On a recent morning, I was gripped by a sudden desire to knit a Fourth Doctor scarf. What is this, you ask? Dear, deprived reader, let me explain. The Fourth Doctor, portrayed by Tom Baker in Doctor Who from 1974 to 1981, famously wore a scarf that trailed down to his ankles. The knitter employed by the production had kept being sent balls of wool, so she simply kept knitting! Naturally, this is something I had to try, and I ran off to the craft store that very afternoon with meterage (and yardage, just in case) calculations and colour keywords in hand.
Previously, I hadn’t knitted since December 2009. I’d spent much of the year, during which I was very ill, knitting, and I wanted to make a break from this hobby I associated with being so unwell. I think I’m ready to take it up again, with a little distance from those memories and that time, and I’m up for a challenge. And a challenge this scarf will be. I’m knitting the scarf Four wore during his first two story lines. It’ll be a test simply in terms of patience, with its seven different colours in wool: purple, beige, brown, green, yellow, orange, and grey. My fingers have ached in bits and ways they hadn’t ached in over a year. Luckily, it’s a really simple pattern: garter stitch (the basic knit stitch) all the way through.
I’m really enjoying this scarf so far, getting my hands back into those much-loved rhythms. It’s also a matter of the sheer geekiness of knitting a Tom Baker scarf, something only the most dedicated knitters and/or hardcore Whovians attempt. But the big question remains: what am I going to do with this scarf?
I’m not sure who I am going to give it to, and that’s one of the best parts of knitting this scarf. There are so many people in my life who would appreciate this scarf, and the knitting of it is giving me the opportunity to reflect on all those people I hold dear. Knitting this is a bit of a present to myself, actually, because it’s allowing me to slow down and have those fond memories, think on why I care about my friends and family, and anticipate reactions to being given something I worked so hard on with my own hands, something so ridiculously geeky and full of love.
(Of course, I could always just keep it for myself!!)
A lot of what I have been creating in recent times is about pain. The bulk of the knitting I did in 2009 was about distracting myself from what I was going through, working on project after project, goal after goal. Stitching and stitching so I wouldn’t fall apart. My social justice writing is largely about trying to address the questions and chasms in my chest, knitting the edges of the world back together with the best of my skills. These are survival projects, not sustainable techniques, not things of life. As I’m thinking through how to do social justice sustainably, so I don’t burn out, it’s good to have an exterior project that is about love and life and enjoyment as a model.
I’ll keep you updated on how I go; I’m nowhere near done yet!