The Caileach costume by Alice Starmore from the book Glamourie
The Cailleach

And so the world still spins, the seasons still turn and the island still lies out upon the edge, amidst the passing storms. It is filled with many lives and many deaths, but the Cailleach is ever-present, making sure that whatever fades or falls silent in winter is renewed every spring. She walks the boundaries between moor and shore, between loch and hill. She turns the animals away from bogs and lights a beacon to guide the boats back to harbour. And if you, Traveller, should ever be beguiled by Glamourie and stray upon hill or heather, shore or machair, she will guide your steps — a distant figure on the horizon, marking the way from the mysterious world of the shapeshifters back to the safety of your own familiar fireside.

The Caileach costume by Alice Starmore from the book Glamourie
The Caileach costume by Alice Starmore from the book Glamourie
The Caileach costume by Alice Starmore from the book Glamourie
The Cailleach is my homage to all those I knew who were creative and resourceful and who understood the ways and rhythms of the natural world. I wanted to make her a jacket that would symbolise her essence. To this end I plundered the chest of drawers that holds all the swatches I have knitted over all the years of my career as a designer. I chose a selection of Hebridean 2 Ply swatches, felted them and then inlaid them in a panel made with fine cabled strips. I also utilised the diagonal pattern I had made for the eagle costume as a nod to the Cailleach’s tireless endeavours. Then I created gradually expanding, eternal knotwork patterns for the sleeves and front panels. At the lower back and sides I made little flourishes and finished them with tiny felted flowers, and at the front hemline I attached little knitted tabs so that she could transport her small important accoutrements, such as the magical pattern book from which she knits the future. For her knitting needles, I made her a felted and flower-appliquéd needle case. Finally, I felted buttons to ensure that every last scrap of yarn was used up.
 
Alice Starmore