Twist Collective Blog
I am thrilled and honored to have my Calliope brioche socks published by Twist Collective. Even though the pattern bears my name, it’s amazing how much of a collaboration it really is, what with yarn choice, editing, layout, photography, and modelling. And a rocking sample knitter who made the red and purple socks, which totally sell the pattern.
I work with multiple colors whenever I get the chance, but go to great lengths to avoid working more than one color at a time. Mosaic, double knitting, duplicate stitch – I love them all, but brioche is my favorite.
There’s a lovely rhythm to brioche knitting. It makes a beautiful and luxurious fabric, and can be varied to achieve umpteen million stitch patterns, many of them reversible, of which, Nancy Marchant, to whom I am profoundly indebted for her trailblazing work, has documented all but a few hundred thousand (I tried to fit a few more dependent clauses in that sentence but ran out of commas).
Better yet, even after designing several brioche patterns, I’m still not entirely sure how it works. I’m endlessly entertained by the mystery of how on earth I’m actually producing that fabric. With designing, I have started to pierce the veil in places--try enough ways to make the perfect increase, decrease or cable, and something’s bound to sink in. But much remains opaque (such as how to drop down a column, fix a mistake and work back up; grmble grmble ratzen fratzen).
Yet another thing I love about brioche is that it’s an emerging style, so there’s plenty of room for new unventors to make contributions to the literature. Who knows, maybe it’s even possible to invent? There’s no way of knowing, of course. One can only say, well, I was unable to find instructions for this on the Internet.
So, I think I may have un/invented the stockinette short row brioche heel. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, really. In fact, when I made my proposal to Twist, I blithely sketched the stripes continuing uninterrupted down the heel, assuming I would easily find instructions on how to achieve this effect. Nope. No how. No where.
I set out on a quest to conquer the short row. The main thing I can tell you about the process is that there are many, many wrong ways to do stockinette brioche short rows. Finally I decided there might be only one right way to do them. This was an astonishing notion, because that is just not the way things work in knitting. In fact, I rather hope that stating my conclusion publicly will prompt someone to step forward and disprove it.
As a side note, I hope I’m not the only designer who writes down in excruciating detail exactly what she did, follows those instructions to the letter to confirm them . . . and arrives at a different result. This does not facilitate the xxvention process. Fortunately, the Kollage Sock-a-Licious was more than up to the task of repeated frogging and re-knitting.
Oh, and the name. I could write something high-flown about how the socks were inspired by the rowdy music surrounding striped big top circus tents and curlicued carousels.* But in truth, I was inspired by men’s stockings of the Regency era. Probably one didn’t find stockings with both stripes and clocks back then, and a dandy certainly would not have worn wool stockings. But one of the great things about inspiration is that it can accommodate a fine and appropriate disregard for the facts.
*By the way, the Wikipedia article on calliopes is an excellent read (although in my neck of the woods, we do NOT pronounce it "kal-ee-oap").
Rachel Erin is the talented designer who brought Voluta to the Winter 2011 issue of Twist. This entry is cross-posted from her blog, where you can also find tutorials to help you with the novel increases and decreases used to create these calligraphic cables. This is Rachel's first design with Twist, but you can find more of her work on her website, here, and follow her on twitter, here.
I did it, I finally had a design published in Twist Collective! Voluta is a wrap or drape cardigan with a cabled edging that I invented. It has eight sizes, and all kinds of design details that I love. It is definitely the most complicated thing I've designed so far, and the most complete, coherent idea, so I wanted to blog about the little things that make it special.
The cable. It uses closed ring cabling increases and decreases to make the loops and swoops .The bobbles at the ends are very small - as small as I could make them. To me they are like the serifs on the ends of calligraphic capitals, or the little knobs that often end swirls in wrought iron. It took some serious charting and swatching to get the point to both match and grow properly into the main motif.
The cross-over front. Wrap styles are flattering an a wide range of body types, and the great thing about making your own sweater is that you can position the buttons exactly where you want them to make a sweater that really hugs the curves closely, or skims over them more like the pictures here. I love the way it curves up a little in the middle of the bottom, too, creating movement and verticality at the hip area. I also like the way it hugs a little at the bottom, showing off that curve without being too sexy.
The Draped Look. Of course, I knew that the closely wrapped look isn't everyone's style, and the drapey, swingy cardigan is popular right now as well. To satisfy the desire for a freer look, I made sure that the cardigan would fit well at the shoulders so that it could hang open and swing without falling off. In fact, you could even use a shawl pin or decorative hook-and-eye at the top, around or above the armpit level, to fasten the sweater and let it swing free around your hips. The waist shaping that makes it hug curves when wrapped also gives it structure and keeps the volume from being overwhelming when open.
The shoulders. Below, you can see how the shoulder seam is offset. This is for two reasons - one, I think it is more comfortable and professional looking. Two, it helps make it easy to have the collar cables meet at the center back neck.
The symmetry. The cables are centered to meet in the same way at the neck and the center middle in the bottom. Mirroring the cables was one of the design challenges of this sweater, since the motif is fairly large. The raised neck is warm, and also part of what helps the fronts lay properly whether closed or open.
I think it looks beautiful here with the larger amount of recommended ease - it skims the model's shape in a way that is flattering yet cozy to wear; put together yet comfortable.
The sleeves.This picture above demonstrates why I chose the sleeve length I did. It may not seem intuitive to have a winter sweater with 3/4 sleeves. If the sleeves were full length, however, I felt that they would make the whole thing too bottom heavy, and the cuffs would compete with lower edging. Having them stop near the waist helps draw the eye upward. Of course, the individual knitter is free to lengthen them, but if your hips are bigger than your bust you may want to consider leaving the cuff detail off, or picking up stitches and working downward in stockinette stitch to
Here is one more picture, just because I think it's sweet one of me and my daughter.
Leah Thibault is the talented designer who brings us Wetherell this issue, as well as our first blog post from Winter! You can also find it (and more!) on her blog; or you can catch her chirping on twitter.
It’s been a big week for me a designer, I’ve had not one, not two, but three designs come out in the past four days. The one I’m perhaps most excited is Wetherell, which came out in the Winter 2011 issue of Twist Collective.
This design started way back in the early days of 2010, when I challenged myself to design a sweater as my 2010 knitolution. I’ve knit plenty of sweaters, and adapted a few, but I wanted one that was all me.
As with most deadlines, I procastinated and didn’t even start thinking of my design until early October, when I was doodling during a meeting and came up with this (and promptly dripped water on it):
The big question was how to do the diagonal feature on the yoke. After flipping through some stitch dictionaries, I deciding on modifying a slip stitch pattern. I love slip stitches because their woven-look texture and I find them less commonly used than other stitch patterns (though it is my second Twist pattern featuring slip stitches).
The downside to this heavy of a slip-stitch pattern is that is takes almost twice as many rows to get get the same length as Stockinette stitch. The upside is that it looks great and since it’s confined to the yoke and the cuffs, it isn’t overwhelming. The name for the sweater came when Bristol Ivy and I did this photoshoot in March. It comes from the copy of The Wide, Wide World I’m holding in the shoot, a 1850 novel by Susan Warner, published under the pseudonym Elizabeth Wetherell. According to Wikipedia, it is often acclaimed as America’s first bestseller (if you’re interested you can read the whole thing here).
The front and back of the sweater are knit flat, while the sleeves are knit in the round until the sleeve cap, then everything is blocked and seamed together. The sweater is finished off with a knitted hem on the bottom. All together it’s a simple sweater with the right amount of detail.
Both my prototype and the Twist sample were knit in Valley Yarn’s Williamstown, a worsted weight wool/acrylic blend in a lovely range of tweedy shades. I even found matching buttons 8 months apart in the button box at Z Fabrics
The pattern is available here!
Though I hate to say it, winter is coming. I think I may have even seen a couple snowflakes the other day. At least that means the winter issue is nearly here and we'll have lots of new things to knit and plenty of indoor days to do it. The issue will be up in less than 24 hours, so I figured I'd share some behind the scenes shots today.
The whole family helps out.
How many computers can you fit on the kitchen counter? At least five.
Want to take my picture?
No, horses, I swear there are no treats in this bag.
James gets the shot.
If you can't carry all of the clothes and props, wear them.
Christa Giles shares her design process for Asher in the following post, which you can also find on her blog. She has contributed many wonderful designs to Twist Collective, including Boundless and Lara. The lovely photos of the purple version of this cozy jacket were taken by Andrew Ferguson- Christa did a skills trade with him for American Sign Language basics! You can find out more about Andrew's work here.
Asher came to life after a trip to Portland in June 2010, with an hour (possibly more) spent at Yarnia combining a bunch of thin strands of yarn together to make myself a custom blend of chunky goodness. I didn’t have a plan for it at the time aside from “big cozy sweater” but swatching with it while on the train ride home eventually suggested that it liked the slip-stitch rib pattern I used for a simple scarf design, Picker’s Delight.
I also realized that the second yarn I had created at Yarnia, a blend of smooth strands that made a worsted weight yarn, coordinated nicely with its chunky sibling, and I started playing with combinations. Eventually, the yoke design was born, with garter stitch, concentric increases, and contrast piping to separate each ring. A needle size change helped the garter move smoothly into the slip-stitch rib, and I was off!
Okay, truth? That sweater is still in that state of in-completion. When I got the thumbs-up from Twist Collective after submitting this photo and sketch, I did my usual squeal and happy dance, and then promptly sought out a more commercially available yarn that would work. A shipment of Cascade 220 had been delivered to Three Bags Full, and in the process of unpacking, pricing, and stocking the new colours, this purplish grey caught my eye and stuck. The purplish brown was a good choice for the contrast trim, and both came home with me that night.
The biggest difference between my second prototype and the sample for the magazine? Weight. Cascade 220 held doubled is HEAVY… which can be pretty wonderful if you think that heavy + warm = perfect (I do!), but the gorgeous Berkshire Bulky from Valley Yarns knit up into a light and lofty sweater that would still trap heat but rest more easily on one’s shoulders! I loved the colour combination that Kate sent me, and was happy to knit the sample version as soon as mine was off my needles.
In case you can’t see it in the design lines, I was pretty inspired by Elizabeth Zimmerman. Her love of the knit stitch calls to me. Because I knit continental style, the slipped-rib pattern used here doesn’t feel at all like working a purl stitch. Jared Flood's version of her Tomten design was also in the back of my head - I love the contrast shoulder lines he created!
Some mods: my prototype has all of the contrast lines done as piping: four rows of stockingette stitch with a single strand of Cascade 220 which are then closed to make a rounded trim line (see Piper and Lallans for more of this accent), and a row of piping on the back of the hood just before the shaping begins. I designed a tab for the back, but haven’t actually sewn this on yet! Also since I’m on the busty side (in case you hadn’t noticed from that photo!), I shifted the break for the sleeves back a little bit on each side, so the front width is wider than the back width.
Vancouver has been having a wonderful Autumn, with many days of crisp sunshine and cool evenings spaced between the rainy drizzle that we know and love (or at least accept..), and Asher is the perfect outer layer to pop on over a tshirt and still be snuggly warm. I love the giant pockets and hood in this weather, and am designing more sweaters with these features!