“Detection is, or ought to be, an exact science, and should be treated in the same cold and unemotional manner.” -Sherlock Holmes, The Sign of Four
This week the Geek-A-Long honors the impact Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had on modern forensic science. Doyle was a medical doctor, though he rarely practiced. However, his short stories featuring the infamous Sherlock Holmes allowed him to explore his passion for forensics. Holmes’ techniques are decades before their time. I think that I take modern CSI for granted. It’s hard to really imagine a time where police would take a witness statement, look around the (generally contaminated) crime scene for a few minutes, and then successfully prosecute suspects based on that. Men were sent to their deaths because old Mrs. So-And-So down the street is pretty sure she saw them leaving the scene of the crime.
Doyle personally cleared three men of crimes they did not commit using the methods and investigation style that he had imagined in Sherlock Holmes. If you have the time to check it out, this article about the evidence he used to clear one of those men is super interesting. In addition to clearing the wrongfully accused, Doyle used Sherlock Holmes to educate both the public and Scotland Yard about forensic techniques. Fingerprinting, poison analysis, and ballistics were routinely employed by Holmes, and almost never by actual law enforcement. In fact, Holmes is the first known investigator to employ ballistics in a police investigation at all and he created a forensic lab in his home 23 years before one existed in the real world! It’s fair to say that without Sir Conan Arthur Doyle’s descriptions of fictional CSI procedures many of the ones we take for granted may not exist today.
For Doyle’s square we decided to use fingerprinting as a representation of forensic science. I LOVE how it turned out. I know I tell you most weeks that “this is one of my favorite squares…”, and that is always true. I love most of them, and at least like all of them. But this is my actual favorite square on the 2015 blanket and it was one of the first ones we designed for it.
Fun fact: we designed all eight of the “IRL scientist” squares in a single (very long and caffeine fueled) design session before doing any of the other 2015 squares. We felt like they were a good way to set the tone for ourselves as we went on to the rest of the squares.
Whether you’re knitting, crocheting, or cross stitching this square, you can download the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle pattern here. When you’re finished making it, don’t forget to tweet or instagram your squares at me @Doctor_Llama or Jac @jac_attacking with the hashtag #geekalong, so we can all oooh and ah at it together.
If you’re having trouble with double-sided knitting, we have a how-to video here, and if you would like to learn to crochet, Jac has a fabulous tutorial here. You can find moral support in the Geek-A-Long group on Ravelry here.
This square was very nearly Dr. Henry Lee, who is basically a real life Sherlock Holmes. I couldn’t fit him on the blanket this year, but we love him all the same. :)