Knitting on rails

life

Travelling on the same train each day to work means that I generally encounter more or less the same group of commuters. So when I got an earlier train one day, I was surprised and rather delighted by the travelling knitting circle I encountered. There was a group of six women who were already on the train when I boarded, and were occupying the six facing seats on one side of the carriage. Evidently ultra-fluffy or hairy wool is in right now, as each of them was knitting feather-boa-like scarves in bright colours like purple, red or sunny orange.

As they knitted, they chatted and laughed (itself a lamentably rare thing on a commuter train), barely looking at their work and letting their fingers follow a well-practiced routine. I noticed that their work tended to punctuate the conversation, so that changing needles would coincide with a pause in conversation, and they would speed up their stitches as they laughed at someone's joke.

I felt slightly jealous of their easy camaraderie, and they reminded me of old photographs of groups of women cleaning fish, waulking cloth or doing other repetitive but social manual jobs that leave you free to talk. I'm one of those sad people who travels wearing listening to an iPod and with my nose in a book, but only because I can't bear to be exposed to the 90% advertising drivel from the on-board TVs that get foisted on us by Central Trains. Now I'm half tempted to take up knitting again and shyly try to join the travelling knitting circle.

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