June 16, 2005

Escape Velocity

I have a new theory. Look at this.

Notgoing

Here we have Birch. I knit on Birch off and on yesterday. I knit on it a little at the Stitch and Bitch last night (except for I might have played with baby Penelope a little, a lot, as much as I could before people start thinking about watching me closely for signs that I intend to take the baby home, smuggled out in my backpack. Don't look at me like that. I would leave it a little bit unzipped...) and I knit on Birch for a while after I got home.

This means, that I can personally vouch for having knit at least 20 rows on Birch yesterday. For sure 20, probably 30....maybe more...but we'll use 20 because I don't want to be caught on a technicality. The point is (and I do have one) that the row gauge on this shawl is 28 rows to 10 cm. If I have knit 20 rows, I should have gained some distance. I didn't. I knit 20 rows and the shawl is exactly the same. Exactly. There is no discernible difference in length or width.
I am clearly being drawn into a knitting black hole.

Blackhole

Now, knitters have known about this for a long time. The black hole of knitting is not new, and far better knitters than me have suffered deeply in it's grips. So far, the only escape has been time. You put in the time (not the knitting time, that's completely irrelevant...I'm just talking about waiting time) and when your time is up, you are released from the black hole. I personally have had sleeves where you knit and measure and it's 30cm, and then you knit 3674 rows and it's still 30cm, and then you have a little lie down and maybe a bit of a drunk-up and a temper tantrum and whammo. 40cm without another stitch knit. It's about doing your time and the knitting goddesses playing with you like you are a ratty little cat toy.

This got me thinking. Real black holes are related to gravity. (You probably know this. You are probably an astronomer who is about to send me a really serious email about how all of this isn't possible and I don't know what I'm talking about. Fine. A disclaimer. I'm a knitter, not a physicist, dammit (don't you want to say that with Scotty's accent from Star Trek?) {added: Whoops, Roggey pointed out that I mean Dr. McCoy. See how uninformed I am?} and you should totally not write an exam in science class based on the black hole theory I'm about to tell you. In addition, if you are a student who does fail science because I'm wrong about this, you should know that there is no way that you will be able to convince me that I'm responsible. Study. )

Sorry, what was I saying? Right, black holes are a gravity thing. Every object has a gravitational field. The more mass an object has (please remember class, that mass is different than size) the harder it pulls on the other things. Black holes (regardless of their size) have so much mass in one spot that they have an enormous gravitational pull. So big, in fact, so startlingly hugely big, that light gets pulled in. (Hence the whole "blackness" of the hole.)

Now. Birch is like this. Birch has so much knitting mojo in one place that its pull is so great that all of the stitches get pulled in. You knit and knit....nothing. The yarn goes in, but no length comes out, since it's pull it too great to allow it. It's a fuzzy mohair and silk hole. (The first clue that Birch was not a normal knitting object should have been the way that knitters are drawn helplessly to it....)

If you are getting pulled into the black hole, you have a problem. Think about how if you are juggling and you throw a ball into the air, it will go up for a little while, because of the force that you used to send it upward. Then, pulled by gravity, it will come back down. If though, you could really hurl that ball upward, really heave it, you could throw it so hard that it would escape the pull of the earth, enter space and go on forever. That amount of force, that speed is called "escape velocity" and it varies with the amount of mass the object pulling on you has.

The earth has more mass than the moon, so you need to go faster to get off the earth. It has a higher escape velocity. Jupiter would have a really fast one, and black holes (and birch) have so much mass (or knitterly mojo) that the escape velocity you need to pull yourself out of the field of gravity is so huge that you....well. You can only imagine that most encounters with a black hole end badly.

Thusly, in order to escape birches black hole, I am going to need a remarkable escape velocity. Today is about speed. I am going to knit as fast as I can, attempt to reach escape velocity, and see some progress.
If I am correct about knitting black holes, gravitational pull, and the way the universe is put together, I expect to have an alternative to getting your poor little chain yanked by a insubordinate, obdurate piece of mass sucking fluffy knitting for as long as it wants to work you over. We will be free at last.

Groundbreaking work really.

Posted by Stephanie at June 16, 2005 11:00 AM