Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Here's another contest post for SP10, Robyn's group - contest#5.
Q: blog about what you do while knitting. Is there a unique way you like to cuddle up with your yarn and needles? Do you watch TV?... listen to the radio? A podcast? Do you drink tea? Coffee? Wine? Do you have to wear slippers? Do you have to have peace & quiet? Do you have a fave spot?
My most usual knitting spot is on the bus. Since I am vehicularly challenged (I do not drive) my primary form of transportation is Toronto's public transit system, also known as the TTC or "the better way". In the good weather, I often substitute my bike for the purpose of getting around, but I haven't yet figured out a way to bike in traffic and knit at the same time and stay alive, so I save the knitting for when someone else is doing the driving.

I am not a bus snob and so I bestow my knitting presence equally on my fellow transit riders on the subway and streetcars.While engaged in my transit knitting activities, I am usually entertained by the sharp staccato strains of multiple mobile-phone enthusiasts, who are all apparently compelled to relate to their listeners (and to everyone in a three-mile radius) the entire vast compendium of minutiae that comprise their existence in one conversational encounter at audibly threatening decibel levels.

Their strange music is often accompanied by a persistent obligato of contrapuntal shrieks and hollars from packs of adolescents apparently driven to outdo one another in both volume and excessively crude hilarity. These delightful diversions inevitably leave me contemplating the judicious application of sharp and pointy objects to the perpetrators, but thus far I have refrained from such antisocial behaviour.

I will knit sitting down or standing up, usually on a circular needle to avoid the otherwise inevitable precarious chasing of the aforementioned sharp pointy objects down to the other end of the moving vehicle. I generally choose to knit socks while in transit, but not exclusively. As long as the project is of a manageable size, it's fair game for transit knitting.

I have on occasion attempted to juggle both my knitting and a coffee-flavoured beverage, though only while seated, and due to a less than appealing experience, I don't do this anymore. Well, not much, anyway.

Nine times out of ten, while knitting in transit I am approached by someone who is curious and intrigued by what I am doing. Often the commentary consists of something wistful along the lines of: "Wow... I knit a scarf once, but I could NEVER do that!". In my self-appointed role as the transit commission's knitting-in-public good-will-ambassador, I gently explain that it's all really the same two stitches, knirt and/or purl, and the skills obtained in knitting said scarf are very easily transferrable to the making of more interesting projects, with only some patience and the aid of a good book or a willing mentor (easily to be found at any LYS and SnB gathering).

Often I am approached to give an impromptu lesson in some simple technique right there on the bus, as on the occasion when the grandmotherly lady swathed in a voluminous burka and seated just to my left had been a knitter some years before but had somehow forgotten how to cast off and therefore had a great pile of almost finished items languishing in a closet. I demonstrated a simple cast-off, slowly and carefully taking her step-by-step through the actions, while her daughter, seated across from us with her own young progeny, provided a simultaneous translation of my instructions, as the older lady spoke no English and sadly my facility with Arabic is rather weak.

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