Book Review: Knitting Out of Africa: Inspired Sweater Designs by Marianne Isager

Isager has taken her interest in African textile and basketry patterns, first in museum and later on from African travel and used it to create this collection of 16 sweater designs. Where possible, background information about the original design source is provided along with a general garment construction synopsis giving the knitter a quick peek at the skills required to complete the project.

All the sweaters are knit using fingering weight yarns so expect intricate detail not instant gratification Most patterns have at least two fully detailed, step by step, “real people” sizes. Some of the designs appear to be fairly challenging as they make use of diverse knitting techniques such as entrelac, slip-stitch, steeks and double knitting and it is here that one appreciates the clear “how to” sections.  Knitters unfamiliar with cut and sew construction may find the courage to try it, particularly with Mali, an intricate pullover inspired by mud-dyed fabrics that is knit completely in the round.

It is refreshing to discover a book that focuses primarily on the advanced knitter although honestly, it’s difficult to find the time to work a project that takes 10 rows to the inch. The main complaint warranted here is with the yarn choices. Only one retailer for the USA is given and the yarn shops contacted by this reviewer hadn’t heard of the Isager line. Although yards and meters per 100 grams is given, a visual of the fibers used along side more available fingering weight yarns would have been helpful. The true test of any knitting book is “Does it make me want to jump up and start knitting one or more of the projects?” and the answer here is yes.

Note the date on this article may be incorrect due to importing it from our old system.

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