very slightly like it may just become something that will look a little like the crazy sleeves of this jumper over here ==>

And you know what? I’m excited!



One thought on “Knitting++

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