Word Problems

Remember word problems? I remember hating them. I think it was because I was good at math, but word problems really required not math, but reading comprehension and analytical abstraction, which I was not taught (at least not in math class). But now I love them, because I enjoy logic puzzles, and because I don’t have to do several of them every day.

Is it odd that I never came up with the thought “Oh, word problems are just like real life!” but rather run across such problems in real life and think “Look! Real life sometimes appears in the form of word problems!”

I ran into one of these “real life word problems” today, and had such fun puzzling it out on my walk to school that I thought you  might enjoy it too. Also, I want to see if I was right.

Rebecca has two balls of yarn – one brown and one white – which she is using for a pair of fair isle socks. The white yarn is much more dominant in the pattern than the other. Her first sock weighs 1.2 oz. She has .7 oz of white yarn left and 1.5 oz. of brown yarn left. Does she have enough white left to work the second sock the same as the first, or does she need to switch and make brown the dominant color? (The two balls of yarn were [purportedly] equal in weight when they were purchased.) Show your work.

(This picture gave me a tickle. The sock looks like it just wants to open up its toe decreases and talk to someone. Also, it’s been snowing every day for more than two weeks now. I love it passionately – even if it’s just a little snow, that white stuff in the air makes me feel like all this freezing cold has been for a purpose.)

4 thoughts on “Word Problems

  1. My guess is: no, you don’t have enough left to complete it the same way– here’s my work! Although I always got docked points for not showing every step: you used .8oz more white than brown in your first project. So 1.2-8=.4oz that remains that were equal parts white and brown. So: .2 white, .2 brown, which means you need 1.0oz white to complete your project, which you don’t have! But I could totally be wrong, because if I were eyeballing it I would say the ratio of white use to brown use was not 1.0:.2 at all.


  2. I just got that “sinking feeling” that I used to get when turning in math assignments– I didn’t check my work!! But 1.0+.7=1.7, and 1.5+.2=1.7, so at least I got the right amounts to equal equal balls of yarn. Phew.


  3. Ha way to go for it Stace! I started out like you that since 1.5-.7 = .8, there should be a .8oz difference between the amounts used in the 1st sock. so x+x+.8 = 1.2, x being the amount of brown used and x+.8 being the amount of white used.

    Though yesterday I talked to friend Scott who solved it a much simpler way. I am wondering if anyone else did that way…


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