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Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  550 ratings  ·  29 reviews
Scotland's Fair Isle has long been known for its distinctive, stranded-color knitting. A designer from the region, Alice Starmore explores the history and techniques of the art and provides instructions for over 15 of her own knitwear designs. 100 color photos.
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published October 1st 1988 by Taunton Press
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4.41  · 
Rating details
 ·  550 ratings  ·  29 reviews

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Dec 12, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reference
This is a reprint of the 1988 edition (with a very small number of modifications), so the models are very alarming - the bouffant mullet on p. 151 in particular. The graph patterns in the pattern library are good, as are the color drawings. Some of the sweater color combinations are heinous. Knitters taking inspiration from nature need to be reminded that just because 12 colors appear together in a field of flowers or a sunset doesn't mean they will look attractive in a sweater. Anyone attemptin ...more
Jan 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book is regarded as the definitive volume on Fair Isle knitting. Starmore begins with a history of the art, then discusses the motifs, colours and techniques. The book contains patterns and motifs for designing your own garment. This book is definitely not for beginners.

It is out of print. Some copies are selling for $200 or more.
Melissa Ennis
Nov 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: knitting
The colors! The patterns! The precision! She's a master -- to admire from afar. I'm a plain garter on big needles kind of knitter, so these are not my kind of projects. But terrific knit-porn!
Apryl Anderson
Unless I've missed one, (and I rather doubt it), this is the very best book on the Fair Isle knitting technique. The "brief" history is more complete and to-the-point than others (although only to the 1980s, of course), and the chapters on pattern, color, and technique give dependable structure to theory. The wardrobe of patterns is rather limited, but ample enough after her logical discourse on the geometric progression of the OXO framework. Don't like what you see? Change it up and make it you ...more
May 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
Excellent reference for Fair Isle knitters. Includes history, how-tos, patterns, and garment designs. Color ways and silhouettes are dated but can serve as inspiration. Alice Starmore is the expert on Fair Isle.
Jan 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have had this book for many years. It is a valuable resource for knitters who what to start fair isle knitting or for those who have been doing it for years.
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Patterns are dated but the information was excellent. Highly recommended.
Louise Armstrong
Nov 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book has a nice tone, I did enjoy reading it, but it kind of fell between two extremes for me: I didn't like the patterns for garments (80s sacks) and the instructions/explanations at the beginning of the book were a bit too brief. Interesting, accurate, but it's as if the author knows so much she doesn't know what a beginner needs to know.

Having said that, it's very hard to pitch an instruction book to suit everyone and this book touches on everything you need to know. There are good patte
Sara Jamshidi Zelenberg
Dec 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
This might be one of the most interesting knitting books I have ever picked up. It basically covers everything you ever wanted to know about fair isle knitting from its history, to the basics of the technique, to some sample fair isle patterns. The book is originally from 1988, so you may not like the sample garment patterns provided at the end; however, it gives you more than enough to make your own.

Also, while it goes through some of the basics of knitting, it's probably not appropriate for t
K.V. Johansen
What I particularly like about this, in addition to the history of Fair Isle knitting and the very, very thorough discussion of techniques, is the section 'Design your own gansey', which gives practical and detailed directions for designing a traditional Fair Isle sweater to your own choice of patterns, using your own gauge (tension) for the yarns you've chosen. I had a lot of Fair Isle books out of the library while revising, ripping, and rethinking my sweater, and this is the one I bought, in ...more
Jan 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
My favorite Fair Isle knitting book. It was first published in 1988, and republished in 2009. It is a wonderful book that goes into a brief history on Fair Isle, which includes how the early knitter was inspired. For instance, the heads of milk-churns plungers were translated into knitting patterns and incorporated into sweaters. It also includes chapters on Color and Technique. It includes patterns, and a chapter on designing your own pattern. My favorite part of the book is the Pattern Library ...more
Leslie Goddard
May 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding knitting book -- the essential book on Fair Isle knitting. Starmore doesn't just provide 14 terrific fair isle patterns, she overs the history of Fair Isle, the development of stitch patterns, provides an extensive compilation of patterns, and a lengthy chapter on designing your own cap, tam, and gansey. It might well be overwhelming for a beginner, but that's not the point. This is a strikingly comprehensive and exceptionally well-researched study of everything you might want to kno ...more
Feb 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010, craftycrafty
An excellent combination of Fair Isle history, a stitch dictionary, technique info, and patterns. The patterns aren't particularly the highlight of the book for me (boxy sweaters and such), but there's plenty of more modern Fair Isle-type patterns online. The stitch dictionary is, I think, what makes it one of the most treasured Fair Isle books around. There's something about knitting with motifs developed two hundred years ago that just feels good.
Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting is a must-have resource for the serious knitter. The writing is engaging and witty, and I loved reading about the history of Shetland and Fair Isle—the place, not just the technique. I will definitely add this book to my permanent collection since I borrowed this copy from the library.
Sep 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I borrowed this book from the library originally but quickly realized I had to own it for the vast wealth of knowledge it contained. My source of fair isle inspiration. The charts are clear and concise. The historical background fascinating. I find myself drawn to it again and again. I am sure I will have to buy a new copy one day because I will eventually wear this one out from use.
Jul 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I read the new edition of this book. The patterns included in it are somewhat dated but the information in the book itself is fantastic. There is lots of information on the history and practice of fair isle knitting and pages and pages of charts for you to do your own designs. This is one of the books that I borrowed from the library and then immediately bought for myself.
Jan 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: knitting
I really enjoyed this book for the history of Fair Isle as well as the knitting traditions. There is great info on how to design the various patterns and how to incorporate them onto the sweater. One warning: all the knits are styled very, very 80's (mullets! extreme positive ease!)
Apr 24, 2011 rated it liked it
Nice historical and technical information, but suffers from the plague of having been published in the 80's. I'd like to see the updated Dover edition, as in some cases it may be the photographs and the models rather than the sweaters that are so awful.
Sep 04, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Fantastic resource for stranded knitters. Also, a really interesting history of a really interesting part of the world.
May 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
OMg, I want to buy this book! Got it from the library, and it's a fabulous resource for anyone who enjoys stranded knitting.
Ann Johnson Davis
Jul 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: knitting-books
Excellent. Fabulous. Marvelous. Glad I bought mine when it was first published. Now I need to find that dust jacket.....
Oct 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: knitting
the queen of Scottish knitting - a beautiful and informative book that inspires a knitter to fair isle greatness! It's too bad that this book is now out of print.
Mar 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: knitting
Now that I've read this book, I understand why people rave about it. It is a fantastic summary of Fair Isle knitting.
Aug 31, 2009 added it
Shelves: knitting
I am interested in seeing the new edition of this book.
Mar 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crafts, readin2010, owned
Excellent resource for the history of Fair Isle knitting as well as many patterns and designs. I borrowed this book from the local library and now have it on a "wish list" to own it someday.
Aug 06, 2015 added it
Shelves: knitting
Cat Fithian
This is a great collection of patterns. If/when I get around to doing a Fair Isle item, I will want to refer back to this, a classic resource.
Aug 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing, but Starmore is always amazing.
rated it really liked it
Jul 16, 2012
rated it it was amazing
Nov 26, 2013
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Alice Starmore (née Matheson) was raised in a traditional, Gaelic-speaking Scottish fishing village. She began knitting as a child, studying the folk knitting traditions of her native Scotland. Starmore later expanded her textile studies, traveling in Scandinavia in the late 1970s on a Winston Churchill Fellowship.

Broadly recognized as one of the world's authorities on Fair Isle and other folk kn