Blankets and sweet potato pie

IMG_1835For those of you who knew me before I had the letter “k” stitched between the second and third letters of my name, you’ll know that knitting was not my first “are you forreal?” eliciting hobby. It was crocheting. That’s right, before I was dakniel I was crochetcaptain4eva (sad to say that that was a very real xanga profile for all of 2 weeks), a quirky 8th grade crocheter who, among other things, crocheted tons and tons of afghans. What are afghans, you ask? They are huge, retro-looking blankets that you often see in knitting catalogs and no where else in real life ever (afghans aren’t the type of blanket that you want to curl up under reading a good book. you can thank the Snuggie for that.), and they were the primary fare of my preteen crocheting days. Back in my heyday of crocheting (circa 2005), I would march into Beverly’s, straight past the potpourri and floral wreath making kits, ravage their wall to wall cubbies of Red Heart Super Saver yarn (#truecolors), and just chug out afghan after afghan for all my friends and family (if you smiled at me in the hallway, you probably got an afghan). Combine that with never missing an episode of Jeopardy and you pretty much have my freshman year of high school in a nutshell.

But as the story goes, I ultimately traded in my hooks for needles and transitioned into the painfully punny world of silent “k”s. From a technical standpoint, switching to knitting did allow me a greater variety in the kinds of patterns and projects I could make, but it came at the cost of no longer being able to hand out afghans as birthday party favors. Crocheting makes big, bulky stitches (called “crochets,” uncreatively), which is perfect for large pieces of work. Knitting full-sized blankets is practically unheard of, and only reserved for those with massive amounts of time on their hands.

IMG_1780Surprise, surprise, I knit a full-sized blanket. To be completely honest, I used a pretty worsted (bordering on aran) weighted yarn, so it didn’t take quite as long. But still, halfway through I was like, “wow, 6 seasons of It’s Always Sunny sure went by fast.”

I knit this blanket using Malabrigo “Pearl Ten,” and it’s a darkish purple even though the pictures make it look brown. Malabrigo is another favorite Merino wool of mine, right behind Madelinetosh (click here to read my Madelinetosh exaltation). Each skein comes with 210 amazingly long yards, and each lot is hand-dyed to get that unique blended color you see above. It is much cheaper than Madelinetosh, so if you’re in an especially thrifty mood (as I am 28 days of the month), this is the yarn for you (wait, that sounds like I’m menstruating. I meant because I get paid twice a month, I feel thrifty the other 28 days I don’t get paid. I don’t ovulate.).

As expected, the only patterns I could find were all small, baby blankets, so I ended up having to adapt purlbee’s baby blanket, using up ~6.5 skeins of Malabrigo with 10.5 needles (32″) to make a 33×50″ blanket with a crochet (#crochetcaptain4eva) border. The stitch is inherently stretchy, so you could probably shave it down to just 6 skeins without noticing much difference.


Now, if you are one of my 28 followers on Instagram (first of all, thank you for following me and I will remember you guys when I become instafamous), you have already seen my line-converging, rule-of-thirds abiding photographs and no doubt expect Act 2 of this post to be about my time in Chicago (Chiblogo) and Pittsburgh (Knittsburgh) interviewing for medical schools. And while my time there was full of deep dish pizza and affordable real estate, I must admit that more has happened to me after I returned home than during my days riding around the Loop pretending to be Batman.

Interviewing for a school was a real trip, because for the first time in a long time, people were telling me what my future would look like. Prior to my first interview, amidst the crazy of MCAT prep, sdn lurking (don’t lie, we all do it), and secondary writing, the only person talking about my future was myself. And these internal (and sometimes external) hypotheticals of my future in medicine would be heavily padded with “might”s and “maybe”s, ensuring that I kept a firm foot in the reality of my uncertainty. But during my interviews, everyone spoke to me in the future simple (as opposed to the future conditional. geddit linguistics.) tense, pointing out the things I will do when I go to their school. And the more they talked like this, the more excited I got for the different things I will be doing, until I later realized that I was actually getting excited for the different things I might be doing.

Sitting on that border between realis and irrealis (dude, my linguistics degree is totally paying off right now) drove me crazy. I’d constantly oscillate between the two, sulking in the unknowing-ness of it all at one moment, and then cheerfully daydreaming (and even 1 instance of night dreaming) of the fantastic life that was without a doubt awaiting me in 10 months time. I’ll save you the drama of the bipolar-esque conversations I had with my parents and just say that these mental suicides (as in that terrible running exercise thing they make you do in P.E.) were exhausting, so much so that I often found myself after work wanting nothing to do but sit in my room and knit. But who knew that the answer I was looking for was right there under my nose the whole time… (between my fingers, to be more precise)

IMG_1801I will be giving this blanket to a high school friend of mine, partly as a birthday present (nothing says 23 like a hand-knitted blanket from a dude) and partly as a gift to his entire family for opening up their house so often to me and our 2 other friends. As 4, post-college men, we have outgrown the thrill-seeking behavior of adolescence and have since moved onto more respectable recreational activities. We sometimes cook feasts à la Game of Thrones with an excessive number of cornish hens (seriously, even the Dothraki would be like, dude, that’s way too many cornish hens), and we sometimes play games, from Pokemon Master Trainer (terrible game, you’ll end up hating yourself afterwards) to Ticket to Ride (excellent game, but you’ll end up hating yourself afterwards). But regardless of what we do, it has been generally agreed upon that each night should end in the consumption of homemade fruit smoothies and sweet potato pie (I know you must be thinking that we are 4, grossly obese men, but you really have to try my friend’s sweet potato pie).

I do not know what will happen a year from now, and that uncertainty is indeed terrifying. But what I do know is that every moment dwelling on an unknown future is a moment neglecting the calorie charged, board game bombarded festivities that are currently within my reach (…and that’s why they call it the present). I will become a doctor one way or another, whether I start next year, or the year after that, or (God forbid) the year after that. And when that time comes, the uncertainty of medical school will move just a couple steps ahead, being replaced by much more daunting prospects of residency and getting myself a dog (or a wife). Likewise, the simple pleasures I have thus far been privileged to enjoy will be swapped with newer (and hopefully more mature) opportunities that the fleeting present allows. And while I am unsure as to what these new activities will be, I can guarantee you that they will end in a knitted blanket and pie. Lots and lots of pie.

***Afghans were originally made in Afghanistan.


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