Miss Alice St*rmore
November 8, 2003
In your absence, I have been very busy.
I’ve driven 323 miles taking darlings to hi kwalidy activities. Average miles per gallon still at a level that would infuriate the Sierra Club.
Been to the grocery store three times, once with a calamitous denial of Pop-Tarts which resulted in the four year old flat on the ground, face down wailing.
Watched the same four year old cheerfully learn the backstroke at swimming lessons.
Managed to claim a Harris-Teeter frequent customer bonus by presenting twelve cash register receipts. Felt like I should have received a medal for keeping track of them instead of a $40 gas card (see miles per gallon problem above).
Hid two plastic pumpkins full of tooth rotters in the back of the pantry, only to be rediscovered by their owners the next day.
Attended one giant wedding. Glad about my new party shoes, which remind me of Doris Day. Wished I had found a better outfit. But vindicated to see December Harper’s Bazaar which explores little black dresses in detail.
Watched a house down the street be torn down. Dump trucks filled with what used to be the house continue to drive by my window. Disconcerting to see this.
Listened to half of John Adams while driving the 323 miles. Now there was a stand-up guy.
Had a nice postmortem meeting about last week’s smart growth regional summit that I worked on this fall. Saving my comprehensive, links-rich exploration of new urbanism for that moment when we have finished knitting our entire stashes and need another topic.
Watched over an eighth-grade study hall for an hour, knitting and not exactly paying attention to who was studying and who was playing Snood. Felt old after this.
And finally (my point and I do have one): I sat down with some newfound Alice Starmore books and got to thinking about what knitting is really all about. Is it something we do for relaxation, for comfort? Or is it for this?
A half-finished Alice Starmore swatch, representing two and a half hours of my life. This is the busy Keava pattern from In the Hebrides. It’s like building a ship in a bottle, only slower.
For all you dudes and non-knitters out there, Alice Starmore is the Phil Spector of knitting: brilliant, eccentric, volatile. Her Fair Isle patterns are every bit as layered as “Be My Baby.” Alice (Miss Starmore to you) has a taste for litigation, and is fiercely protective of her copyright. (Here’s a smackerel.) She chases down naughty eBayers selling her patterns without authorization, fights a lot (see The Alice Chronicles which Emma pointed out), and has disagreed with yarnmakers enough that she has her own company Virtual Yarns to sell her yarns and patterns. Whatever. Van Gogh had his problems, too.
I figured it was high time I sit down with eight shades of four-ply, some size 2 needles, and try to get inside Miss Starmore’s world. Oh, it’s a tangled place: following her chart is like reading a Japanese guide book using a Japanese-English dictionary. It can be done, however, and the long-anticipated rhythm of Fair Isle that I have enjoyed on other, simpler, wimpier Fair Isles did eventually arrive. Kind of.
The good news is that when I finish the 36-row repeat, I will have my very own Alice Starmore potholder. And that may just be enough.
Does anyone out there (other than the otherworldly Wendy, whose ease with Starmores is stunning) have Starmore experience? Advice? Reminders that life is way too short to be doing stuff like this?