When a loved one is ill, especially for reasons nobody can figure out, it's natural for a knitter to reach for needles and yarn that each feel nice, and a mindless (or complex, depending on temperament and level of panic) pattern to work on.
But when that illness shifts to a hospital setting, further consideration is required.
A simple pattern is good in this case - or one that can be easily memorized for many rows. You do not want to be folding and unfolding paper while somebody is trying to sleep, or referring to said paper while trying to retain what the nurse or doctor is saying.
Also: will there be bus and/or subway activity en route the hospital? It takes longer, but one can knit away some stress which is not true while driving oneself in a car. Taxis are a hybrid solution ideal for those not oddly averse to riding in them and not more likely to be carsick than trainsick.
And: will this be gift knitting or personal? A knit for the patient, or for somebody else totally unassociated with him or her?
Test Question One
Knitter M is making a yoga sock for a friend unaware of and unaffected by the hospital scenario. While on the subway, and in spite of using a ridiculously simple pattern with just 35 stitches per row, she discovers an error six rows previous that doesn't really show unless you look for it but may affect the similarity in length of the companion sock. Does she:
a/ Keep knitting and ignore the error, then hope she remembers to exactly duplicate said error on sock #2; or
b/ Keep knitting regardless of duplication and tell her friend that the mistake symbolizes the depth of their friendship, in that knitting was completed for her during a Stressful Time because it was a comfort to think of her, and the error captures that sentiment; or
c/ Rip back, recognizing that this is a seriously lame argument, besides which the knitting itself is comforting and should be prolonged anyway?
If c/, should the frogging take place on the subway in a suddenly vacated seat or at the hospital, either when the patient is napping or, if that doesn't happen soon enough, when the patient is sipping water and can't object?
If on the subway, how critical is it for Knitter M to know her subway stop durations?
Fun Fact: you can rip out six 35-stitch rows and get them back onto dpns while passing through just five downtown subway stops.
Test Question Two
Knitter M must walk several blocks before getting on a bus plus one more block after getting off the subway and it's going to rain heavily all day. Does she:
a/ expend equal effort deciding between shoes, leather boots, or rainboots to wear in the hospital room and deciding between knitting bags based on their waterproofiness?
b/ ignore the shoe issue entirely and spend 20 minutes hauling out every possible bag for comparison purposes even though the hospital knitting fits in a very small pouch and could probably go into a raincoat pocket?
c/ zone in on midrange waterproofy boots, then congratulate herself on impulse-purchasing a $120-on-sale messenger-style bag with no velcro that looks like leather but is actually recycled plastic bottles, and spend the bonus time knitting something too complicated for the hospital?
Fun Fact: messenger bags with velcro closures are guaranteed to lead to woolly snags no matter how waterproof or lightweight they might be. Unless there's nothing else that offers the necessary space, don't go there.
Test Question Three
Casting off post-hospital visit: on transit, or at home?
(a gimme: at home after comfort food; if impossible, cut a really long tail as insurance for a white-knuckle tension level.)
Test Question Four
The news is good, the end of the hospital stay and now-explained illness in sight. Does Knitter M
a/ set aside the second yoga sock until the next crisis; or
b/ finish it and knit two more pairs because they're so fast and easy and perfect for the Christmas pile?
Set down your pencils when the test is completed, and knit to indicate it may now be collected for marking.