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Inca Knits: Translating Incan Imagery into Beautiful Knits

Aug 21, 2009

With her designs inspired by Africa (Knitting Out of Africa) and Japan (Japanese Inspired Knits), Marianne Isager has taken us on quite a trip. Now she gives us Inca Knits, a book of beautiful designs that were conceived while Marianne travelled through Central 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, a reversible, double-knit sweater jacket. It's really beautiful and the 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 wonderful 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 circles 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, La Paz. This sweater was inspired by the "explosions of color" she saw there, especially in a beautiful woven belt. The labyrinth motif is interesting without being overwhelming, and the color choices are endless. Click here to download Bolivia.

This pattern is classified as an intermediate pattern because it requires steeking and stranded two-color knitting. Marianne provides a section on stranded knitting in Inca Knits, which will help you perfect your technique.

I find my biggest challenge 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've found; 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, this sweater will be as much fun to plan as it is to knit!


P.S. Check out our new Tuned in to Knitting Daily TV blog post. You'll be fascinated by the blanket project that's demonstrated this week.  

Knit Cardigan Patterns From Knitting Daily: 7 FREE Knitting Patterns

Every knitter has dreamed of the perfect cardigan pattern that he or she might knit some day. From a cozy cable knit to luminous lace, this free ebook will be your dream come true. This is a wonderful and varied collection of cardigans-which is one of the most important pieces in your wardrobe. You'll want to make every one of these knit cardigan patterns, so download your free eBook now and get started (and don’t forget to tell a friend so they can enjoy their own copy!).

Download Your Free eBook Today



Featured Products

Knitting Out Of Africa: Inspired Sweater Designs

Availability: Out Of Stock
Price: $24.95


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


Japanese Inspired Knits Marianne Isager Collection

Availability: Out Of Stock
Was: $22.95
Sale: $15.98


Marianne Isager blends traditional Scandinavian knitting with a distinctive Japanese influence.


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+ Add a comment


mozarella wrote
on Mar 13, 2011 1:27 AM

beautiful patterns

lisaprozzo wrote
on Nov 18, 2010 4:01 PM

I am working on the sweater named Pacific.  It is gorgeous but has errata in the directions for the increases for the sleeves.  I have a private instructor who was able to work out an easy correction.  I'll try to explain it. Each increase round increases by 2 sts. Look at the directions to locate the increase rounds.  Just before the 1st st. of the increase round and staying in stripe pattern, pick up the same color bar  front to back onto the left needle and knit thru the back to twist the st.  transfer this st. onto your right needle.  Then continue knitting the round in pattern including knitting the last st. of the round; you then come to the M1 that you already did. Using the same color as this 1st M1, You will use this st. to make the 2nd M1 st.  Knit thru the back of this st., not taking the st. off the left needle;  then knit thru the front of the 1st M1 and now move both sts. from the Left needle to the Right needle.   Each time you come to an increase round repeat this process.  After a few of these rounds you will see a "V"  pattern that maintains the stripe pattern  I hope this helps.  I am a fairly new knitter so my directions might be confusing.  

barbara@3 wrote
on Aug 22, 2009 8:19 AM

That sweater is georgious however after reading the pattern I have a question or two.  What are Steeks? and my other question is are the diagnal lines and horizontal lines knit in or are they applied after the garment is finished?

SUSANB@70 wrote
on Aug 22, 2009 12:08 AM

I can't crochet anymore (right elbow damage) but I still want to make a granny afghan.  I need knit patterns that mimic crochet squares.  Help!

SUSANB@70 wrote
on Aug 22, 2009 12:08 AM

I can't crochet anymore (right elbow damage) but I still want to make a granny afghan.  I need knit patterns that mimic crochet squares.  Help!

Austrace wrote
on Aug 21, 2009 5:24 PM

Just downloaded and printed off th pattern   thank you  looks like a challenge  

now as i live in Australia  i just need to locate the yarn  or similar    any ideas anyone please

mrsCWmouse wrote
on Aug 21, 2009 2:27 PM

I just wanted to say, "Thank you!", to Marianne for her sweater pattern, Bolivia. It's beautiful, and has single handedly forced me to finish up my Christmas knitting early so I can cast on for a Holiday present for myself...this sweater! Thank you!

remove wrote
on Aug 21, 2009 2:17 PM

... still unable to download pattern on Saturday.

on Aug 21, 2009 2:17 PM

Hi All,

The Knitting Daily site was moved to a new server last night so there are a few blips that are being fixed as quickly as possible. In the meantime, here's a fresh link for the Bolivia pattern.

Take care,


thistle12 wrote
on Aug 21, 2009 2:09 PM

Patience, everyone--it looks as though the former links have been turned to highlighted unlinked text while someone goes and fixes things.

Vibj wrote
on Aug 21, 2009 2:01 PM

Have tried several times to access link, first it was blank.. now says access denied.

RuthM wrote
on Aug 21, 2009 1:36 PM

Nothing seems to be working on your site today for me.  When I click on "click here" in yellow on this web page, nothing happens.  When I tried to click from the newsletter to open the Bolivia free pattern, the site wanted me to sign in.  I did, it responded, Hellow RuthM, and also told me access denied.  SImilarly, when I tried to open the bead  page today, it refused to even open the webpage--no such page or some such message.  Lots of glitches.  I hope you will fix them so I can actually use your site.

LorettaB@3 wrote
on Aug 21, 2009 1:34 PM

Hope the links are fixed soon would love to knit this sweater.

Celiza wrote
on Aug 21, 2009 1:33 PM

Link did not work for me either.  Then I got access denied.  

Janet@162 wrote
on Aug 21, 2009 1:31 PM

Help!  I can't download the "Bolivia" pattern either.  It keeps saying "access denied".

Mia wrote
on Aug 21, 2009 1:23 PM

The link in this posting doesn't work. When you can get through using the link in the email, I keep getting Access Denied.  Is there a problem? The site was also down earlier.

barbara@3 wrote
on Aug 21, 2009 1:23 PM

I want to download the bolivia pattern and have been denied access what's up?

AliciaM@8 wrote
on Aug 21, 2009 1:13 PM

Lovely sweater! Please fix the link to download the pattern. It seems lots are getting "access denied" messages. Thanks, Alicia

LindaA@3 wrote
on Aug 21, 2009 1:03 PM

The link doesn't work to download "Bolivia". Ditto for the link in the newsletter.

AnjaT wrote
on Aug 21, 2009 1:00 PM

Same problem as the rest - I was told acces was denied ... please re-email with correct link ... thank you for all those beautiful patterns!

Mistral wrote
on Aug 21, 2009 12:59 PM

Very much like the Bolivia pattern but although I clicked where it said nothing downloaded.


SueG@last wrote
on Aug 21, 2009 12:50 PM

Beautiful lines.  Please correct links and re-email when available.  Thank you.

julie@6 wrote
on Aug 21, 2009 12:49 PM

link doesnt seem to work.

Lnand wrote
on Aug 21, 2009 12:47 PM

Bolivia is lovely! It reminds me of the ski sweaters from the 50-60 ties. I'm lucky enough to have found a few in fleamarkets (in Norway). This one I want!

A tip re stranded knitting - it's important not to knit losely! Rather go down a needle size to ensure a flat fabric and avoid puckering.

PatriciaB@51 wrote
on Aug 21, 2009 12:33 PM

The links don't work for em either but I'll check for them later. Beautiful sweater.

on Aug 21, 2009 12:32 PM

No kidding, when I finally got through, the site told me my "access was denied" so my happiness at getting through was dampened almost immediately.  Oh well, I'll wait until tomorrow, maybe things will be cleared up by then.

DeannaN wrote
on Aug 21, 2009 12:23 PM

The links in the post don't seem to be working correctly (1:25 PM CDT).