Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Why Should Knitting Remind Me of Robin Hood?

Knitting reminds me of Robin Hood.

I bet you didn't see that one coming.

As strange as it sounds, there's a real association for me. Knitting feels like a "winter sport" and last December I learned how. . . . OK, I'd known the basic stitch since I was a girl in scouts, but when all you can do is knit an unending rectangle, the options are fairly limited. So, when I took on purling, binding off, casting on, socks, hats, even sweaters, worlds opened up. (No, I wasn't knitting kelly green tights -- we're not to the Robin Hood association quite yet. Hang in there). So, I knit until about April when it was too hot and I set those needles down for a long hiatus, and hadn't thought about it much until I met up with my knitting-friend recently who wondered what project I was on.

Shame and guilt can be a great motivator. I realized it had been too long and got back to work. (I'm making a beautiful purple hemp light sweater. It is still 90 out after all). Immediately thoughts of Robin Hood came into my mind. (Why??? The long skinny needles reminiscent of arrows or something?)

Nah, last winter when I was a bit knit-obsessed, I was also a bit Robin-obsessed. I spent a great many evenings with Robin Hood in the dvd player and a project on my lap. Each seemed to bolster the other. And for some odd reason they went together well. Maybe because this Robin Hood series, which aired for 3 seasons and can sometimes be found on BBC America, is light enough on plot details that looking away from the screen fairly often didn't impact my ability to follow the story. Or maybe because knitting gave me a place to put my eyes whenever gory images needed to be avoided. I think creating clothing also seemed particularly apropos for a show in which the costumes were a rich, funny, creative and inspired part.

Beyond the costumes and the knitting pragmatics this series is enjoyable as a great quasi-modernized Robin Hood idea. It's not your typical take on the legend and is a bit uneven, but overall, funny, beautifully filmed, exciting, well-acted, and definitely worth watching if you enjoy period drama of the middle ages but aren't too concerned about the details.

There is the hilariously despicable Sheriff of Nottingham, played deliciously by Keith Allen. And speaking of delicious, Richard Armitage's voice alone is worth the price of admission; he is a wonderfully surly Guy of Gisborne usually dressed in a fair amount of leather.
The one problem I had with the show, is that I was always rooting for Marian and Guy -- who made a much better couple than that sappy Robin/Marian combo, but, alas, though willing to depart in great measure from traditional plot lines, the writers just wouldn't give me that.

Jonas Armstrong is a young, sweet sort of Robin and his band of merry men, which includes some merry women (yes, this is a modern take on the middle ages) is funny, especially delightful "Much", played by Sam Troughton.  I also enjoy spunky Marian who -- and I'm so thankful that British film and television cast such interesting women -- is beautiful, but not flawless and emaciated. She is so much more interesting for her curves and her style and her beautiful round eyes.

If you want to start with an excellent episode, "For England" (Season 2, Episode 6) is my favorite. It has an all around good plot with humor, surprises, powerful moments and some of the best Guy/Marian scenes.

I doubt anyone will ever displace Errol Flynn in my mind as the quintessential Robin in the perfect adaptation of the stories. But, to its credit, this production doesn't really try. It is striking its own ground as a quirky, funny, not at all faithful television series.

Happy Knitting.

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