Who Needs Shoes When You Can Have Scissors?

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.

Ginghers

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.

Two-Pair Set

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:

Deco Dovos

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.

Tortoiseshell Sajous

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:

Pearl Sajous

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.

42 Comments

Filed under Pictures Worth A Thousand Words, Pins and Needles, Stitching

42 responses to “Who Needs Shoes When You Can Have Scissors?

  1. Sarah

    Well who knew there were so many pairs of pretty little scissors out there? I especially like it when they have a tassel. I’m sure you had lots of fun laying out your scissors and primping them for their photo shoot!

  2. Sue

    Wow!!! Thanks for sharing your “addiction”.

  3. Sarah, Pookie was hilarious, sitting out on the front walk for HOURS, painstakingly setting each pair of scissors just so. :D (And it’s really true — a tassel makes a mundane pair of scissors into something FABULOUS.)

  4. Sarah, Dovo makes crafting scissors… Think how much more fun your sewing projects would be! :D

    Sue, thank you for stopping by! Also, the scissors problem is just a minor sub-addiction, a small part of the overall stitching addiction that’s taken hold of all of us, right?

  5. Goddamnit.

    The scissor addiction is coming for me, isn’t it? Isn’t it? I use cheap, cheap (depressingly cheap) scissors at the moment, and the other day I was in JoAnn’s, drooling over a $40 pair of embroidery scissors.

    I can feel it coming around the bend for me.

    LOVE the art deco scissors. I love ALL your scissors, Pookie! (And that squirrel fob and scissor case? So cute!)

  6. Caitlin, it starts so innocuously, doesn’t it? :D

    By the way, I meant to say earlier on IPB that you shouldn’t worry about the back of “Circling Alphabets”. I showed the chart to KtG and mentioned that you had started it and her initial comment was, “Wow, that’s a lot of starting and stopping!” I was like, “Oh, right. I hadn’t thought about that at all.” So really, on a piece like that, there’s nothing you can do! (Although have you tried waste knots? I don’t know if that’s a stupid question of not; apologies if it is.)

  7. (Although have you tried waste knots? I don’t know if that’s a stupid question of not; apologies if it is.)

    Oh, not at all! I suck at waste knots, really and truly, which is why I have avoided using them…but perhaps it’s time I learned?

    I meant to say earlier on IPB that you shouldn’t worry about the back of “Circling Alphabets”. I showed the chart to KtG and mentioned that you had started it and her initial comment was, “Wow, that’s a lot of starting and stopping!”

    Oh, I feel much better now! One of my to do things tonight is to get the personal blog started up and to free myself from the shackles of the Evil LiveJournal, so hopefully I can get some stitching pictures up soon so you guys can see!

  8. I can’t wait to see pictures!

  9. Caitlin, I hate using waste knots. I just can’t deal with them at all.

  10. Oh, and about waste knots — I only suggested them because I thought it might be easier to stitch the letter without worrying about catching the thread on the back until you’re finished with the letter.

  11. I love House Hunters!! I once saw an episode where the realtor showed a family over 75 homes and they ended up getting the thrid house they had seen. In this same episode, one of the members of the family refused to get out of the car to look at a house because there were 3 children riding their bikes down the street and she didn’t like kids! Awesome.

    And about the shoes and House Hunters, in EVERY SINGLE EPISODE, the realtor/wife/woman makes a joke about how the closet will only fit her stuff. Ho-ho-ho-ho-ho.

    Lovely scissors! (I got around to the point of the post eventually).

  12. Erin, you’re so right about the “This will be [wife/girlfriend]’s closet, and [husband/boyfriend] will have to use the guest room” trope. I would LOVE to see a couple some time where he’s the clotheshorse and jokes that the big walk-in will fit just his stuff. Of course, the producers would probably make them re-shoot the closet reveal and make them say it about the wife/girlfriend instead. :D

  13. I wish that for once they wouldn’t mention the closets and gender at all. They’ll even mention it when it’s a bachelor buying a house, or a single mother!
    My sister and I have an all time favorite episode where it’s a young couple moving from and apartment to their first house, pretty standard stuff. But the wife clomps around with her arms firmly held at her sides for the entire episode. Suitcase arms! In the same episode the husband is seen squatting over a hibachi in an alley. He refers to this as ‘barbequeing’.

    I think it’s a little sad that I can remember all this stuff.

  14. Oh, and about waste knots — I only suggested them because I thought it might be easier to stitch the letter without worrying about catching the thread on the back until you’re finished with the letter.

    Oh, I figured, Pookie! I just suck at knotting things – French knots, bullion knots, waste knots – does it say knot in it? I probably suck at it. :D

    I can’t wait to see pictures!

    Tonight, methinks, tonight. At least I hope, assuming things don’t go bananas today! :D

  15. I can’t wait till I’m on House Hunters and we look at a closet and I scream at my fiance, “That’ll never hold all of your clothes!”

    Pookie, I’ve never seen such lovely scissors!

  16. omg, I just clicked on the link for the stork scissors! Those are so cute!!

  17. Meg

    I would LOVE to see a couple some time where he’s the clotheshorse and jokes that the big walk-in will fit just his stuff.

    That would be nice. I’ve never seen House Hunters, but I do know that my father totally uses over half of my parents’ closet. I doubt it’s that unusual.

  18. I can’t wait till I’m on House Hunters and we look at a closet and I scream at my fiance, “That’ll never hold all of your clothes!”

    HAHAHAHA!!! That’s going to be awesome!

    And Meg, our dad’s clothes TOTALLY took up more space than Boomer’s. You’re probably right that it’s not that unusual.

    Erin, I remember specific House Hunters really well, too. In fact, we have an “all-star” cast we’d like to see just randomly house hunting the world over. There was Wanda, the cousin of a woman looking for a place in Atlanta, and then there was the wry realtor in Amsterdam who showed a place that had squatters living in it. We’d like to see those two on every episode.

  19. Schnookie, don’t forget Julio, the rock shrimp from the episode with the college grad looking in Nashville. He belongs in the All-Star troupe, too!

  20. I will NEVER forget Julio.

  21. House Hunters always astonishes me just because it makes me so grateful to live in Texas where home prices are so low. I think we watched one in Oregon the other day where the couple was looking at paying $480,000+ for a 2 bed, 1 bath, 1300 square foot house.

    I nearly keeled over in shock!

    That being said, the nitpicks people have about houses are just STUPID. Stupid, stupid.

    -Ookies, I meant to ask y’all, have you guys watched Holmes on Homes? It’s on Planet Green now (formerly Discovery Home, I believe) and it is AWESOME. It’s a guy who fixes stuff contractors did wrong!

  22. Ladies…how is the Mercer Museum? I have become suddenly obsessed with Mansions of that period (after a trip to Newport and the Breakers) and I am looking for something around here that will satisfy my obsession. Will that do the trick? Do you know any Vanderbilt mansions around here that I can go to?

  23. Kristin, the Mercer Museum itself is… INSANE. Seriously. It’s nutso. It’s this giant concrete building literally stuffed to the gills with stuff. There are cradles and wagons and chairs hanging from the ceiling. There are displays of stove plates just lined up against random walls. Every surface is covered with collections of horns, or glasses, or combs. There are all these little cubbies set aside that are brimming with specific tools like, “Hatmaker’s Tools” or “Doctor’s Tools”. But as they’re all Pre-Industrial, they’re all really creepy looking!

    I haven’t been to the tileworks or the mansion, but I’m under the impression they’re pretty cool.

    As for Vanderbilts, I dunno. If you’re interested in a mini-roadtrip, there’s all kinds of stuff north of New York City in and around Tarrytown. Oh! A really fun house to tour is Sagamore Hill, which was Teddy Roosevelt’s house out on Long Island.

  24. Ha, “stuffed to the gills with stuff”…sounds like my house! I might have to check it out.

    Tarrytown looks like it might fit the bill, but if I am going to drive there, I might as well just drive all the way back to Newport for a few days. Can’t beat that Ocean View!

  25. I was thinking that I do not need to worry about developing a scissor addiction, but it just occurred to me that I have a pair of scissors on my bedroom dresser (for when I work my needlepoint), one pair of scissors in my den – on my painting easel (to open the plastic pots of paint-by-number paint), and one pair of scissors in my living room next to my latch hook rug frame (to cut the yarn pieces that are too long). Hmmm….I think I also have a pair in my kitchen, in the knife block. That one shouldn’t count since it came with the knife set. Is that the reasoning of an addict in the making??? Oh no!
    Carolyn
    http://www.stitchopedia.com
    An encyclopedia of needlepoint stitches…

  26. Carolyn, it sounds like you’re not necessarily into the unhealthy sort of addiction, but you should probably monitor the situation closely! :D (Oh, and I love, love, love paint-by-numbers!)

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  27. These are all gorgeous, and the painstaking sitting-on-the-front-walk turned out wonderful photos. I think the tortoiseshell ones are my favorite. I guess that shows you where I am on the stitching spectrum, with my tiny little orange-handled fiskars that I thought were special because they were so tiny! ;)

    And as for House Hunters, I TOTALLY remember Wanda, too. My personal favorite “I want to smack them” moment is when they talk about how they can’t buy the house because the walls feature old lady wallpaper. Because wallpaper is permanent, forever.

  28. Carolyn, thanks for making me feel better about my scissor problem — you see, mine are all in one place! :D But you’re right, the knife block soooo doesn’t count. Which means you’ve just freed up another spot in the house for more scissors!

    Elizabeth, Fiskars are nothing to scoff at! They’re the kitchen/garden scissors of choice at stately IPB Manor.

    As for old lady wallpaper, just as the people on the show are saying, “That’s so ugly,” 9 times out of 10 Schnookie and I are saying in unison, “I love that wallpaper!”

  29. LizD

    OK, where’s my IPB Living? Sure there’s plenty of IPB out there, new cards showing up every few days but what about more pics of and loving accolades for the front yard garden? Foliage-starved city dwellers want to know.

    And scissors? Wow. Had no idea.

  30. Sorry we’ve been so lax, Liz! It’s pretty quiet on the garden front, since the big onion/potato harvest last week. The beds all look empty as we wait on the beet and carrot seeds to start sprouting. And yesterday we had devastating hail that shredded our pumpkin plants and apparently laid waste to a number of crops at the farm. Things are looking grim out here in foliage-land. :(

  31. LizD

    I’ll take ph0tos of shredded pumpkin plants. And wow, hail. We just got lots of lightening and rain.
    What are you planting for the fall? I want to attempt a few lettuce plants and small fall crops in containers but I’ve read that you need to trick the lettuce seeds into thinking its a spring thaw by placing them in the fridge for awhile.

  32. Fine! We’ll post pictures of the shredded pumpkins! Are you happy now? :P (Okay, the real reason we haven’t been posting much lately is that we had a deliberately lazy week last week in recovery from a trip to visit some family in New Orleans. We are such a bunch of babies about having to travel that we then spend the next week moping around feeling sorry for ourselves.)

    That’s so crazy about the lettuce seeds! I had no idea! We planted four types of beans, seven types of carrots, and four types of beets last weekend for the fall. And we put in a white variety of pumpkin. We’ve also ordered some jalapeno seeds because Pookie read that there’s still time for them this summer, but we haven’t gotten them in the mail yet. This morning I noticed that some of the beets have sprouted, which I guess is kind of the garden gods saying, “Hey, we may have wiped out the tomatoes at your farm, but look! Baby beets!”

  33. Pookie,
    Can’t we like shoes and scissors? I already love shoes and can not tell you how many times this week I’ve said “Wow, you really suck. I’m going to have to get a new pair.” I won’t insult your awesome collection with details of my shameful scissors.
    (In case you’re wondering, insulting your scissors will not make them cut better. They’re defiant bastards.)

  34. I love your scissors! I even think the “Original Dovos” have a beautiful shape.

    I feel sure that I would have a collection like that if I’d ever gotten into stitching. Scissors are just inherently pretty.

  35. Aren’t they pretty? I should build some little rack so I could have them on display when I’m not using them. It would have to be enclosed, as Rollie has quite a hunger for ribbons and cording. Within two minutes of being in Maple Hoo she’d already eaten the cords off my blinds. Can’t you wait to get kittens?!

  36. Pingback: Restocking The Stash: On The Road With IPB Living, Chapter 1 « IPB Living

  37. WOW!!! I am drooling. I love them all. Which is your favorite pair to use for snipping off a floss thread? I happen to like curved tips on my scissors. I know I will not make a mistake and cut the other threads or fabric nipping of a waste knot.
    I would love to have the DOVO set that is in the zippered case you use for travel.
    Now that the USA dollar is closer to the EURO I wonder if the prices will be better. You have not told us where you bought most of your DOVO’s. I have not been able to find the zipper cased ones in a shop or online. I would love to know where to find them.
    Cheers!
    Catherine

  38. Hi, Catherine! I think my favorite for snipping threads are the ones I call “My First Fancy Dovos”, but they all do the job equally well! I get them all from the Attic Needlework shop. They don’t have an online shop, but you might be able to call them to order a pair (or two or three, hee!). I haven’t investigated trying to order them online, but if you find a source, let me know!

  39. Ali

    Pook & Schnook

    I recently started to create my own line of embroidered greeting cards and happened to buy a pair of stork gingher scissors. I’m totally a sucker for anything kitschy and cute, so when I saw them at JoAnn fabrics, I couldn’t leave the store without them. And now that I see the collection you’ve started, I can’t help but be jealous and want to start my own too. Good luck with all your projects. I’ll ready more of your blog when I have more time. Oh, also, House Hunters is great. I just watched it and actually can’t wait to get a home of my own, so I can have a mustard kitchen. Ciao Meow.

  40. Ali, embroidered greeting cards sound cool! And yeah, the scissor collecting bug is a tough one to shake once it starts! Watch out! :D

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