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Twist Collective Blog

Designing Chambord

Karen Maple

Karen Maple's first design for Twist Collective is Chambord, which features a wide and elegant short-row garter collar. In today's post, she discusses designing this piece. This post can also be found on her own blog.

Chambord prototype

I was thrilled and honored that my first ever design submission was accepted and published in the latest issue of Twist Collective!

The seed of the idea behind Chambord was a stitch pattern in a scarf that used short rows with two colors of yarn.  I loved how with short rows, you could easily incorporate two yarns without stranded knitting and even without wraps and turns.  Looking at the simple stitch pattern, I played with how could I use it for a sweater.  I thought the best placement would be around the neck, and I created a simple cowl.  The first try with the short rows created a three dimensional fabric that nicely falls around the shoulders.

When Kate Gilbert first emailed me, she asked me if I would turn the cowl into a boat neck.  That same evening, I took out the very simple seaming for the neckline, and draped it on my dress form as a boat neck.  I loved the simple modification because the back and fronts could be identical, which provided a nice symmetrical feeling to the sweater, and the back is as dramatic as the front.

Chambord Prototype

The big challenge in designing Chambord was creating a matching sleeve detail.  The short rows easily made the collar wider around the edge for a nice drape but created a challenge for the cuffs.  I did not want the sweater to have bell sleeves as they often get in the way of daily tasks.  I created three rejected samples before I discovered the solution.  I could mimic the shaping of the short rows with reverse darts on the back of the cuff using the main color!


Because Chambord is designed to be close fitting, I offer three different versions of shaping on the body:  straight, waist shaping, and also bust darts in four different heights applicable to all sizes.   The design is offered in 10 sizes from 32” / 81.5cm to 50 ½” / 128 cm.

For color selection, I would simply recommend that the two colors have sufficient contrast.  The contrast could be with two different colors or the same color but one color be a light version, the second a dark.  A variegated yarn could also be used for the contrast color as long as it does not contain long repeats of color that blend too much with the main color.


I hope you enjoy the sweater and the other great designs in Twist Collective.  You can find the pattern page with purchase information here.

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!


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


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)


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.