Anyone who follows me on Instagram will be aware that my favourite hashtag is #commutercrochet. As a London commuter, I spend a lot of my time crocheting on trains.
I can’t say enough positive stuff about commuter crochet – I genuinely love it. Commuting had a lot to do with my decision to learn to crochet in the first place.
My journey to becoming a yarn lover started with knitting. A friend taught me in a coffee shop just off Carnaby Street one day about five years ago, and I loved it. I was rubbish, but I loved it.
I loved knitting so much, I tried to commute with my projects – I am a seriously slow knitter, so I had to fit in as much knitting time as possible. But I struggled. Two needles, a ball of yarn, a project bag, a handbag and a pattern is a lot to juggle in a small space. Back then I didn’t knit continental style (I say this as if I’ve mastered it now – I *almost* have!), so it was even more difficult – I knit with my elbows! So I gave up.
But I missed yarn, so I decided to try crochet, on the strength of there being one less implement to juggle on the train… and the rest is history!
While crochet is a lot more portable than knitting, there are a few things I always consider when I’m preparing for a commuter crochet session:
I won’t go out to the office and count my project bags, because it would expose the full extent of my addiction – but suffice to say, I have a LOT!
I’ve tried all the project bags out there and there are a few things I consider when choosing a crochet bag.
- Material: it’s tempting to pick up any cheap canvas bags you find, but bear in mind that thin material can be annoying in a project bag. I’ve had loose crochet hooks stab holes in bags before! I look for either thick canvas or jute bags. Don’t choose a material with holes – you don’t want to lose hooks or stitch markers!
- Handles: consider how you want to carry your bag. Are you an over-the-shoulder bag holder, or a crook-of-the-elbow type of person? Get handles which suit you. Jute bags usually have smaller handles, but I have found a few elusive versions which allow a shoulder hold.
- Capacity: I’ve got bags in a lot of different sizes because I commute with all kinds of projects. If you’re carting a blanket around, you’ll need a larger bag; if you are working on a smaller project like an amigurumi toy, take a smaller bag.
- Design: I try to carry crochet project bags that I like! There are some lovely designs out there – reusable bags are so easy to find now the 5p charge has come in for plastic bags – so find one you like!
When I crochet on the train, I consider my seating carefully. There are some things that can make train crochet difficult, and I’ve become pretty fussy. I look for a seat which meets my needs:
- Look for an extra leg room seat: I carry a LOT of stuff with me – and I don’t like putting my handbag on the floor on the train. So I need a seat with enough room to put my handbag (and coat, depending on the season) on my knee, whilst still being able to fold down the tray table to put my project bag on.
- Sit by the window: It’s annoying when people barge into your elbows on the train, right? Or when people are standing in the aisle and you have to lean away from them to avoid touching their crotches? It’s more annoying when you are halfway through a popcorn stitch! The window seat also gives you some lovely natural light to work with.
- Make sure you have a tray or a table: I’ve tried to crochet in a seat with no table or tray in front of me – it doesn’t work. Stuff slides off your knees, yarn flies all over the train, and anyone sitting opposite you spends the whole journey staring at you – which is really distracting!
Make sure you have a crochet kit with you. I try to carry:
- A case with my crochet hooks. I use this crochet hook case by Clover as I love their soft touch hooks, but I do find that most of my hooks from other brands fit in there too.
- Nail scissors or a yarn cutter. There’s nothing more frustrating than being on the road and unable to fasten off a project!
- Stitch markers – being without these is almost as annoying as being without scissors! I’ve used hair clips to mark stitches before – it doesn’t work very well.
- A yarn needle – useful for sewing in ends, making Russian joins where needed, and – as I’ve discovered – a really useful thing to carry with you anyway! I’ve found myself repairing a lot of stuff with my trusty yarn needle!
I always try to use yarn which I can pull from the centre of the ball. This is extra important when you’re in a confined space – if you work from the outside of the ball, your yarn will dance around!
If your yarn doesn’t make it easy to get into the centre, consider re-winding into a yarn cake.
This feels like an obvious point, but this is the one I fall down on the most often. Make sure your project is portable!
Blankets are tough once they get over a certain size. Taking Sophie’s Universe on the train was a battle.
I’ve been doing this a while and I would recommend smaller projects – like amigurumi, motif-based projects or scarves and shawls.
A quick note on Tunisian crochet: if you use a long hook, you will be more likely to elbow your neighbour. I try to use extended Tunisian crochet hooks, with a wire and a stopper.
And there you have it! I hope these tips help you take your crochet on the move. With these considerations, I’ve managed to crochet on hundreds of trains… and planes, and automobiles!
Do you ever craft on the move?
Until next time
Elsie Pop xx