Sunday, August 18, 2013


I've been heavily hinting to Cathy that I should teach a class at the store.  Certainly not something that I am not capable of teaching like Entrelac or Fair Isle or Intarsia.  I'll leave the instruction of those rather advanced techniques to Cathy.  What I want to do is to conduct a class in something unique.  Original knitting designs that no one in the history of the world has ever before attempted.  What do you think of this?  I intend to run a series of classes where you knit a map of the United States, with each state being knit individually.  At the end of this approximately four year project, all those who sign up for my class will have an artistic and distinctive wall hanging.  Or, if you prefer, a very lopsided afghan.

Various design elements have to be considered before even beginning to write the instructions.  There is the problem of scale.  You can't make Rhode Island too big or else your knitted map will take up an entire wall.  And you can't make Texas too small.  If you do, all those northeastern states will be rather tedious to knit.  Let's not even worry about Alaska and Hawaii right now as they present a whole different set of obstacles.  The type of yarn one would use is also a determining factor.  Use lace or sock yarn and you will have a beautiful wall hanging.  Use a bulky yarn and you're going to be the proud owner of a one of a kind afghan.  Then there's color.  Should one use fifty different colors or should one knit a minimum amount of colors so that no two states that share a border use the same color?  Believe it or not, that minimum number is four.  A high ranking Rand McNally executive has confirmed this.  But four would be kind of boring.  I myself would use eight different colors.  But these are the easy problems.  The major dilemmas for a project such as this are the actual patterns for each state.

A grand total of two states would be in the level one category.  Let's call them the easy states.  Colorado and Wyoming.  Basic rectangles.  Level two states are Utah and New Mexico.  More than four sides but still composed of straight lines.  Piece of cake.  Now things get a little harder.  Kansas, Nebraska, the two Dakotas, Pennsylvania and maybe even Tennessee have a minimum amount of irregular borders  A few increases here, a few decreases there and the level three problems are solved.  Most of the rest of the states will require some very tricky designing.  Just consider our home state of Illinois.  That Mississippi River line on the western border looks like a killer, no doubt about it.  But it can be done. Thirty four states fall into this demanding level four category.  But there are six states that go into a level five category of difficulty.  I hate them all.

What do South Carolina, West Virginia, New Jersey and Hawaii have in common?  They have a miniscule amount of straight line borders or in the disturbing case of Hawaii and New Jersey, no straight lines at all.  Think about it.  All knitting projects begin with a cast on.  All cast ons are straight lines.  You see the problem?  Where do you begin with those particular four states?  And then there's Michigan.  It's southern border is indeed a straight line, but that Upper Peninsula looks like a major, major headache.  Texas has a fair amount of straight lines in the north half of the state.  But the southern half dipsy-doodles all over the place.  But have no fear, my future students.  I have consulted with experts in the fields of cartography and knitting and together we have devised a method to conquer this monster of a design problem.  You will have to sign up for the class to see what this method is.

I will now begin to put the instructions on paper and, of course, to actually knit all fifty states.  It shouldn't take more than three years.  I just hope Cathy doesn't retire before then.  So keep an eye out on the Montoya Fiber Studio website to see when this exciting class will be offered.  If you decide to knit the fifty states in fifty different colors, there will be a 10% discount on the yarn purchase.

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