Sternal Rub

For those of you non-medical geeks out there, a sternal rub is a painful test to check a patient’s responsiveness, which seems appropriate going into my first week as a resident. Orientation is over, certifications are complete, I’ve met most of the people in my program, and I still haven’t a clue how things will go tomorrow. Fortunately, my team is amazing, and they’re slowly transitioning us into everything, but still! There’s a long white coat in my closet and business cards on my desk that say MD on them, and it all feels a bit like a dream…

Fortunately, reality the last few days has seen no slowing of the design process, and I’m proud to say that Bob now possesses both clavicles and his sternum, and lacks only ribs to make his torso complete.

The clavicle was a fun little bone to design: it was essentially a long tube with a series of connected increases and decreases to form a few curves, as well as short-row shaping to create tuberosities for muscle attachment. A bit of stuffing and a hint of I-cord at the sternal end rounded it out, and I was able to make both sides identical, which speeded up the process considerably.

The sternum was just flat-out (pun definitely intended!) fun. This bone is naturally divided into three distinct sections: the tiny lower xiphoid process, the long body, and the upper manubrium, and so I chose to knit each of these segments separately and sew them together. The xiphoid process is a delicate little thing, and I knit two identical pieces, sewed them together with the right side facing, then turned it inside out to give a hint of fullness without stuffing.

Next came the body of the sternum, which has noticeably rougher edges than many of the bones, owing to the fact that the cartilage of the ribs attaches here. Usually when knitting flat pieces, I slip the first stitch of each row to give a smooth edge, but here for the first time I knit each one. Also, the subtle increases and decreases I usually use were pointless here, and instead I incorporated kfbs and decreases directly on the edge stitches, adding to the regular irregularity. Finally, the back and front of this piece were sewn together with the wrong sides facing, keeping it as flat as possible.

Lastly, the mantis-head like manubrium was easily shaped with gradual increases and sharp decreases, and wound up reminding me greatly of the state of Texas.

In total, I wound up knitting six pieces to create this one bone, and half the joy lay in finally getting to put it all together!

The sternum is designed to articulate with both the ribs and the clavicles, and the clavicles with the two scapula, so naturally I couldn’t end without checking out that relationship.

I placed an order this morning for yarn to help me out with the cartilage of the ribs, and we’ll see what happens! All that now stands between Bob and his skull are a few left-sided bones and his ribs, which is far too exciting for me. Dare I set a tentative (yikes!) goal for finishing him?