# So That’s What It Was For?

There was a period in my misguided youth and childhood when I thought I might become an engineer. Perhaps it was a function of the time, but it sort of seemed to be the default assumption for what smart girls who could hold their own in math and science class ‘should’ do. I had no particular objections, and I didn’t have any better ideas, so I just sort of smiled and nodded and went along with it. It meant I took a lot of math classes. I took every single math class my high schools offered, and then toddled off to college and took quite a few more.

Turns out I didn’t actually *want* to be an engineer. Not really at all (though it wasn’t the math classes that turned me off, those were kind of fun). But all those math classes, those years and years and years of math classes? They’re languishing in the back of mind doing me no favors at all. I’ve yet to find myself in a situation where my life depends on my ability to recall and utilize L’Hopital’s rule (and just to be clear, I don’t wish to find myself in this situation, because the chances I’d make it out alive are slim at best…though if I *did* survive, it would make for a hell of a story).

This is the closest I come to math these days. These are the notes for getting the heel flap positioned correctly over several different sizes of sock. Back when I knit my own socks, and only knit them in one size, I could just write down what I did. Now that I have help with the knitting and try to include several sizes, I have to do a wee bit of figuring ahead of time. I’m pretty sure if my math teachers could see this now they’d smack me upside the head for having wasted their time. On the flip side, if I do this right, lots and lots of knitters will have attractive, well-fitting socks, which seems somehow more satisfying than acing a calculus test.

Don’t knock those math classes. It’s those classes that make it so easy for you to do those calculations. Very few people end up using calculus (and poor them). But so many people are afraid of math (and their patterns suffer because of that).

I did go on and get an Engineering degree with so many more math classes and I like to believe all those classes gave me the ability to learn and the ability to apply that knowledge. They also allow me to see the math in a pattern and see how decreases will work out. I’ve always said I knit because I am mathmatical not artistic. It is all numbers and patterns to me.

I bet your math teachers would be shocked if any of their students ever used any of that math on a regular basis.

I think heel calculations and scaling patterns is an excellent use of math!

Viki

Must be a generational thing. Back when I was in school, girls who held their own in math and science were encouraged to become high school teachers of same. I dropped that track after a few tutoring jobs convinced me that I didn’t have much patience for those who didn’t grasp the subject easily. And so I ended up in social science and eventually administration. When personal computers and databases came along, I found my element in computer training and support. I can’t help cringing when I hear a knitting instructor assure the group that there will be no math — just a little arithmetic. And the students smile and relax. Math block/fear/anxiety qualifies as a knitting handicap. It’s possible get by — but a little math aptitude opens so many doors to design, etc.

You know, that’s a lot harder than it seems like it would be. I’m just starting to give designing a shot and it can be a real pain to try to reconcile different sizes with a stitch pattern and maintain the right look or symmetry, and I’ve done plenty of math in my time, as well. So that’s my way of saying thank you for doing it for us!

You math people make me ill!! ;0) I don’t like math at all.

Acually, when you were five…you expressed an interest in two possible paths…ballet dancer or fence builder. We always thought you would be a labor lawyer. What’s mine is mine and what’s your is up for negotiation. Which one of your professors told you that when you figured out what you wanted to do…you would be really good at it? Perhaps you have arrived.

I can’t imagine your former math teachers “smacking you upside the head” at all! I think they would be very proud that you took what they taught you and found a very practical application!!

Hooray for useful math!! 🙂

I wish I’d knit when I was in math classes, it might have put the painful exercises into an actual context – I like practical things, not just theory. Or, well, usually, but math is different than philosophy, right?

At any rate – I love your math, as it is very, very helpful and useful. So, thanks!

I loved math and took a lot of it (not engineering, just a B.Sc.), but I have yet to use much of it either. I don’t think it was a waste, though.