Twist Collective Blog
Designer Post: Why I knit from patterns
Today's post is by Andrea Rangel, designer of the lush Scribe mittens from our most recent issue of Twist. She tells us about how valuable it can be for designers to knit patterns written by others. We love that she chose another Twist design; and a real beaut! You can also find this post on Andrea's blog. Enjoy!
I spend most of my knitting time swatching and working on design projects, which is really creative, engaging work, but it also takes a lot of effort and thought. It's a huge treat to pull out some stash yarn and just follow the directions that someone else has already written up.
It's hard to make time for knitting from patterns, but I do schedule it into my work day now and again, and not just for fun (though it is really fun and relaxing!) I was a knitter for years before I used a pattern, but when I decided to really start designing patterns, I realized that in order to be a good writer, I would need to be a good reader. I learned what makes a good pattern (and a bad one, for that matter) by knitting from patterns. I learned about what needs to be included, where stitch counts are helpful, and why schematics are so vital. By knitting from a lot of patterns, I learned some standard ways of making socks, sweaters, and hats. They taught me about repeats and why math matters so much in knitting (hello, gauge!)
So now that I know all of those things, why do I still find it valuable to knit from patterns? There is always more to learn. There is always something I didn't think of. Knitting from patterns is a vital part of my professional growth because when I follow someone else's instructions, I'm given permission to just roll with it. I don't have to do it my way, but instead I get to try out a new way. I learn to think outside my established style of designing when I knit from a pattern, which gives me new tools to take back to my own designs.
Vym, for example, was the perfect side project. (From Twist Collective, Spring/Summer 2010) Rebekkah Kerner used a standard sock shape - top down with heel flap, short row heel turn, and gusset shaping - to create a bold and clever pattern.
My a-ha moment in knitting these socks had to do with the needle sizes. Kerner recommends using multiple needle sizes to adjust for the density and lack of elasticity of the color work. It's nice to have a sock stitch pattern that draws in a bit, like some kind of ribbing, so that it will go over your heel, but still be snug around your foot, but there are so many wonderful stitch patterns that don't include those properties. Color work is particularly inelastic, so lots of color work patterns call for extra shaping that might not be necessary with a different stitch pattern. Kerner's solution was to use a larger needle for the ankle, and a smaller one for the foot. Simple and effective! The socks are pretty short compared to the standard, and I think that if they were much taller, they would require a bit of calf shaping, but as is, they fit perfectly and slip on and off easily as well.
I was a bit hesitant about the short length, but after knitting and photographing them, I think they look fantastic. To wear them with my tall boots, I wear my leggings over them and inside my boots, which works really well for comfort, but doesn't show off the socks. I'm looking forward to warmer weather when I can wear them with my Mary Janes and a skirt, which is, I think, their true purpose! Besides, them being a bit short meant that the knitting went really fast! (No second sock syndrome for me!)
The color pattern is really intriguing, and while I wasn't able to memorize it or easily follow it based on earlier repeats, it wasn't difficult, and I only had to tink back for incorrect color work a time or two because I wasn't paying attention.
So thank you, Rebekkah Kerner for an educational experience, and a very sweet project that makes me happy every time I put them on my feet.
I do also have to mention the yarn I chose for this project - Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in Lichen and Sassafras. Last year when I was helping out in the Hazel Knits dye studio, I particularly requested a rich gold color after seeing this luminescent lichen growing on a wall near the studio. I've used this color to design with before (with Jam Session in Nerine from Clotheshorse, Winter 2012/13), and I have no doubt that I'll use it again. Lucky me to get to wear it on my own socks too! And if you haven't taken a close look at Sassafras, do it. From far away it may just look like a wonderful semi-solid gray, but there are so many more colors in there. (Yes, I adore Hazel Knits - see Char from Woodsmoke & Ash for another example of Sassafras.)
How about you? What have you been knitting just for you? Any good lessons learned from patterns?
Quick Dispatch: Bon Voyage!
Some of our Spring garments went on a little trip. Packing them all up was extra fun. We can't wait to show you the results!!
Twist Style Friday: Berwick
Every Friday we feature one of the garments from the magazine in a post about styling. We suggest different ways to wear the garment in question using mock-ups from Polyvore. We encourage readers to tell us what they think about these outfits via our Facebook page or Twitter, and if folks want to make their own outfits, please tweet them at us with the hashtag #twiststyle. You can find all of the Style Friday posts here.
Hello fashion-inclined Twistfans! We have arrived at another Friday. This week, I am sick! I am wearing a grubby t-shirt and stretchy pants. I haven't put on real clothes or mascara in a few days, because I have barely left my bed! So I bet you can understand that I went for the snuggliest, coziest, comfiest garment I could find in the latest Twist. I present to you the winner.
Berwick! Kristen Rengren's delightful kangaroo pullover seems like the most wonderful thing to be wearing when there's a chill in the air. I'm thinking late summer evenings, autumn afternoons, snow days; apres surf, apres ski, apres anything!
I would like to be wearing it with my stretchy pants and handknit socks until I feel like a real person again, but enough about me. Let's talk about clothes. I think the styling from the shoot is spot on; if you're into classic sillhouettes, a more voluminous top can be balanced out with a trimmer fit on the bottom. I think it's easy to see, too, how you could swap out those leggings for jeans, or cords, or dressier cigarette fit pants. If you are fimly planted in the "leggings are not pants" camp, you can add in another layer and put on a short skirt or minidress to bring down the hemline somewhat. What else could you wear with Berwick? Lots of things! In a punchy color, the outfit on the right (especailly with the boots) could read daytime or dressy, but if the sweater was black, with glossy buttons, it could almost go formal.
So, loves, how would you wear Berwick?
Design Process: Granville
Fiona Ellis knows about cables. She knows about lots of other things too, but she sure has a knack for creating beautiful fabrics by making stitches contra dance. Check out some of her cable-icious designs from past issues of Twist- if you need more convincing (or, just look at them anyways.... because SQUISH)- Harriet, Gwendolyn, Mehndi, Lesley, and Breckenridge are some stunners. In this post, she shares the inspiration for Granville, and tells us about the dreamy yarn she got to use for it.
I am so thrilled to see the wonderful response from knitters to Granville. It is a cable design that I have had loitering in the wings for quite some time.
My swatch for it had been originally worked just as a class sample for my Morphing Cables workshop. Then every time I pulled it out to show students it always had a nice response but for some reason I didn’t think of working it into a full garment design…one of those doh moments when it finally dawned on me.
In the class I have everybody cast on a bunch of stitches and set up a rib pattern. Then I teach my students how cables move, wave my magic wand to put them in full control of their swatch and tell them to play.
I love to approach my designing in just this way; casting on and just knitting to see what happens. Every time the cords of the cables meet you can decide where they go from here, like choosing which fork in the road to take. It is a technique that I often use to generate initial ideas.
When I was preparing for the class I made several samples that all start out from the same rib pattern that I set for my students and the foundation for Granville was one of these swatches.
The added bonus of this project was that I got to work with Sweet Georgia Yarns for a second time. I have until recently not really paid a whole lot of attention to hand dyed yarns for cable patterning. The multi color ones that are sooo appealing in the skein are often just too busy when combined with intricate cables. You lose the patterning and it doesn’t serve the yarn well either. But semi-solid or tone on tone hand dyed yarns add a visual texture that I have now discovered looks really great with cables especially if they are larger in scale.
The name? That is in honour of my meeting with Felicia Lo of Sweet Georgia Yarns when I was in Vancouver last year. We had lunch together and she brought me the yarn for the project along. So it seemed fitting that I named the cardigan after one of the most popular spots in the city. You can read about out meeting here.
Here are two lovely finished Granville sweaters, made by Manon Charpentier (left) and Jennifer Nashmi (right). Thanks for sharing your projects with me!!
Quick Dispatch: How Many Cameras Do You Need?