Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Outlander ~Listening, Reading, Watching...Knitting

I should have learned by now not to say I'm going to do something by a certain time or date, because it just never seems to happen (like the knitting I wanted to share with you).  But finally, here I am...

Last year, as I mentioned, I discovered knitting podcasts.  There are so many good ones, I could never begin to list them all and there are new ones all the time I enjoy checking out.  There are three or four I follow faithfully, but the one that's at the top of my list is Sarah's FiberTrek video podcast.  Where to begin, its just soooo good!  There's Sarah, the host.  She loves wool.  She loves grey wool (maybe not exclusively but best).  She loves sheep and wool.  She lives in a ruggedly beautiful part of Maine and enjoys a wood fire.  And she's made it her mission in life to take others on this almost spiritual journey of wool and its traditions.  I certainly feel like she's become a friend.  She shares lots of things on her podcasts, but there was one thing she shared last fall that started me on a roller coaster ride of fiction and the renewed love of reading I spoke about in the earlier post.  That fiction was the series Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.

I loved it!  Fell down the rabbit hole and haven't come out yet ;)  It is not light reading.  It's long; detailed; historic; colorful; funny; loving and heart-wrenching.  A major character, especially in the first book, is the country of Scotland - if you didn't love Scotland previous to reading, you probably will after!  I've enjoyed these books so much.  Although the stories began twenty-five or so years ago, there was a new television series starting up in August (of last year).  This inspired a lot of knitters and yarn companies, so there were Outlander themed colorways for yarn and patterns and knit-a-longs.   Some really neat patterns have come about because of the television show and I've knit a few of those.  Even made mittens of my own design that were inspired by a costume in one of the episodes.  But I've had the most fun seeking out patterns that I already had or already wanted to knit that reminded me of passages from the books.  It's been something like a scavenger hunt!  So while I didn't "knit Outlander" exclusively for the past eight months, it has been a focus.  Those projects are the ones I want to show you now...and dedicate, with much gratitude, to Sarah ;)

Getting ready for some Outlander knitting - books, yarn, pattern, stitch markers, fire in the fireplace...
September Simmer Dim pattern by Gudrun Johnson

(You should be able to click on the highlighted title of the projects to see a Ravelry page link with more information about it)  This was the first thing my daughter and I worked on for knit-night with an Outlander theme here at the farm.  It was a nod to a chapter in The Fiery Cross (book five of the series) titled “Summer Dim” in which Jamie (our hero) says to his wife Claire (our heroine) “Ye’ll ken the summer in the Highlands, Sassenach - the summer dim?” She nods and remembers “that the summer dim was the light of the Highland night, late in summer.”  I'd had this pattern in my Ravelry queue and saw it on my friend Lori's blog when she took a trip to the Shetland Islands.  I loved everything about this little shawl and plan to make another, possibly with thicker yarn and bigger needles to get a larger garment.  This one was gifted to a friend. The color is actually deep reds, russets and auburns, maybe a bit of gold.

Gathering Thyme and Black Kirk Cowl pattern by Kalurah Hudson

This pattern was inspired by a cowl worn by Claire in the television series and it's knit on super big needles!  The pattern writer very kindly offered it for free and so I gave it a try.  Very fast, very simple - not flattering to this chubby farm wife at all though, LOL!  I've given both of mine away, but here they are, our October Outlander knitting projects ~

The first (left) was made with bulky, unspun roving but it was very loose and floppy, so I tried tucking it in like a scarf rather than around the neck like a cowl.  Made on the recommended size 50 needles.  For the second one (below), I went down to size 35 needles and held some black Corriedale yarn doubled.  This made for a much better cowl fabric but still made me look like I was wearing a tire around my neck, LOL!

Outlander Cowl by Andee Fagen was our November project and the start of it is pictured at the beginning of this blog post.  I began making it along with a few others while listening to another favorite podcast Disa's Craftwork but I didn't like how it was working with my chosen yarn.  It's a beautiful pattern though, so I hope to start over with it and a different yarn sometime in the future.

Now comes two projects that are still on the needles, in progress, though they were started in December.  First off, a Christmas Eve sock cast-on with the Bakery Bears and Little Bobbins podcasts, these are my Black Selkie Socks , pattern by Alison Janocha.  I'm totally in love with these, even though the pattern doesn't really show in my black yarn.  This is farm yarn, a blend of Corriedale and Alpaca that I had made with my friend Maple at North Star Alpacas.  It's really nice, all natural black and feels so good to knit with.  I considered making this as a mitten pattern, but was needing a new pair of hand knit socks.  I was making great progress, too,  and then must have gotten caught up watching the series because I totally messed up the heel!  Now I need to take that out (not easy with sticky black yarn) and reknit it.  But I will...

The books speak of "selkies" quite often and in reference to Jamie's father, Black Brian.  Its what made me think of these for Outlander knitting.

And then I saw these magnificent mittens!  From The Castle Fraser Throughout The Year The Woodcarving by Aurelie Colas - I knew these had to be an Outlander project!  Bought the pattern, chose my yarn....and could not get gauge, not even close ;(  The mittens would have been the size of oven mitts and its a very detailed pattern, so I didn't feel I could successfully change it to make mittens that would fit me.  I could, however, make a cowl!  So that's the plan for this, a cowl and probably a lined one.  It's in time out right now, though, because it takes a lot of concentration.  My photo doesn't show much, other than some of the colors I'm using for it.

Wedding Plaid Mittens by me

January found me still working on my socks, but also a new pair of mittens, something I made up myself.  I wanted to make a pair of plaid mittens and couldn't find a pattern I liked that didn't include either intarsia or duplicate stitch.  So I just used my basic mitten pattern with afterthought thumbs and added some blocks of color.  I intended to line these, but they're just a bit small.  They'll be gifted to my daughter who has smaller hands than I do.

I'm really happy with the way they turned out, even though I made a couple of mistakes in the colorwork (maybe you can spot where in the photo)  One mitten has garter rows on the cuff, the other a picot hem and I like the picot best.  These are meant to symbolize Jamie's wedding plaid from the first book, and the picot hem is the lace cuff of his borrowed shirt.  Now in the book, Jamie's plaid was "a brilliant crimson and black that blazed among the more sedate green and white".  In the television series they went with blues, browns and a touch of red (you can read more about the costuming and see some stunning photos at this wonderful blog.  Really, you should take a look!)  I made the first pair of mittens in "show colors", but the second pair that I just started are red, black and grey so those are my February project along.

But knitting for myself is something I've set aside for Lent, I'm only working on projects intended for someone else.  I'm working on a blanket for my grandson and gloves for my son-in-law (neither of them Outlander related).  A third pattern, though, is a pair of mittens inspired by A Breath of Snow and Ashes (book six)  

All queued up for April, when Lent is over, are two more shawls.  Outlander Hap - Mo Nighean Donn is another pattern by Gudrun Johnson, based on a traditional Shetland Hap.  I've knit a mini-hap for a gauge swatch, color test and I like it very much.  I'm using natural colored brown Corriedale, along with silver, moorit (auburn) and gold.  Fans of Outlander know that Jamie calls his wife, Claire, "Mo Nighean Donn - my brown haired lass" and tells her that her hair is “dark in the wavy spots with bits of silver on the surface…”  The gold yarn is for her "great, gold eyes"  I'm excited for this one, participating in a knit-a-long with Gudrun's Shetland Trader Hap kal on Ravelry .  I was also going to make this my Hap pattern for KnitBritish wonderful Hap KAL (be sure to check out her podcast, its another of my favorites) that starts in April, but now I'm thinking I'll make my second Simmer Dim for that instead.  I have some handspun I've set aside for that and I like the idea of beginning and ending my Outlander themed knits with the same pattern.  What do you guys think?

I hope you've enjoyed taking a look through my knitting!  These aren't the only things I've knit or crocheted this winter, but the main ones and like I said it's been a lot of fun seeking out patterns to relate to a favorite passage or memory from the books.  I hope if you're a knitter you might check out some of these great patterns on Ravelry or even join in one of the knit-a-longs.  And if you're at all interested in podcasts, the ones I've mentioned are truly joyful as well as many others.  If there are any you follow, please feel free to share!  Edited 3-5 to correct some spelling and grammar