Alice Starmore's Glamourie

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 20 Mar 2018

Member Reviews

This is the strangest craft book ever, composed as it is of at least three books in one.

Jade Starmore is a fantasy author. Alice Starmore, her mother, is a costumer and knitter. Together they have designed this book which is short stories, knitted and sewn costumes to match, and knit patterns that echo, but do not reproduce, the much more elaborate costumes. And, the book is a tribute to Scotland's seacoast.

Ok. I don't read much high fantasy and I certainly don't dress up in elaborate evocations of birds and sea anemones, nor do I wear knitted shrugs and ponchos. So this book doesn't offer much for me personally. But I think it might pique the interest of a budding costumier, if you happen to know one.

Costuming begins with dressing up for special occasion, and moves onward through competitive reproduction of classical garments with numerous side paths into theatre and film (think Outlander wedding dress). Here we are taking the idea from the stories, developing them into a proper costumes as if we were performing, and then simplifying the designs for everyday use (more or less, I don't want knitted feathers around my neck, and a peplum would be unfortunate on my hips). 

Ms Starmore Sr.'s costumes are amusing, tending toward deeply dramatic jackets over billowing skirts, all in the colors of fantasy – blues, smoky grey, plum – with embroidered or felted accents. Knitted hats and helmets evoke birds and insects. The everyday patterns that go with them are  disappointing in that some of the costume ideas that I enjoyed and might have considered using – like the elaborate collar and sleeves on the Mountain Hare jacket (more tortoise than hare, really), the full body pattern of the Otter costume, and especially the glorious Selkie offset button jacket with the cable on the collar reverse, have been replaced with mundane shapes, except for the fake feathers.

The book cover is particularly disappointing. Rather than one of the more dramatic costumes or an elaborate design like the Selkie jacket, the cover is the Mountain Hare sweater and hat, the most boring and colorless of the knitting patterns.

Unless you have the perfect gift recipient in mind, I'd look at this book in a shop before ordering.
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We wIll definitely be adding this amazing book to our collection! It is beautiful and I cannot wait to see it in real life (or, in print).
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AMAZING BOOK! It expired before I could finish it, sorry for the delay. I had a death in the family.
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Alice Starmore is a star of the knitting community, and there's a reason why. Her designs are inspired, beautiful and one-of-a-kind. I loved reading the stories behind the designs and the photography is just gorgeous. A must have boom to inspire any knitter.
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Just wonderful! The knitwear  collection is stunning and Alice never cease to amaze us. Please continue your awesome work!
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Well....I've added a new word to my vocabulary : "Glamourie"!
Shades & patterns inspired by lichens on rocks, all beautifully photographed and presented; but designs more for gazing at, perhaps, than seriously intended for knitting - or for wearing...
I can see this being more of a 'coffee-table book' than a working book of patterns. (Which isn't to say it doesn't still have a place : realistically, I am more likely to savour the photos in Tudor Roses than to actually knit them - but I do love looking at them...)
Having read the introduction, I understand the reasoning behind such a volume. However, if I am investing in a book of knitting patterns, I do expect to at least intend to make some of them. These garments really do need the special yarns, & fabrics of the accompanying clothes, to look their best.
I appreciated the saga of the 3 years taken to do the photographs, being included at the end - a fitting closure to a book from the heart.
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Really nice patterns.  Definitely for the advanced knitter.
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If you think you know Alice Starmore's work, get ready to learn more about her amazing design skills. Most serious knitters will be familiar with her talent via her well-respected traditional colorwork knitting patterns, mostly for sweaters. Beautiful but no-nonsense knitting patterns. This book shows a completely different side of her knitting & design talent, as well as the stories and photography by her daughter Jade Starmore. I'm not usually a fan of knitting books that are largely inspirational, filled with outlandish garments that push the boundaries but would never be worn in real life.

This book contains fanciful costumes inspired by Scottish mythology around the Isle of Lewis where the Starmores are from. They showcase Alice's talent in creating knitted structures and textures. These are not simple sweaters by any means. The photographs (by Jade) are stunning, to put it mildly. Each design is accompanied by a story and design notes. Having studied Gaelic and Scottish culture in the past, I found the stories really fascinating.

Then I think the icing on the cake is that the last part of the book contains patterns for more realistic garments related to the art pieces in the beginning of the book. This gives the book practical value beyond the artistic appreciation.

This is a well-executed design collaboration showcasing the flexibility and creativity of knitting. Highly recommended whether you're the type who prefers art-for-art's-sake knitting design or patterns for things you can actually wear. The stories and photos sweeten the deal.
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Alice Starmore's Glamourie is one of a kind.  In this book, full of beautiful photographs and amazing knitted works, you'll also find stories very similar to Scottish folklore.   The knitted pieces in here are mostly costume - type pieces with some sweaters in the mix.  This book is worth buying for the photography alone.   There are several folklore stories, and the patterns that coordinate with the characters.  The instructions are well written and detailed, however these are not patterns for beginners.  My favorite is the Selkie costume, a coat with cables, a high neck, and some beautiful knitwork that makes contrasting cuffs and neckline, if desired.   I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves folklore or likes to make interesting knitted pieces.
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As always with the gifted Alice Starmore, this is a most beautiful collection. Her designs are not just imaginative and fanciful, they are beyond the point of no return!
Also, her knitting directions and charts are very clear and can be followed with no problems.
My first introduction to her work was with the Aran Knitting book years ago, and I successfully knitted two of those sweaters!
I recommend this to any intermediate-to-advanced knitter.
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I received a copy of this book from NetGalley to read in exchange for a fair review.  I have been a fan of Alice Starmore’s knitting books since the late 1980’s. Her books serve as not only a source of well written instructions for beautiful knitwear but also as a spark to your imagination.  Her books give you ideas. Alice Starmore’s Glamourie is no exception, The photographs are wonderful and amazing, the patterns are well written and and easy to follow but this book is the much more. I loved the concept of illustrating the folktales with costumes and then adapting the ideas from the fantastic costumes with knitwear that can be worn everyday but still keeps a bit of the fantastic. These are not quick or easy projects but the designs are timeless and well worth the effort involved to create something special.  Publishing Date February 14, 2018  #AliceStarmore’sGlamourie    #NetGalley
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The patterns in this book are inspired by traditional stories, giving each piece a rich story and background. I really enjoyed the stories. The patterns are absolutely gorgeous. I probably wouldn't knit many of them, but I appreciate the work that went into each design. The amount of detail and time that went into this book makes it a wonderful addition to any knitting or folk tales library.
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This is the closest I have ever seen a knitting book come to being a work of art. I am an intermediate knitter but an ambitious one, and seeing the heights of achievement a real genius of the art can achieve is hugely inspiring. Lovely photos, thoughts on inspiration and practicalities, and some really tempting scaled-down versions for projects — this is the craft book I’ve been longing for.
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It is a very dramatic Alice Starmore book. If you know her patterns you know her works have a high degree of difficulty. While I enjoyed seeing the very dramatic versions of the knitwear followed by more easily doable patterns, it did seem a shame that we didn't get patterns for both sets.
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Alice Starmore’s Tudor Roses featured patterns inspired by the Tudor women, each of which is introduced by a short text, told from the point of view of that women. It’s a really nice idea and the short texts made me curious enough to look up some of the women. (Because my knowledge of the Tudors begins with Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived and ends with knowing that Elisabeth I existed). Glamourie does something similar: every design is introduced with a short story about the creature that inspired the design, written by Jade Starmore. Additionally, Alice Starmore talks about her creative process behind the design and some of her own thoughts about the creature or her own experiences with them.

Here’s the thing: Jade Starmore’s fables are…nice. Cute, a bit cheesy and full of important morals like everything must die, nothing always stays the same or having your heart broken is painful. Now I’m not criticising the lack of literary merit in the intro-texts of a knitting book but they are a part of this book. And they are not that great.

Meanwhile, Alice Starmore’s notes about her inspiration read a lot like those food-blogs where you have to suffer through the blogger telling you all about the first time they ever experienced snow when really, all you want is that Christmas cookie recipe they promised. I do not care about any person enough to be interested in their experience of completely ordinary things. And I definitely do not care what the ravens near Starmore’s house use to built their nests.

But this is a knitting-book after all, and the important thing about that are the patterns and the photos. Because I have a few knitting books with very atmospheric photos that match the theme of the book but you barely recognize any details about the item because it’s just a tiny part of a blurry photograph. Or the model is wearing so many other fancy clothes and the background is so busy that you can’t really focus on what should actually be the focus of the picture.

This is definitely not the case in Glamourie.  The photos are gorgeous. All are taken outside in front of a simple background (the sea, a field or a big rock) that perfectly matches the garment, without taking attention away from it. The same goes for the clothes the models wear with the knitwear: they perfectly compliment them but never distract from the actual garment. There’s also a lot of pictures of the designs, giving you the possibility to see them from more than one angle and from closeup and further away. Some designs are even shown in two different colours, which gives you an opportunity to actually see how that looks like instead of just imagining it.

Now for the patterns… Well, first, you have to know that Glamourie is divided into two parts: Costumes and Designs. The costumes are directly inspired by the stories (and you can have a look at them here) and are mostly…well costumes. Very few people would wear any of these things in everyday life. The costumes do not come with patterns. They are in the book to show off gorgeous photographs and some mediocre writing.

The designs are what Starmore describes as costumes ‘with the usual constraints applied to them’. They come with a pattern and are more wearable than the costumes. And yes they are also very beautiful (you can see them here). I can also understand, that adapting some of the costumes (especially the Raven and the Lapwing) for different sizes would be hard and that not too many people would want to knit something so complex when it has very limited use as everyday wear. On the other hand, there are certainly a lot of people who would want to knit a nice cabled sweater, a pretty colourwork cardigan or a fancy poncho.

Only: Glamorie costs around £42/$60. Do you want to pay that amount for a total of 11 patterns of nice cabled sweaters, pretty colourwork cardigans, and fancy ponchos? I’m not even saying that it’s not worth that amount. Because I see those photographs and all the work that has obviously been put into the costumes, the designs and the photographs themselves (a few of the clothes the models are wearing with the knitted items are also handsewn). They mention that this book took three years of work and I believe that immediately. But at the same time: I just checked and if I put my last eight Ravely purchases together I’ll end up with slightly under $60. And two of those were actually not single patterns but whole books (one with 16 patterns, one with 4). So that gives me more than twice the amount of patterns for less than the price of this book. In other words, I can go and buy a book with nice patterns and pay for those patterns and lots of pretty things surrounding those patterns or go on Ravelry (or in my LYS) and look at some nice single patterns or perhaps a different book with nice patterns that costs perhaps half of that. And I’m much more likely to do the latter because no matter how gorgeous the photographs are, I can’t do more than look at them and say ‘well aren’t they gorgeous?’. And while I do occasionally spend money on things that are pretty and nothing more, this is still a bit much for a book that will mostly be closed on a shelf somewhere.
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What an absolutely fascinating and interesting book. Set on the Isle of Lewis in the New Hebrides, the photos and presentation  beautifully depict the rugged coastline.  
The costume designs magnificent, each with its own  story of creation, and set in it own piece of folklore, beautifully written, and very moving in typical Gaelic style..
The second part of the book is filled with pared down versions of the fabulous costumes, with well written knitting instructions, there are many I would like to make.
A very beautiful and inspiring  book, from a very creative author.
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Glamourie is a stunning book, and like no knitting book I have ever seen.  This collaboration between Alice and Jade Starmore is a book of fairy tales, a book of costume inspiration, and finally a book of unusual and beautiful knitting patterns.  I learned to knit with Alice Starmore’s “Aran Knitting”, “Book of Fair Isle Knitting”, and “Charts for Colored Knitting.”  She inspired me to design and knit my own Fair Isles while I was an ambitious advanced beginner.  With Glamourie, Starmore has totally reset my bar with respect to knit construction and design.  Starmore’s always fabulous color sense joins with knitting agility and whimsy to create brand new shapes and flourishes.
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This is a beautiful book.  Alice Starmore is an amazing designer.  I love the "costumes" and tales.  The stories are wonderful to read.  It is an amazing look book. I am sure it would be a stunning coffee table book with all the exquisite photography.  

I confess that I was a bit disappointed when I realized that there is a section of costumes that don't have patterns in the book.  I fell hard for the Cailleach costume while flipping pages.  Given some of the patterns in Tudor Roses, it didn't dawn on me until I went looking for the pattern that the opening pages are costumes.  I find that many of Alice Starmore patterns are some stunning, "someday" knits.  

As a plus sized woman, I always wish the sizes were bigger.  But most patterns are available in small to XL women's sizes.

I think as long as you want to appreciate the beauty of it, this is a great book.  If you are more focused on a book of patterns, this may not be your cup of tea.  There are some amazing patterns.  But that is only half of the book.
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Take a look at any long term knitter's library and you're just about guaranteed to find one or more volumes by Alice Starmore.  She's been an archivist and historian especially for the rich and traditional knitting of the British Isles, with occasional forays into other knitting traditions.

This book is decidedly different.  It is a knitting compendium, full of traditional colourways and techniques.  The masterful designs incorporate beautiful detailing and structural cables which support and refine the garments, however...  the book also includes numerous fables and dreamlike prose vignettes which are haunting and provide backstory for the designs.  The first half of the book includes these stories and 7 virtuoso artistic costumes.  These are stylistic animal themed art pieces (I would call them almost shamanistic).  They are amazing and very detailed and not at all practical (and they are clearly not meant to be so).

The second half of the book carries on with beautifully detailed and wonderfully complex patterns for 11 more practical versions of the costumes from the first half of the book.

I admire the authors for being willing to follow their artistic muse and produce art which doesn't adulterate their vision by trying to be practical and accessible or by pandering to a wider audience.  Make no mistake, the simplest of the designs in the second half of this book are challenging.  Some of the designs (especially the full on costumes in the front of the book) are odd and somewhat unsettling. 

I don't think these patterns will be dated very quickly because I've never seen anything remotely like them.

As always Starmore's use of color, texture and structure are virtuoso.  The yarns are scrumptious and worthy of the designs.

The book is very well named, the designs are bewitching and somewhat eerie. 

Four stars, available in hardback from Dover publications 14th Feb, 2018.
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Alice Starmore is a celebrity knitting designer known for her complex and lovely patterns as well as her championship of traditional knitting styles of the British Isles. I've made several of her patterns from other books, and look forward to making designs from this book as well. 

But Glamourie is not primarily a book of knitting patterns. As in her previous book, Tudor Roses, the Starmores are illustrating stories with knitted clothing. In Glamorie, traditional folk tales (with knitting added) are illustrated with over-the-top knitted costumes photographed in gorgeous natural settings. 

One of my favorites is the Sea Anemone, a crimson form-fitting dress with a Morticia Adams silhouette which starts with a spiky circlet at the neck and ends in spreading petals on the ground. Many of the costumes are accessorized with striking masks and headpieces. There are copious notes about the costumes, but there are no patterns for these fanciful garments. 

The Knitting Patterns section of the book includes wearable patterns inspired by the original costumes. Most of these patterns are for cardigans or pullovers with special colorwork and textures. There is a traditional boxy Fair Isle cardigan, but most are more modern patterns with feminine shaping. They are dramatic and certainly for advanced knitters, but also very wearable. 

Several are trimmed with embroidery and felted knitted appliques. There is a techniques section that explains how to achieve these effects. 

The instructions use traditional knitting terminology and abbreviations, and there are also charts and schematic diagrams. Most of the patterns are given in small, medium, large, and extra large sizes. Meticulous finishing instructions are given, too, so the knitter can get the same look as the designer. 

This is a beautiful book, and a non-knitter might enjoy it just for the lovely photographs. Experienced knitters will find a special project to treasure.
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