If you were to look at my knitting book shelves it would be easy to spot that I am a bit of a fan of Alice Starmore.
I have been since my mum bought me a copy of The Celtic Collection for Christmas many moons ago.
Mum had an ulterior motive, she wanted her own Donegal jumper (it was her home county). So among other patterns from the book did make this almost infamous piece of colourwork (long before I learn two handed stranded knitting making it even more of an achievement).
And I still have my Armagh jumper which is coming up on 25 years old. I was a poor student when I made it but it looked great in poundshop acrylic and is a great reminder of my first goes at "fair isle".
Over the years I have gathered a little collection of Starmore works - some bought new, some second-hand - but there is a notable gap. I don't have a copy of Tudor Roses. Copies of the original tended to be as rare as solid gold hen's teeth, then when Starmore released the updated version in a sumptuous hardback in 2014 I was mid shift to freelancing and couldn't justify buying it. So it has been on my to buy list ever since.
The book contains 14 patterns inspired by the women of the Tudor dynasty accompanied by an explanation of their influence.
For a knitter who is interested in history, this is a perfect addition to my collection. Starmore and her daughter Jade have researched each of the 14 Tudor women in terms of their life, knowledge and influence presenting us with a pen portrait and later an explanation of how the research influenced the designs. So we see the plain beginning of Elizabeth Woodvile (a founder of the dynasty) in her simple sweater, the sumptuous colours of Spanish embroidery in Katherine of Aragon's coat and regal colours in the garments of some of the queen's garments. The shaping of the period reflected in many of the sweaters.
Clockwise from top: Elizabeth I, Elizabeth Woodville, Anne Boleyn,
Katherine of Aragon
The photography and styling by Jade Starmore creates "portraits" of each woman, emphasising the art of these pieces.
I can imagine gaining a lot of pleasure from knitting many of these pieces, but there is also much joy in reading the patterns and enjoying the clever use of colour, stitches and construction to create a stunning collection.
This book definitely shows the art and artifice of knitting and what can be achieved by simply looping yarn round needles one stitch at a time.
I will be adding a physical copy of this book to my shelves before long and hope it will inspire me for many years to come.