Saturday, October 09, 2010

Review: Worldwide History of Dress

Throughout many posts on this blog, as well as whenever ANYONE asks my opinion, I will say that my favorite kind of knitting is "ethnic" or "folk" knitting.  I love the traditional styles, colors and shapes of these classic designs.  Using modern yarns, with the spectrum of available colors and fibers, allows for a very nice ability to design traditional knits with a modern twist!

Where do I get ideas for designs? 

Well, I've got all the books in Interweave Press's "folk knitting" series:
as well as many others about specific country's/ethnic group's knitting styles:  Fair Isle, Aran, Andean, etc and inspirational titles such as Cut My Cote and The Folkwear Book of Ethnic Clothing.  And these are all great for getting the creative juices flowing or for learning traditional techniques and special stitch manipulation, but sometimes I just needed more ... more color ... more detail ... more something.

And the answer came yesterday.  I just got a book (thanks to birthday gift money and Amazon credits) that far surpasses any of these books for sheer inspiration and education in all things worn to adorn.  The Worldwide History of Dress by Patricia Anawalt is a huge volume (600+ pages) with drool-inducing pictures of traditional and modern wear for just about every culture in the world. The book sections are split out geographically:
  1. Middle East
  2. Europe
  3. Central Asis
  4. East Asia
  5. South Asia
  6. Southeast Asia
  7. Oceania
  8. North America
  9. South America
  10. Africa

Published by quality book publishers, Thames & Hudson, the book has over 1000 illustrations (with about 900 in full color) with the details necessary to really see what is being worn, how it's being worn and the text tells us why it's being worn (religious, climate, spiritual and traditional).  Anawalt, the founding director of the Center for the Study of Regional Dress at the Fowler Museum (on UCLA's campus), includes information such as dimensions of the garments as well as details on other adornments -- jewelry, hair styles, etc. 

Talk about inspirational:  the color-combinations, the shapes, the design elements ... it's just hard to imagine all this packed in this one, albeit huge, book. 

The only problem: it's too fat and heavy to read in bed!  So, clear the table, warm the teapot and I'll be busy the rest of the afternoon.

Happy knittin'
Mary C. Gildersleeve
By Hand, With Heart -- hand-knit designs

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