After the previous entry's high-minded closing about traveling new roads or whatever I said, it's somewhat embarrassing to admit that my current and most recently finished projects are both variations on essentially the same construction as the very first project I ever made. And that first one, while it could be called my first design, is "mine" only by accident...I'd been trying to make a hat in the style of the ones my mother knit when I was about seven and misunderstood the directions she gave me over the phone -- I didn't even know how to cast on at the time, and had not one single page of any printed material. Although I've made at least three and a half hats based on that general construction since then, not one has ever managed to exactly follow the original simple design, even when I started out intending to do so.
I impulsively bought my first pair of needles on 31 October 1998, while accompanying a friend who was buying needles for a sweater she was about to begin. I also got a ball of Lion Brand Wool-Ease in a moss green that appealed to me, but when I decided to attempt mimicking the hats Mom used to make I opted for the ball of Paton's Canadiana Colours I had on hand, remnant of an abortive attempt to learn to crochet the year before. [As of this writing, I still cannot crochet anything more complex than Emily Ocker's circular shawl beginning.] Somewhat to my surprise, I remembered enough from my childhood knitting (a single misshapen "square") at age nine to figure out how to knit. I called up Mom and asked her how to make the hats (I had one example she'd made on hand, inherited from my great-grandmother). Fortunately, it was garter-stitch based; I don't remember now if I'd ever learned to purl.
Mom told me that as far as she could remember it was something like this: cast on 30 stitches, the radius of the circle which forms the main part of the hat. Knit one fewer stitch on each row so that you form a triangular wedge (always omitting the stitches on the same side). When you're down to one stitch, pick up all the stitches you'd left out so that you're back up to 30 and do it again. Six such wedges will form a circle. Sew the end to the beginning, then pick up around the edge for ribbing.
Okay. I wasn't going to worry about the ribbing for now. The circle was enough. So I picked up my size 5 circular needles (chosen totally arbitrarily) and put 30 individual slipknots on them with my worsted acrylic. And I was off.
And so were the directions. See, she said to omit one stitch each row, but for garter stitch it's one each ridge, or two rows, if you want 6 to make a circle [this doesn't actually match other mathematical treatments of garter, but assume you're knitting somewhat loosely and it basically works]. Mom hadn't really knit much in the past decade, and was going by a 15+-year-old memory, so I hardly blame her for saying "row" and to be fair I may have misheard her. Anyway, it was obvious to me that one row is outside-to-center and another row is center-to-outside...so I had to skip one stitch for each, right? So I turned two stitches in on each row, rather than one, resulting in an angle roughly half what was intended.
Between the skinny wedges and the tiny needles it took 13 wedges to make a flat circle. Of course, I'd caught on long before #6 that something was wrong -- seeing as it wasn't even half a circle -- but hey, why not make something different? A circle's a circle, and it should still work. And it did.