Knitting Book Reviews

Andean Inspired Knits
by Helen Hamann

Helen Hamann presents her first book of knitwear designs, Andean Inspired Knits: Designs in Luxurious Alpaca, a collection of patterns inspired by the pre-Columbian textiles of her native Peru and South America. Along with the exclusive designs, Hamann includes details about pre-Columbian culture, the origins of alpaca and their development through this rich period in Peruvian history.

Due to the dry desert conditions of coastal Peru, textiles dating as far back as 2000 B.C. have survived to the present day, providing an extensive pattern library. Textiles were highly valued during the pre-Columbian period, used as regional currency with the best alpaca fabrics being surrendered to the monarcy as tax.

Hamann utilizes alpacas for the patterns in Andean Inspired Knits, choosing the textile both for the role the animals played in pre-Columbian Andean culture and for the unique luster, warmth, softness and durability. The traditional patterns from which Hamann draws her inspiration were rendered in alpaca or llama. For this book, she works from the five cultural periods existing prior to the Incan empire: Paracas, Nasca, Huari, Lambayeque and Chancay.

Experienced knitters will enjoy Hamannís approach to form and fit, her non-traditional silhouettes using short-rows and the bold geometrics dominating her designs. Many of the design elements that make her collections popular on the fashion runways, are featured in Andean Inspired Knits. Beginners will find inspiration in Hamannís designs and colour choices. Duplicate stitch and embroidery are utilized to reproduce some of the detailed patterns of Paracas, Huari and Lambayeque textiles.

Helen Hamann, a native of Peru, is an internationally known knitwear designer and founding member of the International Alpaca Association. She currently resides in Decatur, Tennessee.

Reviewed by Janelle Martin

Janelle is an addicted reader and a book reviewer for Armchair Interviews. A passionate knitter in what remains of her free time, she wonders, "Why can't we knit at work?". Her blog can be viewed at

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