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Folk Style

Getting Folksy

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Folk Style

Folk Style by Mags Kandis.

Interweave Press.

When you think about folk style, you might think of country Americana, but there is so much more to the crafty art tradition, as you'll learn with a quick flip through Folk Style: Innovative Designs to Knit Including Sweaters, Hats, Scarves, Gloves and More by Mags Kandis.

The book features designs inspired by the folk art, textile and knitting traditions of Africa, Scandinavia, Mexico, Peru and beyond, as well as plenty of tips and inspiration for designing your own folk-based projects.

The Patterns

As with other books in Interweave's "Style" series, Folk Style jumps right in to the patterns. There's a wide range of options here, both in terms of the culture that inspired the pieces and the actual knitting projects.

There's a child's jacket inspired by Tibetan and Nepalese garments, a colorful hat shaped like an African fez, and a waistcoat shaped like a Greek garment and decorated with French motifs, just to name a few.

There are felted mukluks, a jacket inspired by patchwork and socks inspired by autumn in Canada using designs derived from Scandinavian knitting motifs.

Patterns are not rated by skill level, but nearly all include some colorwork, whether that's stripes, Fair Isle, intarsia or a combination. The few projects that use all or mostly a single color of yarn are embellished after the knitting is done with embroidery, decorative buttons or felted shapes applied to the surface (as in the skirt on the cover).

Those projects that are sized typically have at least three size options; projects for kids (there are three) have two or three sizes.

Standout patterns include Kandis' Modern Quilt Wrap, a mohair wonder worked in log-cabin-style squares; Gina Wilde's Appalachian Gathering Basket, a felted bag inspired by woven baskets of the region with Southwestern Native American motifs; the gorgeous Shanghai Surplice by Annie Modesitt, a fitted top decorated with shaped stripes and embroidered flowers; Lisa B. Evans' stunning Tribal Baby Carrier, worked in tons of different colors and patterns and lined with fabric for extra stability; and the cute Nordic Star by Ann Budd, a child's sweater with a traditional six-point star motif blown up to huge proportions.

Desigining Your Own

The Designer's Notebook section in Folk Style provides a lot of good information for knitters who would like to design their own knitting projects with folk flair. A good portion of the section is about finding inspiration and translating that into a design.

It covers such concepts as deciding on a silhouette, working with color, choosing design motifs, experimenting with different colors, yarns and patterns and how to get ideas out of your head and onto paper (and, ultimately, on to your needles).

There's a cool exercised that allows you to look at different motifs in a way that helps you see how they might look in a finished project that's a great way to learn more about color and how designs work on a large scale.

The book also provides tips for working with color, textured stitches and choosing edgings, felting and using embroidery and other embellishments in your projects. This is good information for designers of all stripes, even those who aren't particularly inspired to design a folk-infused project.

Bottom Line

Folk Style is a great book for knitters who like knitting inspired by ethnic traditions but with a modern twist or a fusion of cultures evident in the projects. There are designs here that will stretch even experienced knitters, but there are others that are simple enough for those with less experience.

Working a few patterns from this book (or even just studying the pictures and construction methods) will teach knitters a lot about using color in design and how to embellish their knits effectively. These lessons will be useful throughout a knitter's career and may change the way you think about a "plain" field of Stockinette Stitch forever.

Publication date: October 2007

Publisher's website

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Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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