Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Earth Science Hat: Math, And The Doing Of It

A couple weeks ago, my geology professor walked through the seating area of the science building and saw me knitting.  "Are you making me an Earth Science hat?" he asked quite cheerfully.  Normally when people ask if I'm making them something, I don't respond with anything more than a weak smile (if that).  But he was so cheerful and the question was so odd that I grinned and said I was not; it was a sock.  "A challenge!" he returned with a smile.

So of course I determined right then and there that I was going to make an "Earth Science hat", whatever that meant.  Obviously this wasn't something I would be able to find on Ravelry (Ravelry member link only), meaning I would have to design it myself.  What an overwhelming challenge.  Design something worthy to be called an Earth Science hat (rather than a Tectonic Plates hat or Rock Cycle hat)?  Yikes.

It was difficult.  I knew what I wanted to put on it, eventually, and it was still difficult.  Getting tectonic plates to move the right directions, smash into each other correctly, show off enough diversity.  Making it look right was probably the hardest part.  But I did succeed.  Apparently, an Earth Science hat looks like this:

At the bottom we have the inner core, followed by the liquid outer core (hence the checkerboard pattern which will not be in the finished product), and then the lower mantle.  The light orange asthenosphere is liquid, and the dark orange lithosphere on top rides the liquid like a conveyor belt.  In the center of the chart is a mid-ocean ridge, where the asthenosphere breaks through the thin lithosphere and dark brown oceanic crust, forming new crust as it cools.  On top is the ocean.  To the right you can see that oceanic plate being subducted under the continental plate there, creating a volcano (there will be an embroidered stick-figure-geologist to the right of that lava flow).  Next (to the right again) is a continental rift created by either a hot spot or a new convection cell--I don't know which.  Coming around to the left side you can see how two continental plates have smashed together, interlocking the rocks beneath and shoving up a huge mountain range (there will be snow).  Over it all is a band of clouds, one of which is raining.  Not pictured on the chart is the decrease section, which will fade from blue skies to the darkness of outer space (there will be stars).

Yes, I designed that.  I have yet to knit it.

But I did take this:
Divide it into this:
And dye it into this:
From left to right, that's oceanic crust, clouds (undyed), ocean, sky, continental crust, sky-to-space, inner core, outer core, lower mantle and lithosphere, and asthenosphere.

Two small errors I discovered in this process.  First, I drastically overestimated the amount of yarn I would need for the gradient, meaning I would have ended up with no "outer space" in my design.  Thankfully I was able to correct this before dyeing, so I should be good to go.  Second, I underestimated the amount of yarn I would need for the inner core.  Why?  I forgot to account for the cast-on.  Oops.

My other problem was size.  I wanted to make an average size hat, about 20" in circumference.  But with my gauge and the "multiple of eight" restriction from the decreases, I was limited to either 19.2" or 20.8".  Not ideal.  Only after casting on 104 stitches and knitting five rounds did I realize that I could simply cast on the 100 stitches that would give me a 20" circumference, and then decrease four stitches on the round before the decrease sections, bringing me to 96 (a multiple of eight).  And twelve decrease sections would be much prettier than thirteen, anyway.

So where I am right now is partway through round one, again.  Hopefully this time things will go more smoothly.  I'm attempting twisted 2x2 rib, just for the fun of it.

This whole thing is really "just for the fun of it" anyway.

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