Andean Folk Knits

Published By: Lark Books

Book Category: Non-Fiction, Crafts & Hobbies

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Reviewed by Janelle Martin

Subtitled: Great Designs from Peru, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador & Bolivia

Marcia Lewandowski spent a total of eight years living in Bolivia in the 1980s and 1990s. During this period she developed a love for the hand-knit bags that the women wore as part of the traditional dress, and observed a decline in their usage as they were replaced by mass-produced items.

In an effort to preserve the rich traditions represented by the patterns and colors of these traditional items, Lewanski "began a crusade which took me across five of the countries in the Andes Mountains collecting and recording the bags I found in the marketplace, in the countryside, in museums, and in private homes. I also listened to the stories and folklore associated with the bags I collected."

The result is the wonderful resource, Andean Folk Knits: Great Designs from Peru, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador & Bolivia. The author collected traditional design, patterns and colors and created the bags and other accessories included in Andean Folk Knits.

The first section reviews the history of the Andean people and their traditional folk bags, including: the difference between llamas and alpacas and applications for each type of fiber; the different type and uses of traditional folk bags; and the meaning of the motifs used in their designs.

The subsequent sections each review the styles and colors typical of the knitting in each of the five countries. Sprinkled through, Lewandowski reflects on the natural features of the countries she visited during her travels, providing a window into the life in the Andean Mountains.

While the bags may not be patterns most people wish to carry, Andean Folk Knits is a wonderful addition to any knitter's reference library. Lewandowski has provided charts for all the symbols and patterns used in her designs, and these could easy be adapted for use on sweaters or other garments fitting a knitter's personal style.

Armchair Interviews says: An interesting history lesson along with patterns and designs.

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