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Knitting Out Of Africa: Inspired Sweater Designs

Danish designer Marianne Isager offers 16 sumptuous and sophisticated handknitted sweaters inspired by African carpets, baskets, and other textiles.

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Danish designer Marianne Isager offers 16 sumptuous and sophisticated handknitted sweaters inspired by African carpets, baskets, and other textiles.

The knitting techniques, including entrelac, double knitting, Intarsia, domino, and Fair Isle knitting, are used in traditional and contemporary ways.

You'll love the intriguing designs including a Shoowa vest and Kuba pullover, and relish the patterns echoing other regional African textiles, such as the mud-dyed fabrics from Bamana in Mali and the block design from the Asante people in Ghana. You'll also find reflections of African wildlife in some projects, from the leaping antelope to the flocks of birds to the showy giraffes and zebras.

Isager provides full instructions and charted patterns for each exquisite design in at least two adult sizes. These sweaters - all presented with step-by-step instructions and beautiful photographs - are worked in fingering-weight yarns.

They're not quick to knit, but they will be timeless classics, sure to make stunning additions to your wardrobe or lifelong gifts for the most special people in your life. Experienced knitters will enjoy trying some of the more involved shapes and designs, and may be inspired to take up the challenge of designing their own African-inspired garment!

Reviews: "Will challenge the seasoned knitter and give the rest of us something to aspire to."-Bangor Daily News

These designs take your breath away.  They are that stunning."-Black Purl Magazine 

"The book is laced with engaging wisdom and beautiful color photography."—CNA Magazine

"These sweaters are compliment magnets waiting to happen."-Knit 'N Style

"Every design is very unique.... I am very impressed. It is an excellent book."-Knitting News

"All in all, Knitting out of Africa offers 18 beautiful sweaters and vests, as inspiring as they are interesting."

"16 eye-catching sweaters... Interweave Press lives up to its reputation for clear, complete instructions."-Shuttle, Spindle & Dyepot

"The designs are impeccable to the last finishing detail. This is a master knitting course disguised as a pattern book! "

"Strong geometrics are the real thrill... Geared towards the more advanced knitter, there is plenty to sink your teeth into."-Spun Magazine

"Knitting out of Africa is nothing short of inspirational.... Stunning garments that transcend time and culture."-Vogue Knitting

SKU: 06KN5

Author/Speaker/Editor: Marianne Isager

Format: Paperback

ISBN 13: 9781931499989

Number Of Pages: 144

Table of Contents


  • Kuba- Squares, diamonds, and striking contrasts between light and dark are prominent features in many African textiles. The yoke patterns on both versions of this pullover mimic the rotating motifs in a traditional woven fabric.
  • Entrelac Knitting- The English word for entrelac comes from the French word entrelacer, which means to interlace. It is a method of knitting in which blocks, rather than rows, are worked one on top of, and adjacent to, one another.
  • Zaire- The geometric design for this sweater is based on a small detail in a woven cloth that originates from the western part of the Congo, formerly known as Zaire. The lower body is worked back and forth in rows in a series of mitered garter-stitch panels that encompass the entire body circumference.
  • Congo- The bold pattern of dark, medium, and light shades in the yoke of this sweater imitates piece or strip-woven fabric, another African classic.
  • African Domino Cardigan- Inspired by the small flashes of white visible on the backsides of leaping antelopes, the fronts of this kimono-style cardigan feature patterned panels that build around small white squares.
  • African Domino Pullover- In this pullover version of the cardigan from the previous chapter, the same two-color, mitered garter-stitch chevron pattern is used on both the front and back.
  • Asante- The geometric blocks in this sweater were inspired by a collage of patterns printed on cloth by the Asante people in Ghana.
  • Sierra Leone- The pieced checkerboard fabric that inspired this sweater design (and hence its name) comes from Sierra Leone. The strip-look pattern in the sweater is achieved through wide bands of intarsia color blocks that repeat in an offset arrangement.
  • Intarsia Knitting- Intarsia is a method of working isolated areas of color. Separate balls of yarn are used for each section, or block, of color.
  • Mali- Inspired by mud-dyed cotton fabrics produced in the Bamana region of Mali, the body of this intricately patterned pullover is knitting in the round from the hemmed lower edge to the shoulder.
  • Arrowheads- Diamond and zigzag patterns in a Zairian cloth that was woven, embroidered, and plant-dyed have inspired the allover Fair Isle patterning on this cropped pullover.
  • Zimbabwe- Handmade baskets are an important part of African craft. The narrow stripes and zigzag patterns on this sweater echo the interaction of two colors of reed woven into a basked purchased at a roadside stand near the Zimbabwean village of Bulawayo.
  • Stranded Two-Color Knitting- Also called jacquard or Fair Isle knitting, involves working with two colors at the same time, although in such a way that one color is stranded across the back (wrong side) of the work while the other color is being knitted.
  • Nigeria- This pullover mimics the African look of pieced strips of woven cloth by alternating bands of stranded two-color knitting with solid-color stripes.
  • Zigzag- This tunic-style pullover is modeled after a two-color woven basket from the Lake Kariba region in Zimbabwe.
  • Shoowa- The Shoowa tribe from the Congo produces textiles made up of abstract geometric patterns embroidered on top of woven cloth. Close juxtaposition of the motifs gives a mosaic look to the overall cloth. This pullover achieves a similar look.
  • Shoowa Vest- The pattern blocks on this vest are similar to the Shoowa pullover, only smaller.
  • Double Knitting- Double knitting is a technique that simultaneously produces two layers of fabric, only light and one dark, with a single pair of needles.
  • Giraffe and Zebra- Animals are an integral part of the African landscape. These two vests reflect the markings of the giraffes and zebras that inhabit the grassy plains of Zimbabwe.
About the Author

Marianne Isager was born in Denmark, growing up in northern Jutland among the windswept moors that overlook the North Sea. She graduated from Denmark’s Design School in Copenhagen and over the years has taught at design and crafts schools all over Denmark. Marianne has also joined in projects aimed at teaching groups of knitters living around the world. From sheep-farmer women in southern Greenland to a women group in Kathmandu and the knitting men of Taquile Island in Lake Titicaca, Peru. Marianne has compiled her many journeys and teaching into a series of knitting books inspired from many parts of the world, and more are in the pipeline. The models in her books primarily stem from the different textiles and ceramics of the countries she has visited, but her ideas also flow from nature, everyday objects or even films and fairy tales. Despite these eclectic influences, her patterns still bear the hallmark of the simple Scandinavian style. Marianne Isager enjoys touring the country and holding lectures on her travel experiences and inspiration for her knitting designs. For a big part of the year she lives in Japan, but she is always in her shop / workshop in Tannisby, Denmark during the summertime.

SKU: 06KN5

Author/Speaker/Editor: Marianne Isager

Format: Paperback

ISBN 13: 9781931499989

Number Of Pages: 144