Friday, January 09, 2009

Doing Math

A little known fact (mostly to non-knitters) is that knitting requires a LOT of math. Granted, you can certainly follow patterns and never calculate a thing. However, you're bound to come across a sweater that you want to customize to your fit; or something that says "you have x stitches. On the next row decrease evenly across by 30 stitches so that you have y stitches for next section." It's going to's just a matter of time. You're going to become a knitmatician.

My project notebook is filled with numbers - addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, long division, and an undiscovered prime number! Anyone who sees sketches in the notebook comments on the numbers everywhere...and they're surprised.

Which leads me to this...

I was reading on Rebecca's blog about the number of hours of practice it takes, and the difference it makes, to being great (10,000 hours) , good (8,000 hours) or mediocre (4,000 hours) at something. I thought I would figure out my number and blog about it so you can figure out your number (if you're so inclined).

Obviously...knitting is my forte...and, on average, this is how I knit...

In 1997 - 1998 I knit 4 sweaters & 2 scarves @ approx 100 hours total

In 2001 - 2002 I knit an afghan @ approx 20 hours and a few scarves @ approx 5 hours each = 35 hours

From August of 2006 to the present (approx 127 weeks) I have knit as follows:
2 hours a day on the train (10 hours)
1.5 hours a day at night (7.5 hours)
6 hours per weekend (6 hours)
Total: 23.5 hours per week...let's say 24 hours for arguments sake

127 x 24 = 3,048

Grand total (100+35+3,048) = 3,183

Really? I'm just...(not even???)...mediocre? I guess I just assume I'm a "good" knitter - at least I feel like a "good" knitter.

It will take me 34 more weeks to become mediocre (or by Labor Day 2009)

3.85 years to become good (or by November 2012)

5.46 years to become great (or by the end of June 2014)

Man, depressing.

On the flip side, though, these numbers are just theories. They are just guidelines, like the bell curve. They don't take into account the quality of the hours spent. Or the natural ability of the person and the task they are performing. Did Dizzy Gillespie spend 10,000 hours on the brass before he was determined "great"? Did Michael Jordan spend 10,000 hours on the court before he could fly? Hey, I'm not even saying I'm in the same ballpark as those way Jose...but see how it's all the perspective of things?

Happy knitmatics to you!


Meghan said...

Very interesting, though I think there must be many other aspects that should be factored in here. I haven't been knitting that long, but I feel like I'm pretty great at it, considering. It just makes sense to me (thanks to all the math!) and I've never had tension issues. Sewing, on the other hand, I've been working at since I was a kid and I'm only just breaking into the mediocre category! I think everyone has more of a knack for certain skills than others.

Dora said...

Oh my gosh you want me to get out a calculator. You crack me up. Now that is too much time on your hands... get knitting girlfriend.

Siga said...

Oh yeah, shifting the bell curve to the right. ;-)

Frances said...

Knitting doesn't seem to fit the paradigm because you can be pretty good at it pretty early on. But if you want to rival Alice Starmore...well I think finishing just one of her Tudor Roses sweaters will get you to "good". :-)