I knitted the 'Rocks and Sand' sweater from this book. Since the specified yarns are no longer available from Rowan (though they have equivalency suggestions at their site), and since Rowan is pricey yarn, I knitted it in Debbie Bliss yarns in a different gauge than specified, using the Medium pattern to proxy for Large, as my adjustment for yarn gauge put my figures very close to the stitch counts in the Medium size (size is fairly easy to adjust for gauge, but trying to get pattern elements right after such an adjustment is a real PITA.)
There are rare elements of some of the designs that are 'dated', and I would say in the Rock and Sand pattern, the cowl neck is not currently in vogue for men.
However, the 'dated' elements of the patterns are all easily fixed by an intermediately-skilled knitter. Converting the cowl neck to a V-neck crew on "Rock and Sand" required little more than some thought and a couple of trial swatches to work out the decreases so that the crew neck would lie flat in the context of the angles of the neck opening.
(FYI, on this pattern I also swatched what Philosopher's Wool calls a 'Baltic Braid' technique, along the border between the body and yoke of the sweater where the pattern calls for a course of purls; wasn't aesthetically pleasing--too bulky, at least in worsted weight--so I can save you some work by saying don't bother with that bit of tweaking if you were considering it.)
My brother has happily worn that sweater during the Connecticut winters for the past 5 years or so, and *EVERY* time he wears it out, someone comments to him about what a fantastic sweater it is and wants to know where he got it (at which point he can smugly reply, "Oh, I had it custom knit...Read more ›
This lovely book of sweaters for men contains photos of the Scottish shores that inspired both the colorways and the patterns. The photos of rocks and moss are inspiring. The designs are both wearable and attractive. The styles are masculine in appearance rather than unisex. I currently have this book on loan from the local library and am seeking this out of print book because it is one that presents timeless patterns in a beautiful setting.
I am a dedicated Starmore junkie and an experienced knitter--I have about everything I could lay my hands on except this book. My local library had a copy so I checked it out to see if it was worth getting. Honestly I thought most of the the styles were out dated and some frankly rather dorky looking. My husband looked at it and stated firmly that he didn't like any of the styles in the book and if I wanted to knit him a sweater to look elsewhere for the pattern. I did knit him the Na Craga design from the Aran Knitting book and he loves it, so it isn't as if he won't wear handknits.
I was frankly a bit surprised that this book was not up to AS's usual standards. Her other books are really timeless designs, but this book screams "I was printed in the 80's!!"
Bully for the lady who said in another review that she got a lot of use out of this book. She seemed a bit up in arms about a previous less than favorable review. I , however, really feel that there are better patterns for men's sweaters out there and as Starmore books tend to go for premium prices, I would give this book a pass. Save your money and apply it towards getting Starmores Aran Knitting instead.
I have Starmore's book on Fair Isle knitting and I wish I had her book on Aran Island knitting. Starmore is a great knitting historian, and those two books mentioned are incredible resources for traditional work.
Even this book of men's sweaters has a few nice traditional patterns that would be good for any era. The traditional gansey that opens the book is one of these.
However, I was quite shocked at how dated many of the patterns are in this book. As a man, I can say that in the whole book there were maybe only 2-3 sweaters I would ever be caught dead in. My wife was more or less laughing at many of the designs. Obviously each to their own, but be warned that this is not like Starmore's other books of 'timeless' classics.
Also disappointing is that the book is mostly just patterns. Alice Starmore's best stuff -- her instructional writing and knitting history writing -- is not present in this book, making it significantly less interesting than the previously mentioned Fair Isle and Aran Island books.
It is cheaper than other Starmore books, but the lower price reflects an inferior product. Maybe the patterns will be enough for some, but for me, if I am going to spend so much for an out of print book, I want more than just a few good patterns.
UPDATE (2/2/2012): The price for a used copy of this book has dropped considerably since I first wrote the review. The current price of $18, is a pretty reasonable price when you consider that there are at least 2 quality patterns in this book. At the time I wrote the original review, the price was more than $50, which IS too much considering that the majority of the patterns are not up to Starmore's usual quality level.