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Book Review – Sweater Quest by

Sweater Quest -

Sweater Quest – Adrienne Martini

I read about this book while trying to find craft memoirs of lifestyle books, but read A Life in Stitches instead (the negative reviews on Amazon put me off). However, about a week ago I came across a comment in a blog recommending it and I thought why not give it a go. I’m glad I did I really enjoy it. I thought the interviews with other knitters fascinating (that was one of the complaints on Amazon). Here is the blurb …

“I knit so I don’t kill people” —bumper sticker spotted at Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival
For Adrienne Martini, and countless others, knitting is the linchpin of sanity. As a working mother of two, Martini wanted a challenge that would make her feel in charge. So she decided to make the Holy Grail of sweaters—her own Mary Tudor, whose mind-numbingly gorgeous pattern is so complicated to knit that its mere mention can hush a roomful of experienced knitters. Created by reclusive designer Alice Starmore, the Mary Tudor can be found only in a rare, out-of-print book of Fair Isle–style patterns, Tudor Roses, and requires a discontinued, irreplaceable yarn. The sweater, Martini explains, “is a knitter’s Mount Everest, our curse, and our compulsion. I want one more than I can begin to tell you.”
And so she took on the challenge: one year, two needles, and countless knits and purls to conquer Mary Tudor while also taking care of her two kids, two cats, two jobs, and (thankfully) one husband—without unraveling in the process. Along the way, Adrienne investigates the tangled origins of the coveted pattern, inquires into the nature of artistic creation, and details her quest to buy supplies on the knitting black market. As she tries not to pull out her hair along with rows gone wrong, Martini gets guidance from some knitterati, who offer invaluable inspiration as she conquers her fear of Fair Isle. A wooly Julie and Julia, this epic yarn celebrates the profound joys of creating—and aspiring to—remarkable achievements.

I’m quite curious (nosy) and I like detail about other people’s lives – how they go about things, what they like etc. Although I had heard of Alice Starmore (and the controversy), I had never seen any of designs (might be something to do with living in Australia). Her patterns are spectacularly beautiful, but I don’t know if the finished product would suit many people. I enjoyed reading about each of the challenges in this project – learning to hold a ball of wool in the non-dominant hand (I don’t think I could master that), finding the wool (that elusive last colour) and then the endurance to get the thing finished. I didn’t really understand her preoccupation with whether it was a real Starmore or not. She didn’t use the recommended yarn (which was no longer available), so can she truly say she has knitted Mary Tudor – personally I think if you have done the knitting then you have made the Starmore – of course it is easier now because both the yarn and the pattern have been re-released.

Ms Martini has a lovely, chatting writing style and I enjoyed many of her personal ancedotes – I’ve tried to teach my girls how to knit! I would have loved pictures (but maybe there are copyright issues?)

I found this to be a quick, interesting and enjoyable read (I even thought about buying one of Alice Starmore’s kits except I’m trying to reduce my stash), but I think it will only appeal to knitters.

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