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A Lifeline of Yarn

During my internship in general surgery, I had few opportunities to go into the operating room, yet I was itching to put my hands to work. I heard around the hospital that a transplant surgeon I admired was a talented knitter. So I signed up for a basic knitting class at Michaels craft store, learned my knits and purls, and began constructing lopsided scarves using inexpensive, scratchy acrylic Red Heart yarn. I was quickly addicted to my new hobby.

The more scut work I was assigned on the floor, the larger my wardrobe of hand-knit scarves became. I soon discovered an independent yarn shop and quickly fell deeper into the rabbit hole. Soon, I was learning new techniques, using circular needles, knitting socks and even undertaking simple sweaters. Balls of merino, alpaca and cashmere replaced the acrylic Red Heart in my yarn stash. I developed surety in the ability of my hands to create complex things with simple instruments. I visualized garments in three dimensions and honed my spatial reasoning skills. I gained confidence in trying and failing at new techniques and learned how to teach. The skills I was learning from knitting paralleled the skills I was learning in surgery. 

Although I started knitting to put my hands to work and to help me be a better surgeon, knitting has given me even more. I gained close friendships with creative women, found connections with my patients and developed a meditative outlet for stress. It may just seem like a simple activity with sticks and string, but it has been a lifeline for this nascent surgeon.

Tullika Garg
Danville, Pennsylvania


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