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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Book Review #4: Aran Knitting by Alice Starmore

Happy End of April! I hear some of my friends back in Wisconsin and Minnesota are still experiencing some snow.....and here I am, sitting in our back room, curtains shut, little window air conditioner turned on, Little Man asleep on the floor, because it's hot today. It's supposed to get hotter tomorrow and Thursday...then back down into the low to mid 70s, which is normal from what I understand.

Anyway, with last week being Knitting & Crochet Blog Week, I didn't get a chance to get my book review in OR my yarn review. Today, if you can't tell by the title, is the book review. I hope to get the yarn review for April done sometime by the end of the week, maybe early next week...look for that :)

The book(s) in question are books that I have purchased (or someone bought me for a Christmas and/or birthday present) for my own fibery library. I have been given no money or other non-monetary forms of payment for my book reviews. The reviews are based on my own experience(s) and opinion(s) and may not necessarily coincide with the thoughts and opinions of other fiber enthusiasts (though they certainly may). I may also throw in some other fun information. We'll see where we end up...

And there's my disclaimer.

Moving on......

Today, I have a rather large, fun book (in my opinion). I bring you.....

Photo from Amazon

The Basics
Author: Alice Starmore
Publisher: Dover Publications (Sept. 2010 ed.)
Paperback, 224 pages
Language: English
Cover Price: $29.95

Alice Starmore is Scotish artist, designer, and photographer. She became a professional designer in 1975, won a Winston Churchill Fellowship three years later and studied textile arts in Norway, Finland, and Sweden. Her first book, Scandinavian Knitwear, was published in 1981. Aran Knitting, the book above, was first published in 1997 by Interweave Knits but has since been expanded and updated. The updated version (which I own, will be reviewing, and which is pictured above) was published in 2010. To date, she has 18 published books (including the two editions of Aran Knitting), has written several articles for Threads Magazine, done designs, articles, and a video on Fair Isle knitting for Vogue Knitting, and has written articles and done photography for Dragonfly News (UK). Her (knitting) website is Virtual Yarns. Some of her photography can be found here and here.

Sooooo.....what, exactly, is Aran Knitting? Ha, I'm not going to tell you. You're going to have to buy the book and learn it for yourself (by the way, a very good description is on page 46)! The first part of the book (remember, I own the 2010 edition) is filled with historical knowledge, photographs, and stories. It includes a section on "museum pieces," which are from the National Museum of Ireland. Chapter 2 is specific charts of Aran patterns (but only the charts themselves, not put together in a sweater or other garment). Chapters 3 and 4 are specific garments (sweaters, shawls, etc.) - Classic Aran and Celtic Designs. Chapter 5 is about designing your own Aran sweater and how to take care of it.

This is not a book to be taken lightly. It has a lot of information and while I love learning the historical aspects of Aran knitting, some people just aren't going to care. That's fine. Something else I noticed is that it doesn't have a "how to" section where the author discusses things like casting on, knitting, purling, decreasing, or increasing. This book was done with the understanding that the person using it would have some clue how to do all these things...and do them without guidance. This is not a book for a beginner. To be honest, I'm not even sure I should own it...but I do. I actually kind of like that this book doesn't have that information. I think that having that information in this book would be overkill. I think if you're willing to delve into Aran knitting of any sort, you probably have a clue how to cast on, bind off, increase, and decrease. Or you're just really ambitious...and if you're really ambitious and you're using this book, you're probably going to look something up if you don't know it.

What else I love about this book are that all the different charts are there without garments attached so if you want to mix and match for, say, a shawl, you can just adjust the charts as you need to. I actually had a baby hat design in my head using one of the charts from this didn't come to fruition (yet) but I loved that I could just use the chart and not have to separate it from the other charts.

So, in a way, this book is part historical knitting and history in general, part stitch dictionary, and part collection of patterns.

And I LOVE it. I haven't used it nearly as often as I should. Perhaps it's because I know how long Aran knitting will take me...(and how much concentration I may require).

I don't really have anything bad to say about this book except that it's kind of heavy with information, even if you're not a beginner.

So.....go out and buy it, you know you want to (pssssst, you can buy it on Amazon for about $20). 

1 comment:

  1. It's always great to have a knitting book you absolutely. Sometimes it's like when CDs were purchased, you like maybe half the songs/patterns and feel you wasted some money.