Twist Collective Blog
Devonshire: Amazing Fiber
Pamela Powers debuted her first design last year, with her retro inspired Sunny Day. She's back with another beautiful layering piece, Devonshire, and in today's blog post, she talks about the yarn she used to knit it. This is a cross post from Pam's own blog, which you can find here.
I had the privilege of working with Catherine Lowe’s Couture Yarns for my design Devonshire in the Twist Collective Spring/Summer 2011 issue. When Kate Gilbert contacted me to discuss yarn options, I must admit I was a little intimidated but very intrigued by the concept of Catherine’s yarn. When ordering yarn, you can custom blend the fiber content and gauge. I chose a DK weight blend of Royal Baby Alpaca and Silk.
I ordered 1400 yards of yarn which arrived in a box slightly smaller than a shoe box, containing two balls of the custom blend yarn and one small ball of the silk / mohair for the optional ruffle around the collar. As if that wasn’t startling enough, the appearance of the yarn was unlike any yarn I had ever seen. As you can see in the above photo, the ply of the yarn is very distinctive--the plies run parallel to each other rather than twisted together. The reason behind this is brilliant, but I’ll let you read up on it in Catherine’s words to truly give it justice.
After knitting a swatch, the real fun began. The yarn is treated with sizing that is removed with washing and blocking. The finished result is a beautifully soft, lightweight fabric that had both sheen and a slight loft to it as seen in the “before” and “after” swatch photos below.
In January, I attended Catherine Lowe’s class, “Basic Techniques of Couture Knitting” in New York. Catherine not only has incredible technical and design skills, she also is a very lovely, articulate and patient teacher.
Spring in December
When Twist is ready to photograph the spring/summer projects, there's usually at least a foot of snow at our headquarters. That may actually be what a lot of you see in spring, (I know I did, growing up in New Hampshire) but we want an edition that brings to mind warm weather and bright sunshine. If money were no object, we'd jet set to some tropical location and shoot beautiful knits while sipping ridiculously fruity and extravagant cocktails. We'd probably also never return home.
Instead, we make due with what we have. Frequent Twist Collective photographer, dyer and all around great person, Jamie Dixon, opened up her home to Kate and me (Marnie) in the middle of December, for our Two For Tea shoot. While New Mexico has wonderful light and relatively mild weather in winter, it's not exactly springy looking, unless you think of spring as being particularly...brown.
Scoping out the perfect picnic spot, we had to find a way to make New Mexico's deep dark browns of December look bright and cheery. It would need to start with some sweeping. Dead leaves aren't very springy.
Enlisting a little help from one of our models and Mary-Heather, we got to sprucing up the location
Paper lanterns and ribbons bring those vibrant spring colors we were craving, and a little tarp protects Margaret Mills' lovely blanket from the dirt and debris.
We had spent the previous day matching garments to accessories and raiding the home of one of the Sweater Girls for all those amazing props from the shoot.
Our beautiful models, Amy and Jaclyn, were real troopers. It may be New Mexico, but December in Albuquerque is still pretty chilly. As we set up shots, the models kept themselves bundled while Jamie and Kate got all the little details perfect.
My job was to make sure we didn't miss any shot and to generally be helpful and such.
Sometimes, being helpful involved looking like Mary Poppins to keep the sun's glare off the models' faces.
Jaime and Kate stop frequently to check images for the proper light, composition and clarity of details.
And here's a little extra surprise for you all, Kate didn't just run the shoot, she also did a bit of modeling.
This was my first shoot with Twist Collective (and, incidentally, the first time meeting Kate and Jamie in person) and it was a long hard day of work, but it was also great fun to get to see the magic behind the scenes. When you think of all the creative resources that go into making each shoot a reality, it makes the resulting story in the edition, all the more charming.
A big thank you to Jamie and Mary-Heather for stuffing us full of food while we were in town. I am a sucker for chiles when they are verde and you did not disappoint. Here's hoping I'll get to go back again someday soon.
And that about covers my little behind the scenes for our Two for Tea shoot.
Jenn Jarvis' third design for Twist Collective, Stellar, is a great layering piece for those breezy spring days. In today's post, she talks about her original prototype. This is a cross post from her own blog. You can also see her other Twist Collective patterns; Argyle Jacket and Kerouac.
Since I hadn’t ever taken pictures of my green Stellar prototype for you I figured I do a little mini photoshoot so you could see another version of it.
This one’s in Frog Tree Alpaca, so it’s a little more drapey, but the texure is hidden. The O-Wool of the orange one is great for stitch definition and I think it will wash up really well, but I think I’d like to try making another in a different yarn. Something with a little more drape or loft (but without the halo of the alpaca) and see what happens there. I can’t wait to see pictures of ones other people make.
I made the neckline a little too wide on this one, so it falls off my shoulders a little bit. I made the neckline a little closer on the actual one for the magazine. It’ll wear so much better (and easier! Picking up my neckline all the times is annoying). I also made it a little longer in the body and in the sleeves. Not everyone is as short as me. (You can tell in the silly pictures I took of me in the orange version. Those sleeves are hanging.)
Follow the instructions for the collar join exactly as written in the pattern. The orange collar looks perfect. This one, not so much. I’m not showing you that join. It’s a little sad. Making a prototype really helps work out all those funky little construction details the first time around. It’s hard to take the time to make protoypes for everything, so I try to swatch all the little details as I’m knitting. Deadlines make that difficult sometimes though.
I love the I-cord buttonbands and collar trim. It looks nice and knits up so easily. And the sewn-in hems are so nice. They require a good wet blocking to make them stay in place, but after that the collar has a nice drape, the hems stay in place and everything falls a little better. I love a good wet block – it cures so many evils. I do need to take a razor to my sweater though. The pills are getting out of hand.
Carol Feller's latest design is Trousseau, a shawl in two sizes. This marks Carol's fourth contribution to Twist Collective, along with Parcel, Azami, and Necco Wafer. In today's post, Carol talks a little about designing her shawls. Check out Carol's site here and find out more about Trousseau here.
I love the concept of the ‘Pi’ shawl; working outwards from the central point with increase rows being spaced further and further apart. After the first few increases you have a wonderful large canvas to use for your lace stitches without needing to worry about fitting the increases in! This can make for very relaxing knitting as there is less counting as you work though it to ensure you have worked all of the increases every row correctly.
Smaller Raspberry Shawl
Larger Caribbean Shawl