There isn’t much to say about Gregor Mendel’s personal life. He liked bees and had some kids before he joined the church to help pay for his schooling. He became a friar and then an abbot later in life. What do you say about a guy who spent nearly ten years cultivating peas in his free time? I can only hope he came up with some great recipes to use them. French pea soup? Braised peas with onion and dill? Sweet peas with prosciutto? Sauteed cod with pea cream? Cold pea soup aside, this week we’re memorializing Gregor Mendel for his contributions to science as the father of genetics.
I’m sure most of you know about Mendel and his thousands of pea plants, how he crossbred them and kept careful notes on seven specific traits. I remember learning about Mendelian Inheritance in school. What I think is really interesting about Mendel and his work (you know, instead of “wooo, genetics!”) is that people thought he merely proved what they already knew. It was seen as a study on hybridization instead of what it actually was, a study on inheritance. And that is the most tragic thing ever.
I mean, sure… A bunch of European scientists re-discovered his work decades later, and in 1915 Mendel’s theories were integrated with Thomas Hunt Morgan’s chromosome theory of inheritance, which would become the core of classic genetics. But you’re missing the bigger picture here. People like Charles Darwin were unaware of Mendel’s work. While Darwin was unsuccessfully trying to explain inheritance through Pangenesis, Mendel had a piece of the puzzle. We could’ve had thirty more years of genetic studies under our belts.
I’ll just let that sink in.
To represent Gregor Mendel, we chose to use a simple Punnett Square. Named after Reginald Punnett who developed the approach, this diagram shows possible combinations of maternal alleles with paternal alleles.
Whether you’re knitting, crocheting, or cross stitching this square, you can download the Gregor Mendel pattern here. Instructions for both knit and crochet are listed in the pattern. When you’re finished making it, don’t forget to tweet or instagram your squares at me @jac_attacking or Megan-Anne @Doctor_Llama with the hashtag #geekalong!
If you’re having trouble with double-sided knitting, we have a how-to video here and a tutorial on crochet here. Want to hang out with other people making the blanket? You can find moral support in the Geek-A-Long group on Ravelry here.
Seriously though, he referred to bees as “my dearest little animals.” How cute is that?
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