17 September 2010

Ode to Alice

7 Small Shawls: T - 106 days and counting down.

Sure, I learned to knit when I was a kid. But I didn't knit straight through my whole life. There was a time period - a long one - where I didn't pick the needles up at all. I managed to miss the 90s and the early 00s. It wasn't until I was pregnant with the Bear in 2002/03 and sicker than a dog that I went back to knitting. It was a great way to spend the endless hours of couch time, when I was too sick to my stomach to do much of anything.

After I dug my pathetically small stash out of storage, I did what any one of you would do. I found the closest yarn store. That happened to be Sandi Rosner's place (now closed). And being a book lover, I came home with two that day to start my now gigantic knitting library. One of them was Fisherman's Sweaters by Alice Starmore. When I first lay eyes on it and thumbed through it, I was so excited to find those incredible patterns. And when I got back to my computer, the first thing I did was to look Starmore up and see what else was available. What a surprise I got when I saw prices of $700 and $800 for her books! It led me to dig deeper, finding along the way that Alice, my idol, had spent quite a bit of time in my environs: Sonoma County. And then my research ended at the KBTH list (knitting Beyond the Hebrides) and the whole internet knitting community. The rest is history, but you could say that Alice and the Bear are pretty much responsible for my career in the fiber industry. Isn't it strange how things work out?

The one book of Alice Starmore's that I always wanted most was Aran Knitting. I even almost snagged a copy once at the Interweave hurt books sale. But we were so strapped for money, that even the $20 to buy it was beyond my means. So, although horribly painful, I passed it up. Since then I've gotten other Starmore books, but the holy grail, Aran Knitting, eluded me. Well, let's just say that I wasn't going to spend over $60 for it, so I never bought it.

Then came the re-print of the Book of Fair Isle Knitting, which I snapped up. And then - oh joy of joys - Aran Knitting! Re-printed! I ordered it as soon as I saw it up on amazon.com. And Wednesday it came. Just look!
It has a new cover, but inside is the old Alice Starmore genius. I went to look at my favorite sweater first: St. Brigid.
It is, in my opinion, the most perfect sweater ever designed. Fringe and all. Just look at those incredible cables and that woolly goodness.

And there's a new pattern: Eala Bhan. Isn't it lovely? The fit is sumptuous and the cables are intricately beautiful.
The back is as gorgeous as the front.
What can I say? It's the perfect fangirl moment: the ultimate knitting book is finally, finally in my possession.

But, um, did I mention that in my excitement I may not have been paying very much attention to other things? Again?
I wonder how often Alice rips when she's designing? :sigh:

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Anonymous Beth said...

I wonder how often Alice rips when she's designing?

I have always imgined that Alice's designs arrived in her dreams, fully-formed...

Sigh. My copy is on pre-order and even though I heard today that delivery has been brought forward, it is still not scheduled until early October. That does not however stop me from already stalking eBay in hope of Aran yarn bargains! This is one of those times when I wish that I was a more compact model and required fewer yards to clothe my form... pretty little shawls do not present the same expensive challenges, thank the Knitting Goddess! :-)

The real question is: St Brigid first? or a Na Craga for DH? or just maybe a Fulmar...

10:24 AM  
Anonymous Helen said...

I've got the book on order. But tell me .... looking at those photographs, does it say who designed the skirt. Was it Sandra Murray by any chance?

12:15 PM  
Anonymous dana said...

Aran Knitting was the one Alice Starmore book i did not buy when it was initially released. i had been sorry for that lapse for many years, as i too think that st. brigid may be the ultimate sweater. although i am also very smitten with the oregon fair isle cardigan in the fall colorway.....

now i too have the newly reprinted book, with that extra, gorgeous eala bhan. which to knit first? what yarn? is this a reason to buy special needles? (those signature circs have been whispering to me.)

2:48 PM  
Blogger Jeanne said...

How did I miss this post? LOL

3:36 PM  
Blogger vixstiefel said...

What a wonderful, lyrical post. Just lovely.

8:19 AM  
Blogger Laurie said...

Alice certainly does seem to inspire, doesn't she? I remember buying the Fair Isle book and then spending an entire summer going through sets of colored pencils, drawing elaborate Fair Isle designs. I didn't knit much, but I sure did a lot of coloring! LOL!

10:56 AM  

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