Outlander has been gracing our screens for six years now, drawing viewers with epic romance, improbable-yet-captivating time-travel adventures, beautiful scenery, and… knitwear.
Since the moment Claire Beauchamp/Randall/Fraser appeared on-screen in her now-iconic season 1 shawl, the online knitting community has been incredibly passionate and impressively skilled in recreating many of the show’s outfits and accessories. There are even at least six active Outlander knitting/crochet Facebook groups, two of which have more than 12,000 members each.
Barry Klein — a life-long knitter and an Outlander fan since its premiere episode — played an integral part in creating this new book, working closely with the book’s editor, Kate Atherly. “When I watch TV shows and I watch productions, one of the things I look for is, ‘Is there knitwear and how can I be a part of it, and how does it all tie to me?’” Klein says.
Klein became tied to the Outlander Knitting project after Sony approached a yarn store, asking for input for the book. The project was too big for that yarn store, but they passed along Klein’s name. As the founder of Trendsetter Yarns, a yarn manufacturing and distribution company, Klein was able to consult with Atherly about the perfect yarn to use for each pattern within the book, keeping the pieces authentic to the show’s many eras.
“Our goal was to keep it all very natural and very clean,” he says. “Because, you know, putting something very textured and crazy colors was not appropriate for the timeframe of the Outlander series. So our goal was to keep it true. And that’s where I came in.”
In addition to providing his yarn expertise, Klein also contributed a pattern to the book: a set of arm warmers inspired by the ones Mrs. Fitzgibbons wears throughout the show’s first season.
For his pattern, and for every pattern in the book, readers will find the history of the design, why the designer picked that character or scene (in Klein’s case: “I loved her character. She’s sassy.”), the skills needed, materials needed, a section of notes, and more.
“Having knit my entire life, I see how books are written, how things are done, and Kate and her team really went overboard,” he says. “They did everything right.”
One of the things they did right, he says, was offering the patterns in a variety of sizes to accommodate every fan. Claire’s iconic shawl, for example, inspired two patterns in the book. One is an exact replica of the original, while the other is larger and features a different style of knitting.
If you aren’t a skilled knitter — or if you’re just a fan of the show and can’t knit yet — Klein says you shouldn’t be hesitant to pick up the book. It does include some patterns that require advanced knitting skills, such as Fair Isle and steeking, but it also has very basic patterns that require nothing more than the basic garter stitch.
“The book truly has something for men, for women. It’s got home ideas, it’s got accessories,” Klein says. “For new knitters, middle, and advanced. Everything within one really good book.”
And Klein’s partnership with Sony didn’t stop with the book’s publication. Trendsetter Yarns also offers kits at outlanderknitting.com, which come with all the yarn you’ll need to complete a project from the book. There are kits available for 15 of the book’s 20 patterns, with prices starting at $33 (for the Revirescit Tea Cozy).
These kits are also branded by Sony to be a full Outlander experience, complete with hang-tags and themed tissue paper. By using these kits and the Trendsetter Yarns material, you are guaranteed to get a color and texture that matches the images from the book exactly.
Klein has even offered some Zoom knitting classes during which he teaches patterns from the book, and he says that knitting these pieces together has created a much-needed sense of community. “With everything that’s being thrown at us right now in life, we’re having to spend more time at home. What I’ve heard from everyone that I’ve taught in classes… is it’s an opportunity to be together, to share a goal,” he says.
Speaking of community, Klein is aware of the online Outlander knitting fandom, and he has enjoyed seeing feedback and excitement for the book on social media. He is also aware that some fans were disappointed when the book did not include any crochet patterns — and he has a message for those fans: “I know that it’s in [Sony’s] heads about a possible Outlander Crochet. Will they do it? I don’t know. But they’ve certainly heard that people are interested.”
For now, Outlander Knitting and the companion yarn kits are both available to purchase and enjoy, a perfect at-home activity and a project in which Klein is very proud to be involved.
“You can be knitting on your Outlander while you’re watching Outlander,” he says. “And it warms my heart. I love that it’s a complete circle. “