Revelations about Alice Starmore’s Aran Knitting Book




AranKnitting     oldAran

After reading the new intro for this book, I realized that I have have the original 1997 Aran Knitting book. That’s what comes from having way too many knitting/crochet books.

Alice’s comments in the new preface in the paragraph titled “The Forces of Obfuscation” were unsettling. Basically she believes that what people know as “Aran Knitting” is somewhat of a made-up, mystical history. Basically, she strongly  states that the word “Aran” has been mis-used as a type of cable patterning used mainly in sweaters that have nothing to do with the Aran Isles off of Ireland.  That’s kind of a short, cliff notes version of what she actually said.

I somehow made it into her book in a round-about way. When I was working for Knitter’s Magazine, we created a contest that ultimately turned into a booklet of squares made up of various patterns that we loosely called “Aran Knitting”. It was titled  The Great American Aran Afghan. While we had no intention of saying these patterns or squares were authentic, historical designs from a country not anywhere near America.  Somehow Alice thought they “purports to be a showcase of Aran patterning”. Wow! Who knew! One of the squares used motifs picked up from Alice’s book. The square was created to honor a sister who had died of breast cancer. I’m sure the square’s designer didn’t realize that it was not correct to take someone else’s patterns to create a square for a published booklet.

After reading the new preface, I had to ponder before going on. I’m sorry for my part in Alice’s distress. Next week I’ll read more about the historical background and share….

Aran_book The Great American Aran Knitting booklet.


Alice_intro  diamond

Alice’s Original Patterns from her book.


 The square that used designs created by Alice Starmore.

Aran Knitting by Alice Starmore




Here’s the checklist –
1) Finished the Princess Mitts – check!
2) Reading At Knit’s End by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee – check! (not finished)
3) Found a new book – check!

In reading Stephanie’s book of essays, I realized that I need to do it in bits a few pages at a time. The witty Stephanie has to be absorbed in small snatches!

That being said, I found a book that hasn’t even made it to the shelf yet. Aran Knitting by Alice Starmore – New & Expanded Edition book was a Stitches East purchase in November. Ok, Ok so I’m not obsessive about organizing my books. That’s half of why I’m doing the blog to see if I can get any of the books out of my library.

Why Aran Knitting? Why Alice Starmore?

I love the history so I really want to read Alice’s take on the subject. I’ve heard a bit of her thoughts over the years, but a refresher couldn’t hurt.

I also love Aran patterns (to knit that is). I’ve already picked out my favorite. I’ve had it in my mind to knit my niece and her husband (of Irish heritage) plus kids Irish Knits. I could start with the Na Craga pullover for her. I know – call me crazy! A bit ambitious for sure. In this lifetime??

Officially done with Book of Yarn



Well, I’m almost done!  It’s only been a couple of months with this one book. I do admit that I still have to finish my 2nd Princess Mitt so I’m still hanging on to a few pages for awhile.

By the way, I thought I was done with the book and then I got to the last section called “Putting It All Together”. Wow! That could be a whole book. How to care for knits, abbreviations, a comprehensive glossary, recommended reading, etc, etc. Clara Parkes sure did her homework!

I’ve decided that while I’m on this journey, I’m going to add a little thumbs up, thumbs down or as I like to say: keeper or ebay fodder.

Book of Yarn: Definitely a keeper!

Next book: At Knit’s End, Meditations of Women who Knit too much by The Yarn Harlot, Stephanie Pearl McPhee.

I’ve cheated a little and am on page 68. It’s a laugh a page or sometimes a “yeah, I get that” moment. It’s nice to be actually reading and not trying to absorb much about yarn/knitting. This is a pleasant diversion.

Oh, and by the way, I’m not sure that I can give this one up. It’s personally signed to me by Stephanie. Got to keep the autographed books forever…

Got books!


So I’m back in my office with ALL my knitting books. Well, not really all of them, but let me say MOST of them.

What to read next. That is the question. Clara Parkes‘ book was so technical, so I think I’ll go for something a little lighter.

Truthfully I’m not quite done with Book of Yarn. I’ve promised myself that by next blog, I’ll be finished. Ok, almost finished. Still have to knit the 2nd Princess Mitt!