Downton’s New Season with Vicki Square

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PieceWork’s special issues—The Unofficial Downton Abbey Knits—were published in 2013 and 2014

We asked Vicki Square, author and knitwear designer, to share her thoughts on the new and final season of Downton Abbey. Spoiler alert: Details of the first four episodes are below.

I welcomed Downton Abbey as if dearest friends had come to stay for an extended visit. Settling in for the final season, I excitedly anticipated seeing resolution with some things and seeing new horizons and possibilities with other things.

Season Six opened with a hunt. A beautiful landscape with neutral colors under a blue sky accented with brilliant red hunting coats on some of the riders was the opening gambit—a hallmark of the Downton Abbey series.  Panoramic views of palatial grounds or a mist-enshrouded enchanting view of the Dowager Duchess’ stone house are the surroundings we have come to love; they provide the rich tapestry of background for the lives of those we enjoy sharing.2014 jak

Vignettes of all the happenings at Downton are filled with intrigue, disappointment, frustration, unmet expectations, surprises, and joy! It was lovely to see Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson get married, although I confess I thought it was a bit out of character for Mrs. Hughes to get her knickers in such a twist over where the reception was going to be held. The decorated schoolhouse, her venue choice, held tables of fabulous looking food…I want recipes!

With emotions closer to the surface, Anna and Mr. Bates are trying to have a child; Anna as yet is unable to maintain the pregnancy. Sweeping in with true friendship and compassion is Lady Mary! She whisks Anna off to her London doctor, and it looks like things are pointed in a positive direction now. For me, that is wonderful, as I just don’t think I can take one more huge tragedy for the Bateses.

Edith is more calm and content, with the backbone to take charge of her publishing house in London. Although there is much drama surrounding her daughter, Marigold, a century of farming at Eutree for the Drews concluded, making way for the possibility that Mr. Mason will come to Eutree and start a new chapter of tenant farming. He’ll be closer to Daisy that way. I’m hoping he can show her how to offer her dissenting opinions with some decorum.

Lord Grantham looks at his daughter Mary with new eyes and appreciation for her ability to run the whole estate. Mary remains a bit of a paradox, with some of her mean-spirited quips coming right alongside her genuine caring for others in her inner circle.

Of course, the stunningly fabulous clothing is a visual feast. Elegant fabrics with fluid draping create beautiful silhouettes, at once at home in the time period of 1925 as well as something to emulate for contemporary design so we can enjoy it today. Silk chiffons and taffetas are embellished liberally with beadwork. Kimono shapes for tops over dresses or for coats are key features during this decade of fashion. Lady Mary showcases a stunning crocheted sweater. Exquisitely coiffed hair provides the final polish; all the ladies of Grantham wear it well.

Of course, what would Downton Abbey be without the Queen of the One-Liner, Violet, the Dowager Duchess? In this British culture of proper behavior, Violet manages to put people in their places with a look or a phrase that encourages no response. Violet asked Isobel, “Do you ever get cold up there on the moral high ground?” One has to pay attention, as Violet is full of these sorts of evaluations of life!

We all love Downton Abbey, and will be sad to see it end. But we can continue the companionship by wearing our knits inspired by the beautiful fashions of a time past.

Savor Downton!

Vicki Square, Guest Blogger

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