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Alice Starmore's Book Of Fair Isle Knitting
by Alice Starmore

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Melinda Everett

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In preparation for some multi-color knitting, I ordered this book and have found it to be a treasure of information. Starmore begins by giving a brief history of the Shetland Isles, one of which is Fair Isle.  She discusses the existing theories of the origins of Fair Isle knitting, and continues the discussion with her own theory, which is very convincing and brilliant in my opinion.  She ends the history chapter with the current state of the knitting industry in Shetland.  Subsequent chapters include Pattern, Color, and Technique, all of which are filled with interesting tidbits on the use of the elements of Fair Isle knitting.  Each of these chapters also include
explanations on the "rules" of Fair Isle knitting with regard to the design elements (pattern, color, technique).
In the chapter Pattern, she discusses different types of borders, peeries, seeding, and large Fair Isle Patterns,
to name a few.  There is even a Pattern Library taken from her own personal collection.  In the chapter Color,
she discusses basics and shows examples of nature-inspired color/pattern work.  She is a gifted photographer as
well as knitter/designer, and the pictures are beautiful.  The Technique chapter includes the cable-edge cast on,
directions for [two-handed] stranded knitting, and the basics of both Continental and English methods.  Other topics include increases and decreases using patterning, steeks, buttonholes, and joining. Finally,
the rest of the book is filled with patterns for men, women, and children; they are mostly ganseys, but a tammy,
mitten, and glove set is also included.  The diagrams for the basic gansey and cardigan plans are wonderfully explained. If you don't have much experience knitting garments, you will find these instructions clear and logical.  If you have knitted sweaters and other garments, you will appreciate the information about traditional Shetland circular knitting and sweater construction. Throughout the book, Starmore conveys the qualities associated with the women who originated Fair Isle knitting--hard-working, persevering, practical, and emphasizes how the character of the Shetland people flows into the character of their craft.  This is perhaps the most valuable point I take from her book. Starmore's writing and instructions are clear and very understandable.  What a wonderful book!