The kilt has once again become a popular clothing item thanks to the STARZ show and Outlander book series. What a lot of people do not realize is the fact that there is an interesting history behind this Scottish clothing staple.
Its Autumn, which means the very welcome return of “Outlander” to my TV screen and a sudden preponderance of warming knitwear, tweeds, and tartans in shop windows. A happy coincidence I’m sure. Just as the temperature starts to drop and I’m thinking about layering up and nestling in over-sized cardigans there’s an abundance of woolens, shawls, cardigans, and jumpers available for purchase – hurrah!
While Claire in her 1940s life used laundry soap and a basic washing machine, her time traveling life did not have such a luxury. Instead, wash day consisted of lots of drinks, hand washing, and urine production.
One of the great pleasures of watching Outlander includes admiring all of the gorgeous costumes and accessories that adorn all of the characters. The knitted wool items have featured heavily, and have definitely caught my eye. As I am devoid of the skill of knitting, I have a great admiration for the talent. I seem to recall hearing once, on a tour of a croft house in the Scottish Highlands, that traditionally all family members in the household would have learned to knit. Because they did not have the luxury of idle time, knitting was a task that was accomplished during times of limiting physical circumstances, i.e. winter, while shepherding, or by those who were infirm. It has caused me to wonder recently; could Jamie have knit Claire’s cowl?
The importance of the plaid as it is known in North America became evident when Jamie and Murtagh were in Ardsmuir Prison. At that time, Scots were not allowed to wear their tartans, speak Gaelic or own weapons such as guns. This is represented by the clothing that the prisoners are wearing and how they are allowed to hunt while at the prison.