This has turned into a rather long, rambling back story/context. If you want to scroll down for actual information, please go ahead.
Growing up I had a voracious appetite for reading. I can remember getting special permission to be able to withdraw more than ten library books per week because ten just wasn’t enough. And I don’t mean short stories either, I’m talking about full-sized books. I seem to have read an awful lot of American teen horror because they often featured cheerleaders and prom nights which were pretty alien to me in reality. I’d have loved Buffy - I’m just coming to the end of watching it for the first time round at the age of 31 and know that my younger self would have got very engrossed.
In my teens I moved towards period dramas; I read most of the popular ones but preferred Elizabeth Gaskell above all. In case you’re wondering she is the author of such works as Wives And Daughters, Cranford, and North And South. I loved (and still do) everything about books: mostly the smell.. the smell of a bookshop and the smell of a new book.. I bet I’m not the only one.
These days I hardly read. It’s mostly because of knitting. I can read and knit at the same time, but because I only really do at bedtime I’m usually too sleepy to get very far. Then by the next evening I’ve forgotten what I read the previous evening because I was so tired. It’s really not conducive to getting very far.
Returning to period dramas though: I’ve come to the conclusion that I really love gothic romance period dramas, and most things vampy. I watched the film Brothers Grimm a couple of times and commented on how I like the dusky, misty, yet not-actually-scary sort of feel. Then there was Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which again is a similar thing. I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed both the Blade films and Underworld, oh and not to mention Van Helsing - I realise they’re not necessarily ‘good’ in the quality sense (although Underworld does have Bill Nighy chewing the scenery so it’s worth watching just for that!) but I do really enjoy them.
I must have commented on this to a friend as then when Crimson Peak came out at the cinema we went to see it. I didn’t know what to expect - I really don’t do horror films - but it was fine. Better than fine, actually. A bit bloody and ghostly here and there but ultimately it’s a period drama/gothic romance with the most sumptuous textiles and costuming imaginable, if nothing else! It’s a stunningly beautiful film and not so heavy that I felt like I couldn’t re-watch it.
Anyway... the next notable development was getting a box set of Universal Monsters films - the 1931 Dracula with Bela Lagosi who set a bit of a vampy precendent, and following that I also watched the 1958 Hammer Horror version of Dracula with Christopher Lee looking equally imposing. These films are a totally different ball game - if you’ve not seen them I highly recommend that you do. The Universal Horrors set precedents for how most modern horror film characters are played, but the films are built around atmosphere and script rather than the relentless action and shock value that a lot of films go for now. I think this is a quality most knitters/crocheters appreciate - is it because it’s easier to knit to? Maybe it’s just more relaxing and being knitters/crocheters we appreciate that more?
Last year I went into Waterstones for the first time in a very long time, and being fickle I spotted the new gorgeously-bound collection of classics (most of which are period dramas). I found myself sort-of-slightly collecting them. I picked up a few over the following months, including Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It’s funny, I hadn’t really realised but it is actually a period drama. I thought I really ought to read it - I’ve read the others albeit years ago, and I’ve seen more than one incarnation of Dracula in film format, so I downloaded it to my Kindle (because the book is too precious plus it’s a lot easier to read a Kindle whilst knitting). I’m really sad though because I’m all honesty I am struggling to read it. It’s enjoyable, but on reflection I realise that because I know the basic story already, reading the book is not providing the intrigue evidently required to hold my attention. Looking back, I’ve actually had it happen with a number of other books too. I have basically spoiled them for myself by watching the film/TV versions first. How frustrating is that?!
Weirdly, around about the time I started reading Dracula, I got into conversation with Ruth aka Knitterarium about it and period dramas in general. Maybe I posted on Instagram that I’d bought the book? I’m not sure what happened but we ended up with a yarn/colour combination inspired by this beautiful tome along with my one single (yes, one!) black Tulip that I managed to grow this year. I posted the yarn off to her and left it in her capable hands. That was in... May.. I think? It’s now October - it’ll be Friday the 13th this week, so what better day to release a gothic romance/Bram Stoker’s Dracula -inspired shawl (look out for it on Ravelry)??! Ruth’s probably more organised than me and knew this date would happen ages ago, but to me it feels like magic or a wonderful coincidence. Here’s what the shawl looks like:
Gorgeous, no? Ruth’s daughter is proving a great model too, which must feel really rewarding and add a bit of special-ness to the whole pattern release process. This shawl should be coming to Bakewell Wool Gathering with me later this week, and then next week we should get a delivery of Milburn 4ply in Black Tulip (finally! That’s another very long story), which means I’ll be putting together kits. And.. there’s more... the kits will contain three *actual black tulip bulbs* for you to grow your own! Now is the time of year for planting bulbs in the northern hemisphere; they’ll come up next spring. The strain I’ve chosen - that I HAD to choose - is called Night Queen. That’s just too good to be true, don’t you think?!
(FYI: Australia and New Zealand customers please don’t worry, I won’t send any flora to you)
The other yarns that go with the Black Tulip for this shawl are Milburn 4ply in Autumn Fields, and Titus 4ply in Coal.
If I get *really* organised perhaps we’ll do some sort of book-related giveaway/competition next week; you’ll have to keep an eye out for something happening (if and when we do, I’ll make sure to spread the word).
In the meantime I’m feeling inspired to try reading - not watching! - Bram Stoker’s Dracula again and hopefully this time I’ll get further than Harker getting to Transylvania!!