Sweet joy! Skimming a website of offbeat Simpsons collectibles several years ago, I noticed at the very bottom a Patons knitting booklet. Knitting? SIMPSONS? It must be mine. The book was only published in Australia and the UK, which explained why after many a fruitless Amazon and Ebay search it didn’t turn up. To Ebay International! AND FINALLY, VICTORY!
I believe I now comprehend (though don’t fully understand) the need of grown men and women to buy bits of their childhood back. For me, this purchase does not fill that need; I never had this object when I was an impressionable youth, nor did ‘The Simpsons’ occupy the amount of brainspace then they do today. What appeals to me about owning this book is that I now have an honest chunk of a particular time and mentality.
Here we have an item clearly intended to capitalize on the frenzied Simpsons-mania of the early 90s. As opposed to the current glut of merchandise coasting on fumes of past glory, early Simpsons goods rode high on the goodwill created by the show’s genuinely groundbreaking early seasons. That doesn’t negate the mindless consumerism it inspired (and ‘The Simpsons’ itself made fun of the show’s omnipresent merchandising quite often), but these objects were created in response to consumer demand. Another indicator of genuine affection for the show and desire for what it represented were the hundreds of bootleg variants of ‘The Simpsons’ tailored to individual groups. The physical objects met a psychological need, and when they didn’t, people created their own physical objects.
Even taken as a quick cash-in on a fad, this book was still created with the crafter in mind. A crafter, someone who would create these objects for others, kids, teens. It seems less crass to take advantage of a crafter’s generosity towards others than it does to put out a sub-par product and churn endless variations of it, like the current round of Simpsons action figures. I can’t do much with an action figure but plop it somewhere; these patterns I can make into physical objects for me and others to enjoy. The crafter becomes a part of the creation of the object and is involved with its dispersal.
On top of that, even for a cash-in these are well-designed patterns. Chunky enough for quick turn out, yet without losing the cartoonish details that make the characters enjoyable, these patterns show thoughtfulness in translation. They’re the work of Gary Kennedy, who specialized in creating intarsia patterns of popular characters. After a hiatus, he’s recently started up again and from the looks of it is going strong.
Tempted as I am to immediately make ‘Cool Bart’, I feel honor-bound to first pay tribute to the Simpsons’ overlooked middle child Lisa. The periwinkle blue brings back painful reminders of mom jeans, faux turtlenecks and entire houses done up in Laura Ashley patterns, so I’ll probably go with one of the three variants below:
Now I just need to figure out the perfect Lisa quote for the back.