I am a ridiculous fan of The X-Files. I watched the pilot when I was 12 years old and I never looked back, even when it was traumatizing (“Home”—oh my god). I went to an X-Files convention in Portland back in the 90s. My dad, who ran a limousine service at the time, provided the ground transportation for the guests and became friends with Doug Hutchison, the actor who played Tooms, and I still have an autographed photo somewhere. The only reason I stopped watching the show was because I went to a college where everyone lived in dorms and we weren’t allowed to have cable.
But now, The X-Files is back.
So what is an X-phile to do other than marathon seven seasons? It’s a fan imperative. But I have a difficult time marathoning TV shows if I don’t have something to do, and that something is usually knitting. So, when I decided to marathon The X-Files and knit, I also decided that an X-Files themed project would be fun.
The other requirement for the project was that it couldn’t be too difficult, because when you’re watching the show, you don’t want to be watching your stitches. Enter: the tube scarf. A tube scarf was the first thing I learned how to knit, and it’s still a favorite because you get thickness without bulk, can easily hide color changes, and there is no blocking required. And since you’re knitting in the round, with a small circular needle, it can be pretty mindless to the point where you don’t even have to look at your stitches.
Once I had my concept, I thought about different ways a scarf could be thematic without being literal. I was really inspired by this promotional image, because growing up outside of Portland, Oregon, the moodiness of the Pacific Northwest is part of what makes The X-Files iconic.
And so, I decided that I would try to copy that treeline and blue sky. It took me a couple days before I had a treeline pattern I was satisfied with for stranded knitting and intended to be knit in the round, so there is no front or back. Once I had my treeline silhouette, I knew I was setting myself up for nothing but boring blue stockinette for the next week. I was at a loss to make the blue middle section interesting, and then I found out about game knitting.
Game knitting is basically like playing a drinking game while knitting, except instead of taking a drink, you do something to the yarn, and instead of being staggeringly drunk when you’re finished, you have something you can wear forever. It involves watching many, many episodes of a television show, and therefore, due to this temporal aspect and the differentiation in speed with every knitter, every scarf is going to look different, and I think that’s awesome.
After reading the ebook and deliberating just how to incorporate game knitting into the scarf, I decided that I would use beads. Adding beads to knitting is something I’ve done in previous projects, and it can look really beautiful. So, I decided to add a bead to my blue sky to to act as stars. The random placement would work well for star placement, and that would keep my middle section interesting visually, but also interesting to knit.
I had my game plan. I would make a Game Knit X-Files Beaded Tube Scarf.
This pattern is rated B for Basic, since it involves a few different techniques, but they’re all pretty easy.
Yarn Selection and Bead Selection
Mood was essential for this project, but gauge was not. After walking the aisles at my local yarn store, I spied these lovely variegated yarns in green and blue, which perfectly matched the promo image.
This yarn is labeled as a medium worsted and suggests 5.5mm needles. For me, it knit up more like a light worsted and knit up well on 4.5mm needles. My gauge ended up being 7 rows by 6 columns per inch. In terms of yardage, I ended up using less than half a skein of the green, even including the fringed end, and a little over two skeins of the blue, but I prefer my scarfs to be a little on the long side. I could have easily continued with the blue had I not run out of beads.
The beads I chose are Czech glass 9mm chef roller beads in gunmetal grey, to match with my moody Pacific Northwest color scheme. The color ended up being really lovely, though difficult to capture on camera. They’re about the size and shape of a pony bead that you might have used crafting as a child, but the grown up version. The gunmetal finish reflects the blue yarn in a really pleasing way.
Overall, I am super happy with the beads. They came in packs of 50, so I bought 150, which ended up costing about as much as I spent on the yarn. 150 was also perfect for the length of scarf I wanted, but the scarf could end up being longer or shorter based on which episodes you watched and your knitting speed, etc. That’s one of the very cool things about game knitting, but also something to keep in mind. One last thing to note is that the beads, being glass, did add a little weight to the scarf, but not enough to bother me. Plastic pony beads in any color would work as well, especially the star-shaped ones or the ones that glow in the dark.
Bead Placement Tutorial and Game Knitting List
Adding beads to knitting is easy. Some people use a crochet hook, but I prefer to use a piece of wire bent in half to slip through the stitch and then slide through the bead.
- Slip the bent wire through the stitch you intend to bead knitwise.
- Draw the stitch you just knit off the right needle.
- Slide a bead down the needle onto the stitch you just knit.
- Place the beaded stitch back on the right needle and remove the wire.
- Continue to knit.
So, when do you add a bead? Like I said, what intrigued me about game knitting is that you get to come up with a list of things that cause you to do whatever it is you’re doing to the yarn. I decided to craft my list as if it was a drinking game, including things that were in-jokes to the series but also narrative aspects or extra-narrative aspects.
My X-Files game knitting list:
- The episode begins/ends with a voiceover.
- The X-Files theme plays.
- The episode takes place in Oregon.
- Anyone says “spooky” in reference to Mulder.
- Scully is badass.
- Scully does something scientific (autopsy, research, etc.).
- Mulder presents a wack-a-doodle theory based on pseudoscience.
- Mulder rescues Scully.
- Scully rescues Mulder.
- Mulder AND Scully almost die and are rescued by a third party.
- Samantha Mulder is mentioned or appears.
- Mulder gets reprimanded.
- Mulder eats sunflower seeds.
- Mulder does something athletic (running, swimming, etc.).
- Scully references her faith.
- Reference to pornography + Mulder.
- The Cigarette Smoking Man appears.
- Someone puts an “X” in the window.
- Deep Throat appears.
- The Lone Gunmen appear.
- Mulder gets laid.
- Scully gets laid.
- Mulder is shirtless.
- Someone comments on Mulder’s attractiveness.
- The X-Files get shut down.
- Mulder or Scully gets a new partner.
- Skinner comes to Mulder and/or Scully’s aid.
- Mulder and/or Scully come to Skinner’s aid.
- Mulder and Scully kiss.
I was able to get a bead for each of these once, and some got multiple beads. Some things are judgment calls. When is Scully badass? Whenever I felt like she was badass. Sometimes it was taking down a suspect. Sometimes it was calling out Mulder for being an asshole. Sometimes it was threatening to kill Agent Spender. Other people might have different moments they felt were badass.
Using a 4.5mm 12” circular needle, cast on 60 stitches with treeline yarn.
Join in the round. Place marker.
Knit Treeline Chart, incorporating and eventually shifting entirely to sky yarn.
Once you’ve finished the treeline chart you will be working exclusively with the sky yarn and game knitting list.
Game knit using the X-Files game knitting list, adding a bead for each instance whenever it happens in real time.
Once you’ve used up all your beads, knit five more rows, then bind off.
I used fringe to seal the ends and also to highlight the asymmetry of the scarf, which begins with a treeline but ends with the sky. I can add fringe in my sleep thanks to years of Harry Potter scarves, but this tutorial is basically what I do, except I use a yarn needle instead of a crochet hook to pull my loop through.
I really enjoyed making this scarf, once I got past the frustration of trying to make a treeline silhouette pattern. Game knitting is awesome. Not only does it make your mindless knitting more interesting, it also made me watch The X-Files in a different way and take notice of certain things that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Some episodes had many beads. Some only a few. But the coolest part to me is that instead of a massive hangover, I have this scarf that was created in real time, shaped by time, and I can look at each bead and remember the moment it represents. It’s a wearable keepsake, and that’s something that I didn’t know I could create. It’s a knitting experience I would definitely want to try again, with another TV show or movie series.