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Twist Collective Blog

Design Process: Celestarium

Audry Nicklin


Today's post was written by Audry Nicklin, designer of the amazing Celestarium, the starry shawl from our newest issue. In this entry Audry explains how she knitted the sky. Literally.  You can also find it on her website.




Celestarium detail


Celestarium started it's life in early 2011 with the question, "Wouldn't it be cool if there was a shawl that was also a star chart?" Of course knitting a star chart seemed utterly crazy. How do you even chart something circular that has no pattern repeats. Although the idea was neat enough to earn a sticky note on what my brother lovingly refers to as the "Beautiful Mind" wall, it seemed impossible, so I tried my best to think about other things.


Sticky Note


Except that the idea kept bugging me. It seems obvious now, but it took me 6 months to determine that the only way to chart the sky accurately was to make a circular chart. After an unsuccessful search for a circular pi shawl chart, I ended up building one in Illustrator using a polar grid as a starting point. Eventually the chart was printed out, taped together, and hung on my window so I could refine the design.


chart taped to the window


Being from the northern hemisphere, Polaris seems like the logical center of the shawl. That ended up being the only easy star to chart. As it turns out, there is no standardization to constellations, so several sources had to be checked for each constellation before adding them to the chart.


Source material


The next big job was to make the piece knit-able. A big circular chart is wonderful for graphing, but an absolute nightmare to knit from. I toyed with different ways to keep track of star placement, but settled on placing a stitch marker every 36 stitches. Star positions were refined to make sure there were exactly 36 stitches in between each marker. No marker has to be moved in order to get the star placement correct. Additionally, all increase rounds do not have any stars, which makes the knitting go much smoother. As a bonus, the pattern includes a chart of the constellations so you know exactly what you have knit.




After 18 months of development, I finally was able to knit up the first version. Call it a coincidence or Providence, but right as I was looking into publishing the pattern Twist Collective's mood board landed in my inbox. One of the themes was macrocosmos with an image of stars. The rest is history.



Twist Style Friday: Koleine

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 sartorially inclined readers! Carly here with our first installment of Style Fridays since the (oh so recent) launch of the Winter issue. I had trouble deciding where to start styling, there are so many gorgeous garments in this issue. I hope you've had a chance to leaf through it slowly and drink in all the pretty. It's so exciting to be part of a community that creates so much beauty- all you knitters included!

So. Onto the clothes. We begin in Koleine. Check her out; she's a dish.


Right?? I mean reallly. The graduated welts, the simple cables, the generous collar; this sweater is cozy and elegant and super flattering. I don't use the word "flattering" a lot, because often what people mean by that is something like "makes you look skinnier than you are" and I don't personally think that skinnier is always better, or that people have to work towards concealing things about their bodies. I think all bodies are good bodies, and when I say that I think a garment is flattering, I mean that I think it would look beautiful on a large variety of body shapes and sizes. That said, I want to give you a closer look at that waist detailing; check it out. Curvy ladies- this sweater was made for you.

Waist Detail

So we've seen Koleine casually, and I wanted to play with this sweater in ways that were a little dressier; even (dare I say) business-casual.

Three outfits

All you really need is a knee length skirt and a smart bag to take her to the office. How would you wear your Koleine??

Winter is here!

Or the winter issue is, at least. It's a good time to get going on some new knits so you can be nice and toasty when the cold arrives in your neck of the woods!

winter preview

Quick Dispatch: It's Almost Wintertime

Close your eyes and count to one hundred. No peeking.


tiny preview

Design Process: Ahni

Julia TriceToday's post is brought to you by Julia Trice, designer of this lovely pullover from our Fall issue. Julia has contributed many wonderful pieces to the magazine, and her designs are always characterized by classic shapes and thoughtful details (case and point- Nyame, Evendim, and Wingspan, just to name a few). In this post, which you can also find on her blog, Julia shares how she combined a few simple elements to create a really gorgeous sweater, that can be worn in lots of different ways!




One of the things I've learned over the last few years of designing is to pay attention to elements that I like in clothing, and to try to understand why I like them and what feel they impart to a design. For me, this comes in handy when I want to tweak a design to create a specific mood, but it is also useful for any knitter who likes to personalize a pattern with modifications.



Julia's Sketch

The original sketch submitted to Twist.


Ahni uses a couple of different elements to achieve various aspects of its overall look. I started with the stitch pattern. I love texture of all sorts, but I tend to knit a lot of lace and cables, and I wanted to explore other textures. In looking through stitch dictionaries, the little scale pattern stuck out to me. I haven't really seen it used much (at all? I'm sure someone somewhere has used it!), and it has a lot of nice advantages: 1) it's easy to work; 2) it's fun to work; and 3) it has a very small pattern repeat which makes it a dream to grade. The third advantage won't matter to many of you unless you decide to tweak the pattern, but believe you me, it makes any potential tweak so much easier. The little scale pattern on its own has a pretty amorphous character. Worked in a sport weight yarn it could be delicate, but at a worsted to aran weight it has a much more substantial, rugged feel.



stitch pattern detail- sleeve

Check out that lovely textured stitch.


I've noticed that designs that really draw me in have an element of the unexpected, even if only subtle. So after deciding on the textured stitch pattern in the heavier yarn with a woodsy feel, I wanted to juxtapose it with some femininity. A good way to do that is with the neckline. Necklines are really important to me. They may not be radical, but they are always purposeful. The scoop neck on Ahni is a perfect example. It's sexy. And do you know why? It's all about the collarbone. Everyone has one, and when showcased properly they are just lovely. The scoop neck highlights your collarbone by creating those long rows of ribbing that all lead to it, while at the same time not revealing a lot of shoulder or cleavage. That means sexy, but yet everywhere appropriate, which is a nice feature. It elongates the neck in a swanlike manner. You can use a scoop neck like Ahni's on just about any pullover and instantly give it a touch of romance. It's a nice tool to put in your arsenal.



Ahni in Twist

With the model's hair pushed back you can really see the neckline.


I wasn't quite ready to stop at femininity, though. I wanted just a little more character. Unlike many of you folks, although I love the look of vintage on others, it doesn't usually work out so well on me. (And I prefer to design things I can wear!) There are a few exceptions, however, and one of them is deep waist ribbing. Add deep waist ribbing and you can give a sweater an instant 1950's feel - va voom! - yet still have the piece look modern.



Dr Steph's Ahni

Dr. Steph of ravelry models her finished Ahni.


The last thing I decided on was the sleeves. I went with set-in sleeves to continue in the vein of femininity. There is just not another fit like them (well, maybe a contiguous sleeve, but that's another adventure), and when you want to portray a touch of elegance a fitted set-in sleeve is a good way to go. The deep ribbing on the sleeve was an easy choice - that was simply to blend. It mirrors the waist and neckline nicely and doesn't draw attention away from either.



Vintage-y shot of Dr Steph's Ahni

I love this photo - vintage-y and fun.


So that was the thought process. If you don't already have a good idea of what you like and why, I highly recommend going into your closet and noticing things like neckline, waist, and sleeves and thinking about what they do for you and how they make you feel. Then the next time you want to change the aura of a pattern up just a little bit, you will have elements in mind to draw on. I had great fun going through this process with Ahni, and I hope that those of you who end up knitting it enjoy the details as much as I did.