Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting Hardcover – Oct 1 1988
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About the Author
4 Questions with Alice Starmore: An Exclusive Dover Interview
Alice Starmore has a fascinating tale to tell. We spoke to the author of the #1 crafts bestseller Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting about her knitting background, professional start, and more.
Clearly, knitting is a deeply ingrained facet of the culture of Scotland's Outer Hebrides. Did your mother teach you to knit?
My mother taught me to knit when I was very young. She was a dressmaker as well as a knitter and our house was a place of constant creativity. I was also born at a time when most women knitted as a matter of course, and I had three aunts who had been fisher girls in their youth and were experts at making traditional fishermen's gansies.
I understand that your first language is Gaelic — do you still speak it?
Yes I still speak Gaelic. The Isle of Lewis, where I live, is in the Outer Hebrides — the heartland of Gaelic and the only place where you will hear the language in everyday use.
How did you get your start professionally?
I designed a small collection of knitwear in 1975 and successfully sold it in London boutiques. It was featured in a national newspaper and from that small beginning my knitting career evolved in ways that were quite unimaginable to me when I began.
Your books are known and loved around the world, and you've adapted design elements from the textile arts of many countries into your repertoire. Are you still discovering "new" aspects of knitting and fabric arts from other cultures?
I am interested in everything. I find inspiration in all aspects of the world around me. There is enough inspiration in the natural world on my doorstep to last many lifetimes. I am also inspired by art, culture, history, science and music. My own culture features widely in my design work but I have always been interested in other cultures and in other places. My main problem is that I cannot possibly live long enough to produce work from the amount of ideas that come into my head.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Great book. Well thought out. Will be using for most of my fair isle projectsPublished 4 months ago by Megan Cleland
This book was everything I was looking for in Fair Isle knitting patterns. Pages and pages of them. The explanation on how to use colour was the missing piece of the puzzle.Published 9 months ago by Jackie Brymer
Limitless inspiration for your own fair isle designs. The possibilities are endless.I'm making a unique pair of gloves by using the pattern for the gloves but choosing from the... Read morePublished 15 months ago by P. S. Paran
I've bought quite a few knitting books since I started knitting seriously last year, and this is one of the best. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Marie