No Such Thing As Random - Token Turtle Spinning GIF Sun Face Polymer Clay

No Such Thing As Random

There is no such thing as random. True randomness only occurs in theory, so it annoys the shit out of me when a pattern or technique requires me to do something randomly.

Since There Is No Such Thing As Random

If there is equal chance that two outcomes may occur, how many times will outcome A occur if you conduct the exercise 100 times? 50? 3? It’s only when you conduct the exercise an infinite number of times that “chance” or randomness will happen. And since “infinite” is a theoretical idea, so is randomness..

Yes, there are scientific methods to establish random outcomes.

I worked for Gallup Polls during my college Summers. One of my jobs at Gallup was to “randomly” select the sample of phone numbers that our poll workers would use. We’d would use a map showing the number of registered voters in each precinct of a State and draw a serpentine line through each of the precincts. We would then use a scientifically random method of selecting a “start number” and a random multiplier number to randomly select the precinct where we did our telephone polling. We would then obtain the phone book(s) for that precinct and use a similar scientifically random method for find a “start phone number”.

After all this serpentining and subterfuge, we still didn’t have a technically random sample.

So, when a pattern or a technique asks me to randomly knit two colors across a row. Or when spinning a three-color yarn puts me in fear that it will stripe and pool badly if I don’t do it completely randomly. It’s a bit annoying.

I think that’s the reason it’s taken me so long to spin up the Jacob roving I purchased a long time ago.

Jacob Spinning 03-02-22 00a

I have surrendered to the idea that my final plied yarn will not be random. It might have stupid looking streaks of white in whatever I knit with it. But it will still be better than sitting in my craft room for another decade or so.

Current Spinning/Knitting

The roving spins up quite nicely. I love the soft, plushy feel of it.

Jacob Spinning 03-02-22 01

I have also finished the Garter Striped Scarf, and I really love it.

Garter Strip Scarf 03-02-22 03

While it will probably go into my craft show inventory, I may opt to keep it for myself instead. We’ll see.

4 comments on “No Such Thing As Random

  1. I get totally what you say about ‘random’ and there is also the human nature that we tend to end up with ‘patterns’ even when we try not to do so. I have in the past used a die (singular of dice, not a cut out shape) to roll numbers (1-6 unless you have D&D dice) and assign a color per number for the roll of one die (if fewer than 6 colors then 2 numbers per color). This gave me the color sequence to be used and the other die roll gave me how many rows to knit in that color. (Hint I used 1,1,2,3,5,8 as the number of rows as mathematically Fibonacci numbers are more pleasing than 1,2,3,4,5,6) I used this method on a sweater where I had two fraternally colored striped yarns and I wanted random stripes. It worked well enough that I don’t notice any pattern when I look at the sweater. This if just FYI.

  2. It might be time to reframe a little? Ok nothing is random. But we must accept that language kind of sucks and the word “random” is frequently used to mean “unplanned” or “without making an effort to create a discernible pattern”. I totally get being upset by people using words in what I consider to be “inaccurate” ways but “random” is here to stay. Maybe folks could say to grab the next color from your stock “by chance” or you could even use a pen to physically cross off random and write that in on the patterns.

    As for the roving, it’s Jacob. It’s natural. It will make what it makes and it will be beautiful! It will pool and it will Speckle and it will stripe. And it’s will all be naturally gorgeous and if you make items for sale people will go totally GaGa over it. ;).
    But then again I am one of those people who think All Flowers look great together. I cannot understand how people think things that are just natural can possibly clash or look “wrong.” So anyhow all that to say it might be easier to change perspective than to fight this.

    1. Thank you LauraRose. What you wrote has a lot of validity. In this case, it was my language that kinda sucked.

      My main point got lost, which is my uncomfortability with trying to make something appear random without some methodology for accomplishing that. Left to my own devices, my attempts almost never look random. Kyle Vey has gorgeous marled cowl pattern called Resolve Cowl ( that has instructions on controlled marling that ask the knitter to “randomly” alternate the yarn colors so that approximately 25% of the stitches are in color A and 75% are in color B. I disliked attempting this so much, I frogged the project. I’m less uncomfortable letting the Jacob spinning come out as nature intended, but I keep finding myself trying to force a random distribution as I draft the roving into the orifice of the spinning wheel.

      A secondary point, to try and support why I hate this was the fact that there is no such thing as random. But this secondary point overtook my primary point in a way. So, sorry for that.

      I envy people who can just let things happen naturally more easily than I can. Thank you for reminding me that there are those of you among us.

      1. Ha. I see what you mean now. I have a friend just like you. And you are both perfect just how you are. Yeah, why do a pet teeny hat annoys you. But your spinning will be lumpy if you try to force it. Maybe switch your focus to making the yarn suuuper even. And watch rv while you spin so you don’t see the colors—lol!

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