Twist Collective Blog
Ringo & Elwood: Design Process
Barbara Gregory, designer of Mimico and Ormolu, which both feature compelling and intricate slip stitch colorwork, has a brand new colorwork design for Twist Collective called Ringo & Elwood. Today, Barbara shares a little about her design process in making these charming mittens. Find out more about Barbara at her website.
Two activities were the impetus for this design. The first was a personal project which involved drawing a family of raccoons. I looked at lots of pictures of raccoons and was immersed in my drawings, postponing other activities. Then life interrupted in the form of an illness in the family; a deadline sailed by and the drawings were put aside unfinished.
Around the same time, I was designing and knitting a pair of colorwork mittens for women. I found them an appealing project, small enough that a detailed chart didn’t seem too daunting to knit. Mittens seemed a perfect small canvas for colorwork and image. (I remember idly wondering what cute image might be good for a pair of little boy’s mittens—because there’s never enough cute stuff for little boys.)
But for me, colorwork mittens presented a minor design problem when it came to the thumbs. I didn’t want a completely plain thumb, but having happily stranded two colors throughout the hand sections of the women’s mittens, I found I was reluctant to do so for the finicky little tube that makes a thumb. My solution for that design was to knit a plain thumb and then embellish it with a bit of duplicate stitch.
Apparently the thumb issue was still there in the back of my brain. It sat quietly until one day it collided with the raccoon from my drawings and produced one of those ‘Aha’ moments: the thumb! will be striped!
I was off and running. I measured a young neighbor’s hand and immediately sat down to start working out a chart. I wanted my raccoons to look friendly and happy, so it didn’t seem right that a child looking down at his two hands would see the raccoons facing away from each other. With the position of the tail a given, my solution was to pose the raccoon looking up over his shoulder so each one would have his head turned toward his twin. And for the back? The back! From that point I couldn’t rest until I had acquired suitable yarn—this was an idea that I couldn’t not knit.
When Kate Gilbert suggested doing a beaver as well I couldn’t resist playing with the chart. I soon realized the beaver would be brown on a gray ground, the reverse of the raccoon, and liked the positive/negative look of the two different mittens. I thought the beaver was a good way to add value to the pattern and might be welcomed by a knitter with second mitten syndrome. Knitting up the beaver mittens also gave me an opportunity to test the smaller size.
Some designs start as a vague concept, and have to be coaxed and prodded through much trial and error to a successful conclusion. This one arrived in a flash of inspiration which propelled me through to the finished product.
Find out more about Ringo & Elwood here.
Design Process: Greenaway
Today's post is by Amy Herzog, designer of figure flattering and beautifully detailed Greenaway and Twinflower. In this cross-post from her site, she talks about her design process for her Winter piece, Greenaway.
I am once again flattered and humbled to be in the company of so many wonderful designers for the latest issue of Twist Collective. Please, take a few minutes to go, look, be inspired, get lost in the stunning collection of creativity and skill there. I am not sure how the team manages to get such massive collections out (31 patterns in this issue!) three times a year, but I’m sure glad they do.
My design, Greenaway, began with some reminiscing about a certain style of dress my grandmother often made me when I was a child. They had fully smocked bodices, slightly ballooned sleeves, and cuffs made elastic by more smocking. If you grew up in the 70s, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about. Of course, a fully-smocked bodice isn’t really wearable for me at work, which is where I wear most of my sweaters. So I played around with the idea a little bit, trying to come up with a sweater that would be at home in my work wardrobe while keeping some of the girly, dressy feel from my childhood dresses. Something that I could wear with a beautiful skirt.
Originally, I’d started sketching and swatching without beads in the slip-stitch pattern, but as I was thinking about jewelry, I wondered what beads would look like in the stitches that worked the slipped stitch back into the main body of the knitting. I still had some left over from knitting Lucette, so I grabbed them and worked them in.
I loved the sparkle they gave to the design, and I loved the drapey, silky feel of the Blue Sky Alpacas Alpaca Silk that I used for the swatch. I knew that in a pure merino, the beaded section would feel less flat and drapey and more puffy/quilty. So when Kate accepted the design for Winter, we searched out a similar yarn that I could work in a slightly larger gauge.
Blue Moon Fiber Arts Peru was the perfect choice and I highly recommend it. I didn’t find it to be an aran weight, and preferred the fabric I got at 5.5sts = 1”. It was smooth, soft, and wonderful to work with, and of course the color (“In the Navy”) is just a dream.
The design changed somewhat from my original sketch, which is often the case and a really good thing. My original idea for buttoning the tighter cuffs wound up looking too bulky, and we wanted a smaller balloon than I’d originally drawn–something more like the cuff of a button-down shirt. Once those ideas were out of the way, all there was left to do was knit! The knitting itself went quickly, especially since the sample size of the sweater was quite small. So small, in fact, that it wouldn’t come close to fitting me, so while we were out to lunch I asked Thea if she’d mind trying on the sweater and me snapping a few pictures. I’m including them here so that you can see the hem–it’s a plain faced treatment.
I chose beads that were a little more subtle for the finished sweater; the light has to catch them just right for the full effect, which I think is great for a garment one could wear every day.
The sweater itself includes lots of design elements that you’ll recognize if you’ve been here for awhile: vertical darts for waist shaping, a trim and tailored fit, a construction that allows for lots of modification based on personal preference. I love square-necked tops and had wanted to use a square neckline in a design for some time, and it seemed to fit very well with the diagonal slipped stitches. The cuffs and neckline are trimmed with a small band of applied i-cord to keep things tidy and provide stability to the neck.
Plain backs drive me a little nuts, so I knew I wanted to include the beading detail around the back neck as well. I wound up using another square neck, which I think is both attractive and a bit unexpected.
The design is offered in 10 sizes from 29.75”/75.5cm to 53.75/136.5cm in the bust; I recommend that for most figures you choose a size that gives you about an inch of positive ease in the bust. If you’re large-busted, choose a size that gives you an inch or two of positive ease over your torso measurement (to take, snug a tape measure up tight in your armpits and measure around your torso there, above the fullest part of your bust) and add short rows or additional vertical darts (or both, if you’re very large-busted) for the fullest part of the bust. The sweater body is stockinette there, which allows for easy customization.
I hope you enjoy the sweater, and all of the other fantastic sweaters in this issue! You can find the pattern page with purchase information here.
Two books from two fantastic designers
Cathy Carron, designer of Bright Star, has just released a new book with the playful title, Cowlgirls. But don't be fooled by the title, this book doesn't cover just cowls, it has gaiters and balaclavas and snoods and more, ranging from simple to the most elaborate designs, all meant to keep you snuggly warm when the weather is cool. Whether you love knitting lace or cables or stripes or ribbing, there are patterns to please both the process and product knitter amongst you.
Check out Cowlgirls over at the publisher's website and pick a copy for yourself.
Get your copy of Brave New Knits here.
A story like any other
Hi! It's Kate again. I always mean to do a post about our photoshoots, but time always flies and before you know it, it's too late! Figured I'd try to do better this time.
For Une histore comme les autres, I was originally inspired by this screenshot from La ragazza con la valigia (The Girl with the Suitcase):
I started thinking that I really wanted to do a photostory as if the pages were film stills. A few months later, I was at a friend's house dyeing Easter eggs with our kids and her husband started taking beautiful photos of the eggs, the dyes, the sock I was knitting. He also happened to be a film maker. It was Mårten Ivert. It hit me: Here's the perfect guy to do this sort of shoot. He thought it sounded like fun so we met and planned it out. We looked at tons of French New Wave film stills and came up with an entire storyboard. His sister, Emma, (the model in the shoot) also worked for Filippa K so we were able to borrow clothes. It was all going to be perfect!
Then it rained. And rained and rained and rained and rained. But we decided to shoot anyway. We switched up the story just a little bit and toughed it out until it was too dark to shoot anymore.
Then, a few days later, we were able to shoot the last two "scenes."
In the end, I'm actually glad it rained. I couldn't be happier with the shots and the mood. I hope you all enjoyed it too!
Hi all! It's Kate. Just taking a little break from the winter issue preparations to say hello and share some photos from Rhinebeck. Irene and I were there scoping out all of the beautiful knits and yarns and fibers. We met lots of people we already knew and loved as well as new friends! Here are some of the twist FOs we spotted. I hope everyone will forgive me for not remembering all of your names. I also hope you'll forgive the super long post. I think all of these FOs are worth seeing!
And I was sporting one of our brand new (very large, heavyweight) Twist Totes.
Soon after, I finally got to meet Angela. She's in Vancouver. I'm in Montreal. So we finally met in New York after two years of talking. Makes sense, right? I'm wearing Tolovana (and Kirigami and Twin Oaks, actually - they're just hidden under my coat and shoes). Did You notice she's wearing Gwendolyn in the cardi version? We also spotted these two Gwendolyns.
Here's VTHuskies in her Stratocumulus and a (teal) Red Oak. VTHuskies (Abby) told us that she loooooooooved knitting Stratocumulus and that she thought it would be a fantastic first sweater for a newer knitter.
We saw several Hallett's Ledges. The one on the left was finished in the car on the way to Rhinebeck. And on the right, that's Mandy Powers. We also saw a really beautiful pink Hallett's Ledge but didn't manage to get a picture of it.
The smart lady on the left (someone help me with names!) had extra yarn from her Sylvi so she made a Sylvi-inspired bag to match. On the right is a brave soul who did a colorwork and cables Sylvi.
This is Michelle. She's wearing Hope's Gytha that she modified to make a cardigan! Michelle showed us her Eiffel Tower swatch. She's going to insert it into Cityscape and make the skyline how she wants it! I think that's awesome. In my imaginary knitting life, I would knit Cityscape to include the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building and something from Montreal.
Speaking of Cityscape, Irene sported the sample along with the Crown of Leaves hat. That's Becky Herrick that she's standing with (designer of Cambridge Cables). I'm sure you recognize Mary-Heather (designer of Promenade) and Orange Pop. And on the bottom right, that's the very cute Cheryl Burke (designer of Cottage Garden and Stratocumulus).
I can't wait until next year when we can see all of your other super ideas and visit with the animals again. Above is me (again) in Arboreal Beret having a quiet moment with the sheep.
If you see yourself or a friend and have a name and link for me, I'd be happy to put them in! I think the wool fumes killed my memory. You can email me at kate at twistcollective dot com.