Kathleen Cubley, editor of Knitting Daily, gives her insight into Marianne Isager's Inca Knits.
A lot of us are armchair travelers—I know I enjoy a good travel narrative or photography book. Lately I've been spending some time with Marianne Isager; with her designs inspired by Africa (Knitting Out of Africa) and Japan (Japanese Inspired Knits), she's taken me on quite a trip! Knitting + travel = a good armchair journey!
Now Marianne takes us on "staycation" again with Inca Knits, a book of beautiful designs that were conceived while Marianne traveled through Latin America.
According to Marianne, "Latin America is a paradise of patterns and colors. Woven ponchos worn as outer garments, lovely old pottery, colors in the landscape, vegetables in the marketplaces, boats on the beach—all of these images from the Incan empire contributed to the garments in this book."
"Circles" of Beauty
I'm particularly taken with Circles featured on the cover of the book, a reversible, double-knit sweater jacket. It's really striking and the double-knitting technique is intriguing. Here's Marianne's description of this method:
"Double knitting produces two layers of fabric with a single pair of needles. The stitches are always worked in pairs, forming two separate stockinette-stitch layers that are worked with separate balls of yarn. One stitch of the pair is worked on the right side; the other stitch is worked on the wrong side. The right side of each layer faces outward and the wrong sides face together and therefore do not show. Reversible patterns form when the yarns for the two layers are interchanged."
There's a nice tutorial on double knitting in Inca Knits, which includes special increases, decreases, and bind offs used especially for double knitting.
Marianne says the Circle sweater was inspired by the circle design on the side of an ancient Peruvian pot. I'd love to see that pot, because this sweater is simply beautiful. The colorway is in rich earth tones, but I think this sweater would be equally stunning in cool water tones as well; I can imagine it in soothing blues and greens.
I love jacket-type sweaters, too, and because of the two layers this sweater could be worn as a winter coat in some warmer climates.
Bolivia: A Free, Incan-Inspired Pattern from Marianne
While in Bolivia, Marianne experienced a vibrant marketplace in the capital city, La Paz. This sweater was inspired by the "explosions of color" she saw there, especially in an intricately woven belt. The labyrinth motif in Bolivia is interesting and the color choices are endless.
This pattern is classified as an intermediate pattern because it requires steeking and stranded two-color knitting. Marianne provides a good lesson on stranded knitting in Inca Knits, which will help you perfect your technique.
My biggest challenge in stranded knitting is keeping my tension even so that the strand that's carried across the back of the knitting doesn't pull too tight and make the work pucker. That's something that takes practice; I have a tendency to zone out when I'm knitting and I have to make sure to stay focused on what I'm doing so I don't pull too tight. Like anything in knitting, stranded colorwork is an art and a skill, and practice makes perfect.
With all of the color options, Bolivia will be as much fun to plan as it is to knit!