LONDON • If you missed out on tickets to see Benedict Cumberbatch playing Hamlet, do not despair.
A new book, Benedict Cumberstitch, contains 15 cross-stitch patterns of the actor, including one of the "Alas, poor Yorick" scene, complete with skull.
So now you can stitch your own hunky Hamlet and keep him under your pillow.
Other gems include Cumberbatch with an otter, Cumberbatch photobombing and Cumberbatch dancing with actor Michael Fassbender.
The book's author Colleen Carrington, a 32-year-old cross- stitch designer and big Cumberbatch fan, has been stitching since she was eight. "It is really easy, very relaxing - and thoroughly addictive," she says.
For those who did not learn at school, all you really need to know is that x-shaped stitches are used to form a picture on a grid-like fabric.
Each pattern will tell you what size fabric you need; what "count" it should be (how many stitches a centimetre); how many strands of thread to use (up to six); and which colours. Then it is just a case of counting stitches.
Cross-stitch is traditionally associated with Home Sweet Home-type folk art or embellished napkins, but it is rapidly losing its old-fashioned image.
A new generation of stitchers share patterns on Facebook, sell their designs on Etsy and meet to stitch socially, including at Mr X Stitch's hangouts in Manchester, Bedford and London.
These stitchers are not embroidering tablecloths or doilies. They are making slogan T-shirts, quirky cushions and, over at Urban Cross Stitch, designer deckchairs.
Some turn treasured photographs into cross-stitch, using software such as PC Stitch, KG-Chart or Win/MacStitch.
And if they do make samplers, they are likely to have rather rude messages, such as those at Subversive Cross Stitch.
Start practising now and you can stitch Sherlock - the hit TV series where Cumberbatch plays the famed detective - in time for the Christmas special.
Come to think of it, a framed version would make a rather nice present for a fellow fan.
• Benedict Cumberstitch (US$9.97 or S$13.95) is available at Amazon.com