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Twist Collective Blog

Design Process: The Story of Vivian

 by Ysolda Teague

from her original post here 

Vivian combines elements of traditional Aran and Gansey sweaters with a flattering fitted silhouette. Darted waist shaping is worked invisibly into the large cable patterns that run up the front and in the back seed stitch panel, giving a perfect fit with the illusion of a nipped-in waist. Knit seamlessly, the sleeves are joined with the body at the underarm and worked in one piece to the saddle shoulders which are worked back and forth, joining to the body stitches as you go. Unbroken cables run from the flared cuffs up the sleeves over the saddles and eventually join together at the centre of the hood.
 
 
 
The whole thing started with this sketch, which I sent to Kate, along with the Little Birds and Keyhole ideas back when she first contacted me about the magazine. Kate said she liked the idea, but wanted to use it for winter (at that point they were taking submissions for the first issue) - great, I responded and promptly forgot all about it.
 
 

There are some obvious common elements, but my sketch doesn’t exactly look like the finished design. That’s pretty normal, at least for me, maybe because I don’t actually sketch out most of my ideas they all tend to evolve on the needles. And in this case, honestly, I was a little bored by my sketch by the time I went back to it, so I grabbed a couple of stitch dictionaries and decided to make it more interesting. The problem with that was that I not only made the design more interesting (in my opinion!) I made the pattern writing, especially the grading really ‘interesting’ and the knitting more time consuming.

We picked out a yarn, easy - I think Kate and I have reasonably similar tastes, and a colourway, not so easy but I think we were both pleased with what we’d choosen. This was it.
 
 

Yeah, that looks different too. It’s a beautiful yarn and I was excited for it to arrive so I could get started. When the tracking claimed it had arrived in Ireland, I was just pleased that it would be with me in a day or two. Except it wasn’t. And then the tracking said something about out to delivery, still in Ireland, and I started to worry. Lots of phone calls later and we had no idea where the yarn was - not even whether it was in the Republic or Northern Ireland, but neither postal system claimed to have it. The clock was ticking.  Time for plan B, and Kate basically said "it doesn’t matter so much what it is, as long as you like it. Just get some yarn now". Hmm… ok.

"There’s some Fyberspates Chunky Scrumptious in the shop I work in, and the dyer is lovely and might be able to help, how would that be?"

"Ok, what colour do you want?" We picked olive as a first choice. I called Jen at Fyberspates, explained the situation, and she wasn’t in the least bit fazed and told me to take whatever I needed and she would replace it. I called Katherine the store owner and asked what colours she had in stock, preferably in the chunky. Only the olive in a large enough quantity. Perfect! and although it wasn’t what we’d planned, I think it turned out very well. 

 
But actually working out how to do that, in ten sizes, did not flow together at all. But with the help of my fantastic tech editor, Alison, I ended up with a pattern that I’m very proud of. It was quite a saga to get to this point, and of course this is really only the beginning. I hope you like Vivian and I can’t wait to see your versions appear. I’d love to knit Vivian for myself, I even picked up some yarn on my trip to New Lanark, but I have no idea if it will ever happen, too many other things to work on right now, sigh! But I can still dream of a bright red, wooly Vivian, maybe with a fabric lining - wouldn’t that be great?