Tuesday, January 06, 2015

The Fandom Shawl

I think the term we will use is "fangirl".  I sometimes develop a fatal attraction to something and then get so totally focused on it that I will look for ways to incorporate my fascination into my daily routine.

Which is how The Perfect Storm Shawl came into being.

The name has nothing to do with the fact that the shawl is made from a stormy grey yarn.  It has to do with why I found the yarn in the first place, why I chose the color and why I chose the pattern.

First sign of impending storm:

I adore good yarn and I love experimenting with fibers that are new to me.  I was reading the Yarn Harlot's blog one day when she mentioned some fantastic yarn she had acquired from Indigodragonfly. I thought the yarn was gorgeous, so I hopped over to the website to find out more about it.  The yarn was sold out - because a lot of folks read the Yarn Harlot's blog and anytime she rhapsodizes over something, you can bet it's going to sell out in a great big hurry.  I was disappointed, but I kept poking around their website and discovered that they had developed colors based on some television shows I am very fond of.  I think I had in mind that I might get some Doctor Who inspired yarn, when I discovered that they had a grey, variegated yarn based on the Belstaff coat worn by BBC Sherlock, calling the color way Cumberbacchanal.  I could not pass that up.  I'm a huge fan of Cumberbatch and  a bigger fan of Sherlock, so it was a no-brainer.  I would get a couple of skeins of a 70% silk/30% camel yarn and make myself a Belstaff flavored shawl.  (If you are not familiar with Sherlock, here is a link to a good view of the coat.)

Second sign of impending storm:

I did not have any particular pattern in mind at the time I placed the yarn order.  (The yarn order in itself was an interesting adventure.  There were 2 skeins in stock, both of which I ordered.  When the owner was preparing shipment, he discovered that they were from different dye lots and sent me an email to find out what I intended to do with it.  When I told him, he graciously volunteered to fire up the dye baths and make a new batch  so I could be sure that my shawl would not have any chance of a color shift halfway through.  This is the kind of service that makes me love dealing with the smaller independent yarn companies.  I've already placed a second order and after working with this lovely, lovely yarn, I will most probably return in the future.)

As I reviewed my collection of shawl patterns, I was reminded of an ebook I had ordered with patterns based on and named for London Underground stations.  I decided it would be a lovely idea to pair the Sherlock inspired yarn with a central London themed pattern.  I had 7 to choose from….

Third sign of impending storm:

Also bubbling on a back burner of my mind of late is a trip that is in planning for a couple of years hence.  Little brother, sister-in-law and I are scheming to take a tour of Britain together and, as is my wont, I have been gathering materials and tour books to study so I can familiarize myself with points of interest that we need to include in our itinerary.  One of the first things to go on my notes of must-see-in-London was Westminster Abbey.

I turned out that one of the patterns in the ebook was inspired by the cathedral windows of Westminster Abbey.

The Perfect Storm Shawl was born:

After the storm:

As I was knitting the shawl, a little niggling sense of discontent kept popping up.  It is a well known fact in the Sherlock fandom that the fashion coordinators decided to make the coat a bit different from those that were available to the general public by adding red stitching around the top buttonhole.  I needed to add a touch of red to make the vision complete and I did not think it was going to work to add a touch of red to this luscious shawl.  I considered adding a red outline stitch to one of the cathedral windows, but I didn't think that would really work and might actually detract from the overall effect.

And then I realized that I had a flapper hat pattern tucked away that might actually work as a companion piece.  I WOULD NEED MORE YARN and some of it would have to be red.

So I got back on the Indigodragonfly website and looked for a compatible red yarn.  Thankfully they still had a supply of the Cumberbacchanal in the same silk/camel combination, so I ordered an additional skein and crossed my fingers as I checked for any sign of a red in their inventory.  And, lo and behold, there was a red yarn inspired by the Sons of Anarchy television series, which I thought looked like a great contrast.

My track record with hats is not great, but I am off to a good start and persevering.

And the final indication that this was a combination project meant especially for me?

I visited the Indigodragonfly website just after Christmas, wanting to see what other colors in this lovely yarn might appeal to me….only to find it completely gone from their inventory.  Further research indicates that the lace version has been discontinued, which makes me fear that the DK weight I am using for these two projects may also be discontinued.

So my "Sherlock Shawl" was re-christened "The Perfect Storm Shawl" since everything came together just right to make it happen.

Now the only thing that still remains to be solved is to figure out how to include this shawl and hat in the luggage when we go to London so I can get my photograph wearing this shawl in front of Westminster Abbey and in front of the 221B doorway on Gower Street in London.