I have made a happy habit of tube knitting recently. I dont mean knitting in the round, or one of those weird ‘French knitting’ mushroom things. I mean knitting on the underground.
I’m not a natural commuter. For the last 3 years I have either cycled to work or ridden my Vespa. But (through no fault of my own I’d like to point out!) I haven’t been able to renew the insurance on my Vespa this year, and the weather lately has been, uh, inclement at best (gale force at worst), so I’ve temporarily taken to the tube.
Despite an English degree and a love of reading, I’m not a natural tube reader. I need a bit more wake up time before I plunge into anything too heavy, and I’m too vain to cart around Chicklit. So I decided the best thing I can do on my 3 hr round trip commute is to knit. I find it relaxing and destracting enough to pass the time and it gives me time to work on presents for my friends and their kids as well as stuff for the shop. And yes, I’ve perfected the art of knitting in a space narrower than my shoulders so as not to elbow people on either side (it’s all about holding one needle vertical and knitting at 90 degrees!)
Yesterday, doing the last few bits of a friend’s birthday present I became aware, like you do, of a pair of eyes on me. I looked up and there was a young French girl watching me. She was enthralled. “Elle est vite!” she conmented to her mother. When her father blocked her view of the growing scarf she forcibly pushed him aside. Between Green Park and London Bridge my knitting was an object of unabashed fascination.
She’s not the only person ever to have gawped – I frequently get looks ranging from inquisitive to pitying to amused, from all sorts of commuters – but few are quite so obvious in their amazement as she was.
On my way off the tube at London Bridge I summoned up my best schoolgirl French and said to her “Tu peut l’appendre comme meme. C’est pas difficile!” which I’m hoping, roughly translated, means “you could learn you know – it’s not hard!”.
I have a vague fantasy that simply by knitting in public I may have passed on a very calming, productive (and let’s face it, pretty cool) skill to the next generation, as well as ensuring handmade gifts for all her friends for many years to come, but I realise this is highly unlikely. Ah well. At the very least, she’s got a funny story about “la folle qui tricotait au metro” that she can tell her pals when she gets back home…