Many knitters are probably already aware of the Starmores. For those who aren’t, Alice Starmore is a renowned Fair Isle colorwork and Aran sweater designer, with many books and other patterns to her name. Jade Starmore is her daughter, also a designer and artist. Together they run Virtual Yarns a site where you can purchase their books, yarn, and pattern kits.
Their most recent effort is Glamourie, which came out just last month. This book is very unlike previous Starmore books in a lot of ways, and has consequently kicked up more than a little controversy. Previous books were strictly pattern books, with maybe a little atmospheric
blather narrative about the lochs and the glens and so on to sell the sense of place. The difference in this book is that maybe half of it is stories about mythical creatures and pictures of models in fabulous, fantastic knitted outfits that you cannot have the patterns to. The rest is patterns for adaptations from the costumes that you can have. This has left some people quite bitter, while others are in raptures about the book and the available patterns anyway.
When this book was first announced, I was all about it and immediately put it on my Amazon wishlist. Then the price of the book was added to the listing ($60), and I took it off my wishlist. Then I saw some of the advance pictures of the costumes, and back on the list it went. Then I read some of the first online reviews/comments, complaining that the included patterns are boring – off again. And so on, until I decided to wait until I could get a look at an actual copy for myself and decide then. Lo and behold, today it appeared in my local Barnes & Noble. After a brief flip through the patterns section, I took the leap and bought it. Honestly, the fact that my B&N membership and a coupon brought the price down by about $20 was a big factor in that decision. $60 is a lot of money for a knitting book with not that many patterns in it, though in fairness this is a beautifully photographed and designed book, with some truly inspirational images and knitting in it.
The costumes are at once the thing that makes this book magical and the thing that makes it frustrating. They are gorgeous and complex and stunning. At the same time, they are not something that most people are going to actually make or wear. Although I have to say I would wear the Selkie costume as is, and possibly also the Cailleach and Eagle patterns with some very slight alterations.
For the most part, the included patterns are slightly more down-to-earth interpretations of the costumes’ themes and ideas. If you have not already seen the images, here is the Costumes page on Virtual Yarns. And here are the Designs. See? When you put them next to each other, the designs do look kind of boring. At the same time, I don’t know where I would wear the Raven outfit. Work? Out for drinks? Probably no. They are there for inspirational purposes.
So bottom line, if you are going to purchase this book, be very aware of what you are getting, and make sure it’s what you are going to be happy with. For myself, it’s a lovely book that I believe I will get a lot of use out of. There are patterns to knit there, and dreams to dream as well!