The benefits of an education in science

Aside from the highly specific and largely esoteric molecular biology knowledge, of course, one of the benefits of being a scientist-in-training is the idea of keeping a lab notebook. For those of you who do not spend your days moving tiny, precise amounts of clear liquids from tube to tube and manipulating cells, the lab notebook is where one records one’s experiments…how they are set up, the data collected along the way, and the conclusions reached at the end. Ever since my undergraduate days, the importance of keeping such a record has been pounded into my brain. When I started knitting, I automatically thought (like the well-trained nerd that I am) “hey, I can keep a knitting journal!” So here it is for show-and-tell as requested by Jeanne.
I initially started with just having loose-leaf pages that noted the pattern, yarn used, and dates of beginning and completion. I would also include in a piece of the yarn and the skein label.

However, when I progressed beyond just knitting long rectangles, the number of rows and stitches suddenly begin to matter. Also, given my proclivity for starting projects left and right (as you can see from my sidebar), I needed a cohesive way to keep track of everything. Fortunately, I had gone through a brief fling with book-binding in last year and had many small blank books that I made lying around. This one turned out to be perfect.

Here is a sample page (with the lovely assistant Baa).

I start with the specifics of the projects: pattern, yarn, needles, gauge, and such. For Klaralund, I drew in a schematic of the sweater with measurements. The rest of the entry I use to keep track of rows, modifications, and anything else I have to say about the yarn or pattern. I tape in the yarn label at the end and if the shape works, I make a sort of pocket out of it to hold a sample of the yarn I used (here is the one for the Hermione mittens).

And that’s it. All those years of science training in anal-retentive notebook keeping and I end up with an impeccable knitting journal and a real mess of an actual lab notebook (I dare not show actual pictures for shame).
What do you do to keep track of your knitting?


Blogger Jeanne said...

"The lovely AND TALENTED Baa..."!

Thank you!

6:53 AM  
Blogger Philippa said...

Impressive, and inspiring. I have been meaning to start one of these notebooks (I started knitting about a year ago, and now really wish I could remember which needles I used for my first finished project etc. I inherited a whole stack of needles so I only remember those I bought specifically for a project). As an aspirant scientist of sorts it's great to be able to read the blog of another knitterly scientist/scientific knitter (like the great Grumperina) and see how real scientists approach their knitting. I can only read and learn...

11:00 AM  
Anonymous yuki said...

For being such an organized person, I have yet to find a successful method to keep track of my knitting. In a way, my blog serves that purpose for me now-- when I look back at my previous entries for particular projects, I can recall the details of the materials and any problems I had during the knitting process. Still, I've wanted to maintain a notebook like yours, and your entry has reminded me to start. Thanks!

2:40 AM  
Anonymous Saartje said...

I'm impressed! For my socks, I use simple labels, which I pin to the sock in progress. On the label, I write information like which yarn I used, what size neeldes, how many stitches I cast on etc. I string a piece of the yarn I used through the hole and keep it in a special box.
For other things, I use my blog to keep track of them, just like Yuki.

11:40 AM  

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