mindless, yet distracting

Fall is creeping in – my favorite time of year. I'm home for a week, getting some things accomplished, doing some pattern writing, and enjoying being unpacked for a few days.

Boyhood and I celebrated over 1,000 days of wedded bliss yesterday with a day off at home, together (what luxury)! And a few of our favorite things: a soak in the hot tub, a stroll with the Hound to the farmers' market, and cooking dinner together. The Universe even sent a little shout-out to us for our anniversary: look what showed up in our bag of little fingerling potatoes for dinner!:


But now it's Thursday, and there are only a few days left before I fly down to California for a week to help mom out with her surgery. So once again, I face the age-old question: what makes for good hospital* knitting?

* Okay, so technically, Mom's thing is just an outpatient procedure – but the project parameters remain the same. What can I knit on while someone I love is recovering?

If this year has been good for anything, it's been to refine my understanding of good crisis knitting: between parental health issues, I've been able to crank out some pieces. And yet I remain completely stalled on others. Socks? You bet. Lace? Not on your life. And my UFOs languished this summer (since so many of them are in a fussy stage that requires concentration or blocking or seaming or something incompatible with all of the above).

A great crisis, or hospital, project should:

  • be mindless enough that you can't screw it up royally;
  • be distracting enough that you have something to occupy your mind other than worry;
  • be interruptable so you can jam it away to catch the doctor as she whips through on her rounds;
  • be portable so you can drop it in a bag to go head down the hall or out to the doctor's office.


What worked? The Featherweight Cardigan – as a top-down raglan, it was a clear winner in the 'mindless, yet distracting' category. No seaming required; long rows of stockinette punctuated by increases; just enough to do in each row that I didn't keel over from boredom. And the yarn I'm using is so light and fluffy, one skein did the trick for the whole body: talk about portable!

Socks are also the obvious contender for crisis knitting, especially if you've got a 'Plain Vanilla,' basic sock pattern in your head that you've knit so often, you could practically knit it in your sleep. My Unpattern Socks are obviously my own go-to, but if you're in the market for another great basic pattern, Churchmouse just released theirs, and it's as classy and classic as all their other patterns. [Luckily for me, my brother just informed me that he's running dangerously low in the sock department! Bring it!]

So now, like any good little knitter, I'm obsessing about what project to pack for my week-long trip. I'd narrowed it down to three choices, all of which seem to meet most of the crisis knitting criteria.

There's "Marmee," a shaped cardigan from Louisa Harding's book, appropriately titled, well... "Cardigans":
Upside: I'd get to use one of my desert-island yarns from my stash: Jaeger's Extra-Fine Merino DK.
Downside: too many fussy pieces, and perhaps just a little too much shaping to be beneficially mindless.

And there's "Kirigami," designed by the illustrious Kate Gilbert (can I be her when I grow up?):
 (Bought some fabulous yarn for this at a recent visit to Fiber Gallery in Seattle - "Sweater" by Spud & Chloe. The fact that I chose lime and violet couldn't possibly have anything to do with the fact that Jessica of RoseKim Knits was helping me... could it?)

Cool and unusual construction, but only reverse stockinette; two colors, but single-row stripes. This one has a lot going for it. Only downside is the amount of space the (worsted-weight) yarn would take in my (carry-on) luggage.

The third and final contender – Carol Feller's "Mendel":
Stockinette. Stockinette good. (And look! Ruching! and a cool neckline to keep a girl mildly distracted!)

Only downside to this one is that I can't decide which fingering-weight yarn from my stash to use, and might just end up crumbling under the pressure and running out to buy some Tosh Sock as a tiebreaker. 


Boyhood cast his vote this morning – what say you, knitters?
(Don't wait too long to chime in... a girl's gotta get packing!)