Monday, June 29, 2020

More rain, cutting short my session with my Personal Trainer, but not before we’d done the circuit of the garden twice.

I’ve still got about 10 rows of the first clue of the MKAL to finish. Alan Bennett is on again tonight – a bit late, for me, but he might be enough to keep me going.

I noticed today how the distance between the MKAL increase rows seems to be getting bigger, reminding me of an irritating passage in EZ’s “Knitter’s Almanac”. She has been setting out the plan for a shawl, starting at the centre and increasing on the 2nd, 6th, 12th, 24th, 48th rounds, and so forth into infinity, if desired.

“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 finished 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.”

So EZ was the only woman ever to understand Archimedes? I doubt it. And what, exactly, is the relationship between Pi and the rate of increase of a shawl?

The answer is, I think, not much. The point is that there is a fixed ratio between the radius and the circumference of a circle, so that when one increases, by any proportion (not just doubling), the other must increase by the same proportion if you want to end up with a circle. The ratio is expressed by the irrational number Pi which has long fascinated mathematicians but has little importance for shawl-knitting.

EZ returns to the subject in the “Knitting Workshop”. She has mellowed somewhat, but her grasp of mathematics has not improved. She speaks of the “Pi shawl, governed by Pythagoras’ discovery that a circle doubles its circumference in an itself-doubling series of increases, each of which is twice as far apart as the preceding doubled space. Simple, huh? Ask a mathematician.”

Pythagoras had nothing to do with it. She was presumably misled by his name.

I’m glad to have got that off my chest.


  1. I remember that passage well, and how irritating it was. Especially the "Sorry, lib!"

  2. Gosh, I've never read that pattern in Knitter's Almanac...ugh. Annoying on several levels. I can see why it stuck with you - it will certainly stick with me!

  3. =Tamar12:03 AM

    I must have wiped it from my memory. I don't think I even noticed that she had misnamed it as well. But I think the Greeks got all that from Egypt and Babylon anyway.

    I continue to be impressed by your fortitude in keeping up an exercise program.

  4. Anonymous11:15 AM

    I squeaked by (C+'s, B's), in math so I was glad to leave it to her calculations. If it had been a point of grammar or logic, however, I would have wanted it off my chest as well. Luckily her down-to-earthness regarding knitting is, for me at least, her lasting legacy. Chloe

  5. Anonymous11:17 AM

    Oh, yes, wonder what her daughters had to say about that Sorry lib remark. Chloe