Everytime I go to the library, I seem to take this book home. Andean Folk Knits: Great Designs from Peru, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador & Bolivia by Marcia Lewandowski is a knitting pattern book and a history lesson about the present day countries of Peru, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador and Bolivia. The culture of descendants of the ancient Incan Empire is hilighted in the text and secton of the tools and techniques used in this book follows. The next section is broken down by country. The section that is broken down by country has patterns and informative sections about the people and places of each area.
The Patterns – There are 25 patterns for bags. The other 10 patterns are of accessories such as mittens, gloves, and a hat. My favorite bags from this book are the Bolsa De Llama (Llama Purse), Bolsa De Atacama (Atacama Desert Purse) and Bolsita Pez (Fish Bag).
The Author – Her name is Marcia Lewandowski and she spent eight years in Bolivia 1989 to 1992 and 1996 to 2000. She saw that local handknits were being replaced by mass produced fanny packs. She went on a “crusade” to collect and record bags in this area. Stories and folklore gained from the locals is found throughout the book.
Techniques – This section gives descriptions of basic things like increases and decreases; more complicated techniques such as the Kitchener Stitch and seams. There are also tips of how to keep stranded knitting from having a messy wrong side and how to read charts. There is also a good explination of how to make embellishments such as Tassels, Pom-Poms, and cords. This section also explained how many of the locals use bicycle spokes (sharpened on both sides) as double pointed needles.
The Countries – The countries of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru are described in detail. Small descriptions of the places, people and animals of each area are given in text boxes sprinkled through the patterns. Some of the more interesting descriptions were the theraputic uses of the coca leaves, the Inca Trail and a charming legend of how the llama was created. The Legend of the Llama was a sweet story of forbidden love. Another intersting story was of the Fish Relay. The Fish relay was a way for inland Royalty to always have fresh fish.
The book in general – I enjoyed reading all about the Incan Empire and the many beautiful things in this area of South America. I also liked the patterns. I am planning on making the Bolsa De Llama (Llama shaped purse) the Mitones (Mittens with a star motif) and the Bolsita Pez(Fish shaped Bag). I also might make the Mitones Del Trotedor (Jogger’s Mittens), these are made without any thumbs, to mimic the natural shape of a hand while jogging.