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Solution to Charlotte’s Web

The Ministry

by Renee Ngan

This puzzle is a story about Charlotte catching various insects in her web. The path that she takes growing her web in a circle from the centre can be interpreted either as crochet or knitting instructions, with each bug intended as a bobble stitch, and certain rounds being increased by working two stitches into one, to maintain the circular shape. Once the complete circle has either been created or charted, the last lines of the story tell the solver where the top of the circle is, and hints at the Braille extraction.

As a further hint, the twelve insects are alphabetically named from A-L, and each letter of the answer corresponds to each of the bugs in order, as further confirmation of which bugs group together to form each Braille letter. The story can be converted into a crochet or knitting pattern as follows, with [A-L] denoting a bobble stitch for each insect caught.

Cast on 8
1: 8 stitches
2: increase 2in1 8 times
3: 16 stitches
4: increase 2in1 16 times
5: 4 stitches, [G], 5 stitches, [F], 21 stitches
6: 26 stitches, [G], 5 stitches
7: 16 stitches, [F], 15 stitches
8: increase 2in1 31 times, stitch then [G] into same stitch
9: 18 stitches, [B], 39 stitches, [G], 5 stitches
10: 45 stitches, [J], 5 stitches, [K], 12 stitches
11: 23 stitches, [B], 40 stitches
12: 64 stitches
13: 32 stitches, [E], 31 stitches
14: 2 stitches, [H], 26 stitches, [E], 34 stitches
15: 43 stitches, [J], 20 stitches
16: increase 2in1 5 times, [D] then stitch into same stitch, increase 2in1 32 times, [I] then stitch into same stitch, increase 2in1 14 times, [K] then stitch into same stitch, increase 2in1 3 times, stitch then [L] into same stitch, increase 2in1 6 times
17: 64 stitches, [E], 63 stitches
18: 28 stitches, [C], 19 stitches, [A], 20 stitches, [E], 58 stitches
19: 39 stitches, [B], 14 stitches, [A], 25 stitches, [I], 18 stitches, [K], 28 stitches
20: 118 stitches, [L], 9 stitches
21: 45 stitches, [A], 5 stitches, [A], 76 stitches
22: 12 stitches, [D], 5 stitches, [D], 58 stitches, [I], 36 stitches, [L], 13 stitches
23: 108 stitches, [L], 19 stitches
24: 48 stitches, [A], 79 stitches
25: 15 stitches, [D], 64 stitches, [I], 47 stitches
26: 128 stitches
27: 32 stitches

With the created/charted web oriented with the top as described in the puzzle, the clusters of bugs are arranged in three rows of 4, as shown below:

AntlionBeeCrane FlyDamselfly
Fruit FlyGnatHorsefly
Kelp FlyLantern Fly

Colours used to distinguish groups of bugs

From the completed web, Braille letters can be identified, and the answer QUANTIZATION can be extracted.

Author's Notes

The idea for this puzzle came from having solved a number of knitting puzzles in the past, where extracting from the charted pattern was vastly superior to following the instructions and just knitting the pattern. With that in mind, a circular pattern was chosen, as something that would be a bit more challenging to chart, without being any more difficult to knit. Once the pattern with the braille layout was designed, the story was then written mostly without mention of rows, to further encourage solvers to just knit the web, rather than charting it. The original version of this story did not have 12 different bugs being caught, but writing a story about a spider catching 37 indistinguishable bugs after varying numbers of steps proved to be tedious, so including the A-L bugs added much needed interest in the story, as well as helpful confirmation for solvers once they got to the extraction. A final change to the pattern was to remove a knitted arrow using yarn overs and decreases to indicate the top of the web. This allowed the story to be translated to both knitting and crochet, as there was no need for this puzzle to be knitting-specific.