Friday, June 8, 2007

Book Review

Aran Knitting
by Alice Starmore

This lovely book is out of print, and is a hot (and expensive!) commodity amongst knitters, so it was difficult to get a hold of. My library doesn't have a copy, so it took some work to get a copy I could borrow through another library system. After finally getting a hold of it, I discovered one page (with charts!) was missing. Oh, the woe! What knitter would do this to another knitter?

The book begins with historical research into the origins of "Aran knitting." Starmore analyzes the Aran sweaters held in the National Museum in Dublin, and through that, is able to prove that Aran knitting developed on the Aran Islands of Ireland in the mid-20th century as a commodity to sell off-island for money. (Legends have held that it is an ancient practice, with family patterns, and that the patterns of the sweaters were used to identify the bodies of sailors who died at sea. This was blarney, but apparently good for sales).

Starmore was one of the first (if not the first) to develop methods for Celtic knotwork-style cabling (as opposed to just diamond-patterns and simple twisted cables), which she outlines in this book. The book then contains a a number of beautiful patterns for cabled sweaters and hats, with gorgeous photography taken on location in Ireland (see pics from the book here).

I find it a great shame that it is out of print, and I understand that copyright disputes will probably keep it that way, as I'd really like to own a copy. But I did copy the charts and am now swatching some of them for an Aran-style bag I intend to make. Out of tweeded blue Donegal wool, natch!

Some other knitting books that I'm enjoying and would happily recommend:

For cabling:
220 Aran Stitches and Patterns by Harmony Guide Staff, Collins, and Brown
Inspired Cable Knits by by Fiona Ellis
Cables Untangled by by Melissa Leapman

For lace (my new passion):
Folk Shawls by Cheryl Oberle
Traditional Knitted Lace Shawls by Martha Waterman

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