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Twist Collective Blog

Designer Process: Corona

Carol FellerToday's post is brought to you by Carol Feller, designer of many wonderful Twist Collective patterns (like Corcovado, Trousseau, and Parcel, just to name a few). She shares her inspiration and design process for the wonderful lush circular shawl from Spring/Summer, Corona. You can keep up with her on her website, or on twitter.




Corona


The mood boards that the Twist Collective sent out for Spring/Summer 2012 had some wonderful textures and patterns shown on them, the one that caught my eye was the underside of the mushroom.  The concentric circles and outward ‘spokes’ made me want to create a circular shawl that evokes this basic concept.


Spring/Summer 2012 Mood Board


I began searching for lace pattern that evoked the lined inner side of the mushroom and I ended up settling on the zig zag ribbon lace pattern.  It created the spoked outward lines I was looking for and it created a wonderful texture.

I created the inner circle from side to side using short rows in garter stitch which mimics the inner stem of the mushroom.  To echo this inner stem the outer edge of the shawl/mushroom uses a garter stitch edging that is knitted on so it’s traveling in the same direction as the garter stitch inner core.

This was where I diverged from the initial concept.  Looking for good yarn matches I decided to try out a mini version using some Easy Knits ‘Deeply Wicked’ merino.  The bright yellow isn’t exactly mushroomy but it changed the shawl in my eyes from its mushroom beginnings into a sunburst.


swatch


The basic idea for this shawl is basic enough that it is easily modified.  If you just wanted to create a small circular baby blanket you just finish with the lace section early and begin the garter stitch border.

I really love circular shawls – you can leave them open, pinning at the front to create almost a circular cardigan,


Carol wearing her Corona open


or alternatively fold the piece in half and you’ve got a super warm semi-circular shawl


Carol wearing her Corona folded



How do you wear your circular shawl?

If Kate's daughter was our fashion consultant

This hat would be in every shot. Every single shot!


Spunky's best lid

Twist Style Fridays- Marnie

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.



Hi again! Carly here with another exciting installment of fashionable Friday! Today I played with Marnie, Kate Gilbert's sweet lace top. This item is a winner, friends. The boatneck and lace details are pretty and feminine, a three-quarter sleeve looks lovely on just about anyone, and you can adjust the length to be perfect for your shape and proportions. A higher neckline keeps things totally profesh, even if you're busty.

Here's how you saw it in the Spring/Summer issue-


Marnie


For my first set of looks, I stuck to a daytime vibe, but tried to show some different ways to wear this lovely sweater- layered over a fancy frock to dress it down; with a flowy skirt and floppy hat for a sunny afternoon stroll, perhaps along a beach; and with some truly awesome (okay, slightly outrageous) printed pants for a lunch event, museum date, or other slightly schmancy daytime occasion. I had brunch with my very sassy octogerarian Bubbie last weekend in Montreal, and she would wear the heck out of that outfit on the right, possibly with additional bling.

Styling Marnie


But let's be serious, this sweater can also be sexy. For this next set, I used a lot of a color that I hardly ever wear- black. I know I'm a weirdo in this respect- black is super useful. It matches everything, it's sleek, it's dressy, and it never goes out of style. So here we go, way out of my comfort zone.

Marnie for nighttime

Whichever way you wear it, wear your Marnie well! I can't wait to see more of these as FOs. Remember to tell us what you think of these outfits, and show us your styling ideas on Facebook or Twitter (#twiststyle).

Behind the Scenes: Choosing Submissions

Creating a knitting magazine isn't just about finding great designs and taking pictures of them. This series takes you behind the scenes from mood board to publication. You can find all the posts in this series, here.  

We would love to hear what you think of our behind the scenes series of blog posts, or any of our other posts. To get in on the discussion join us on Facebook.


In the last post, we talked about creating the mood board to go along with our calls for submissions. We give designers approximately a month to get back to us. We try to schedule submissions to be due at a time that is not completely bonkers. Ideally, we want to review new submissions during the lull when designers are knitting patterns for the upcoming edition.

We don't start looking at submissions until the deadline has passed at which point I take all the PDFs people have sent in, and put them together into PDFs of around 40 submissions each. Every submission gets a unique ID number, for ease of tracking.


organizing submissions in indesign
Compiling PDFs in InDesign.
This is Sandi Rosner's submission for Sanderling


Our review team is generally about 5-6 people. We create a spreadsheet with every submission, listed by ID number and the team goes in and marks the submissions they like most, any thoughts they have about what makes the proposal special and any questions they might have for the designer.


spreadsheet
We use Google Docs to track and discuss submissions.
Color coding helps us visually narrow the list


During this time, the team is careful to consider whether the designs they like are seasonally appropriate, likely to sell well, suitable for a wide range of body sizes, and sufficiently different from other designs we have to offer. It's not uncommon for us to absolutely love a design but be unable to take it because it closely resembles something scheduled to be published in the next edition. Great minds think alike, right?

From this spreadsheet, Kate assembles the "short list." The short list can be just a few more projects than needed to fill an edition or be half the submissions we receive. There is no set number for the first round on the short list. Items that really catch our attention land on the short list by merit of being fantastic, alone.

Based on the mood board, Kate divides up her kitchen wall into her mood board themes, or sometimes into color stories. She prints out the short list and starts assembling projects by theme and style. We try to come at the process as methodically as we can. Do we have enough great socks to do an entire sock shoot? How about shawls? Do we have a nice variety of construction methods, stitch patterns and styles or are we seeing a lot of the same thing?

This is a really challenging part of the process. The success of the edition hinges on choosing about 35 projects from several hundred, and making sure we don't overlook something great just because a person's drawing skills may not be top notch. Inevitably, we have to cut items from the list that we love, simply because we can't publish everything.

But eventually we do narrow the list down and we spend a couple days contacting everyone who was kind enough to send us a submission. I have to admit, I'm always sad to have to send people email telling them they weren't accepted. I hate rejections as much as the next person. It's always a little thrill to me when we are able to accept a design from someone whose submissions we've had to decline in the past.


choosing yarns
Kate's kitchen: submissions on the wall and color cards everywhere


The final step in the submissions process is yarn assignment.

As part of our submission requirements, we ask people to describe the characteristics of the yarn they want to use. Many people will provide a list of recommended yarns which helps as well. We work with yarn companies who help support the magazine, and we're lucky that the companies that do so, offer such a wide variety of gorgeous options. We try to assign hand dyers first, to socks, shawls and other garments that look good in hand dyed yarns, then we move on to the rest of the garments, being careful to find the best yarn in the color most suited to both the garment and the shoot we intend to put the garment in.


choosing yarns
More spreadsheets! This one for assigning yarn and tracking shipments


Assigning yarn can sometimes feel like an IQ test. One yarn might be perfect for two different projects, so which one gets the yarn? Or another yarn may be wonderful for a pair of socks but only comes in 1000 yard skeins. In the end, we may need to make a couple minor compromises but we like to think we're always able to find a good match.

The Twist Team: Sandi Rosner

When we go to trade events, talk with customers and do shows, people often ask us what we do, what our titles are and how we work together. At the end of each edition is our Masthead, which lists everyone on staff and their title, along with the many people we are thrilled to thank for their contribution to the edition.

In this series of blog posts, which you can read, in its entirety, here, we'll be introducing you to some of the people who help make this magazine possible. As always, we would love to continue the discussion and get your feedback on this or any other blog post, over on Facebook.


Kate Gilbert

Sandi Rosner is based in central California and is the head Tech Editor for Twist Collective. Since joining the team in 2009, she has reviewed nearly every pattern we publish and is the primary recipient of all emails sent to our This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. email address. She’s often the pragmatic voice of reason when the rest of us are feeling indecisive or overwhelmed and she’s the go-to person for anything knitting related. Whether you read her articles on topics like ease, seams and decreases or admire (and hopefully knit!) her patterns like Sanderling, Midtown and Lumen, you are sure to see Sandi's influence in just about every edition.

Talk about wearing many hats! It was hard to come up with just a few questions to ask Sandi, that would allow others to see her contributions, the same way we do, but I tried and managed to coerce a picture of her dog, Baxter, out of her too. I consider that a win.

MM: You have been working in the fiber arts for a long time, including a fair number of years owning your own yarn shop. What is it that drew you to knitting and especially design and tech editing?

SR: I learned to knit from the instructions in the back of a magazine when I was 18, and really never stopped. After too many years in a corporate career, when it was time for a major change, opening a knitting shop just felt right. Then it was just a matter of seeing which door was open and walking through. I had made up my own patterns for years, and started writing them down when people wanted the instructions for samples I made for the shop. A yarn distributor I knew asked if I'd do some designs for them, and others followed. After seeing some of my patterns, another yarn company asked me to tech edit.

When I closed the shop, it was natural to expand the design and tech editing work. This work suits me really well. I love living and working alone, and I work best with firm deadlines. Unlike those who have partners or children at home, I have the time and space to give the editing the focus it demands, and I get better at it every year. Designing fills my need to be creative, and tech editing works the analytic side of my brain.

shawl held by kate's dad
Baxter: Head of HR, PR and DIN-R


MM: With all this experience, are there times when you can still learn new things from reading other people’s patterns? Is there anything in particular that has really caught your attention, in a Twist pattern?

SR: I am always amazed at the creativity of knitting designers. There is always something new to learn. I particularly love the endless ways simple stitches can be arranged and rearranged. Robin Melanson's Bellevue from a couple of issues ago is a great example of basic stitches combined to great effect.


MM: You aren’t just a Tech Editor, you also design both for Twist and independently. What do you consider important in your own designs and how is that reflected in some of the garments you’ve created for Twist?

SR: I try to design things that will be a pleasure to knit and that I'd really want to wear. What else is there, really? I find that I'm drawn to classic silhouettes, lighter weight yarns, and straight forward stitch work.


MM: Are there any tips you’d give an aspiring designer who wanted to write a great pattern?

SR: Of course I have tips! First of all, don't throw every trick you know into every pattern. A single idea brilliantly executed often makes a more effective finished project. Second, respect the knitter. Do you really need to say "Sleeves (make 2)"? I think the knitter will be able to figure out that a second sleeve is needed. And if they only need one sleeve, who are we to discriminate against amputees? Third, remember this is knitting, not structural engineering.  The fabric we create is inherently flexible and will mold to the body within reasonable ranges. You probably do not need to size your pattern in 2" increments or put in the sort of shaping one would find in a tailored suit. And finally, ask questions. When in doubt, send your tech editor an e-mail and ask her opinion. It will save time for you both in the long run. Just the other day, I talked with Kristen Rengren about her design for the Winter 2012 issue. We were able to come up with a solution that simplified the pattern, making both her job and mine easier.

shawl held by kate's dad
Sandi's workspace and Crane Creek


MM: Are there any tips you have for customers to improve their knitting experience?

SR: First, relax. It's just knitting. When I teach, I'm always surprised to hear people use the word "afraid" in connection with their knitting. They're afraid to rip out, or afraid to try Fair Isle, or afraid of lace. This is supposed to be fun. There are plenty of things in this life worthy of fear, and knitting isn't one of them. Second, learn to love making a great seam. Your sweaters will look and fit better if you do. Third, if you get stuck, ask for help.  E-mail sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. lands on my desk.  With rare exceptions, I'll get back you within 24 hours. You might have found an error in a pattern (despite our best efforts, they happen), or you might be misinterpreting the instructions. Let me help you sort it out.


MM: What is the most rewarding/exciting aspect of your job at Twist?

SR: That's easy.  I love working with such a wonderful group of talented, smart, funny and supportive women. Kate has assembled an exceptional team. With every issue, I'm proud to be part of creating such a gorgeous product.


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