There’s a bit of background required for this knitting story.
We don’t have TV so the children are reliant for their visual entertainment on my husband’s and my memories of what we watched when we were children – we buy old series on DVD. So they have an encyclopaedic familiarity with Bagpuss, The Clangers and Ivor the Engine and no knowledge at all of Peppa Pig and the other CBeebies delights.
Spiderman and His Amazing Friends is one of these blasts from the past – Spiderman lives with two chums in a platonic flatshare and they join up to defeat criminals.
One of the reasons I like it is that it’s basically nonviolent but also because the fact that one of the superheroes concerned – Firestar – is a woman isn’t even a Thing. It’s not done for tokenism, it’s not done to be politically correct (this series was made pre-PC) – she’s just there because she’s good at her job. She doesn’t take a backseat, she doesn’t have to be rescued, she gets good lines and equal screentime; she’s smart, funny and effective.
And it made me think about 80s cultural icons: Ripley in Alien; Julia Roberts – just as bankable (and earning as much) as her male counterparts; Mrs Thatcher (whatever your opinion of her politics). Bringing up a daughter you become acutely aware of things like science toys being labelled ‘for boys’; of the Early Learning catalogue selling Doctor costumes exclusively modelled by boys (and nurse costumes modelled exclusively by girls, of course); of Amazon restricting its ‘girls’ recommendations to cooking, cleaning and ironing. So solid female role models – for both girls and boys – are worth treasuring wherever you find them. (Let’s not even get into the fact that although you can find Superman, Batman, Spiderman toys in every size and configuration under the sun, it’s hard to buy female superheroes.)
Which is a long way round to explaining why I wanted to make a Firestar costume for one of the Sindy dolls.
You can find Sindy knitting patterns on the internet (some people, bless them, make a hobby of finding old ones and sharing them for free) but I was pretty sure I was going to have to wing this. So I found a pattern for boots, and a pattern for leggings, and a pattern for a bodice, and figured I could use all that as a basis.
I used a temporary cast on for the boots, then once they were done I reattached the yarn to the tops of them to carry on up the legs. Joined the legs at the top and knitted in the round over the bum, did some decreases for the waist and some matching increases for the bust (I’d split at the back by this point), then divided for the armholes and the V-neck. The same as knitting a V-neck sweater but considerably smaller! Did a three needle bindoff for the shoulders (I’d made it a little short in the body so that it pulled tight in proper superhero-lycra fashion!) and picked up stitches for the arms. This particular Sindy rather handily lost her hands about thirty years ago (she’s one of my old ones) so the gloves were considerably easier than they might otherwise have been.
So here’s the finished article! Complete with flames on the gloves and boots. It’s hard to do flames when no reputable yarn manufacturer makes bright orange yarn, so we had to make do with a sort of peach. It’s all in Debbie Bliss Rialto 4ply.
And ridiculously proud I am of it too.