1.12.2015

Knit One, Phone Off

oonaballoona | knit one, phone off

I've fallen victim to the glow of my phone on subway rides. It's the perfect place to let my fingers do the walking, stuck in a metal box that is becoming ever more fully equipped with WiFi (I quake in fear at the thought of Actual Underground Phone Calls becoming a normal thing)... but it's also the perfect prison to BE HERE NOW and avert my gaze from the glow of the screen. So I made a resolution to stay off the phone when riding the rails. 

The first week I put this pledge into practice, I glanced loftily around the car, full of humans plugged into their devices, and felt pretty superior about my Life Changing Decision. Weak creatures! In such need of petty entertainment! PHONES GRIPPED LIKE ADULT PACIFIERS! Plastic cords in every every ear! What ho, what's this. A guy with a cord made of fiber. Hello Knitting Guy. Guy that I surreptitiously snap a photo of. And promptly instagram using the fancy WiFi on the N/R line. Which then gets the most likes I've ever gotten

This is...ironic? Yes? The definition of irony has always eluded me, but I think that's what we've got here.

Ah, Knitting Guy. Using your subway ride PROPER. What if you dropped your device of choice for 30 minutes a day? Your commute? Your lunch break? Even if you don't know what to do for those 30 minutes... sit without it until you do... so far, I've sketched a few ensembles, had a conversation with a friend I wouldn't have spotted otherwise, and caught Knitting dude. 

(Since Knitting dude illustrates my point, I'm cutting myself some slack on that.)

60 comments:

  1. Dude, I've been trying to do this same thing! I hadn't realized until I was totally hooked how much I use my stupid phone. I started by not using it when I'm walking the dogs. I used to always call someone when I was walking them because I thought it was "efficient", but really, I just wasn't in the moment. I've had so many more conversations with folks in the hood just because I wasn't plugged in. And now on the train I'm trying to read a (paper) book. I always say that I don't have time to read, but that's just because I waste my time!

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  2. If Knitting Dude only knew what an inspiration he is to us all... ;)

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  3. i'm such a horrible snob about this because i'm such a compulsive reader. like, i used to read the back of my cereal box when my mom wouldn't let me read at the table. so i always either have a book or an iBook (usually both) stuck in my bag, and i'm taking Facebook off my phone - i almost wish i had a train commute so i could knit more. usually in my car i listen to books on tape and podcasts and occasionally an iTunes university course...

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    1. This sounds familiar. Not so much the reading all the time now, because I do lots of other things. But my whole family is quite literate and father or mother would always say "pĂ­smenka" (diminutive of "letters" in Czech) because we were so easily distracted by the written word, even if it was just the nutritional information on a jar of jam!

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  4. I've taken up knitting and my commute is so much more peaceful. Thanks for posting this & I pray no one has taken my photo while I wasn't looking. LOL!

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    1. ha, and i had his whole face but really didn't want him to be recognizable so i cropped it!

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  5. My current knitwork is too big to take on my work commute (the only one I regularly take the bus for) and it frustrates me. It is not only that it makes my commute feel more purposeful, but they are also nice in my very long work breaks (one hour each). I cannot read or study while at the same time socializing with colleagues, but I can knit and socialize at the same time. Next time I'm knitting socks again!

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  6. I commute for about 1.5 hour each way 5 days a week. Those commutes go from NAPPING, on the internet on my phone (My average talk is less than 15 mins a month); reading reddit, blogs and ebooks.Sometimes I study Korean and on a rare occasion I'll hand sew. Oh and we can not forget staring off since I ride through canyons and along beaches

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    1. Staring off into the landscape is perfectly acceptable. There are two routes by which I can go to school, and one goes through highlands and staring off is almost imperative. It actually almost always gets my creative juices flowing, just looking at it.

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    2. oh, if i had scenery, the phone would be an easily distant memory...

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  7. Pretty sure this knitting dude was also sitting across the aisle from me last week on our flight from San Fran to Dallas. Although, maybe it wasn't him. My knitting dude had two long silver metal knitting needles. I'm still wondering how he was able to convince security that they weren't a weapon.

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    1. Thankfully knitting needles are on the approved TSA list!

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    2. that's surprising, i thought for sure only bamboo or plastic needles! i had my seam ripper taken away once.

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  8. How is it in the case of knitting - the dudes have it right?

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  9. I love to knit on my bus ride into work. I'm usually also listening to music on my phone or ipod, though - something to drown out the honking and the other conversations.

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    1. Yup, sometimes you have to turn up the tunes to drown out the yappers! #KnittingRocks

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    2. yeah, once phone conversations make their way underground, i may be forced into bending the rules to include tunes. people yelling into phones in metal boxes... gaaaaaah...

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  10. Good timing, NPR had something on this today. Lack of boredom is killing our creativity, because we are replacing reading or knitting, or whatever with staring at our phones, I am guilty. There was a time when I crocheted or read a book, and I need to put my phone down more often!

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    1. i have to read that-- love that phrase. boredom can invent!

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  11. Haha adult pacifiers - so true! However I can only look at my phone for so long before it bores me. I'd much rather people watch.

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  12. Adult pacifiers! LOL! So true! I love Knitting Guy and hope you see him again. Selfishly, I hope we can see how he gets along with his socks. I knit on my commute all the time. People look at me like I'm some sort of freak show and many avoid sitting with me because of it (and this is Canada!) but I love the relaxation of it. Thirty minutes of just recharging.

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    1. Heh. Try sewing on the metro! I have (in Prague), when I was commuting to the outskirts one year. I'm COMPLETELY WEIRD. I loved being completely weird that way on the metro. So much more fun than just sitting there staring into nothingness, carefully avoiding eyecontact for twenty or thirty minutes!
      Trains are better in this respect. Knitting is maybe not very common, either, but I think quite normal. I've even already seen someone making a lucet cord on the train; and I knitted a cord myself and had a talk with the conductor about it. My sewing is still a bit out of the ordinary (especially that one time I dropped my pin jar), but I like to think I make the conductors' days. :-)

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  13. I read on the Bart. The time flies and by the time I look up we are already at my stop. Would love to learn how to knit though!!

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  14. I'm a subway knitter and knit every time I can manage to snag a seat! I've also had a bunch of interesting conversations with other riders and other knitters about what I'm working on. That just wouldn't happen if my nose was in a phone. It really does make me sad to see so many faces glued to a phone all the time. However, at least they are in a seat! I really can't understand when they are glued to it while walking or going up the stairs!

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    1. oh, that drives me NUTS. the number of phone blinded people i've bodychecked on the streets of new york...

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  15. I used to zone out on my phone at work because at my prior job doing anything other than working got you a stiff reprimand. Like I would have to look up and say, "I'm taking a break now." Thankfully my current job is a little more flexible but I was still finding that I was zoning out on my phone at lunch. I'm now bringing some crochet or embroidery to work on or a book to read during my lunch hour and it honestly makes me feel so much better!

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  16. I had this same epiphany a couple months ago. Fortuitously, I discovered Alabama Chanin and her hand stitching method at about the same time. I've now taken to carrying a small bag with my hand stitching project everywhere I go. I can get in a few stitches here and there and it really has boosted my self-esteem. Woo hoo for productivity, creativity and less screen time!

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  17. Knitting or reading on the subway is the thing I miss most about living in the city. Now I have to drive to work and you can't knit while driving..... At least I haven't figured out how to do both simultaneously, safely.... All that wasted knitting time looking at other cars, sigh.

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    1. so true! in LA, i used my car time for podcasts, or for trying to sing through entire albums, at top volume, without the soundtrack. abbey road is an excellent choice.

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  18. I actually stopped using my phone much on public transit when we had a rash of "me and my other 5 teenage friends are going to steal your iPhone" a few years ago in Chicago. Now I spy all sorts of interesting things! My absolutely favorite not-plugged-in person was a much older gentleman who was always knitting what looked like items for kids or dogs, I used to see him regularly when I commuted all the time instead of working from home (and I was usually knitting, too). So. damn. cute.

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  19. You know, I never thought about it that way. Maybe you're onto something! Every Lent, my mom gives up listening to the radio on the way to work. She apparently really likes to listen to NPR but gives it up once a year. She says it gives her some time to think. But I never considered doing that. I feel like I like having that train time to myself whether I'm listening to music or a podcast or maybe playing a game but I don't game much on my phone. I don't get a lot of moments in the day where I'm just alone and get to do my own thing so I'm going to keep being plugged in then!

    But I think if I were to give it up, I'd like to put the phone down more when I'm around other humans, like actually with them. I have pretty much kicked the habit of checking my phone when I'm out to eat, etc, but sometimes I slip and I definitely am checking twitter when I ought to be chatting or just existing in a room with somebody else. I reserve the right to pretend to be on my phone in the elevator, though! Not ready for making eye contact with strangers in 2015!!!

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    1. yeah, we don't give ourselves time to think anymore! my train was stalled at the station last night and there was a small fight between Hand, Brain and Phone. but Brain won. i didn't come up with any brilliant thoughts, but it was nice to sit and be quiet. and man, i used to go ballistic when people were on the phone in social settings. it's, sadly, a losing battle, and since i like to win, i'm choosing my battles carefully ;)

      they do provide a good shield, tho!

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  20. I hear ya. It's nice to put the phone down on my commute. For the most part I've replaced my phone with knitting or reading and it feels nice going "stone age" in this sometimes crazy digital world. And I also fear the day that phone calls will be possible underground - nooooooooooo!!

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  21. Since I got a fancy new phone I'm finding it's a complete time such. You tell yourself ah go one only 5 mins and then a whole evening is wasted. So true about them being adult pacifiers. I too am dreading when mobile calls come to the underground. Why make a grim experience even worse.

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  22. I would put my phone down, but it's so much more interesting than my family.

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  23. Ooh, timely. I was just talking about giving up some screen time, Maybe having a device free day. I'm impressed by knitting dude!

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  24. oh i need to find some knitting dudes. i admire your restraint to not start chatting him up!

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    1. we shared the car for one stop! otherwise i think i might've walked over and showed him the pic ;)

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  25. Knitting dude oh knitting dude, if only you knew how many people around the world now know that you knit in public, you would be SUPER famous and we would all buy your knitted garments.

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  26. Laptop on the train, ah, yes, I know!
    Sewing on the train almost just as often, though, so it balances out. Historical sewing projects for the win! Plus I often end up writing stories, which hey, is also a creative pursuit! I used to do it with a paper notebook, now I do it with a digital one (laptops are called notebooks in Czech, go figure), not such a big difference except in bulk.
    But still, yes. So much time eaten online.

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  27. wish i can knit in a public transport :) but, we do not have subway here, only bus (and tram, and trolley), and if i try reading in any of these (or writing, or using phone, or doing anything that involves my eyes being concentrated and my hands doing something more complicated than holding on to a bar) i instantly get motion sickness.. doesn't happen in a train, but as i said, we don't have subway.. so, i people watch a lot :) maybe i spot a knitting dude one day too

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  28. Knitting dude! Cool! I don't have a smart phone, so my spare time - waiting rooms and the like - are spent with a book or knitting project.

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  29. I always use the public commute system as an enabler of more knitting time. It is wonderful.

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  30. When I used to commute to SF I spent my time on the Bart reading - but that was mostly because I was reading my hw on my hour ride into the city.... on the way back I'd be sitting there with my devices like every other commuter... must remember to bring my knitting and real books for further commutes so one does not have their head stuck in the phone.

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    1. it's interesting that i'm usually reading on my phone, but it just doesn't feel as right as a book.

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  31. I hardly ever ride the train in my own city because there is only one line and it takes me no where I need to go. But when we visit London, or another big Metro city we always take it. It always strikes me that so many people are glued to their phones when there are so many people to see. I know it may be a monotonous ride that one does everyday - but I am an avid people watcher so I'll save my phone time for when there are less people to watch and figure out. Love that knitting guy!!

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    1. i think of the european cafes with chairs set up for people watching-- the subway cars are almost rolling cafes. without the awesome pastries and libations...

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  32. Yes, I am the dinosaur with no cell phone. All around me, especially on public transit, people are lost in their own worlds. Sometimes I feel left out and I'll pull out my ipod, but there isn't really much on there to amuse myself, LOL. Usually, I use the time to let my thoughts wander...it's a good time to consciously, or even subconsciously, stock the creative fire in my head...seeing what the young kids are wearing, hair, jewelry, clothing, bags, subway ads, street banners, store fronts...it's all fire for my creative noggin'. I often wonder if people allow themselves any time at all for daydreaming and thinking? Just a thought....

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  33. It is SO hard to turn AWAY from the phone. I'm on partial bedrest so no subway commute for me for a bit but when I was commuting I had to really resolve to use that time for knitting so I'd stop just staring at that infernal device. I got several pairs of socks and a sweater done that way!

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    1. you have WILLPOWER. that's next on my list. i wake up by checking my device in bed (that doesn't sound right). there is surely a better way to wake up!

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  34. Love this! I don't knit but I crochet and only do so on the bus during my daily commute. I've made many crocheted garments on the bus including my wedding dress: https://gma.yahoo.com/bride-crochets-her-own-wedding-gown-during-bus-211727758--abc-news-fashion-and-beauty.html

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    1. HOLY COOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW THAT IS JUST JAW DROPPING!!!! and your bridesmaid dresses!!!! can i convince you to start a blog? if i promise not to read it on the subway?

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    2. Haha, thanks! Starting a blog is on my to-do list this year, after I finish developing the pattern for my crochet dress :) Love your blog and designs - they're great models for other aspiring designers :)

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  35. I loved your post! I personally avoid using my phone all the time, in the subway I read books or nap! even though my commute is not long. About the knitter guy….that's such an eye candy! I sat next to a guy knitting in the subway once and HAD to talk to him, he was a kid that learned from his grandma, aaawweeeee… So I wrote a post about these male knitters, check it out!
    https://thecoatchecktales.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/as-i-grow/

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    1. i've wondered about that bryant park knitting crew...i must check that out. that said, the amount of people on phones in the park is OUTLANDISH. love the story of your great-aunties, too!

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  36. Adult pacifiers - so true!! I've noticed myself descending into over-phone use. I must try harder to modify my behaviour - too many excuses, not enough action. I got my first phone about 10yrs ago but over-reliance seems to have come with the advent of the smartphone. Tiny computers in your hands! All the things all the time! I think I'll try for dropping the phone in my lunch break (as long as weird warehouse guy isn't in the lunch room - if he's in there, all bets are off and eye contact will be avoided at all costs!)

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    1. yep, all the things all the time. no where to hide! (except, of course, behind tiny computer if anyone weird is around, that's a gimmie ;)

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  37. I'm doing the same thing, but mostly because they don't have wifi on the crappy trains I take to work, and I don't have the patience for 3G while moving. If I could just bring myself to delete Candy Crush (which I kind of hate-play), I'd be so efficient. As it is, I quickly run out of lives and switch to a book. Next step: up the game with some Russian homework, or, I don't know, start writing my own book or something.

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  38. I LOVE knitting on the tube! Sometimes I get a few funny looks, but last week a load of school kids were asking me a load of questions about the blanket I was making, turns out they were starting to learn. Granted they were only about 8 years old, but to get anybody talking on the London Underground is a bit of a miracle. CRAFT COMMUTE 4EVER, YEAH

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i thankya truly for taking the time to comment, i love a good conversation-- and hope you know my thanks are always implied, if not always written!