In Algebra, I learned about order of operations. When solving an equation, look at what is inside the parenthesis first, then anything that's to a power, then blah blah blah....
9+2+(4*2)+4+46 = 69
(9+2+4)*2+4+46 = 80
9+2+4*(2+4+46) = 219
Last night I started a new sweater. I'm not particularly visual, but it certainly seemed like what I was knitting was going to end up with a gigantic left sleeve and a very small back and right sleeve. I kept checking the pattern, then did some mental math to see if what I was doing was going to end up with the number of stitches the pattern said I should have.
It wasn't. I began railing against the pattern and wondering if errata had been published. I threw it down in disgust, then picked it back up because I wanted to knit this sweater, damn it.
After an embarrassingly long time, I realized what I had done. I had mentally put the parentheses in the wrong place.
The pattern read: [Work in Rev St st to 1 st before marker, p1-f/b, slip marker, p1-f/b] 4 times, work in Rev St st to last 15 sts, work 14 sts of Cascading Leaves Pattern, p1.* This gave me 72 stitches.
What I had been doing was Work in Rev St st to 1 st before marker, p1-f/b, slip marker, [p1-f/b 4 times], work in Rev St st to last 15 sts, work 14 sts of Cascading Leaves Pattern, p1. This gave me 69 stitches.
That row was to be worked 26 times, so a difference of 3 stitches every time I knit it would eventually put me short 78 stitches. It would also put all the increased stitches clumped around the left sleeve instead of spreading them evenly throughout the sweater.
I'm trying to hold on to the fact that I realized this very early on. God knows, I've gone much farther in sweaters before realizing my mistake. Rationalizing it this way takes a little bit of the sting out. I've ripped back and am ready to start again at lunch today.
Who knew that algebra would come in so handy?
*Pretend the brackets are parentheses. They serve the same function in this instance.