Sherlockian Stitches

Come, Watson, come!’ he cried. ‘The game is afoot.

Not a word! Into your clothes and come!

Like many a Sherlockian*, tonight I will be watching the latest installment, the first episode of the third season, of the BBC Sherlock series starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. This is one of my personal favorites, and I could go on and on about how much love I have for this modernization of the Sherlock Holmes stories, but since this is a knitting and stitching blog, I thought I’d celebrate with some links to Sherlockian sites for the knitter, crafter and stitcher.

  • Professor Fonz is not a woman at all. She is a spider. A spider at the centre of a web. A knitlock web with a thousand threads, and she knows precisely how each and every single one of them dances. And she’s knitted an amazingly detailed, colorful, unique, custom Sherlock infinity scarf based on the My Favorite Things infinity scarf pattern by Jill McGee (here’s the Ravelry link). And here’s a cowl version called “The Only One in the World.”
  • The Wallpaper Had it Coming
    “Our wall is not for target practice” Mittens by ampersand designs

    To the right, you can see the famous hideous/fantastic wallpaper as mittens (designed by ampersand designs, who does fabulous, fan-inspired knitting designs not just for Sherlock fans, but for Anglophiles and proud nerds of all descriptions). There’s a slightly different, updated version of these mittens here. But there’s a special place in my heart for these “Johnlock Mittens” by Therese Sharp, which add the faces of Holmes and Watson on the two mittens.

  • And, of course, Knitty has a great hat pattern by Sami Brooker, complete with graffiti happy face. Read her mother’s proud blog entry here.
  • Or cross stitch. This kit by Etsy’s JumblePie is cray cray adorbs, as the kids say, and it’s quite a deal, if you ask me. And the hideous/fantastic wallpaper pattern makes a wonderful bookmark. As does this design.

Sadly, the cross stitch world’s response to this current cultural trend is lagging far behind that of the knitting world, which, let’s face it, loves Sherlock (and Benedict Cumberbatch) and Dr. Who almost as much as it does kittens. Or is that just the internet in general? It’s time for cross stitch and the other needlearts to get their geek on and leap into the twenty-first century. If only someone, somewhere would start charting designs for this untapped audience…. But where would that designer be?

*No really, I wrote a dissertation and published an article and everything. Ah, my misspent youth…

MYOKB: Clothespin Bag Finished! At very last minute!

Clothespin Bag Finished with Hanger

So, I finished the Clothespin bag at the very last minute last night with some generous help from my talented roommate whose sewing skills vastly out-strip mine. You can see some pictures of the Clothespin bag in its formative stages here and here.

I predicted that I would finish this project with time to spare, but I hadn’t taken into account the time required for finishing. I’m looking forward to the projects coming up since there’s no sewing involved.

The above picture is the completed version with the lining sewn in, the sides crocheted together, and the hanger placed inside. Crocheting the knitted edges together went quite quickly and, in my humble opinion, actually looks better than sewing the edges together on the machine. I also worked a single crochet stitch along the curved edges of the “envelope” (as Debbie Bliss describes it), which I think will give the edges a bit more strength.

With the hanger, I resorted to good old-fashioned elbow grease and a sharp aluminum knitting needle which I used to open up a hole in the fabric and force the hanger hook through. Bliss was (not atypically) maddeningly vague on how exactly to do this part of the finishing.

Sadly, since I live in an apartment, and have no backyard, I don’t have a clothesline from which to hang my new bag. I’ve decided to use it to hold my vast collection of plastic grocery bags awaiting recycling — not a very glamorous use for beautiful handmade bag, but it will look pretty hanging in my utility closet and maybe that will make recycling a happier chore.

Heirloom Tree Skirt Revisited Revisited

These photos aren’t much better than the last (the sun is still refusing to cooperate with me), but here are a couple more photos of the “Heirloom Tree Skirt” now that it has been finished-finished by my talented seamstress roommate:

"Heirloom Tree Skirt" FinishedPlease note how the fringe I chose oh-so-many-years-ago exactly matches the fringe from the pattern’s cover photo (see yesterday’s entry for comparison).

And here’s a close-up with the lining showing:

"Heirloom Tree Skirt" Lining Close-upIt feels so good to be able to cross this project off my list that I don’t even care that you can see the lining showing through from the other side. My roommate wisely offered to put in a layer of batting or buckram of some sort, but I foolishly declined. So you can see slight shadows of the lining fabric’s holly pattern from the front of the skirt. Oh well, I can live with it. I’m not going to replace my former guilt over not finishing this project before my mother’s death with new guilt over not making the right decision about the lining. Live and learn.

I think my mom would have loved it.

Heirloom Tree Skirt Revisited

"Heirloom Tree Skirt" by Bea & ChrisFinding and finishing (well, supervising the finishing…) of the “Heirloom Tree Skirt” pattern by Bea & Chris (anybody out there know anything about them?) felt kind of like a trip through time—an archeological dig into the deep, dark history of cross stitch design in the late twentieth century. As such, I thought now would be a good time to point out
some of the changes in cross stitch designs that this pattern highlights.

There are so many more colors of DMC floss now, not to mention all the overdyed flosses and silks and rayons –oh my! The color palette of this pattern is extremely limited, even for its time. For example, follow the use of that obnoxious orange used for the wagon wheel in “Santa with bag of toys on back” and again for the doll’s hair in “Santa with Christmas tree over shoulder.” This orange was also supposed to be used for the hobby horse head in “Santa with bag of toys open as if to offer toys to little children” but I couldn’t stand it so I frogged it and changed it to a rusty brown before I’d “allow” my roommate to sew the lining and fringe on. Nowadays, most designers, I believe, would go ahead and call for three different colors for these three objects, and none of them would be that obnoxious orange.

And, for a naturalistic piece (one that was attempting to make the Santas look realistic) the
juxtaposition of the colors, including shading, is so much more crude than it probably would be today.

In my own growth as a stitcher, I realize that nowadays I would have known right-away that I was never going to sew all of the skirt fringe and the backing together. If I bought this pattern today, I would go ahead and buy the pre-made Tilla Christmas Tree Skirt. I think it was $40 fifteen years ago, which seemed at the time to be an exhorbitant amount for someone on a grad student’s salary. Nowadays, I would buy the pre-made tree skirt and wouldn’t even think twice. I can’t tell if that’s progress or not. You tell me.