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Waiting is the Hardest Part

October 13, 2010

As I wait for yarn to arrive for my next project and for responses on the latest designs submitted for publication, I find myself in a position of having little to talk about. So naturally, I will talk about books.

I mentioned in my last post that I had increased the size of my library a bit lately. Two of my recent acquisitions were Alice Starmore books. I have been reading Starmore for a while but so many of her books are out of print, that I hadn’t purchased many. That changed with the re-release of Aran Knitting.
Aran Knitting: New and Expanded Edition

I have been wanting a copy of this book for several years. I read a library copy from but couldn’t find a used copy for under $250, which just wasn’t in the budget. So I tried to memorize everything in the book and hoped that some day it would be released again. In September, my dreams came true!

The book isn’t your typical book of knitting patterns. It is more an instructional book on the history, and process of Aran knitting. Oh, there are patterns. Beautiful, fabulous, wonderful patterns. But the main focus of the book is to teach you what Aran knitting is and how to design it. The book opens with a chapter on the history of Aran knitting that includes photos of some gorgeous museum pieces. Starmore makes the history of the region and technique come alive. Who know history didn’t have to be boring?

The second chapter, on Aran patterns and technique, is worth the price of the book by itself. Starmore explains all of the different types of stitches commonly used in Aran knitting taking you step-by-step through the Aran design process, including some new information on Celtic knots.

Then just for fun, she adds the spectacular designs. Each one is more beautiful than the last. The photography is breath-taking and the knitwear superb. These are some of my favorite patterns. Ever. Even the names are beautiful – St. Brigid, Maidenhair, St. Ciaran, Eala Bhan.
The book ends with a chapter on designing your own Aran.

Aran Knitting is over 200 pages of sheer knitting genius. It is a must-have for any knitting library. And the Dover price is far more budget friendly than the $250+ that the original version sells for. Thank you Alice for allowing this book to be republished.

While I was in a Starmore mood, I took the opportunity of a sale to add her Alice Starmore’s Book of Fair Isle Knitting to my collection.
Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting

This is another Dover re-publication of one of Starmore’s most popular books. It is arranged in a style similar to Aran Knitting beginning with a bit of history, a thorough study of the technique, followed by a section of her own patterns and ending with a chapter on designing your own Fair Isle. It is loaded with charts for every sort of Fair Isle stitch pattern imaginable. Her instructions on the technique are thorough and clear. I found the chapter on color to be particularly helpful.

Starmore does an excellent idea of illustrating the difference between stranded colorwork and true Fair Isle knitting. Even though the terms are often used interchangeably, they are not the same. She has a fantastic section on the dreaded steek and some of the clearest instructions on underarm gussets I have ever read.

Alice Starmore’s Book of Fair Isle Knitting is another 200-page powerhouse of information worth every penny of the cost (especially when you find it on sale). It too is a must-have addition to your knitting library.

Just so you know, I am not related to Alice Starmore; don’t work for Alice Starmore; have no connection to Alice Starmore whatsoever; never even met her, though I hear she is lovely. I am just an avid fan of her brilliant designs. And Alice, if you are reading this, knitters would also love to have a copy of Tudor Roses too. hint, hint, hint

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 14, 2010 6:44 am

    Awesome stuff!!! AND I love your banner pic :)
    I have not found the Aran book – did you order it online?

  2. October 14, 2010 6:48 am

    Aran Knitting is pretty widely available now. I ordered mine from Amazon but Knit Picks has it on sale right now.

  3. October 15, 2010 6:40 am

    I really love the Eala Bhan pattern. I particularly like the collar on such an aran sweater. :)

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