One of my all-time favorite television shows, and one of the few shows that doesn’t fall by the wayside during the hockey season, is House Hunters. I love everything about it; I love it when there are awesome people who get awesome houses, I love it when there are tools who get toolish houses, I love it when people are all excited to paint with fun colors, and I love it when people say they are excited to paint with colors and then paint everything ecru and eggshell. But one thing I never get is when the women on the show are thrilled to show off how all 800 of their pairs of shoes now fit into the walk-in closet that’s large enough to house a small family. I scoff and start to say, “Who needs that many shoes?! I have one pair for work and one for leisure. What more do you need?” But then I look over at my sewing table and have to stop short. Why? Because this is what’s tucked inside:
Pookie’s Scissor Collection
My name is Pookie, and I have a problem. A scissor problem.
It all started with a pair of gold stork scissors from Gingher. These were the scissors that Boomer supplied her daughters when they were starting out with needlework. To me they were like Kleenex: stork Ginghers were the definition, the beginning and the end, of embroidery scissors. I never questioned them. They were pretty, but light and not very substantial. They did the job, so I never really thought twice about them. When I turned to knitting, scissors were totally unimportant. In fact, most of the time I used a cheap plastic pair with blades that retracted into little stubby thing that looked like an early flashdrive. In knitting, the only thing I ever had to cut were the ends of a skein, but since I would then weave the ends in, the cutting didn’t have to be percise or clean. That was, until I had to cut open a steek on a fair isle sweater.
The fair isle sweater was knit in a tube shape, with a placket up the center. In order to make it into a cardigan, I was supposed to merely cut open the tube of intricate stitches I’d spent months knitting. Oh sure! No problem! ARE YOU MAD?!? It was the scariest thing I’d ever done in the realm of crafting, and there was much whining and many tears before I even got cutting. In order to help, Boomer lent me a pair of Ginghers she had for quilting. She handed me the insanely shiny bright silver tailor’s scissors and the entire universe rocked on its axis. The shears were a thing of beauty.
They were weighty, perfectly balanced, and the blades opened and closed with a precise, no-nonsense whoosh-snap. I was in love.
This picture is of a smaller pair, but the idea is the same. I realized in that moment that there was a whole word of scissors out there. The scissor world didn’t have to begin and end with lightweight, wimpy stork scissors. As long as I was knitting, though, there wasn’t a need for me to explore my other options. So I forgot all about it.
Then, a few years later, I was at the one and only Attic Needlework in Mesa, AZ, turning in one of the first samplers I finished after renouncing knitting for stitching. The counter at the framing station was a glass case filled with random gee-gaws: miniature boxes for needles, decorative thimbles, scissor fobs. I hadn’t ever paid the case much attention before then, but for some reason, on this fateful day I happened to look down and see these:
The Original Dovos
I don’t know what possessed me to ask to try them out, but the instant they were in my hand I knew they were meant for me. They felt just like those tailor’s Ginghers, but in embroidery size. The handles were smooth and soft, but the overall feel was of a satisfying but manageable heft. They were made, it turns out, by a German company called Dovo. And so the obsession began.
Not longer after I got that first pair, Jean, the proprietor of the Attic and the dealer for all us scissor junkies, mentioned that she’d gotten an order of more ornate Dovos. My original pair was working fine, but what was the harm in looking, right?
First Fancy Dovos
They were so pretty, for starters, but they were also smaller, with shorter blades, than my original pair. I was getting into more intense projects, like the “Cranberry Sampler”, which required more precision cutting. That was all the justification I needed!
The handles were gold when I got them, but from years and years of love, they’ve tarnished into a patina of “beloved and steadfast stitcher’s friend”. These are undoubtedly my go-to scissors, my most trusted precision cutting tool.
A few Christmases ago, Boomer surprised me with a pair that is similar to these, but with more delicate, shiny handles.
Miss Potpourri’s Scissors
They make the perfect home for Miss Potpourri, the scissor job that graced my old stork Ginghers. Sometime when I was in middle school, Boomer gave me two scissor related gifts. One was a châtelaine she got on a quilting trip to Amish country. It was a long cream-colored grosgrain ribbon, meant to be worn around one’s neck, with a pocket at one end for scissor-keeping, and a pin cushion at the other. The pin cushion was shaped like a little Amish doll. The doll always seems a little creepy, partially because it seemed very Voodoo to be sticking needles and pins into it, and partially because it had no face, as it was Amish, and thus the disapproval at the Voodoo-ish-ness of it all seemed that much more otherworldly. Or maybe Schnookie and I just have over-active imaginations. In any case, the second gift, a scissor fob made of a sachet shaped like a woman was much less horrific. Miss Potpourri has lost the little ribbon sash she started out with, and the sachet doesn’t have much of a scent any more, but I still get a kick out of seeing a little slice of my early stitching days going strong.
At the less ornate end of the Dovo scale is the two-pair set with a little leather carrying case.
These puppies are my travel scissors (travel by car; thanks TSA). I zipper them up and toss them in the pouch with my chart, fibers, and linen without worrying that they’ll pop out of a sheath and slash everything to bits. They’re pretty utilitarian, but again, they get the job done. (And the case serves as it’s own ort collector. When working at KtG’s house, I can toss all my thread scraps on the fuzzy interior of the case and they stick, ready to be collected and tossed out at the end of the weekend. Normally, I use a miniature stoneware canister, but that doesn’t travel as well!)
You’d think with that line-up of Dovos, I’d be fairly well set. Well, sure, that’s what I thought too. Until I saw these beauties on my last trip out to the Attic:
The detailing on the handles is so different from the curlicues on the fancy pairs. They reminded me of the Chrysler Building. In fact, I’d say these are the scissors the lobby of the Chanin Building would use if it stitched. I also love the little brown-and-pink sheath I picked out for them. The whole package is just a breath of fresh air after all the fussy details of the other fancy scissors. These are the anti-storks.
The uber-storks, the fussiest of all the fussy, have got to be the latest additions to the collection, the Sajous. Jean sneakily snuck a picture of some new, shockingly non-Dovo scissors into the famous Attic newsletter conveniently near Christmas last year. And sure enough, Boomer noticed.
How could you miss these? Particularly since they come packaged in an irresistible little, ornate, tres French box. A peek at the Sajou website will give you a taste of what I’m talking about. The tortoiseshell handles, the cheerily retro flowers, the matching tassel… How am I supposed to resist?! The drawback to the fancy box is that Sajou’s are sold without sheaths. Fortunately, my lovely sister KtG has a bizarre fascination with stitching and finishing needlework accessories, like the scissor fob on my original Dovos and this adorable scissor keep.
I was so happy to have a pair of scissors nice enough to grace a project that KtG made especially for me. Of course, like the ungrateful wretch that I am, I’ve already demanded she make me another for the second set of Sajous, the pearl-handled ones:
Boomer bought these for Schnookie, so she wouldn’t feel left out at scissor gifting time. However, since these fine blades aren’t the best tool for the wool she works with, they were given to me, my fancy hand-me-down scissors! Right now they’re languishing in an ugly purple leather sheath, waiting for something to compliment their fabulous carved handles and dainty pink tassel.
All this brings us to the piece de resistance, the jewel of my scissor collection crown, the Vampire Killing Kit.
The Vampire-Killing Kit
Not far from stately IPB Manor is the marvelous Mercer Museum, a rambling castle filled to the brim with remnants of the pre-Industrial age. Off by itself in a special case is a little velvet-lined leather case filled with random tools with a placard announcing it as a “Vampire Killing Kit”. When Boomer presented these kits to each of us for a Christmas present several years ago, that’s immediately what came to mind.
This stunning set includes a tiny pair, the same size as my second pair of Dovos, a medium sized pair, and a fabulously large, fabulously hefty pair of large scissors.
They were made as a commemorative edition, celebrating the Dovo company’s 110 years of metalworking.
The blades are blue, and feature the jaunty metalworking logo of Dovo, and “Solingen”, the name of the town where the company is located. I think that’s somehow important, like that metalwork made in Solingen is a big deal. Or something. All I know is that they’re gorgeous.
I have this set out on my table at all times. I use the small size for clipping threads off the back of the piece after working with them. I use the medium size for cutting through entire skeins when first starting out. And I use the large size for cutting through linen. Really, they’re the perfect scissors.
So why do I need all these scissors? I don’t, of course. But just the way other women love wearing different shoes on different days, I love deciding one night to switch it up, tucking my trusty tarnished Dovos away, and bringing out the pearl-handled Sajous when I’m feeling fancy, or reaching for the travel case when I’m feeling workmanlike, or plucking Miss Potppourri out of the drawer when I feel like taking a walk down memory lane. Every pair of scissors has played a part in every piece I’ve worked. I consider myself an artisan, and they are the tools of my trade.