The recent (and sustaining) return of the poncho/scarf/wrap to women's fashion didn't begin with the elite designers and a good marketing scheme, but with the booming number of knitters who long to create useful, beautiful things with all of the amazing yarns now available to us. We love yarn passionately, so how could we not wrap ourselves up in the stuff given the chance? How gratifying to see fashion bending to the desires of the wearers instead of the more typical "slave to fashion" mindset!
"Ponchos and Wraps" from the XRX "knitters's dozen" series is a terrific entry into the current trend. The patterns inspire rather than intimidate. By providing patterns with several interpretations, I feel encouraged to experiment with yarns, colors, needles, length, widths, etc. The styles have quite a range, and the presentation made me believe that wearers of any age and size could adapt them to their own taste. Of the 22 patterns and respective variations , I find myself wanting to make nearly half of them. Whether you want to accent an evening gown or throw something over your t-shirt and jeans, this book provides ideas for both and everything between.
I was enamored with the ridiculously simple "waterfall" stoles and scarves (I smacked my forehead with a "Why didn't I think of that?!") as soon as I saw how it was done (what a thrill to drop a stitch on purpose for the entire length of a project!). The cabled capelet won me over as an alternative to my many cardigans. There are several variations on the mitered square that make my fingers itch to experiment with color and texture (Noro, anyone?), and the "All Seasons" poncho will look great with my jeans and khakis. I've never done entrelac before, but I think the shrug is an ideal first project (it's merely a modified rectangle). If you like lace, there is a terrific interpretation of EZ's classic "Pi" shawl which becomes a graceful and warm "coat" of sorts. It's really beautiful. There are even some ideas for weaving to add texture to your work.
In all, there are about 9 versions of the poncho, 5 capes/capelets (a nice diversity there), about 7 wraps/stoles, and the simple shrug mentioned above. Lace, weaving, mitered squares, variety in styles, and the directions are concise and clear; add all of these things to the large number of projects and it's well worth the moderate cost.