As other reviewers have mentioned this is a very complete approach to Fair Isle and is definitely geared towards those knitters who want to understand the origins and the how-to behind fair isle knitting. The author is an expert, many of her books have been knitting best-sellers who have inspired a following of enthusiasts.
And she does not disappoint. The book starts with a history of Shetland and the Fair Isle with an almost anthropological level of detail but a focus on yarn and knitting. The author discusses how the designs came into existence and how they progressed along the years with illustrated examples. The transition into the pattern section is smooth, because the discussion on design and patterns simply evolves from a more sociological point of view to a more technical one. But it does so in a degree of detail that is rarely attained in knitting books. Rarely will you have a superstar designer like Starmore explain just what the rules are and what constitutes a good design. Not only that but the book diagrams a lot of "building block" elements like peeries and border patterns. Then there are discussions on how to combine building blocks and how to go further. The descriptive work itself is the kind of information that it would take years to gather from many, many diverse sources, and has enough comments from the author to make the book worthwhile to textile experts.
The color section comes with a discussion on colour use, and illustrations as examples for the discussion. There are also photographs of natural inspiration and the designs they inspired, meant to nudge the fledgling designer in the right direction. The technical section concerns itself with the general direction of knitting a traditional fair isle sweater, in the round with steeking. There are illustrations on how to knit English style vs Continental style, how to work stranded knitting, how to make corrugated ribbing, a relatively detailed set of instructions and illustrations on steeks, grafting and making buttonholes. The steeking section is the best I've ever seen on the topic, with a lot of secondary techniques such has how to secure the cut thread to the knitting without using a sewing machine well described and illustrated. So there is a concern on the traditional technique with a focus on how to do things by hand.
Then there is a pattern section, with design choices that now look dated (remember this is a re-edition of a 1988 book) but I think the dated look comes from the colour choices. A wise knitter would simply update the colour choices. There are a lot of boxy sweaters but this owes to the approach of the book that is focused on traditional (and therefore classic) pieces. A really tailored sweater just wouldn't belong in this book. There are sweaters and cardigans for women, two sweaters for men and a men's vest, there is a cardigan set for children and a children sweater. There's also a glove and mitten pattern as well as a tam pattern for adults. Most of the designs are to be knitted in fine gauge yarns, as is to be expected for beautiful fair isle work.
Finally the book ends on a design your own section. The amount of information and technical detail could daunt even a fairly seasoned knitter at first glance. But the amount of information itself, like for instance how to center a pattern, how to make gussets to adjust the underarm section of the gansey, the acurate proportion for that gansey, is very generous. The knitter who wants to take that extra step and make her own pattern needs to be enterprising, but will have the information available. The section also discusses necklines and sleeve shapes and other designs elements, but offers more general advice. Still a very good resource for the aspiring designer who wants a stronger degree of accuracy.
For all the above reasons this is a rich book, and I am very glad Dover chose to re-edit it so it could be made available to more knitters.