Twist Collective Blog
A few years ago, I went to a wool and arts and crafts gathering at a farm near the Vermont border. I remember walking around thinking that I wanted to do a photoshoot there... of what? I don't know. This was a pre-Twist.
Fast forward to this past spring and I found myself in a café meeting with a photographer whose work I had admired. It turned out that Roxham Farm was her mother's!
I felt so fortunate to shoot at Roxham Farm. The buildings are beautiful. The animals were friendly and are treated well. Jane's mother, Sue, is charming. She dyes her own wool, spins yarn and knits all sorts of things from it.
Luckily for those of you who aren't that far away, the Roxham Woolgathering is coming up in less than a week!
The Wool Gathering - a country style craft show - has been going on for 18 years. The 40 artisans are carefully chosen to exhibit originality, excellence and execution. As the location of the farm is far from any café or restaurant, food has always been a part of the show. Last year, there were five nationalities of food represented. Music in one form or another is part of the festivities and usually a sheep is shorn as well and demonstrations are held, such as spinning, knitting, black smithing and potting. The entrance is free and parking is in a nearby field. The craft fair will be on the 11th and 12th of September, 2010, from 10 AM to 5PM, at 332 Roxham, corner of James Fisher, Hemmingford. (If you're coming from Montreal, follow directions to the Parc Safari and go past it to the end of the road, that's where it is!). For more information, you can call Sue at 450-247-2174.
Below are some outtakes from the shoot that might give you more of a taste for the lovely location! Maybe we'll bump into each other there. Say hi!
Design Process: Promenade
It's a little bit ridiculous, I know, that it has taken me just over 3 weeks to blog one of the most exciting things EVER, but... so it goes. The amazing Fall 2010 Twist Collective - you've seen it by now, yes? :) I was so, so honored to be a part of it! I was lucky enough to have a design chosen to be included: Promenade! (Ravelry link!) I have been a huge fan of Twist Collective since the very first issue, and to have a pattern in the magazine (in an issue just full of beautiful patterns from designers I admire) is really a design dream come true for me.
Promenade is a Regency-era inspired pullover with a very scooped neck on a slim, empire-waist bodice, puffy little cap sleeves, an a-line bottom, and a separately worked linen stitch tie detail. I've wanted to knit this garment for myself for so long - it's a simple, clean design, but has so many little style elements that I love and seek out in my clothing (seriously - give me an empire waist and cap sleeves and I'm a happy woman).
When my design was accepted, I happily threw myself into a period of research. Gotta love any type of research that allows me to watch Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, and the BBC Pride and Prejudice over and over (and, yes, over) again! I also dove deep into some serious eye-candy paintings from that era:
Sigh. So beautiful, right? I wanted my pattern to be true to the promenade dresses so popular during the Regency era, but without any costumey elements - it had to be wearable today! Luckily, so many style elements we see in those beautiful dresses from the era are nearly universally flattering. To me, a more modern look came through some minor changes, the most important being raising of the neckline (the first version of the bodice that I knit, which was more true to a "period" neckline, was rather saucy by today's standards! I am pretty sure that it would be hard to find modern undergarments that would have worked with a neck that was so very, very scooped). Kate Gilbert (who is so inspiring to work with) and I also both felt strongly that avoiding a white, cream, or pastel color would give the design a more contemporary feel. As you can see from the inspiration paintings above, there were plenty of beautiful rich colors worn by the women during the Regency period.
The yarn I worked with, Madelinetosh Pashmina, is delightful. A handpainted merino/cashmere/silk blend, it is luxurious to be sure... frankly, it's dreamy. It drapes beautifully and still has that great merino squishiness and memory. And of course, since we're talking about Madelinetosh here, the colors are just stunning!
I had so much fun playing with the details of this sweater, and it has been fun to see it added to faves and queues and even see some projects start up on Ravelry! There are many more construction details and notes on Promenade's Ravelry pattern page.
All the photos in this post are copyrighted by the fabulous Jamie Dixon... ok, yes, I'm biased because she is my friend, but she really is such a fabulous photographer. Jamie shot the entire "WWMHW" story of the Fall 2010 Twist Collective... yup, as you've no doubt seen already (if you are a Yarn Person), I got to model a whole story, full of gorgeous sweaters and accessories from some of my favorite designers (seriously), called "What Would Mary-Heather Wear?" Talk about exciting - and flattering, to have been included in such a fun way. More about that day up in the mountains (falling ticks and all!) to come in a few days. In the meantime, here is an outtake from the shoot:
Design Process: Gwendolyn
Gwendolyn is Fiona Ellis' eighth pattern for Twist Collective. See her other pieces; Bonnie, Rebecca, Pamela, Chartres, Paula, Lesley, and Mehndi to appreciate her fantastic range and attention to detail. Today's blog post will feature some of her inspiration and thoughts behind her intricately cabled Gwendolyn pullover and cardigan.
Many artists and designers have themes and inspiration sources that they return to over and over, and I am no exception. I find that this to be a cyclical occurrence and it can be a little like revisiting an old flame – it doesn’t take much to ignite the smolder and suddenly you find yourself in love all over again.
Along the way we build on each experience and over time begin to hone our skills with a particular subject.
So it has been for me with cables and Celtic Knot-work cables in particular. My love for them began when I was in university studying fashion knitwear design. I worked on a collection of cable designs that drew their inspiration from the rustic arts of corn dollies (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corn_dolly) and basket weaving, and I also looked at Celtic knots. But their intricate crossings and meandering paths seemed daunting to me back then, so I left them for another day.
I thought you might like to see some of the “rules” I have devised for myself for working these particular types of cables. I hope that these pointers might help you as you work through Gwendolyn as I always find that anything broken down into bite size pieces makes it more manageable.
I think of a traditional rope cable of being made up of two “cords” which twist around each other. When they diverge from this vertical placement the following things occur.
Picasso said: “painting is just another way of keeping a diary”, I also believe this to be true of our knitting projects. Each of my designs reminds me of what I was doing in my life when I worked on it - Gwendolyn is no exception. As usual as I worked on it I carried it around with me. I even took it to the pub one night as I worked on one of the sleeves. As it was an Irish pub I thought it seemed appropriate to imbue the project with some genuine Celtic flair. Because I was following my “rules” I was very happy to find no mistakes the next morning in spite of my liquid refreshment.
Design Process: Crown of Leaves
Cross posted from her own blog, Faina Goberstein talks about the inspiration for her beautiful hat, Crown of Leaves. This is Faina's first pattern for Twist Collective and also the topic of this season's Swatch It with Clara Parkes
This hat is my first design in Twist Collective. I can't tell you how proud I am to be on the list of designers who contribute to this online magazine. Fall 2010 issue is full of beautifully crafted garments and accessories along with interesting articles.
This particular hat's idea was triggered by a beautiful horizontal cable that reminded me of crowns, which my friends and I made out of maple leaves when we were children. Unfortunately, I do not have a quality photo of such a crown, but in this photograph taken in Russia you see the girl on the left wearing one.
Design Process: Issara
After a few failed submissions, I finally made it into Twist Collective, and I couldn’t be happier! Yes folks, I had tried to submit to Twist 2-3 times prior, but unfortunately, it wasn’t in the cards for me at the time.
I finally achieved my goal with Issara, which was published recently in the Fall 2010 issue. What made this even more exciting for me is the fact thatIssara is the cover for my particular storyline, Roxham Farm. I was already a fan of Twist Collective and of the artistry and designs in each issue. Now that I’ve experienced a small taste of what it’s like to be a designer in Twist, especially with the multiple layers of review that goes into each pattern, I am even more impressed.
Named after a good friend’s daughter (a Laotian name), Issara is a snuggly coat worked in bulky yarn with simple lines. The WOW factor lies within the back pleat and the oversized reversible cable collar that can be worn up, down, or somewhere in between.
The Idea & Design Process
Usually, when I design, I like to incorporate a feature element and/or versatility. And since I’ve been on a reversible cables kick lately, I really wanted a garment with a dramatic reversible collar. Thus, Issara was conceived. While I had a clear idea of what I wanted, some of the key elements in the concept required some tweaking and experimentation during the actual pattern-writing and design process.
In order for the collar to lay nicely on the shoulders when worn down, it needed to flare a little – I really didn’t want a straight funnel collar. To make a nice flare, I knew that I would have to work increases into the actual cable pattern instead of bunching it all into the beginning or set up section of the collar. I experimented with a few types of increases into the cable pattern. Lifted increases won over other types of increases because it met 3 main criteria: (1) increases had to be as invisible as possible, (2) they had to compliment and work with the stitch pattern, and (3) they had to look good on both sides.
Initially, I had intended the waistline to be a true empire waist. However, as I was working with it, I realized that the weight of the yarn in the skirt of the coat (especially with the pleat) may pull the waistline in a less than desirable way if I raised it to a true empire. So, I change the plan a little and worked the waistline roughly about 1.5″ above a natural waistline so that there is still an elongated silhouette, but without having to carry the extra weight if it was set much higher.
Because the coat is worked in a bulky yarn, Twist editor Kate Gilbert and I had some concerns that the pleat might be a little too thick and cumbersome in the back with all the layers. I really wanted to keep the pleat because I think it gives a nice balance to the dramatic and slightly flared collar; thus, I was determined to make it work. I experimented a little and I figured out a way to thin out some of the bulk in the pleat folding process: I bound off every other stitch in the center panel of each side of the pleat 2 rows prior the pleat fold. The photos below show the differences (click to enlarge) between a regular pleat fold and my thinned out version.
Photos above, clockwise from top left (click photos to enlarge): (1) work-in-progress shot of the skirt shaping; (2) the finished pleat from the private side (WS); (3) collar detail from the public side (RS); (4) collar detail from the private side (WS); (5) waist line and back pleat; (6) back view of coat with collar worn down
Overall, I found the sample a relatively fast knit. Seriously. I’m not just saying that because I’m the designer or as a fast knitter. It goes much faster than one anticipates because it’s worked in a bulky yarn. The slowest part of it, IMO, was the blocking, which took forever and a day to dry. Next post: Tips/notes on modifications, blocking, etc.