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Tudor Roses

4.5 out of 5 stars 128 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0962558689
ISBN-10: 0962558680
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--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

An acclaimed textile designer, author, artist, and photographer, Alice Starmore is a native of Scotland's Isle of Lewis. Starmore has taught and lectured extensively throughout Britain, Europe, and the United States. She has written 16 books and countless magazine articles. Dover has previously published her acclaimed Aran Knitting and her classic Book of Fair Isle Knitting, which introduced Americans to the popular traditional technique.

Tudor Roses: A Personal Statement by Alice Starmore
It is not the business of women to govern kingdoms but of men.

These words were spoken in 1483, not long before the 330-year reign of the Plantagenet dynasty came to a violent end at the Battle of Bosworth. The words are ironic because that bloody conclusion, and the resulting foundation of the Tudor dynasty, were events engineered by women with courage, shrewd statecraft and a steely sense of purpose. Yet they are barely remembered: eclipsed by their male contemporaries. The chroniclers of the time were men, as were the portrait painters. High-born women were encouraged in only two activities — needlework and the production of male heirs.

My daughter Jade and I decided to tell the stories of fourteen women connected with the Tudor dynasty: women who in some way made a stand and chose their own paths — for good or ill. If these renaissance women were not allowed to write their own stories, and their painted portraits were often idealised, how could we know what they were really like? That is the question we sought to answer in creating Tudor Roses. Our approach was to put ourselves in their place; to stand in their shoes; to blend history and imagination; to weave a narrative around the known facts of their lives. We planned to deliver this narrative in a unique manner, using not just writing but photography, art and the only medium through which our subjects could leave a lasting physical record in their world — needlework.

A Tudor chronicler wrote of the "pain, labour and diligence the tailors, embroiderers and goldsmiths took both to make and devise garments for lords, ladies, knights and esquires ..." This is the model we chose to emulate. I designed and made garments never seen in knitting before, full of meaningful details, carefully constructed to evoke character. Jade undertook fourteen photoshoots, using a different model to play each of our Tudor subjects. The evocation of character was considered when constructing the photographic sets, as each of our dramatis personæ has her own distinct colour scheme, designed to project an aspect of her personality and story. We both took pains to balance the historical with the modern; the garments I created are eminently wearable today, while Jade's photographs are in the style of renaissance portraits but have a contemporary twist. As a final detail, we enlisted students of silversmithing at City of Glasgow College to produce Tudor-themed jewellery that can be worn by modern women.

The result is a unique book that transcends the traditional knitting market. Tudor Roses will appeal to aficionados of art photography, of history, and of fabric and costume. It is also a volume for book-lovers, classically designed on a page size that allows unstinted white space. Jade and I are grateful to Calla Editions™ for granting such a generous canvas on which to paint our joint vision.

Finally, Tudor Roses will also appeal to students of life's ironies. The last character portrayed in the book is Mary, Queen of Scots, the granddaughter of Margaret Tudor. Her needlework survives to this day, and the craft gave her solace during many years of imprisonment prior to her execution in 1587. She was beheaded but won posthumously because it was her son who became James I of England when the line of Henry VIII fizzled out. In July of 2013, in London, a boy was born to worldwide media attention; he is destined to become King George VII and it is through Mary that he takes his dash of Tudor blood. From back across the centuries, our shrewd stateswomen can allow themselves a wry smile.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Distributed by Unicorn Books and Crafts (September 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0962558680
  • ISBN-13: 978-0962558689
  • Product Dimensions: 11.6 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (128 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,514,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Just a head's up that this "reprint" is actually a revised edition. Henry the Seventh and Eight are missing. Lady Mary, Margaret Beaufort, Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth Woodville are all new patterns. Alice Starmore says in her introduction that she has left the men out because "they do not concern us", but the omission of the Henry the Eighth pattern is particularly unfortunate because it is such an exceptional pattern.
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Format: Paperback
*NOTE* This review was originally done January 31, 2003 and refers to the first version of Tudor Roses, not the recent revision/reprint. Until Amazon's book listing system separates the two different books out by version, this review, which is 10 years old, will not be entirely relevant to the new book. There are few pictures of the new models. My guess it is because the author is known for keeping very tight control on her intellectual property (the designs) and doesn't want them copied or reverse-engineered. Want to see all of them? You have to order the new book. But I list the changes from the original edition:
Patterns with same styling, colorways, but fit may be different than the original 1998:
Anne of Cleves
Elizabeth the first
Katherine of Aragon
Catherine Parr
Katherine Howard
Mary Tudor
Margaret Tudor

Same name, but different appearance:
Elizabeth of York
Jane Seymour
Anne Boleyn

Completely New Patterns to the New Edition:
Margaret Beaufort
Elizabeth Woodville
Mary, Queen of Scots
Lady Mary

The Tudor kings and queens had sumptuous clothing down to an art--gold embroidery, padding, slits, velvet, silks, jewels, lace. They had it all--and they wore it all at the same time. (They apparently did NOT have the fashion rule to look in the mirror and take ONE ornament away to avoid overdressing. No indeed. Their rule seemed to be to look in the mirror and make sure to add ONE MORE THING. Was there any other time in history when costume was so frankly over-the-top? I don't believe so.)

Alice Starmore and her apprentice, daughter Jade, created a number of sweater designs inspired by the Tudor royals. These are not recreations of Tudor clothing.
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Format: Paperback
This book is as much an art book and a history book as it is a knitting book. It goes through the history of Tudor fashion and has reproductions of artwork from this era throughout the book. The photographs of the Tudor landscape and castles are luscious. The knitting projects are to die for!

When I purchase a knitting book I ask myself three questions:

1) Are there projects in this book that I want to knit?

2) Are the patterns clearly written?

3) Is the book a good resource?

The answer to all three questions is 'yes'. I wish I could knit every pattern in this book.

This book uses charts and I prefer written instructions but I do know how to translate charts into line-by-line directions. The patterns are all for adults and are either Aran or Fair Isle. There is not an easy pattern in the book. All are for intermediate or advanced knitters. A beginning knitter might enjoy this book, however, just for its beauty and inspiration.

I give this book my highest recommendation.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The reprint from Tudor Roses finally came out and I'm glad...glad that I did not pay full price. Alice Starmore is a legendary designer and the designs, I'm sure, are wonderful. The problem is Starmore appears to have had a mid-career crisis. Am I a knitwear designer, am I a photographer or a writer of fiction. Knitters rely on photos as a reality check to the instructions, but Starmore's photos are less about the designs and more about the mood..... Intricate design features are hidden by body hugging limbs, other features are hidden by books or draping hair. One photo of a dark blue design is against a dark background. In many ways the book is a mish-mash of Hogwarts meets Star Trek. Don't believe me? check out the photo of of Margaret Tudor and tell me that isn't Aragog. I appreciate that Starmore wanted to create something other than another pattern book - good for her - but at least include photos at the back of the book focused on the design elements. I'll have to check out her website. Perhaps there I will find the detail that I need (and not in moody dark exposures).
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Format: Paperback
Update 11/13/2013: Note that this review is of the original version of this book. A new version has just been released which is significantly different.

Review of original edition:
I'm a big Alice Starmore fan, generally speaking. Normally, when I pick up an Alice Starmore book, whether it's her Fisherman Sweaters or Celtic collection, I see several sweaters I want to knit immediately. More often than not, I am interested in knitting the majority of sweaters in the book, something which I can't really say for many other designers.

After waiting for a year to get this book from my local library, I have to say I'm quite disappointed with it. The book contains 13 designs, all inspired by various members of the Tudor royal family. I can't give the book less than three stars, because there is incredible originality and detail in so many of the patterns. For example, I adore the birds stitched into the multi-color Anne Boleyn cardigan. Henry the VII is perhaps the most well-known design from this book, and it is a colorful piece of art. She also includes some original texture patterns.

First, despite the fact that this book was apparently published in 1998, at least half the sweaters have a decided 80s feel to me. Perhaps it's the mad swirl of colors; perhaps it's really a 90s feel, not an 80s feel. Regardless, for me, the sweaters felt very dated, like something that would have been cool a couple decades ago.

Second, many of the sweaters look great when posed on a sweater rack or simply laid over a chair. When put on an actual person, though, they look busy and don't seem to fit very well.
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