Happy National Sweater Day!

Coincidentally, right on the heels of my last post on John Watson’s jumpers, today is National Sweater Day in Canada. It’s also the opening day of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. There’s a lot of controversy surrounding the Olympics this year, but I think, in the spirit of international cooperation with which the Olympics began (as the legend goes), that we can all agree that Canada is pretty darn great. Our neighbors to the north are also big fans of knitting; if you haven’t already checked out the blog of Canada’s most popular blogger, the amazing (and supernaturally fast) Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (a.k.a. the Yarn Harlot), you’re really missing something. Her knitting blog has, off and on, been the most popular blog in all of Canada. Yes, a knitting blog. I kid you not. She’s a national treasure right up there with hockey and publicly-funded health care.

Here are three great Canadian-inspired patterns to celebrate America’s best friend; all patterns are, of course, available via Ravelry:

Maple Leaf Knit Shawl by Natalia @ Elfmoda
This “Maple Leaf Knit Shawl” by Natalia @ Elfmoda is gorgeous, and there’s a crochet version as well.
"O Canada Mittens"
These “O Canada Mittens” by Vicky Taylor-Hood even have an Olympic-ring-styled design near the cuff, and I love the Latvian braid detail
"O Canada! Maple Leaves Hat" by Cheryl Andrews
This “O Canada! Maple Leaves Hat” by Cheryl Andrews also has a cute Latvian braid detail

Knitty Gritty (the former Vickie Howell-hosted television show, not to be confused with the current Vickie Howell-hosted television show, Knitting Daily) also has a pattern for fingerless gloves and a slouch hat with the maple leaf design.

On an only tangentially related note…. While knitting isn’t a sport (yet), this article by Katherine Martinko from Treehugger.com explains how knitting can help keep you healthy.

And, finally, last week’s episode of Sherlock, “His Last Vow,” was the last of series/season three, so as part of my increasingly futile efforts to stave off withdrawal, I’ve been trolling the internet for knitting references to the episode. While an excellent episode in many ways, there weren’t any blogworthy knitting references. However, Annie Modesitt’s latest colorway in her 221B series is, like all the others, gorgeous. In this case, “Straighten Your Knocker” a blend of “Deep browns, bronze yellows, black and a hint of scarlet; all wrapped up in a rich palette that would please any gift recipient who only wants “brown” (while also satisfying the knitting partner who wants a bit more excitement!).” The name is a reference to Mycroft Holmes’s compulsive habit of straightening the doorknocker whenever he comes to visit little brother Sherlock.

Well, that’s all the knitting news for today — tomorrow, my knitting and stitching goals for the year.

Jumpers and Mary’s Maids and Sherlock, oh my!

This is a bit of a “catching up” post since I am going to try to cover a few different topics about last week’s Sherlock, “The Sign of Three,” before discussing (briefly) the latest episode, “His Last Vow” in a later post. I have also realized that, in my Sherlockian zeal, I have allowed the entire month of January to pass without announcing my knitting and stitching goals for the year or explaining the enigmatic “2014 Smalls SAL” banner in the sidebar. Yikes.

First, in my last post on the Sherlock episode, “The Sign of Three,” I neglected to mention Annie Modesitt’s latest colorway devoted to this episode. Called “Mary’s Maids,” the colorway is based on the dresses Mary (and Sherlock — I love how they bonded over wedding arrangements) chose for her bridesmaids. The dresses are your typically unfortunate, ill-fitting bridesmaid’s fare, but the colorway is a gorgeous “celebration of purple (sorry, Lilac) in subtle, semi-solid beauty” and you can view it in all its splendor (sorry, splendour) here. And while lilac bridesmaids’ dresses are an abomination unto the Lord, Annie Modesitt has managed to make all the shades of purple (one of my favorite colors) work together.

Second, inspired by my favorite quote from Sherlock’s best man speech — “I could go on all night about the depth and complexity of his [Watson’s] jumpers” — I realized this would be a good opportunity to showcase some of my favorite patterns for men’s sweaters (or “jumpers”). I can’t guarantee they would all be favorites of John Watson, but I could see him looking bemused yet fiercely loyal in some of them.

John Watson's Jumper
John Watson’s Jumpers have two Facebook pages, a Tumblr, and their own fan fiction page. I’m not kidding.

So, in no particular order, I present:

I promise that my next post will have actual knitting and stitching content. Time to set some goals! Til then, the game’s on!

*I’m going to avoid showing all the pictures of these beautiful sweaters, partly out of respect for copyright and partly so as not to clutter up this entry with pictures. So enjoy a little “action shot” of Martin Freeman, as John Hamish Watson, wearing a jumper. Pattern available on Ravelry, of course.

More Sherlockian Adventures in Knitting

MYCROFT: This is a chullo – the classic headgear of the Andes. It’s made of alpaca.
SHERLOCK (smirking): No.
SHERLOCK: Icelandic sheep wool. Similar, but very distinctive if you know what you’re looking for. I’ve written a blog on the varying tensile strengths of different natural fibres.
MRS HUDSON (coming back into the room with a teapot): I’m sure there’s a crying need for that.

Last night’s episode of the BBC Sherlock, “The Empty Hearse” was not only clever and well-written, it also contained several little “gifts” for the series’ devoted knitterly fans, including the little exchange quoted above as Sherlock and his (even smarter?) brother, Mycroft, play a game they call “Deductions.”* The goal of Deductions is to extrapolate as much information as possible about the origins of an object — in this case, a chullo left behind by one of Sherlock’s clients. The game begins as sibling rivalry and turns when Sherlock unexpectedly turns the tables by expressing concern that his brother’s intellect has made him lonely.

However, before I talk about this hat the other knitterly-related moments in the episode, I must mention how much fun it was to follow Annie Modesitt’s hilarious live-tweeting of the episode. Annie Modesitt is not only a great knitter and designer, as we all know, but she’s quite a character. She is also launching a line of yarn based on Sherlock, 221B Colors, and each colorway is inspired by “the rich, saturated colors that the art director and lighting designer put together to further the plot and create mesmerizing atmospheric settings.” She’s going to introduce a new color for each episode in the upcoming season; I will be waiting with bated breath and knitting needles at the ready.

If the interwebs haven’t already done so, I am going to dub the hat from this delightful brotherly exchange “The Chullo of Deduction.” Annie Modesitt has already released a kit called the “Well Traveled Chullo” (I’m so resisting the urge to add a hyphen, ’cause I’m geeky like that), that can be made in her “Pearl” and “Bristol South Pool” colorways (the latter is named after a famous showdown scene in Season 1, episode 3, “The Great Game”). And here’s Professor Fonz’s version, dubbed the “Deduction Game Chullo.” 

Molly Hooper's Striped Scarf
Unrealistically, Molly wears this super-long scarf to several crime scenes, contaminating everything it touches.

Unappreciated police pathologist (and fan favorite), Molly Hooper, gets her moment of recognition in this episode and even gets to spend a day sleuthing with Sherlock since Watson is still too angry at him for lying about being dead. Throughout that day, she wears a long pink-and-brown (or possibly purple) striped scarf (see the bad screen cap on the left). Rumor has it that the scarf was from the actress Louise Brealey’s own closet, so provenance will be hard to research. Nonetheless, I am sure that somewhere there’s an enterprising knitter working on a pattern right now. And here’s Annie Modesitt’s “Molly Hooper Cowl” (because the long scarf version just isn’t practical for a pathologist/partner in crime).

Molly also wears a particularly unflattering, multicolored sweater you can see here. I’d like to think no one will try to replicate it (except for cosplay purposes), but I’m not that naive. The only mystery with this sweater is why it was sold at an actual store–for money–in the first place.

Watson’s new fiance, Mary Morstan, wears a long, fluffy pink scarf for part of the episode, although I have yet to find a pattern for it online, although it was available for sale here (now, sadly, sold out). It’s pretty basic, but it’s a good color on her and it fits the character’s style which is much more traditionally feminine than Molly’s.

I promise my next entry will have actual content related to my actual knitting or stitching. Until then…

* Thank you to Ariane DeVere for the transcription of the dialogue.