Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Start at the top – Starmore’s class was terrific.

I had got the impression from the internet, long ago, that she was bad-tempered and suspicious of the world. None of that was in evidence. The class was perfectly planned, prepared, presented. Alice Starmore doesn’t tell her pupils to stop talking (a problem of Annie M.’s) – we are all busy with our swatches, listening and looking and talking, occasionally, to her.

I even finished my swatch the next day. I wouldn’t do that for just any teacher. I wonder if I have photographed it upside down.

The lesson ended smartly 15 minutes before it was scheduled to. I was briefly miffed, but then realised that what she was doing was allowing time for us to talk to her one-to-one. As several people wanted to do. The next session followed very shortly – if she had gone on to the scheduled end, she would have had to shoo us unceremoniously out of the door. I took a picture of her during that period – this is the best of a not-very-good bunch.

I would have liked to ask her my question, but it was completely irrelevant to the topic of the day and probably unanswerable anyway, even by her. It is this: I extravagantly admire her Stillwater pattern. I tried to knit it, and gave up after several inches because the usual rhythm of Fair Isle patterns is completely absent -- I couldn’t get my head around the 18-stitch repeats. Is there a technique?

Getting it out to scan it just now has rekindled my enthusiasm. Maybe I should try the pattern on a hat.
I then had a nice (but slightly lonely) time wandering around the market. I bought Lily Chin’s cable book, which seemed appropriate to the theme of the day and which looks very thorough. And some yarn – well, I almost had to:

I had already decided that I would proceed next (sock-wise) to Matt’s socks, and that I would need to buy yarn. I had only 100 grams of the yarn I intended for the purpose, and that’s not enough for a full-sized gent. So instead of seeking out another ball – wrong dye-lot – of the yarn I already had, I bought 200 grams of a different yarn – expensive socks – and have made a good start, as you see, on the actual thing.

(Alas, I can't seem to make Tickerfactory work any more. Does anyone know an alternative?)

(Hellie came round on the Saturday evening. I told her what I was up to, and explained about the Curse of Knitting for the Boy Friend and how I had taken expert advice and was completely reassured. She thought it was all rather funny, and that Matt will like the socks.)

The yarn is Artist’s Palette “Smoothie Sock”. My one is very like the top illustration, except browner rather than greener. It’s a good deal darker than it appears in my own snapshot. Wonderfully soft. I had sort of hoped that Posh might be there, but she wasn’t.

I’ve finished Helen’s KF socks, except for ten minutes of actual finishing, which I had better put in this evening. Kaffe’s stripes and Oliver shaping and Knit Pic needles bring us as close as we’re likely to get to the self-knitting sock.


  1. Anonymous10:15 AM

    Glad you're back Jean, we've all missed you!
    Don't be lonely next time; 'ping' me and I'll meet up with you any time to browse the yarns!
    Stella x

  2. I hate it when you leave off blogging, and rejoice every time you return. Glad your class went well!

  3. I would willingly have prowled around with you had I been there!
    I have heard from other people that Starmore is a very good teacher, both well prepared and patient. One of these days...

  4. Welcome back. Glad the class went well and no one breathed their last in front of a painting in the museum.

  5. Anonymous6:48 PM

    I've takeen 2 workshops with Alice in the USA at Tomato Factory, she was a lovely & gracious teacher, I consider myself lucky to have attended those workshops.
    Sue in NY

  6. I am intrigued to know how you felt the Starmore knot technique compared with Lavold. I bought a copy of "Aran Knitting" in which she spells out how she came up with the increase and decrease techniques in 1992. Now Lavold's work on "Viking Knitting" is said to also date back to 1992. I have never knitted a Lavold knot and would be interested to know if the method is identical. What I do know is that there was a lot of Celtic knotwork around in jewellery and textiles at the time, as I made a quilt with celtic motifs about then.

  7. Maureen in Fargo8:14 PM

    I'm so glad you got to Starmore's class and enjoyed it! I've seen Rav postings on the Starmore Junkies group from two other gals who were there on Friday too and they both loved it. One posted a pic of her at the table where she was signing books in the market, it was a cute photo of her in her very smart new design, Eala Bhan, the sweater she's pointing to in your photo. I'm so glad she's back in the knitting/designing world again!!

    Regarding Shandy's comment, I've knit Celtic Knots from both Lavold and Starmore and they have slightly different techniques to start them. I find either one looks fine. They're essentially the same otherwise.

  8. I attended Alice Starmore's talk last year at the iknit show and did find her to be a really good speaker and instructor. I wasn't organised enough to attend a workshop this year, but everyone that I know that had attended had great things to say about it. hopefully, she'll be back next year. thanks for the write up!