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Today was a weird day.  Mostly, all I did (all I did, huh) was rummage through old things to see what I could use in the next few months: I am packing old things to use for the future.  I came across a few interesting things: some “what was I thinking?” things and some, “huh, I really really like that” things, and some things like the first actual object I ever knit.  A scarf.  Green, acrylic, faux cable lace, garter stitch edging.  Pretty cool.  But I’d never wear it again.

Behold, my first knit (ever):  

Actually, the past few months have been weird: all filled with uncertainty and doubt and decisions and change.  Kind of like a not-so-tasty jelly donut.  And I left my temporary home in Dominica.  I still don’t know how I feel about that one.  I’ve been “home home” for barely enough time to get used to it again, and now, I’m moving to the most temporary home I’ve had (and possibly ever will have) in a state to which I’ve never been before.  Thinking about it makes my head spin.  All the while, I’ve been (well, I’ve supposed to have been) studying for an exam encompassing the basic science years of medical school, to which I give an emphatic, “????????!!!!!!!!!!!!???????????!!!!???!!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!”.    Actually that’s what I give to this year.

Exam is approaching.  I feel as if my life is consistently circumscribed by exams: they form the walls in my life.  There’s no use fighting it.  I just gotta keep on keeping on.  To keep up on this time around:

Pharmacology: GI, endocrine, and alternative.

Pathology: GI, hepatic, genital, endocrine.

Microbiology: GI and hepatic bugs, sexually transmitted diseases.

Clinical Medicine: clinical imaging and other stuff.

Things I’ve knit between the taking of the last exam and the studying for this coming exam:

-Two hats for one married couple.  I dyed them red (with Kool-Aid!) because the couple is Canadian.  And they’re in love.

One is “Knotty but Nice” from Knitty Winter 2009:

The other is “Dependence” by Eyja Brynjarsdóttir

Undyed:

Dyed:For both hats, I used Paton’s Classic Wool in Sienna, which my aunt gave me after she found it on sale at Michael’s for $1/skein.

-One and a half pairs of Pomatomus socks (from Knitty Winter 2005) in Lion Brand Sock-Ease.  IK gave me the yarn: he ventured into Lion Brand Studio in NYC all by his lonesome.  And rubbed his cheek against the wall.  Because it was soft and covered in yarn, or so he tells me.

I knit the grey ones (colorway = Rock Candy) for myself.  The yellow ones I’m knitting as part of a swap with a lovely lady who sews.  She’s sewing me some bags, and she’s getting a pair of sunny yellow socks (colorway = Lemon Drop).

Things I’d like to learn to do in the near (-ish?) future:

-How to visualize the fundus of the eye using an opthalmascope better.  This is a must.

-How to perform a full physical exam well and in front of examiners.  Without losing my shit.  This, too is a must.

-Dermatomes.  Also a must.

-Sew.  With a sewing machine!  Because I want to make this!  Also because the lady behind this is an inspiration to me.  Other than that, I don’t know why else I’d ever be compelled to learn to sew — I hate seaming my knits and try to avoid it at all costs.  Any and all.

-Suture.  Apparently, knitting is good practice!

-Embroider.  Because it’s pretty.  Duh.

– Get organized.  A must?

-Spin my own yarn.  Oh how I wish I could!

-Make a beaded knit something.  Sparkles!

-How to be an adult.  One day.  Maybe?

Since the beginning of the year, I have knit nearly 3 miles of yarn.  I wish I had kept better track of my knitting since I started knitting —  I would be interested in knowing how much I’ve knit in the past four years.  All I know is that in the past six months, I’ve probably knit more than I ever had ever before — or at the very least, have had more successful finished objects than ever.  It is partly because being in medical school is stressful and I knit more when I’m under a lot of stress, and also because I feel the need to be thrifty with my yarn.  What I have here in Dominica is all I’ll ever have here in Dominica.

Count:

-Eleven socks (five pairs, one singlet; 3 pairs + 1 singlet for me)

-Three hats (one for me)

-Four “Haruni” shawls (one for me)

-One cardigan (for me)

Yesterday, I did not knit.  Instead, I attended my first hospital rotation, during which I followed an anesthesiologist and later interviewed (while being live tele-conferenced to a classroom filled with first semester medical students: weird, scary and really annoying all at the same time) and examined a man who had been hospitalized for foot ulcers.  The anesthesiology rotation was incredible: I had the opportunity to watch four different surgeries and see the practical application of of what I have been learning in the classroom for the past 17 months.  Suddenly it all seems relevant.  Suddenly I realized how stupid I’ve been for thinking the little things aren’t important.  I also realized how important it is to have strong legs and comfortable shoes.  Chairs are in short supply in the operating room (or “theatre,” as they call it in the British-influenced medical circles).

I also realized how treacherous it is to become ill in a country less developed than, say, the United States.  In Dominica, your care, while “free,” depends on the current supply of medications on hand and the staff present.  Drugs are expensive.  Drugs with less side effects are more expensive.  Equipment is expensive.  “One use only” is expensive.   In the end, you’re at the mercy of lady luck and the agility of your doctor.

[Side note: Oddly enough, one of the reasons I began knitting was because I wanted/want to be a surgeon (I feel weird saying that because I fear I’m not smart or good enough to actually be a surgeon).  Well, that and because I have fidgety fingers.  Someone told me knitting increases one’s dexterity (it does), so I tried it.  Then I realized I could make things.  Like scarves.  Sweaters.  Hats.  Socks!   Don’t even get me started on the virtues of knitting.  I think everyone ought to knit.]

A lot of things have changed my perspective of medicine in the past month: my mother’s illness, my progression in medical school, interaction with real patients, finding out that a person’s maximum heart rate is 220 minus their age, or that an epinephrine IV bolus can both kill someone and save someone’s life (true, hands-on experience: luckily the patient was plastic).  I don’t know where I’m going yet, and I don’t know how I’m going to get where I need to be, but I’m soldiering on.  Slowly.  Exam in five days.  Sigh.

For the first time, ever, I have a completely wearable, long-sleeve (ish) cardigan.  But, I happen to have very bad luck when it comes to making any knit object larger than a scarf.  It just doesn’t go over very well with me.  I don’t know why.   My last cardigan experience was not the best one, and I still get a little sad when I think about it.

I chalk it all up to learning experiences.

My poor herringbone sweater was a lot of firsts for me (in no particular order):

-First time not following a pattern.

-First time knitting a long-sleeved sweater.

-First time steeking.

-First time knitting picot edgings

I had high hopes for it.  Really high hopes.  Turns out that the sweater was too tight.  I had used a sweater I like to wear as the basis for the measurements and completely disregarded the fact that the template sweater wasn’t made of worsted weight wool (in stranded colorwork) and the sweater I was trying to knit would be.  I tried to save it by steeking (which, by the way, is really really really really really fun), but it just didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to turn out.  I mean, the steeking part was fine — it was the making it up part that wasn’t.  Sad face.

So I learned some things:

(1) The kind of fabric determines how the garment will behave

(2) Stranded colorwork is not stretchy.

(3) If in doubt, go bigger.

(4) How to steek using a crocheted chain.

(5) Some things are fixable.  Others are not.

(6) Lionbrand Fisherman’s Wool is great for steeking.

This newest finished object (original pattern here) for which I harbor high hopes, too, could end very very very very very badly.  The yarn was given to me (and who am I to turn down free yarn?), and the color is revolting.  Or at least, I deem it revolting.  Which is all that really matters because it is MY SWEATER.  And I knit it because I wanted to knit it.  Thing is, I knit when I’m stressed, and this past month has been nothing if not stressful for me.  Stress + me = compulsive knitter.  Sometimes it ends well, sometimes not so much.  I’m not sure about this time around.

Pre-blocking, pre-mischief, it fits!  I grafted the arms together and I sewed up the underarms.  I have yet to weave in the ends, but that’s my least favorite part.  I have socks for which the cast on tail is still dangling about or tucked inside because I loathe weaving in ends almost as much as I loathe washing dishes.  It will get done, promise.

Well, here’s the thing: I don’t like the color and the color doesn’t like me back.  So, I want to dye it.  I lack a permanent residence and I currently live in remote tropical island.  My sweater is 100% wool.  All I have is Kool-Aid and a bucket.  I want to dye it.  Can I?  Should I?  I know dyeing is a fickle creature, but I am a compulsive monster.  The thought both delights me and scares me.  I don’t want to end up sad.

But, even if it does end up poorly, I have consolation in the fact that knitting up this cardigan has taught me a lot of things.  It was a learning experience, after all.  In no particular order, I learned:

(1) Why everyone loves short-rows.
(2) How to do short-rows.
(3) How to make button holes.
(4) How to graft garter stitch.
(5) I don’t have enough buttons.
(6) It is possible to knit an entire garment in a color which one does not like.
(7) How to spit join.
(8) How to do a crocheted provisional cast-on.

Way back when, I promised my dear dear friend HB a “shark hat.”  She has a pet inflatable shark named “Steven,” and naturally, wanted a wearable counterpart.  I willingly obliged — I had already knitted a fish-like hat for my IK (the “Dead or Alive” hat pattern from knitty, obviously).  Then, a few months passed, I had still not knitted her any sort of shark-like hat, and we both kinda “grew up” and had to wear grown up clothes.  By “grow up” I only mean relatively, and only in such a way that wearing an actual knit shark on one’s head at this stage in our growing up would not be acceptable.  So, I made some concessions and made her a grown up shark hat.  Not to be deterred, and in a last ditch effort to preserve our free-wheeling youngin’ days, Shark Teeth received a giant pom-pom to the head.

Unfortunately, I did not get any completely finished pictures of Shark Teeth, because (fortunately) HB loved it and snatched it up immediately.  Invariably, I love it too (and the yarn — Lionbrand “Wool-Ease,” in Grey Heather — is so squishy) and want one for myself.  Luckily, I’ve got another skein in Sienna, and that one is for me.  My travel knitting plans are nearly complete.  I have an 11 hour travel day, which includes a five-hour layover (!!!) in San Juan, but does not include the  one-hour drives to Melville Hall (which is only barely an airport) and away from Chicago O’Hare.

This sweater sweater-fetus is what I’ve been daydreaming about for the past few days.  I started it last semester in a fit of homesickness and yearning for cold weather.  Its insanely insane knitting a stranded colorwork sweater in Lionbrand Fisherman’s Wool while residing on a tropical island and living in an apartment overlooking the Caribbean Sea.  Insane, but so am I.

To Connecticut Sweater and I travelled: an unstoppable duo we were, until i realized that its …um, quite small.  Or rather, my arms are larger than I thought they were and my bust is bigger than I had imagined. So, it languishes — several thousand miles away and in another country — in its one armed state. It’s lucky that its wooly fibers stick together so well.  I stole the needles (size 10) from it in a hurry when i had to book it back to dominica Jurassic Park (red’s my favorite!  …but not that I actually used them since…  I don’t know why i did that).

The guilt of having started something so momentous and not finishing it (like so much else in my life: mostly knits) creeps up on me when I least expect it.  I loved it once — I did, I did!  I have to save it, I thought!  I must must must save it!  Then i read about steeking and about crochet steeking, and I decided that surgery — sweater surgery, at least — is definitely in my future.

So, when Sweater and I are reunited, I’m promptly going to finish its other arm and turn Sweater into a Cardigan.  Then, I’m gonna knit it a button placket.  I’m gonna make it some crocheted button loops and slap a ruffle over it to cover it up; like in this one (ohhh, ahhh, pretty!), only different, of course.

I’m gonna rip that silly little shoulder ruffle off and then I’m gonna steek the arm to the elbow (or maybe the whole length?) and fill it in with short rows.

i’m going to make it work, and i’m going to love it.

I am excited. Or, perhaps I’m a little delirious?  Studying tends to do that to me.  I’ve never steeked a thing in my life.

In other news: I finished studying microbiology for the night, and am embarking on a pharmacology trip to last me till tomorrow.  Then exam!  Then a week to study four months’ worth of med school learnin’, another exam, then CIVILIZATION HOME!

the most essential part of studying: socks.

past present future

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here and there