BTH-SWEATER'S FOR MEN Hardcover – Oct 14 1989
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Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
There are rare elements of some of the designs that are 'dated', and I would say in the Rock and Sand pattern, the cowl neck is not currently in vogue for men.
However, the 'dated' elements of the patterns are all easily fixed by an intermediately-skilled knitter. Converting the cowl neck to a V-neck crew on "Rock and Sand" required little more than some thought and a couple of trial swatches to work out the decreases so that the crew neck would lie flat in the context of the angles of the neck opening.
(FYI, on this pattern I also swatched what Philosopher's Wool calls a 'Baltic Braid' technique, along the border between the body and yoke of the sweater where the pattern calls for a course of purls; wasn't aesthetically pleasing--too bulky, at least in worsted weight--so I can save you some work by saying don't bother with that bit of tweaking if you were considering it.)
My brother has happily worn that sweater during the Connecticut winters for the past 5 years or so, and *EVERY* time he wears it out, someone comments to him about what a fantastic sweater it is and wants to know where he got it (at which point he can smugly reply, "Oh, I had it custom knit...")
This is among the less expensive of the out-of-print Starmore pattern books. Personally I think that anyone ready to attempt projects of this complexity can improvise well enough to 'fix' any elements they may see as 'dated'. The Starmore patterns are definitely worth working on not only because of their intrinsic beauty as written, but because of what you will learn about knitting (and especially about color, should you choose a colorwork pattern) as a result of completing them.
My suggestion--see if you can find the modeled finished sweater pics on the web. If two or more of them appeal to you, then buy the book. Handle it carefully (photocopy the pattern you want to use and work from the photocopy to protect the book from damage during knitting), and if you find you aren't knitting the patterns after all, put it back for sale online. You'll get back something in the neighborhood of what you paid for it, if you take care not to damage the book.
I was frankly a bit surprised that this book was not up to AS's usual standards. Her other books are really timeless designs, but this book screams "I was printed in the 80's!!"
Bully for the lady who said in another review that she got a lot of use out of this book. She seemed a bit up in arms about a previous less than favorable review. I , however, really feel that there are better patterns for men's sweaters out there and as Starmore books tend to go for premium prices, I would give this book a pass. Save your money and apply it towards getting Starmores Aran Knitting instead.
Even this book of men's sweaters has a few nice traditional patterns that would be good for any era. The traditional gansey that opens the book is one of these.
However, I was quite shocked at how dated many of the patterns are in this book. As a man, I can say that in the whole book there were maybe only 2-3 sweaters I would ever be caught dead in. My wife was more or less laughing at many of the designs. Obviously each to their own, but be warned that this is not like Starmore's other books of 'timeless' classics.
Also disappointing is that the book is mostly just patterns. Alice Starmore's best stuff -- her instructional writing and knitting history writing -- is not present in this book, making it significantly less interesting than the previously mentioned Fair Isle and Aran Island books.
It is cheaper than other Starmore books, but the lower price reflects an inferior product. Maybe the patterns will be enough for some, but for me, if I am going to spend so much for an out of print book, I want more than just a few good patterns.
UPDATE (2/2/2012): The price for a used copy of this book has dropped considerably since I first wrote the review. The current price of $18, is a pretty reasonable price when you consider that there are at least 2 quality patterns in this book. At the time I wrote the original review, the price was more than $50, which IS too much considering that the majority of the patterns are not up to Starmore's usual quality level.
Alice Starmore continues to amaze me. She just does nothing poorly - ever.
I am very glad that I bought this book in spite of what I had read and been led to believe.
Lars Kristiansen - South Pasadena, CA