I really, really hate public transportation.
I like the idea of it: in theory, I think everyone should have access to reliable, affordable public transportation. The problem is that in my neck of the woods, public transportation is rarely either of those things. I’ve spent many miserable hours waiting in the sticky heat of the DC-swamp summer, the polar vortex cold of winter, and the all-too-frequent thunderstorm. Often times my bus is either so late that I wait over an hour, or so early that it flies right past me as I’m still walking to my stop. Sometimes it just never even shows up. I’m lucky that I don’t have to rely on Metro to get to work, since that’s even more notoriously unreliable (and so expensive!). Many are the times I’ve shook my fist at the sky in impotent rage over the terrible service that is DC metro area public transportation.
But, public transportation does have one thing going for it: once you’re on board, you can multitask to your heart’s content. Sure, it’s not as comfortable as your own car (and your travel companions are not always as pleasant), but at least you can allow your mind to wander and keep your hands busy.
I’ve been trying to perfect the art of crafting on the bus. It’s actually way more difficult than I thought it would be. I started by bringing along cross stitch with me. This was a terrible idea for several reasons. For one, it was tough to balance my fabric with the print out of the pattern I was following without repeatedly elbowing my neighbor accidentally. I tried only working on sections where I had the pattern memorized, but even that was tricky when it came time to rethread the needle. The biggest problem was that I usually use white aida cloth for my cross stitch. I don’t know if you’ve ever taken public transportation, but light color fabrics tend not to fare too well on there. I prefer not to think about the origins of some of the smudges that ended up on my bus projects (it’s just chocolate, right? Right?!?!).
So far I’ve had more success with knitting on the bus, although even that has its limitations. I learned my lesson with the aida cloth, so I’ve avoided working on projects with light colored yarn on the bus. I also can only work on projects that involve lots of repetition or easily-memorized patterns. There’s lots of interruptions on the bus, from jolts and sudden stops to pokes from fellow travelers, so you need a pattern that you can easily put down and pick back up again without losing track. As a bonus, you can use your knitting needles to fend off unwelcome advances from bus creepers! (I’m kind of kidding, but only kind of. When push comes to shove, the needles come out.)
I’ve also learned to only bring along tools and materials that I’m ok with getting damaged in some way, whether it’s from spills, dirt and dust, or monsoon conditions totally soaking all of the yarn in my bag (this happened last week and I was initially horrified, but it all dried and looks good as new! Mostly…). I save my more delicate projects and pricey materials for working on at home.
Do you craft on the bus? Let me know if you have any tips for making it more successful! I’ll keep trying and report back on any other strategies I discover!
Side note: I’m really excited that today marks the beginning of Women’s History Month! Stay tuned this month for stories about how women have contributed to crafting and art over the years, and how the women in our own lives have passed on their creative traditions. Have a story you’d like to share? I would be thrilled to post it on the blog this month! Please shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your story idea.