Friday, April 29, 2016

My last CMS knitting

Every Thursday of the academic year for the last six years, I've gone to two seminars: CMS, the graduate student seminar in my department, then tea and cookies followed by Colloquium, our department-wide seminar (which is almost always a guest from outside our university).

I've brought my knitting to almost all of these talks (with the exception of several weeks last Fall when I brought my job applications because I needed more time to work on them).  Last Thursday was my last CMS.  It turned out that the week before was my last colloquium, since the speaker scheduled for last week fell ill and was unable to come.  I'm graduating!  I might have to come up with a new excuse for some kind of weekly update post.

My knitting last week wasn't particularly interesting.  I knitted most of the gusset on the first sock in the pair I'm knitting for my husband's birthday next month.  The black/navy yarn is pretty hard to see.  Knitting men's socks is much more time consuming than women's socks - I'm really noticing that this sock is going much more slowly than the purple knot theory socks I'm knitting for my advisor!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Knot theory socks!

I'm a knot theorist.  (I've posted about this before.)  I defended my Ph.D. thesis last week, my semester ends next week (with me grading lots of finals ... ), and my graduation will be in mid-May.  I can barely believe I'm actually done, and I'm really excited to start my new job in August!  These knot theory socks are a present for my advisor, to thank her for all of the many, many things she has done for me.  I feel so lucky to have such a great advisor.

So, about the socks: purple is the unofficial team color of our research group, so choosing purple yarn was obvious.  I wanted a design that was knot-theory related, so this sock has a braid on the outside of the leg.

A bit about the math:

A knot is an embedding of a circle into 3-dimensional space.  Intuitively, we can think of a length of string that has been tied up in a knot and then had its ends glued together.  It is in some essential sense still a circle - if you were a tiny ant walking along the string, you would eventually get back to where you started, so all you would be able to tell would be that it is a circle (you wouldn't be able to gather any information about how it was knotted up).  In simplest terms, the basic question of knot theory is how to tell different knots apart.  More generally, knots and links (with more than one circle, but still knotted up somehow) are really important to how mathematicians understand 3- and 4-dimensional spaces.

Every knot and link can be represented as the closure of a braid.  A mathematical braid is a set of strands, all oriented in one direction, that can cross over each other but not loop back on themselves.  To take the braid closure, we glue the top and bottom ends together, with the rightmost top end glued to the rightmost bottom end, and so forth.  If we take the braid closure of the braid on this sock, we get the figure eight knot, which is a really cool knot!

The figure eight knot is the second-simplest non-trivial knot (the simplest is the trefoil), and it has the property of being amphicheiral, which means that it can be stretched and rearranged into its mirror image.  This is a very cool property!

The second sock (which I've already started) will have a braid whose closure is the Borromean Rings.  I'll explain why they're so cool once I've finished knitting the braid.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

CMS/Colloquium knitting

I finished the leg and knitted the heel flap on the first of Robert's birthday socks.  I ended up just sitting with nothing to do with my hands for the last 20 minutes of Colloquium on Thursday, because I didn't bring the More Sensational Socks book with me, and I needed it to tell me how to start the heel turn.

I also brought this with me to church this morning and knitted in between the services.  I finished the heel turn and started the gusset.  It's zipping along!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

CMS/Colloquium knitting: Secret Socks

I started a new project in CMS last week - a project I'm not working on at home, because these socks are going to be a birthday surprise for Robert.  The yarn is Cascade Heritage Sock in a color that I think is navy but other people seem to think is black.  I cast on 70 stitches and I'm working a stitch pattern from the More Sensational Knitted Socks book (which is a fantastic book!).

I made a good start on it in my two hours on Thursday afternoon, and it came to church with me this morning.  I have a bit over a month to get it done, so I think it's definitely doable!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

A finished Lofoten!

I finally finished this sweater a few weeks ago, and I'm SO happy with how it turned out. I've been wearing it all the time and getting compliments on it everywhere I go.
It fits perfectly, although the colorwork band at the bottom of the body does pull in a bit.  I did a tubular 2x2 cast-on for the bottom edge of the body, which was a new skill for me.
In addition to the challenge of the colorwork (which I'd never done on this scale before), the sweater has SEVEN steeks!  I'd done a steek once before, on this sweater for my niece, but there was only one and I sewed the stabilization stitches using my sewing machine before I cut it.  For this sweater, I hand crocheted the stabilization stitches.  I was really, really nervous about the steeks, and especially how to secure the cut edges at the sleeve caps and armscyes, but it all worked out.  I used a tutorial by Kate Davies and one by Elinor Brown and found them both incredibly helpful.
Pattern: Lofoten
Size: 36"
Yarn: Knitpicks Wool of the Andes Sport, from a kit
Needles: US5 circulars and DPNs
Started/Completed: February 2015/March 2016
Modifications: I think I lengthened the sleeves and maybe the body, too, but I can't quite remember.  I measured a RTW sweater that I like to choose the lengths.