Sunday, February 11, 2018


Take a look at any long term knitter's library and you're just about guaranteed to find one or more volumes by Alice Starmore.  She's been an archivist and historian especially for the rich and traditional knitting of the British Isles, with occasional forays into other knitting traditions.

This book is decidedly different.  It is a knitting compendium, full of traditional colourways and techniques.  The masterful designs incorporate beautiful detailing and structural cables which support and refine the garments, however...  the book also includes numerous fables and dreamlike prose vignettes which are haunting and provide backstory for the designs.  The first half of the book includes these stories and 7 virtuoso artistic costumes.  These are stylistic animal themed art pieces (I would call them almost shamanistic).  They are amazing and very detailed and not at all practical (and they are clearly not meant to be so).

The second half of the book carries on with beautifully detailed and wonderfully complex patterns for 11 more practical versions of the costumes from the first half of the book.

I admire the authors for being willing to follow their artistic muse and produce art which doesn't adulterate their vision by trying to be practical and accessible or by pandering to a wider audience.  Make no mistake, the simplest of the designs in the second half of this book are challenging.  Some of the designs (especially the full on costumes in the front of the book) are odd and somewhat unsettling. 

I don't think these patterns will be dated very quickly because I've never seen anything remotely like them.

As always Starmore's use of color, texture and structure are virtuoso.  The yarns are scrumptious and worthy of the designs.

The book is very well named, the designs are bewitching and somewhat eerie. 

Four stars, available in hardback from Dover publications 14th Feb, 2018.

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