A Tour of ‘The Doctor’s Wife Sampler Shawl’

After knitting this, a cup of tea would be nice.

After knitting this, a cup of tea would be nice.

It feels odd to have actually finished this project! So, just to convince myself it is all done, here’s a little tour.

The shawl is, of course, inspired by the Doctor Who episode written by Neil Gaiman, “The Doctor’s Wife.”

A little inspiration

A little inspiration

I’d always loved the notion that the TARDIS is not only alive, but also female. Gaiman’s realisation of this idea is simply amazing and wonderful. The quasi-Victorian, patchwork nature of his particular Doctor Who world also fascinates me. It makes me think of Victorian sampler shawls (rather like this one or this one).

As I was mulling over the episode and Victorian sampler shawls and how fantastic it would be to combine these things, I began adapting an idea I’d seen about and realised that it looked just about like the Time Lord hypercubes. Okay, not quite perfect cubes, but you can’t have everything!

Time Lord S.O.S.

Time Lord S.O.S.

First panel sorted! You’ll also note through the close-ups, the edgings. Running up the sides of the shawl are little TARDISes. This was another adaptation of an idea: it plays off the concept behind the Tilting TARDIS Cowl, but for an edging and with little lights on top of each TARDIS and a few other differences. They run both up and down the shawl and if you listen very carefully, you can hear the whoo-whooing. I’ve dubbed it “Sexy Edging” – it’s named after the TARDIS, naturally. I had a variety of ideas about the edging for the top and bottom of the shawl. Initially, it was going to be the “Sexy Edging” right the way around, but I was running out of yarn and it wasn’t quite working. I did some stash diving and came up with the idea of reproducing the ruffles from the bottom of Idris’s dress. It’s not a perfect recreation, but the ruffles are possibly my favourite aspect of the shawl. There’s nothing like a little frilly silliness on a shawl.

Idris's ruffles

Idris’s ruffles

And, I mean, who doesn’t love a ruffle? Back to the main body. After the Time Lord S.O.S., I found a stitch that looked rather like an Ood.

The Oods the Doctor failed to save

The Oods the Doctor failed to save

This is really why I ran out of yarn. I got a little preoccupied trying to save all the Oods the Doctor didn’t save.

Once I was convinced to move on from the Ood nation, I thought about one of my favourite quotes from the episode (apart from the one about biting). The Doctor tries to explain that they are no longer in the universe.

"Imagine a great big soap bubble"

“Imagine a great big soap bubble”

I was really enjoying the geometric nature of the lace designs as they began to harmonise. From the soap bubble on the universe, I moved to a lace that captures the idea of the lace on Idris’s dress. I did try to fathom a copy of that lace, but it was beyond me. This lace does the trick.

Idris's lace

Idris’s lace

It’s a little complicated, but it looks worn and fragile, too.

I mulled over the TARDIS console room for a long while. I love this old lace pattern and in the end, I thought it does recall the circle/rondel thingimijigs that are always a part of the console design. It might be a future design Sexy hasn’t used yet!

TARDIS desktop

TARDIS desktop

Finally, the last panel was the one I was most looking forward to. It’s my ‘clue’ panel.

“The only water in the forest is the river”

“The only water in the forest is the river”

Between the panels, there’s little bars of plain knitting. But I couldn’t leave them entirely bare. If you squint…

"a big complicated word"

“a big complicated word”

It’s not blindingly obvious and a little tricky to capture on camera, but the words are there! This was another of my favourite quotes from the episode. Idris is referring to “alive,” and that just seems like such a marvelous appreciation of life itself. So I knitted it into the shawl.

It’s been a big project, but I’m ever so pleased with it! It is a big shawl, but is amazing to wrap up in. You can almost feel yourself in Idris’s cute little button boots!

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7 responses to “A Tour of ‘The Doctor’s Wife Sampler Shawl’

  1. Marvellous, are you going to publish the pattern? And I didn’t know Neil Gaiman wrote for Dr Who- please tell me which episode it was that inspired you?

  2. That is really amazing. And clever, and thoughtful and just plain wonderful.

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