Book Review: Andean Inspired Knits: Designs in Luxurious Alpaca by Helen Hamann

Throughout history, alpacas and llama have been highly prized for their luxurious fiber which was used by ancient craftspeople of the area to create some truly amazing woven, embroidered and knit pieces. Hamann has drawn heavily on pre-Columbian motifs for each of the twenty-three, mostly knitted projects presented here. Many of the classic geometrical lines are embellished with embroidery or beadwork, carrying on the Peruvian theme.

Geared more towards the intermediate to advanced knitter, the designs begin with a feminine wrap featuring a yoke of bright, embroidered flowers on a black background although a rich burgundy or navy blue would be equally striking. A matching crocheted cloche tops off the ensemble with a dash of panache. The Asymmetrical Cardigan’s color play shows its Nazca influence as squares and lines are juxtaposed for a fresh, eye-catching look. Information of historic or cultural interest are interspersed throughout the book providing sight into alpacas, Peruvian textiles and costumes.

Many of the patterns lean towards short, often elegant cardigans and each of them incorporate distinctive stitch, color or embellishment highlights that say, “This is special”. If your preference is for longer garments, lengthening the majority of these designs should be easy enough to work out although it may take a bit of extra graphing to make the motifs on projects like the Bolero jacket to work out correctly. Attention to finishing details is a must with these patterns as they contribute so much to the overall look of the piece. If you are interested in instant gratification, try a different pattern collection but if you want the time you put into a handcrafted item to pay off with a garment to wear and enjoy for years to come then this is the book for you.

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