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Twist Collective Blog

Something new...

We’re excited to announce that Twist Collective customers now have more options at the checkout. Purchases can now be made by credit card (Visa, MasterCard, and Discover). Of course, you can still choose to pay via PayPal if you wish. Please be assured that our new merchant service for credit cards is secure.

Forest Mushroom Mittens

Elinor Brown

Forest Mushrooms is Elinor Brown's second design for Twist Collective. While her Hallett's Ledge displayed her eye for shape and texture, Forest Mushrooms highlights her skill with color and pattern.

In today's post, Elinor talks about her design process for these charming mittens. This post can also be found at Elinor's own blog here.


All of my favorite knitting books follow the people's history of the craft. Michael Pearson's Traditional Knitting is, as far as I'm concerned, the best social history of knitting ever written. Nearly all the others on my list of top knitting books are primarily concerned with mittens: Latvian Mittens by Lizbeth Upitis, Folk Knitting in Estonia by Nancy Bush, Selbuvotter by Terri Shea, Mostly Mittens by Charlene Schurch, Folk Mittens by Marcia Lewandowski, Magnificent Mittens & Socks by Anna Zilboorg, Favorite Mittens by Robin Hansen. And what about the Ukrainian folk story, The Mitten?

I love mittens with a story, don't you? Mittens are the most fascinating article of knitted apparel because no matter where they come from, they always seem to reflect the cultural and religious values of those who wore them. As contemporary knitters, we have lost track of the tradition of our craft. We knit for enjoyment, for fashion, to make gifts for friends and family; we drift from stockinette to cables to fair isle and back again, dabbling in all sorts of styles and techniques along the way with little regard to those who came before us. People like Lizbeth Upitis and Nancy Bush bring us back to the roots of our craft with their research in the folk art of the humble mitten.

Latvian mitten book

Last winter, while rereading Lizbeth Upitis' book, I followed a footnote to the text Latviesu cimdu raksti. Ornaments in Latvian gloves and mittens, by Irma Lesina, a text Upitis noted had many wonderful plates of mitten designs. Published by a small Nebraskan press in 1969, the book was long out-of-print. In fact, there were so few copies left in circulation that it took my university's inter-library loan service a month to track down a Canadian copy for me; needless to say, it was most certainly worth the wait!

alt

I poured over hundreds of traditional designs from Kurzeme, Latgale, Vidzeme, and Zemgale, recharting many stitch patterns that interested me. I created a large Excel file of stitch patterns, mixing and matching different ones as I went along. I remained faithful to regional distinctions, trying only to pair up patterns originating in the same region.

Copyright Jane Heller

Copyright Jane Heller

My Forest Mushroom design in Twist Collective Winter 2010 (Ravelry link) is one of the fruits of this lovely labor, combining several different motifs from the Kurzeme region of Latvia to be knitted with more contemporary colors at modern gauges.

Copyright Jane Heller

Copyright Jane Heller

The cuff is elaborately detailed and includes three distinctive brown and white braids before breaking into the mushroom-like pattern of the upper mitten. Unlike a traditional Latvian mitten, the top rounds off instead of coming to a hard point.

Forest Mushroom Mittens

The peasant thumb is placed with waste yarn and knitted in the mushroom pattern to blend in with the mitten body.

Forest Mushroom Mittens

Some designs you love more than others and these are one of my favorites; they combine everything I love about knitting: gorgeous colors, Latvian braids, long mitten cuffs, and old, complex, crafting traditions. Every knitter needs to make a pair of Latvian mittens in his or her knitting life, perhaps these will be yours!

Mittens on book

Halliard

For a while now, I've wanted a super warm sweater that was easy to wear. After seven months (I'm not kidding) of swatching and false starts, I finally managed to get what I wanted. Halliard has a kangaroo pocket, thumbholes that are hidden when you aren't using them, fun to knit cables and an easy to wear shape. Besides that, it's knit in an incredibly warm and soft, not to mention ecologically processed, yarn. Maybe all of this is why I have worn it every single day since I knit it. I think this sweater will be on me until the snow is gone. Just to make you giggle, here's a silly picture of me pretending I'm a supermodel. You can find the nicer and more serious photos on the shop page and in the magazine.


Halliard by Kate Gilbert (supermodel)

FINISH FEST!

Hi! It's Kate here. I've got a sweater that I've been working on for months. MONTHS! And I've decided that it must be done by February 1st, so I thought I would see if anyone else would like to join me in a FINISH FEST!

Do you have that one project with just a sleeve left? How about that finished cardigan that just needs a zipper? Almost everyone has that nearly finished object taunting them from the darkest corner of their knitting basket. Why not join our intrepid team in beating the winter blahs and starting fresh?

Marnie is going to finish a cardigan she's been working on. Irene told me she has some Sweetgrass socks that have been lingering. I'm sure everyone has something.

So let's do it together! And as if finally having something done isn't enough of a prize, anyone who finishes a project will be entered into a drawing for a twist pattern. Your needles will need something new! And who knows, maybe I can scrounge up another couple prizes! Post your progress and success to the Twist Collective FINISH FEST forum on Ravelry in order to enter. Posts must be up by the end of January 31st in order to be eligible.


FEBRUARY FINISH FEST

Blair

Thayer PreeceThayer Preece's first design for Twist Collective is Blair, a flattering cardigan with plenty of flattering detailing. Thayer tells us a little about her inspiration for this piece in today's blog post. She also posted this on her own site




blair

I was incredibly honored and excited when my cardigan pattern was accepted into the Winter 2010 issue of Twist Collective. Diving head-first into the world of sweater design has been quite an adventure!

Blair is a top-down raglan cardigan, knit all in one piece. The eyelet details give it some visual interest, but still maintain the simple quality of the garment, so that it’s suitable for everyday wear–perfect for throwing on over a t-shirt and pair of jeans. The simple construction makes it a good choice for all levels of knitters, and the simple shape makes it appropriate for a wide range of body types.

blair

Before I sent the sample sweater in to Twist, I couldn’t resist taking a picture for myself, even though it was much too small for me. I’m working on my own size now, and can’t wait to wear it! Though it’s shown in my picture below with negative ease, I would advise aiming for as close to zero ease as possible, or slight positive ease, depending on what you plan to wear under the sweater.

blair

I got the inspiration for this sweater while watching the Olympics last Winter. During the ice skating competition, I saw a girl wearing a sweater backstage with an eyelet detail running down the sleeves. After some swatching and brainstorming, I came up with the design you see above. When I saw the mood board for the Winter issue of Twist, and that it featured a segment inspired by ice skaters, I knew I had to submit it, even though I was pretty nervous about heading right into the big leagues with my first sweater pattern! The sketch I submitted is shown below:

sketch

When naming the sweater, I finally settled on Blair as an homage to Bonnie Blair, the 5-time Olympic gold medalist speed skater, who grew up in my hometown of Champaign, IL. Growing up, I took skating lessons on the same ice where she learned to skate, looking up at banners congratulating her on her wins.

I hope you enjoy this pattern, and I can’t wait to see what you create with it!

Blair can be purchased and downloaded from the Twist Collective, here.

The Ravelry page for the pattern is here.

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