There are many knitting projects stuffed into many baskets around Bootville. All started with much enthusiasm. All still loved. And oh I am looking forward to finishing and wearing them. But there are weeks when carefully knitting a sleeve on double pointeds with regular decreases is just too much like work. Let alone unravelling an Icelandic yoke to reknit with less rounds. Oy! That one fills me with dread.
So when I had my first block of night duty, I needed something warm, colourful and comforting with which to busy my hands and provide some sort of normal during the late afternoon hours that are all you have between a day of sleeping and another 11 hour overnight shift.
I sure found just the project … The Sunday Shawl by Alia Bland. a.k.a. The Little Bee NZ. A crocheted shawl in DK weight that literally leaps off the hook! The pattern is perfectly written – so easy to follow even with the most night duty addled mind. For many peaceful hours you just crochet back and forth and back and forth, creating a simple, ever growing triangle.
By the time you get to the colourful border, you are ready for a bit of adventure and there’s just the right amount – a variety of stitches, none of them too complicated. And …. here’s the really good bit … because it’s crochet, if you make a little mistake somewhere and don’t wind up with quite the right number of stitches … you can bodge it a little and no one will ever notice ;-) Ahhhh the easy going nature of crochet … knitting is never that kind to clumsy fingers/mind!
I had the dark purple Cleckheaton DK in my stash – bought it from Wondoflex’s bargain basement. And the colours were all found stuffed into baskets around the house from different projects. So good – I didn’t even need to leave the house. It made for lovely afternoons – just what I needed in order to confront looooooooong nights with double the patient load.
Night duty is weird. The whole hospital seems to be asleep – except the patients – they rarely sleep. All activities apart from nursing are pared back to the barest of essentials. The throngs of people – doctors, allied health, orderlies, visitors – they have all vanished. The lights are mostly out. The whole ground floor with its shops and cafes is closed. Only a skeleton staff of ward nurses bob about in the lamplight. Doing obs, giving meds, helping patients in pain or providing bathroom relief.
And then there’s the Hospital in the Night nurses – they are true Florence Nightingales – created as a support to the halved number of ward nurses, they are highly experienced professionals who roam the hospital with pagers – need an urgent IV site, they come; need a complicated dressing changed, they come; have more meds than you can possibly deliver in a short space of time, they come; have a four bed room turned into gastro isolation at 2 o’clock in the morning, they come and STAY until everything is under control. Oh, by the end of my first night, I LOVED the Hospital in the Night nurses and the moment they appeared I knew everything would be good.
Then there were my ward sisters – I was very fortunate to work with my preceptor for the whole block – she’s a gem – an excellent nurse and incredibly supportive. And our team leader each night was wonderful – supportive, highly skilled, buckets of experience and friendly. Yep – it definitely makes the night flow well when you are in it together. In the back of my mind, no matter how out of my comfort zone I was, I knew I would get through it because those around me would never let me fall.
So the ingredients for a successful block of night shift – awesome ward sisters who have taught me so much, super hero Hospital in the Night nurses who can always be counted on to ride in and pull off the otherwise impossible, and a colourful Sunday Shawl to fill in those spaces that are neither days or nights and bear little resemblance to normal life.
I have loved wearing the Sunday Shawl to work on early mornings and late nights, tucked around my shoulders, its vibrant colours literally making the sterile corridors of the hospital glow. I am definitely the only nurse who arrives looking this colourful :-) I’ve even had people comment in the lifts.
But this week, I gave it a lovely wash, gently stretched it out to reveal all those lacy crochet bits, and dried it in the back garden during a rare day of sunshine. Then I folded it up and posted it off to a wee farm.
I hope the love and all the super hero nursiness that is stitched into it brings the marvellous farmer a bit of extra cosiness and comfort during these chilly months.
When it warms your shoulders, know that this shawl came to life alongside the encouragement, vast experience and potent skills of a powerful group of women who dedicate themselves to the care of others *
And now … well I’m about to start another block of night duty tonight (oh my!) but first I may well need a trip to the wool store :-)
* I do work with wonderful male nurses too – but there were none on duty during my first block of night duty :-)