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Knitting with Peruvian Yarns

Knitting with a Cause

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Knitting with Peruvian Yarns

Knitting with Peruvian Yarns by Jane Ellison.

Trafalgar Square Books.

Mirasol yarns are known for their beauty in both fiber composition and colors. Some knitters who use these lovely luxury yarns might not know that their knitting also funds a good cause: a boarding school for the children of alpaca herders in Peru whose fiber is used in the yarns.

Jane Ellison shares the story of the Mirasol Project and 25 easy but pretty projects for using the range of yarns in her somewhat strangely titled book Knitting with Peruvian Yarns: 25 Soft Sweaters and Accessories in Alpaca, Llama, Merino and Silk.

About the Book

  • Pages: 128
  • Binding: hardcover
  • Number of patterns: 25
  • Skill level: not given, but most are suitable for advanced beginners and intermediate knitters
  • Sizes: garments are all for women and available in 5 sizes
  • Illustrations: full-color photographs as well as a few artful black and whites
  • Knitting lessons: none, though there is a list of abbreviations and a 2-page section on reading patterns and some basics on how Ellison's patterns are knit
  • Publication date: April 2011

The Patterns

I say the book has a strange name because it implies a survey of different yarns made in Peru. In fact, the book only talks about and uses Mirasol yarns.

The book offers a brief introduction to the Mirasol Project, how it got started and what the school means to children who otherwise would have trouble getting an education (both because of distance and because they speck Quechua while public schools in Peru use Spanish). An overview of the qualities and content of each yarn is given (oddly, without pictures) and then the book delves into the patterns, divided into four sections: cardigans and jackets, sweaters, dresses and tunics, and hats, scarves and mittens.

Ellison prides herself on using relatively simple stitch patterns and garment shapes, allowing the beauty of the yarn to shine through as well as making her projects accessible to a wide range of knitters.

Some highlights for me include:

  • the high-collar, short sleeved cardigan, punctuated with bold buttons
  • the pretty cropped V-neck cardigan, using two colors and a slip-stitch patterns hat makes the project look a lot more complex than it is
  • the zig-zag, high-collared sweater, a sort of cowl-necked project with a bit of accent color at the edges
  • the tunic-length sweater with elongated neck opening (which also has contrast edgings)
  • the long, V-necked vest, using 4 colors and a slip-stitch pattern for a lot of interest without too much work
  • the chunky textured seed stitch floppy hat
  • the simple fingerless gloves worked in single-row stripes with what we'd normally consider the wrong side out

Bottom Line

These patterns offer lots of wardrobe basics with little details like lace, cables and colorwork that bring more interest but still allow the yarn to be the star. On the whole the photography in the book shows those details to great effect, but there are a couple of places where I wish there had been more photos or more detailed photos to show the projects -- and the yarn -- off.

Still, knitters who already know and love the Mirasol line are sure to enjoy this lovely collection of patterns made just for the yarn (while it is possible to substitute yarns, as with any patterns, the unique qualities of this range of yarn mean the projects are ideally suited to the yarn and finding an exact substitute would be tricky).

If you don't know about Mirasol yet, this book is a nice introduction to what the yarn is about and how you can use it to good effect in garments and accessories.

Publisher's website (see this link for pattern corrections)

Author's website

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