Outlander: This is how an obsession begins...
I was against this from the start. Not because I thought for a moment that I wouldn't like Outlander, but because I knew that once I went down the rabbit hole, I wasn't going to want to come out. And boy if I wasn't right. I’m not sure if I should be thanking or yelling at my friends as I spend each morning looking for Outlander blogs and taking advantage of the sweet deal Amazon is running on the kindle version of the book, but I have fallen, and hard. I also kinda don’t care. After a winter of horrible cold and ice, I needed this. So if you are looking for a little something to pull you through that home stretch, I would like to share with you a quick introduction to the fandom of Outlander.
For those who might not be that familiar with the premise of the show, here is a quick synopsis. Claire, a nurse who cared for soldiers on the front lines during the second world war, finds herself reunited with her husband who is pretty much a wet blanket. While they travel to Scotland on a second honeymoon, Claire is transported back to the 1743 where she meets a dishy guy in a kilt named Jaime. Let the steamy, meaningful looks begin! That’s right people, let’s all swoon as Jamie’s eyes stare into the depths of Claire’s very soul! *sigh
This show is heavy on the romance, and as a result it probably isn't a great match for everyone. The good news is that in the episodes I have seen so far, there is also violence, politics, family feuds, oh and that guy in the kilt I mentioned earlier. Something tells me that a lot of people might just be watching just for him.
When we are talking about a show that takes place in two historical time periods (the 1940 and 1740s), there is a lot of fodder for some great fandom. So, make some bannocks, brew a cup of thistle tea, and let’s talk about the ways we can take an example from other Outlander fans who are both showing their love and adding even more to the experience of watching the show and reading the books.
Diving into Scotland and its history: What is great about a show like Outlander is just how much Scotland and Scottish culture are as important to the story as the actions of the characters themselves. You cannot imagine a story like this being told anywhere else, and the highlands themselves create a world that is both lush and beautiful...hard and cruel. It makes sense that the people of this land are fiercely proud of their home and traditions. The use of Scottish Gaelic without providing subtitles takes you even deeper into the world. And for those of you who have an interest in the Jacobite Risings, Claire has found herself a mere two years away from the rising of 1745, which would result in defeat for the Scottish Jacobites and cause the Scottish Lords to lose their heritable jurisdictions.
Looking for a place to start to learn a bit more? Diane Gabaldon wrote an interesting article featuring her take on her series and the issue of Scottish Independence. Or if you are more into the locations themselves, VisitScotland.com has created an interactive map allowing fans to quite literally follow in their favorite character's footsteps.
Recreating the Food and 18th Century Life: I know that St. Patrick's Day is coming up and I should be figuring out what I am bringing to the potluck party I am attending this weekend, but I keep finding myself more interested in Scottish cuisine. There are a lot of great resources out there if your idea of a good time is nibbling on some traditional oatcakes with fresh butter while you watch your favorite characters do the same. Following in the same vein as blog favorite Inn at the Crossroads, Outlander Kitchen provides dishes from the show and books as well as recipes inspired by the characters themselves. And for those who really want to get recipes that are a bit more accurate, Outlander Adventures (probably my favorite of the lot) takes the time to share a lot of details and history regarding the recipes posted. As an added bonus, you can also find other 18th century information and projects including soap, gardening, and knits. And speaking of knits...
Creating the Clothes and Knits: Remember what I said about two historical periods? That means not just one set of period fashions, but two. TWO AWESOME ONES. To those who know a lot about historically accurate clothes, I must put in a wee bit of a warning here. Exceptions have been made (see the pic above), but the team behind the costumes has admitted as much. But accurate or not, the 18th Century costumes look amazing. Best of all, some of the more modern elements make it easier for the fans to create little pieces of the costumes for themselves. Fans have been spending a lot of time focusing on the knits in the show. Who cares that chunky knit cowls weren’t all the rage in 1743, they just look so good. If you want to dig in a little more Terry Dresbach, creator of costumes for the show, has a blog filled with pictures and details from her work, life, and the show. Still looking for more? This Buzzfeed article can point you towards not only project patterns, but places where you can buy knits made by other fans. And because I wouldn't be myself without a nod to those who are more interested in creating knits accurate to the 18th century, here's a good place to start researching that as well.
So, now that you know how I will be spending my time in between episode viewings, care to share what you are up to? Are you picking out yarn for your own cowl? Planning a trip to Scotland to see the scenery with your own eyes? Let us know in the comments below!