Thursday, February 1, 2018

Knitting & Crocheting Down the Line


Knitting and Crocheting on Amtrak

Ever wondered what it's like to knit or crochet on a train?  I had a 46-hour-each-way Amtrak trip coming up, and I was wondering about that mightily.  What do you do with yourself for such a long time, other than try to sleep when it's nighttime?

The first thing I did was post questions in a couple of knit and crochet groups on FaceBook.  Many people chimed in with tips and encouragement.  According to them, knit and crochet are great for train trips.  Now that I have completed my trip, I couldn't agree more!

Here's what I learned from my adventure:

 - Knit and crochet are perfect for train travel, because you can look up whenever you want to see what's going on out of the window.

- Take small, easy projects.  My ideal project was long legwarmers made with sock yarn--took lots of time and the yarn was compact.

- Save the complicated parts for station stops or leave that stuff at home.  Plain knitting, purling, and crocheting are great on a moving train.  Lace, tinking, and other tricky maneuvers are pretty hard when you're in motion.  So is writing.

- Bring more than one type of project.  I like to have both knit and crochet going so I can switch off. This allows me to change the motions and muscles being used.  If you only knit or crochet, you could have big-needle-or-hook projects and small-needle-or-hook projects to alternate between.

- A small plastic bag with notions is very helpful.  Tape measure, small crochet hook for fixing mistakes, stitch markers, yarn needle, and scissors are what I brought.  Get some of those little fold-up scissors that have a ring on the end so you can string 'em around your neck while you're working.

- If you need glasses for your work, it helps to have half-lens readers so you can look over the top or progressive lenses so you can look down as well as out at the scenery.

- Try to get a seat that faces in the direction you are traveling--you'll be facing the locomotive-end of the train.  The scenery going by will be easier for your brain to manage while you're concentrating on your work.

- Don't forget nighttime.  If you want to look out of the window, you can turn off the light and your eyes will adjust somewhat so you can see what's outside.  Stars, moon, and towns are especially nice.  Then when you get tired of that, it's back to your work with the light on.

- Knitting and crocheting helps with my restless legs syndrome (RLS), so it is absolutely essential for me when faced with having to sit in a seat for so long. Walking outside during station stops is not practical, and taking walks on the train is not a thing.  The aisles are narrow, and they're needed for staff and others who have places to go.  Going up and down the stairs to the bathroom is very good exercise, though.

- Pack lightly for entertaining yourself.  I had no interest in the books or DVD player I brought--heavy, bulky, and useless. Better to bring more yarn.

Now that I've recovered from the trip, I'm going to write up a few pages of train-travel suggestions for myself and put them in the suitcase so I'll remember what to do and what not to bother with on my next expedition.

Happy trains to you!