ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING OUTSIDE

Another descent into deadline hell looms on my imminent event horizon. Now in the past faced with something like this I’ve dropped all knitting, hung up the blog, ignored wiseNeedle, and pared my life back to the basics: work, do what family maintenance I can, eat, sleep. In that order of precedence. This time I’ll try not to disappear completely. At the very least I’ll farm wiseNeedle, even if I don’t have time to blog. Also I intend to keep a small project going as a stress valve. (Better that than loll in caffeine and chocolate).

I need something that’s pretty mindless, but not so totally dull as to be totally boring. Something new so that there’s a modicum of interest. Huge needles (huge for me at least) so progress is tangible. Socks are right out. Perhaps a hat. An unusual hat…

In fact I think I know the very thing. I make no secret that I fall on the geeky side of normal. I’m an aging grrlnerd with lots of friends who would wear Star Trek Underoos if they came in adult sizes; guys and gals who find joy in mathematical humor, and who view visual puns as an ultimate art form. (I say this with affection and respect, because as a group they exhibit amazing creativity, and wit, and are just plain fun to be around.) So if one of them – a self-described and documented ubergeek – deserves a special gift, what better than a Klein bottle hat?

Some of you reading this are saying “Hey! Cool! I want one, too.” Others are wondering what the heck a Klein bottle is. And I’m sure a couple of you are curious as to why one would need a hat. One might even ask “Where would a Klein bottle wear a hat?” The answer of course being “On the outside.”

babyinhand2.jpgkhat2.jpg

(Bottle image shamelessly borrowed from Acme Klein Bottles, a source for all your topological oddity needs.)

There are far more erudite and far more scholarly explanations of what exactly a Klein bottle is than I could ever offer. It belongs to the same family of topological oddities as does the Mbius strip, another one-surface entity. In effect unlike spheres, cubes or pyramids that form an unbroken skin around an interior space, it’s a solid object that instead of having an outside and an inside, has only one side – the outside. Or the inside. (Which one is present in a Klein bottle is open to debate, but whatever the answer is, there’s only one of them.) The artifacts you see are actually representations of the Klein bottle concept because as a multidimensional trick played on the universe, one can exist as thought but can’t be truly built in the paltry three spatial dimensions we inhabit.

I am far from being the first person to knit up something like this. Acme has a nice selection of ready made Klein Bottle hats. There are several patterns on the web if you want to knit your own. Knitty did one; a good pattern but it’s not my favorite. I think it looks more like a teapot lacking a spout than anything else. There’s one by Sarah-Marie Belcastro, whose joy in her own mathematical geekitude is contagious. (She’s got lucky students). It’s very cool looking, but I think the intended recipient would find it a bit too massive. And there’s another all-prose pattern that I remember being offered as a holiday gift exchange pattern was back in the ancient days of the KnitList, circa ’94. Woolworks has it on archive.

The one I am taking for inspiration is none of the above. It’s by Nathanael Berglund, the sketchiest pattern of all but with a pleasing and recognizable shape. I think it’s conceptualized just enough to provide me with fodder for (minimal) thought. The simple shaping will be just complex enough to keep my interest, yet not so daunting as to require me to slavishly knit to the pattern. And at a DK or worsted gauge will go quite quickly.

So I as I trot along the sorry slope to yet another personal hell, I’ll be trotting along with an air of distraction. Not exactly overjoyed, but glad to know that my ultra-nerdy destressing mechanism is prepared in my backpack, sharing room with my computers and waiting for the least bit of “hurry up and wait” time to be appreciated.


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One response

  1. I used the Knitty pattern as the framework for the Klein Bottle hat my dad insisted on for Christmas (picture here – http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v349/habsgirl/Finished%20Objects/kleinbottle.jpg) I used an Aran weight and knit a longer tube, and was happy with the results, and it avoided the teapot look (or at least I think it does.)

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