Fascinating Woman on The Railway
Dela’s Free Workshop Booklet is available at the bottom of this article.
Dela Wilkins is officially known at The Railway Knitter on board Via Rail Canada. Dela travels back and forth from Vancouver to Toronto. This is a 4 night and 3 full day journey. Dela emailed me about one month ago and sent me her story. I didn’t have time to dig much into her story due to my schedule; however, to my surprise she showed up at Spinrite Factory Outlet on May 25th, 2013.
Why feature a knitter here on The Crochet Crowd? She’s bi-stitchual. She teaches both tunisian crochet and knitting on board Via Rail. I had a remarkable opportunity to sit with Dela in a quiet room as she shared her story in person. By far, one of the most fascinating people I have met in 2013.
Without having time to dig into her history before meeting her, I went back to the basics and allowed her to share her story. I figured she was just sitting on a train making the journey back and forth. What I didn’t realize, it’s anything but just sitting there quietly. She creates a connective yarn community on board during each of her journies. Strangers in the passing at first have no idea she is on board. Little do they realize that if they participate in her “FREE” on board classes that they will get off the train on the other side having a new found appreciation and skill set for crochet and knitting.
Dela enjoyes riding the train verses flying between Vancouver British Columbia and Toronto Ontario… it’s just the way she rolls. She absolutely loves riding the train across our great country and meeting the people along the way. She says it’s 1st class all the way with wonderful services provided by Via Rail. Me… being a person that hasn’t thought much about jumping aboard a train, I definitely have come to conclusion that riding the train is anything but interesting. I had no idea that riding the train is like Cruis’n on Land instead of a Cruise Ship. I had no idea that the train has on board entertainment, sleeper births with private bathrooms and delicious meals served throughout. I have definitely missed the memo on this.
In 2010, an employee on board Via Rail approached Dela about becoming ‘On Board Entertainment’ during the journey. They noticed she spent a great deal of time teaching strangers how to knit and crochet along the journey. On Via Rail’s website, you can apply to be ‘on board entertainment’ by submitting a proposal. You essentially are putting your time to use as you travel across our great country and touch many lives along the journey. What a great utilization of time. I have to say, Dela got my wheels turning in the back of my brain. “The Crochet Express with Mikey” is kicking around the back of my brain.
In 2011, Dela made her first journey as ‘On Board Entertainment’ teaching the art of knitting and crochet. Get this though, people on board have no idea what the entertainment is until they get onto the train. Certain cars of the train are designated ‘community areas’ in which the activities and entertainment are conducted. Dela stated it can be up to 3 cars out of 30 that are designated for this. People on the train show up at the designated car and begin learning from the basics and beyond. Dela always has something to teach, whether you are experienced looking to increase yourself into new stitches or whether you are an asbolute beginner.
Dela has up to 40 people attending her workshops while on board, something she is really excited to share about. People who never expected to be learning how to knit and crochet on board and so enthusiastic about finding the time to learn and having people surround them that can help. For me listenign to this, it doesn’t get any more community related than this. She’s a leading expert of Tunisian Crochet. With her easy going attitude, she encourages people to find their own way to hold their hooks, needles and yarn. She insists people need to do that in order to enjoy the new skills so much more.
Since 2011, she rides about 4 times a year in both directions. She has family here in Ontario Canada and makes the journey across in all different seasons. She announces on her Ravelry Page when she plans to jump the next train if you ever wanted to travel across the country with her.
Dela is easy going and is now retired. She has a lifetime of knowledge of working in the health care industry. She is informative, kind hearted and inspirational. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Dela. She’s the first person to ever teach me Tunisian crochet. She shared with me tips that I would never find in a book and for that, I am extremely grateful. With her permission, I will be allowed to share what she showed me with you. I’m excited about that.
Dela’s book in the link. Scroll down and you will see a cover of her book. Click it and see the PDF Version. I have purposely linked to this spot as there are other free resources available where Dela’s book is. Enjoy