I’m standing in the rush hour train, mesmerized by the art being created before my eyes. A women is seated near the door, quietly crocheting in her lap. The flashing crochet hook is turning lengths of olive and purple yarn into a beautiful web of something – a scarf, a hat or part of a throw. She isn’t reading from a pattern, but she does occasionally stop to count the flower-like clusters she’s made. I alternate between outright staring, and oblique glances so I don’t seem to be too creepy. I should say something, but I’m across the car and don’t want to shout. Soon, she pokes everything back in the bag and we get off at the same stop. I’m following her up the stairs, wondering how much more of the work she’ll accomplish on her ride home.
Most people on the train are absorbed in their phones or tablets. Sometimes I see students reviewing text books or notes, finishing homework problems before school. But the rarest sightings are women (and it’s always women) knitting or crocheting on the train. Their work is usually contained in a small bag so you can only see the small piece they’re creating now. Small deft movements, and the color of the yarn usually get my attention. I’m looking at the stitch pattern, and the size of needles, admiring the even gauge and emerging pattern. If I’m close enough, I’ll say something complimentary. It’s hard enough to do sitting in your chair at home, but to do it on a train requires some focus.
I’m a big fan of using time that could be unproductive in a more productive way. I used to take my knitting to chorus practice to fill a break, or the time when the tenor and bass sections were rehearsing. I could usually get a few rows done, unfortunately, when one of my needles slipped out of my hand and hit the floor, it produced a tone just flat enough to prompt a glare from the conductor, so I decided this wasn’t the best multi-tasking atmosphere. I have taken my knitting on planes before, but now I’m afraid that the TSA will confiscate my needles, because they look like long scary weapons.
I’ve not tried to bring knitting on my current commute, mostly because it’s pretty short, and also because I stand most of the time. Plus, the project I’m working is proving to be especially tricky and I keep having to take it off the needles, unravel some, and start over. It may be that I can no longer knit in front of the TV and instead must seclude myself to get it right. But what if a long-quiet train ride is the answer? My knitting fits in a small string bag and I have all afternoon…