knits on film // Claire's capelet

Claire Collage 1 If you're a knitter or are at all interested in history or historical costuming, you should be watching Outlander. The women in the show wear unique hand knit accessories that match and enhance their characters. [I'm not sure how historically accurate the chunky garter stitch cowl from episode two is, however...] Geillis Duncan's strange, partially-felted blue capelet adds to her overall witchy vibe. Mrs. Fitzgibbons' well-worn oatmeal colored mitts remind us that this woman has no need for frivolous items in her wardrobe.

But Claire, of course, needs some color and mystery in her outfits. The pinky-brown capelet she wears is proof positive of her outsider status in this world. It's not a bright hue, but it is a colorful, feminine reminder of her presence in this gray-green world of the Scots.

Speaking of historical accuracy, I can't help but wonder how they would've come up with a color like this. Beet dye produces a strong a purple-red. Lichens produce pinkish brown dyes. I could imagine someone like Geillis knowing exactly where to find the lichens that would make such a distinctive color. Also, this garment has the fuzzed look of something that's been worn, loved, and perhaps also made by its previous owner.

capelet collage

The trouble is: Claire's capelet is really only suitable for topping off an 18th century outfit (or perhaps some Renaissance Festival garb or a very detailed Halloween costume). This take on a capelet above could be made in a mauve or browny-pink as a wearable, modern version of Claire's token accessory. The colors shown here are Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Plume (top) and Madelinetosh Tosh Vintage in Briar.

Sounds like a great project to work on while watching Outlander...but try not to get distracted by Jamie Fraser in the process.

UPDATE 9/15:

I'm not the only one going crazy for Outlander-inspired knits!

  • Terry Dresbach, costume designer for the show, explains how she designed the outfits for Claire and co. including how the knitwear came to be on her blog.
  • The Outlander yarn "collection" from Knitterly could get you started on your goal to knit all of Claire and Geillis' accessories.