Strider is a character that is meant to be a surprise.
Nine chapters in, our four hobbit friends find themselves in the Prancing Pony, an inn at a town named Bree which seems to be the first genuinely intimidating bit of the world they’ve encountered. (This despite the fact that this is close enough to home that there are hobbits living in town..) This is their first attempt to go undercover and be unobtrusive, and they fail miserably. Clearly, they are not cut out to be long-distance traveling spies carrying the most dangerous bit of contraband in their world.
Then, to top it all off, this creepy guy is staring at them out of the corner.
The whole point of Strider when you meet him is that he looks like crap. He is old and he lives rough. Despite all the sexy Viggo pictures that pop up when I look him up with Google images, Strider is not supposed to be a pretty guy.
In fact, reading the chapter, you so utterly don’t know what is going on with this guy, or with the black riders, that you aren’t sure if he might not be one of them.
Everything that ends up happening with Strider is one long, gradually revealed, absolutely superlative surprise. In the end, The Lord of the Rings ends up being nearly as much about Aragon reinstating the long-lost kingship of Gondor as about Frodo ditching the Ring, and those two quests really can’t be completed without each other. And Aragorn turns out to be this intensely amazing human being – not the character we identify with, Frodo, the ordinary schlub who turns out to be the chosen one – but a man whose character has been shaped his entire difficult life to take on a mantle he was born for. That’s a story that is difficult to tell in contemporary cinema, with its universally melancholic heroes. But Strider is Jove wrapped in Mars wrapped in Saturn, and those layers take a while to unwrap.
The eponymous “Strider” cowl took a while to unwrap … er, knit … as well, a sort of knitted representation of that outer layer clothing our favorite Ranger with mystery. The stitch pattern was a really interesting one, an artful mixture of eyelets, cables, and ribbing. The eyelets disappear pretty quickly in the density of the fabric, but that doesn’t take away much from the effect.
This pattern has the option of being a shorter cowl, or a longer one that could stretch over the head into a hood. Never one for going halfway, I bought enough yarn to make the longer version, then added another repeat when my row gauge came up short (as it often does; I apparently knit like I have the wrist version of TMJ. Which I might). The last time I made one of these cowl/hood deals, it pulled up in the back when I pulled it over my head, and I found that quite unpleasant. I don’t think I’ll have that problem here.
I don’t really do the “mysterious and cunning” look very well. Let’s try again.
Now I look like a Russian grandmother. But at least that probably means I’m warm.
I used an old discontinued Plymouth yarn simply called “Tweed,” which I picked up on sale at So Original in Olney, MD over a year ago. It is “100% Virgin Lamb’s Wool,” whatever that means. It is very wooly, to be sure, and soft enough for my rustic tastes.
My only regret, really, is that I did the thing on 6s as the pattern recommended, despite using an aran weight wool (heavier than recommended; I didn’t notice until I was committed). My wrists were about ready to stage a strike by the time I was done. It would have worked out fine with 8s and one less pattern repeat widthwise. But I got into the groove of the thing and it got done, with one extra pattern repeat lengthwise to boot!
I doubt I will have much use for it until next winter. But if that one is anything like this one, I will have plenty of need for a warm hood to hide in while smoking a pipe next to a fireplace.