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Poems of Color: Knitting in the Bohus Tradition Paperback – December 1, 1995

4.6 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Many handcraft traditions are lost because no one records the history and techniques, even though numerous examples and practitioners still exist. Thankfully, Wendy Keele has prevented this from happening to Bohus-style knitting. Poems of Color shows this unique Scandinavian knitting style-- philosophy, really--in careful detail, elucidated by a number of the original knitters and beautifully illustrated with color photographs.

From Library Journal

Founded in 1939 to provide a source of extra income for skilled knitters whose families had been hard hit by the Depression, the Swedish knitting cooperative Bohus Stickning produced handknit garments of the finest workmanship and design for 30 years. Bohus knits subsequently became sought-after collector's items. Nine years in the writing, this is the first trade book in English about Bohus. Keele combines a history of the cooperative and its garments, designers, and knitting techniques with a selection of patterns that will interest contemporary knitters who want to make their own Bohus-style garments. The sweater patterns have been adapted to today's more casual oversized styles. Highly recommended.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Interweave; 2nd edition (December 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1883010128
  • ISBN-13: 978-1883010126
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #557,232 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Joanna Daneman #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
The Bohus Workshop in Sweden was started about 50 years ago and brought together creative designers and hand knitters to make some of the most stunning knitted creations ever. The wool was carefully chosen, the designs modern and timeless, with that ineffable Scandanavian flair. Sadly the Bohus workshop has long been closed. All that remains are some treasured vintage sweaters and...this book to document their history. And not only does this book document the history of Bohus Workshop, it also has patterns so you can make some of the famous designs yourself.
This isn't knitting for the timid; many of the designs boldly go where color knitting isn't supposed to go; there are patterns with 3, 4 even more colors per row. The colors are subtle and varied, knitted in an angora/wool mix to create the "shimmering" effect the Bohus designs were famous for. But if you embark on such a knitting adventure you will surely make a masterpiece you will wear or give with great pride.
A source for the kind of yarn that closely matches the Bohus mix is provided in the book, plus patterns for the famous fairisle-like yoke pattern models. Also included are jackets with matching designs to the yoke pullovers, mittens, and hats. You can certainly adapt the design to your own creations. Not all the designs require many colors per row; some are two color only throughout and some rely more on texture than color.
This book is worth reading for textile history, for history of women in clothing design, and for knitting history. And it's also a valuable knitting reference for people who like to knit their own designs as well as reproduce them from patterns. All in all, this book has a lot and is one of my great favorites.
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Format: Paperback
The photos in this book are glorious, and the story of the Bohus collective is inspiring. The book provides reconstructed patterns for Bohus-style garments at the back, and it is as far as I know one of the only places to find such patterns. These reconstructions are not technically authentic Bohus garments -- their gauge is a bit bigger and they use different yarn. So if you are a stickler for authenticity, buy a Bohus sweater kit online. If you are interested in learning more about the history of this kind of knitting and you want to knit a gorgeous Bohus-inspired garment, this book is for you.
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Format: Paperback
This book is specifically on Bohus Stickning knitting - a specific style that was produced in Sweden between 1939-1969. It has an interesting and thoroughly researched history of Bohus knitting. There are about 40 or so patterns in the book recreated from Bohus designs. For most of the patterns, you will find instructions for a pullover, cardigan and hat all sharing the same stranded colorwork design. There are also a number of patterns for mittens. Bohus designs are typically worked with laceweight or light fingering weight yarn containing angora fiber on very small needles. The effect is quite stunning - I recommend doing an internet search for Bohus images if you are unsure what the designs look like.

To address some of the negative feedback that others have left regarding this book:
1. This is not a book of Fair Isle patterns - Fair Isle is specific to an island off of Scotland, although many people now seem to use the term Fair Isle interchangeably with stranded colorwork knitting.
2. The photo on the front cover is not a tam - it is the yoke of a Bohus sweater. I'm sure with a little ingenuity you could create a tam using the patterns in the book, but there is not specifically a tamoshanter pattern in the book.
3. There are not Scandinavian snowflake patterns in this book. If you are looking for that type of pattern, take a look at Sheila McGregor's "Traditional Scandinavian Knitting", or one of the many other Scandinavian knitting books available.
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By fiberman on September 17, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I haven't done any of the patterns from the book yet, but boy oh boy has it given me ideas.

The book is well-written and loaded with illustrations of vintage Bohus pieces. The patterns and charts are clear - an experienced knitter should have no problem following them. The color work is well charted, for those who want design their own project around a favorite Bohus pattern, rather than re-creating one of the vintage garments.

I appreciate the pictures of the re-created clothing. The recommended yarns aren't as fluffy as the vintage yarns, so the colors don't blend the way they do in vintage pieces. The color work will "pop" more than in the original pieces. I imagine that one could substitute fluffier yarns (more mohair, angora, something) and then brush the finished piece for a more traditional effect.

Had I written this book, I would have concentrated more on charting the colorwork patterns rather than providing instructions on making entire garments. That is, I would have been even happier with this book had it included charts for more of the distinctive Bohus color work and fewer instructions on how to make an entire sweater.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'd hoped there would be more pictures of the historic sweaters. A great history and story of the women involved but I wanted to see the sweaters! I bought the book primarily looking for inspiration for a sweater I want to design for myself. While there are certainly some pictures (quite a few, sadly, in black and white--lacking the full effect of the poetry promised in the title) there are not nearly as many as I'd hoped. A great history/biography, not so great as a book about knitting design.
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