I like to do a variety of crafts in my free time. I am an avid scrapbooker, I occasionally make clothing, I dabble in knitting, and I *love* to crochet. I prefer crocheting over knitting because if I make a mistake then I know how to fix it. When I knit and make a mistake, I have no idea where to even begin fixing it, so I have to unpick and start again. With crocheting, if I don’t understand a pattern, I have enough base knowledge to figure out a workable solution.

Last weekend I gave a refresher course in crocheting to a friend. For a long time now I’ve been a firm believer that it’s all about the math–the sequences in particular. So I employed this idea when showing her how to crochet a hat, and I do believe she picked it up quicker than the last time that I showed her.

This is how I explained it:

- Starting with a base of two chains, you build a set of five stitches.
- Into each of those five, you put two stitches which leaves you with a new base of ten, yes it’s in base ten.
- From ten, you insert two into each again so that you now have twenty.
- Simple doubling up to this point, but now we start introducing incremental sequences.
- With twenty stitches you follow a set of ten, into the first stitch you add a single stitch, into the next stitch you add two.
- You repeat this pattern ten times and end up with thirty stitches.
- You continue with a single stitch in the first and second followed by two stitches in the third, you do this three times and end up with forty stitches.
- Two singles and a double single making forty over a base of thirty.

You continue to increase in this manner. Three singles and a double single (not a double stitch – that is an entirely different beast) will give you fifty stitches over ten sequences. Four singles and a double will give you sixty stitches and so on. At some point however you begin to see a peculiar shape forming, and rather than have a multi pointed hat, you simply adjust to a sequence of twenty sets instead of ten. Once you reach a point where you are working on ten singles followed by a double single, your next row is not 11 singles but five singles, and a double single for twenty repeats.

It sounds better in person, and by the time we had reached five singles and a double single, my friend had conquered her crocheting fears and was happily multiplying herself to a hat with no need for further instruction.

Though knitting and crochet patterns confound some people, I still cannot understand many of the abbreviations without a good guide. If you can understand the mathematical principles behind the pattern, then it is easy to adapt to what you are being told. Very often, I come across a pattern I like, but from a designer whose methods I do not agree with. In these instances, I will look at the numbers associated with each increase and follow my own knowledge of how to build a pattern, instead of using their preferred way.

Think I’m reading too much into something that has been a simple task for centuries? Then you need to take a look at David Chudzicki’s blog post Simulated Knitting, the alternative title of which is “I’m a big fan of the Fruchterman & Reingold graph embedding algorithm.” The Knit ML Project also regularly posts on ways in which software and mathematical principles can be used to improve the standards of knitting patterns for the end user. In their own words:

- KnitML is
*not*intended to promote the “right” way to notate a knitting pattern. Rather, it is our hope to write and promote software which can be easily customized to both the preferences of the designer and the knitter. KnitML only hopes to standardize the underlying content model so that software everywhere can interpret and process knitting patterns.

For my next task, I shall teach my mathematically inclined husband to crochet my infamous Boba Fett hat–from a Binary pattern.