Wednesday, 18 April 2012

a granny square a day

The small world trapped in a single train carriage can be a very fascinating, and even entertaining thing to observe.
You have the sleepers; the ones who run for a window seat so that they can rest their heads on the glass, not at all bothered by the oily imprint left over from the last person’s forehead; the ones who slowly give in to their heavy drooping heads, only to be startled and sit up suddenly acting like they weren’t falling asleep at all. Then there are the newspaper readers, who need to know the art of origami to be able to fold the paper in a way in which it doesn’t disturb the person sitting next to them. There are the snorers; which range from the tolerable snifflers and whistlers, to the huge beastly roarers that forcefully inhabit innocent eardrums. The make-up appliers who mechanically construct each layer on their face, a practised skill that involves careful timing, especially with the mascara. The music listeners; avoiding the evil stares from people around them who are forced to listen to their second-hand muffled beats. The iPhone addicts, flicking through their apps like prized possessions; their colourful screens dazzle them while they warm up their fingers for a busy screen-tapping day ahead. The iPad owners know they are the cool kids. They pull out their gadget with a ‘na na, mine’s bigger’. Now, with the loud conversationalists we have; the mothers groups chatting about their lazy husbands, the school kids gossiping, the awkward catch up conversations between two people that haven’t seen each other in a while, and the worst; phone conversationalists who purposefully speak loud enough so that the 50 or so strangers around them are forced to listen to their one side of a conversation. There are the work-a-holics, who pull out their laptops in an attempt to get some work done. The couples, which use the trip as an opportunity to catch up on some canoodling, perhaps even a spot of grooming. Then we come to novel readers, who usually keep pretty still and well, normal, apart from the odd women so engaged in her romance novel that she gently strokes her skin with her bookmark. There’s the hair twirlers, the Manga movie watchers, the nose pickers, the nail clippers!

If you sit at the back of the train, you can see a sea of bobble heads moving around in unison to the rhythm to the train’s movements. Like a Mexican Wave, it’s mesmerising. There will be times when a train carriage is completely silent, other times there will be a cocktail of conversations and laughter. It is interesting to think about a whole second set of train commuters either upstairs or downstairs; is their train carriage culture the same or different? A heated carriage in winter has a certain sense of cosiness to it, where as a non-air conditioned carriage in summer is a swarm of frustration and sweat.If you’re on your own, a train ride is the most unsociable thing you could possibly do given your very close proximity to 50 or so other people. It is common train carriage courtesy not to touch the person next to you, let alone speak to them – they are strangers.

I am definitely not a make-up applier or a snorer, but there was a stage when I did find myself shifting between a couple of tedious routines, from dozing off to sleep only to wake up suddenly realising I had my mouth wide open, to Facebooking! I hated it; but what else was there to do? It was there on my phone and I was sitting on a train for an hour and twenty minutes. I knew that it was getting to the point of ridiculousness when it wasn’t merely enough for me to log in once, I needed to check my phone constantly to be updated on people’s early morning statuses. Reading about people who I didn’t even know stuck in traffic or hating on Mondays was not a very exciting start to my morning. But I was addicted and I had to make a change. 

A year ago I went out and bought a crochet needle and six fresh balls of brightly coloured wool. I assumed that old people knew how to do these domestic past time things, so I went to visit my Nan. A dedicated knitter (not crotchetier, and yes, they are two completely different things she tells me), she was puzzled as to why I wanted to learn. I told her that it was cool, or rather, that I was going to make it cool. She didn’t believe me. Back in her day, she knitted because she couldn’t afford to buy warm clothes; it was a necessity. It really didn’t have anything to do with fitting in. These days, not fitting in can be more rewarding than fitting in! My oh my, how the times have changed. Here I was, prepared to learn how to crochet for no particular reason other that I had an urge to learn something new.

As a typical 24 year old, it is in my genetic make-up that if I need to find out something, I Google it. I typed in ‘learn how to crochet’ and was surprisingly presented with an abundance of YouTube video clips, all containing a pair of warm, gentle, well experienced hands, slowly taking me through the steps. Surprisingly, I picked it up really quickly. I was proud of myself; I could actually see something being formed in the palms of my hands. So, I decided to make a colourful Granny Square, which would ultimately be sewn together with other Granny Squares to make a blanket. My fingers agreed, and rhythmically fell into a pace. As soon as I had the knack of it, I realised what I had accomplished – I had learnt something new.

It is addictive. As soon as I finish one square, I want to make a new one. The sense of accomplishment after completing each square is warming and contenting. Choosing the patterns is exciting. It’s the feel of the wool, the brightness of the colours, the pattern running over and over in my head; treble stitch, chain stitch, treble stitch, chain stitch. It’s the way my mind is freed. I can actually physically do something and think about a whole lot of other things at the same time. My hands are busy, and I don’t have the need to reach for my phone. It’s two hours and 20 minutes out of my day that I have reclaimed as my own. There is something about physically making something that is so much more rewarding than getting a high score on Angry Birds. Making is the new buying; it’s in fashion, it's ... cool!

So if you ever decide to dedicate a morning train ride to the observation of train carriage culture, I’ll be the young lady sitting with my colourful wool, treble stitching away, a Granny Square a day.

If you would like to learn how to crochet, or even better - get on board the Granny a Day bandwagon, visit the beautiful blog Meet Me At Mikes for extremely helpful and motivating Granny Square Tutorials.


  1. Anything to distract from the train crowd. Your granny squares are looking gorgeous x

    1. Thanks for reading & commenting Jodi! 15 down, 85 to go! Looking at buying a house later on in the year and am using this as motivation. We have no furniture but we will have a colourful handmade blanket :)

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