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Twist Collective Blog

Designer Post: Farthingale


Fiona EllisToday's post is brought to you by Fiona Ellis, designer of the fetching Farthingale, as well as a number of other wonderful designs from previous issues (a few of my personal faves are this one, this one, and this one, just in case you were curious). If you want to know more about Fiona, check out her website or follow her on twitter.




rear view



If you have ever met me or have followed my work you will know that  I have a thing for I-cords. I even wrote a blog post about it here.

So it wasn’t a giant leap for me to start looking at corset lacings as inspiration for cables. When this little obsession hit I will admit that I spent a lot of time of Pinterest looking at the myriad ways one can lace a corset. As I set out to design cable that mimicked the effect I knew that I didn’t want to simply have I-cords threaded through the fabric. So I started to develop ways of crossing cables to give the effect of lacing but have them as an integral part of the fabric.


original swatch

As usual as I begin work on a new idea, there was much swatching at this stage and many samples that didn’t quite work. But working diligently through these false starts I find that you gradually find what is possible. When I am in the middle of one of these “periods” I spent lots of time trying to approach my initial idea from several different angles. This leads me to what I call “work in series”. Which mean that often times I come up with several different designs originating from the same source material. In the past I have had my Tree Bark period, my Celtic Knot period, my Morphing Cables period and so on…and that’s just the cable designs. So I began my Corset Lacing period- Farthingale is one of the resultant designs, but watch out for others coming along.



To further re-enforce the idea of corsetry, I placed the cabling at the sides of the garment and set waist shaping either side of the panels so that the cables appear to cinch the sweater in at the waist. The eyelet patterning is a reference to the lace that I think always goes hand in hand with corsets.I was thrilled when I saw the photos of Farthingale, as they showed it with just the perfect amount of sexiness that I had hoped for.


Finished Farthingale

Yes Farthingale’s name is a reference to corsetry but really a Farthingale is a large hooped device worn under dresses in the 16th & 17th centuries, but hopefully you can grant me some poetic license on it.


Designer Post: Vinland

 Elizabeth McCartenElizabeth McCarten brought us the lovely Vinland accessory set, which you can read more about below. She is also the designer of this ladylike cardigan, and this great unisex one. Read all about her inspiration for her newest Twist pattern, and keep up with Elizabeth on her blog, here





Every winter, at the time when colour and light are precious, I inevitably end up browsing through one of my all-time favourite knitting books, "Poetry in Stitches", now sadly out of print. The lush photography of Scandinavian knits and winter countryside never fail to inspire. It was around this time of the year in 2012 that I designed my Trellis Vest. Last winter, I wanted a special hat and pair of  mitts. Clearly there's some connection between the dead of winter and my need to work colourful stranded knitting.

I'm also a fan of the art of William Morris, the artist and medievalist who influenced the Arts and Crafts movement and writers such as J.R.R. Tolkein. Looking out my window was all I needed to do to see reminders of his work.



Hydrangeas basking in the early morning November sunshine



Crabapples lingering in the January snow


My new hat and mitt set was inspired by Morris' work, not in imitation of it. I wanted to evoke the dense botanical look of his art, but in a simplified version,


hat! another look


and I wanted to create a rich texture on top of the colour pattern. The hat has a picot edge and Latvian braid, as well as little french knot "berries". The latter developed out of an experiment to incorporate the knots from my Buttonbox Waistcoat into a colourwork format. After the prototype you see above was knitted, I did some further tweaking of the design to give the hat a slightly more pillbox silhouette, as you can see in the final version.
The prototype mittens were knitted using colours from my stash.
Imagine my delight when the colours Kate chose for the magazine model echoed Morris's wallpaper design, "Seaweed".
From my copy of "William Morris, Artist, Craftsman, Pioneer", by Ormiston and Wells
And where does the name of my design come from? Well, the reference to vines is obvious from the vines and berries pattern. But look closely, and you'll see there are waves too, especially in the hat. And there was a Scandinavian influence. So, add all three up, and what do you get? The land discovered by the Vikings along the east coast of Canada--Vinland!


Twist Style Friday Double Trouble: Bevel and Couronne

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.


Happy Friday lovelies.


It's getting to be that time of year, when the weather cools a bit more, the leaves drop, and people start thinking about winter. If you're a small-space liver like me, you're packing away summer clothes and busting out the sweaters that have been in boxes or suitcases in the dark recesses of some closet. Personally, I love winter, and not just because it's an opportunity to drape myself with epic quantities of wool on a daily bases (though that is totally a reason).

For those of you who are less enthused about the falling mercury, take solace in this: a new issue of Twist is baking right now. That's why I'm featuring *two* sweaters on Style Friday this week; we have fewer weeks before winter launch than we have sweaters left to style. I won't say by how many, because I'm sneaky like that.


Let's look at the sweaters.




So beautiful, and so different!! Couronne is a stunning floral yoked cardigan with an easy shape. Those flowers repeat down the sides, see?


side view


For stying, I've imagined it a bit like a girly jacket; perfect for throwing on top of a cute dress and tights to fight off the early morning chill.


Couronne four ways

Yes, those *are* velvet shoes on the bottom right, and no, I am not sorry. Not even a little bit. I also highly recommend stacking floral patterns. I can't wait to see the gorgeous color combinations knitters dream up for this one. I also saw a clever knitter pullover-ize this, and it looks awesome.

So. Bevel. The lines are gorgeous; ropy cables crossing the body. Let's be serious, this is a sexy sweater. Let's have another view, shall we?


detail shotback view


Maybe you should take her out on the town.


three outfits


How will you wear Bevel? What about Couronne?




Five Questions with Alison Green


Alison GreenAlison Green has contributed nine lovely designs to Twist Collective. Her patterns are clever combinations of classic styles and modern twists. See more of her work here! Follow the whole Five for Five interview series here.





some of Alison's designs

(Bernhardt, Little Liza Jane, Tiveden, Jaali)

1. How did you learn to knit?

When I was in high school (and college), I was a theater kid, and when I was 15 I was in a short play based on an Edith Wharton story called Roman Fever, playing an old lady who knitted throughout. I was always into arts & crafts, so I asked a friend to teach me to knitting, and I was immediately obsessed. I knit a bunch of garter stitch scarves, before my mom bought me some private knitting lessons in our church's service auction, and I learned continental knitting, purling, and started working on my first sweater  (it was not wearable, but I learned a lot).

2. What was your biggest knitting/crocheting/designing disaster?
I love doing stranded colorwork, and years ago I fell in love with a sweater in a book mostly based on the awesome charted pattern and the color combination, although the photography made it hard to see the shape of the sweater (that was the first red flag that I missed). I knit the body, and vaguely noticed that the armholes (which were steeked) were rather long, but it was a drop shoulder sweater so that didn't see that unusual. When I knit the sleeves, I found it odd that the cuffs were quite tight, with lots and lots of increases to a very large upper arm. I didn't think that was going to look very good, but I just blindly followed the pattern anyway. I cut my steeks, sewed the sleeves in, knit the neck (ignoring the little voice telling me that I wanted a deeper neckline), and when it was all done and I put it on it was just so unflattering! I never wore it out of the house. It was unwearable, and unfixable. I still have it somewhere, and sometimes idly consider turning into a felted bag or something, because I do still like the colorwork pattern and the color scheme.
a couple more
3. If you could go back in time to when you started designing, what advice would you give yourself?
I would tell myself not to wait so long to really commit to being a professional knit designer. For a long time I told myself I could never make any money in this business, and so I spent my twenties and early thirties trying to figure out a different career that I could make a better living that I would still find fulfilling. Finally I gave in and went with my real passion and what I'm best at - knit design and technical editing - and while I'm not exactly making big bucks, I'm enjoying life more and finding a place for myself in this industry.
4. What is one of your guilty pleasures?
I love binge-watching TV, and it's not unusual for me to watch the same shows (and certain movies) over and over again, especially when I'm knitting on a deadline, which is most of the time. I just watched the entire series of The Office, and some of the early seasons I've seen probably 4 or 5 times. Other series I've watched multiple times in their entirety are Freaks & Geeks, Buffy, Veronica Mars, and Party Down.

5. Finish this sentence: If everyone knew how to knit...

maybe random acquaintances would stop asking me to knit stuff for them. They could just do it themselves, or at least they'd understand how much time and effort goes into knitting!



(Klimova, Ossel, Petronia, Finial)


Twist Style Friday: Doverfell

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.


I was having a conversation with a friend over the weekend about city versus country living. This other person was busting up some of the misconceptions I had about living in a smaller, more spread out place, as I've only ever lived in a city or suburb close to a city. My major argument was this: in a place that is mostly farmland, not only do I have no place to get fabulous shoes, I have nowhere to wear those shoes and have them appreciated. 


This conversation has been marinating for a few days now, and I've been thinking a lot about why we wear the things we wear. A lot of it is about ourselves; our self image, what we are preparing for, etc. But it's also about how we interact with the world. Clothes can be conversation starters, clues to someone that you're on the same team. Appreciating other people's outfits and having mine appreciated can be an important and community building experience. Generally I try to dress for the day I want to have, and I want all my days to be colorful and interesting.


After a weekend of several social engagements where I planned all my outfits super carefully, and also didn't get a lot of sleep, I was a little under the weather this week. I have a weekly breakfast date with two of my closest ladies, and this week, I got there first. My friend Krista came in and was shocked that I was punctual, and dressed in black. I just wanted to be cozy, and was in dark jeans, a really soft black long sleeved shirt, and a black cardigan. She almost didn't recognize me.


I wish I'd had Doverfell to wear. It would have been just the cozy thing, while still being bright and beautiful.




I have a serious crush on this sweater, and my favourite parts are the textured panels in front and the shape of the hood. It's just so darn cute.


 hood up!


Right now in Toronto, there is a David Bowie exhibit at a local museum, and fashion features prominently in the show. I'll admit that half the reason I want to go is to see what everyone in attendance will be wearing. It's sort of the theme for the set of outfits below; I thought about how three very different women might wear Doverfell at the Bowie exhibit.


three outfits


How will you wear Doverfell?


Doverfell for kids!


By the way, did you notice that Doverfell is also available in kid's sizes?? How will your small friend wear Doverfell??