Twist Collective Blog
Styling your Twist handknits
Hi! Carly here- one of many behind the scenes Twist tinkers. Today I'm geeking out over fashion, and hoping you will too.
Tell me if this story sounds familiar; you see a sweater in a knitting magazine or book and fall madly in love. You find the perfect yarn (maybe even in your stash) and lovingly swatch (or lovingly don't, you rebel). You work on it furiously, falling more and more in love with your amazing creation. When it's finished, you are elated! Then you find that it is actually kind of difficult to work it into your wardrobe. You love this sweater, but even though you have been wearing clothes for your whole entire life, you cannot figure out how to wear it. This is not your fault, and it is certainly not the sweater's fault. The sweater is awesome, and also innocent. Sometimes it is just hard to picture your wonderful sweater in new situations-- like with your other clothes.
In the magazine, we can only really show you one way a garment can be worn, and sometimes fashion shoots are more about fantasy than practicality. Well, the blog is here to help. We don't just want you to make the garments we feature in this magazine. We want you to wear them! Polyvore is a website that allows you to construct outfits from a seemingly endless array of clothing items. It's pretty fun to play with, and also reminds me of Cher's closet from the 90s classic Clueless. You can use it to imagine a million ways to wear any given item, and you can use items silimar to ones you already own. This isn't the first time we've talked about Polyvore on the Twist blog- Marnie gave us a really helpful primer on how to use it, and Julia shared some reader submissions for Timpani. We'll be adding items from Twist to the site, so you can make your own outfits with them too! Taking out their backgrounds is the only tricky part- if you can do that, you can "clip" any Twist item you like straight from the shop! If you want to, you can tweet your outfits and tag then with the hashtag #twiststyle.
Here are a few to start you off. I started playing with Oscillate, Amy Herzog's ladylike cardigan design.To me, the buttery yellow just cried out to be paired with something rich and bright. Two takes on that are below...
How would you wear your Oscillate?
Laura Kanemori is the designer of these wonderful socks, Inglenook, which feature both a lovely lace motif and non-traditional shaping. Today, Laura shares with us her design process for this, her first pattern with Twist Collective. This entry is cross-posted from her blog, which can be found here.
I love socks. After my first few inevitable scarf and hat projects, socks were the next thing on my "must learn to knit" list. And a 2009 sock club was an extra-special treat from my husband.
After working my way through that club, I moved on to Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters. I love this book. After walking through the very basic steps of sock construction through others' patterns, this book lets you leap off into the deep end of your own ideas.
Iin comes Inglenook. Cat teaches that gusset increases can go just about anywhere they want to go, and I know that lace is made up of paired increases and decreases. So I wondered what would happen if you left out the decreases; what you get is a pattern that grows on its own in a very natural manner. A sock that grows without an obvious gusset!
Inglenook grew from one of my favorite lace patterns. Each motif reminds me of the licking tongue of a flame. These flamelets grow down your leg from a spiky picot edge and then turn under the heel in a cushy slip-stitch reinforced sole. The socks are wonderfully comfortable in open-back clogs.
Toes were something else that came to mind when I was knitting from other people's patterns. Knitted fabric is wonderful in that it stretches and conforms. If you give it a shape reasonably close to what you want it to be, it will accommodate small differences. But you can also shape it exactly as you want.
Traditional toes decrease equally on the left and right side. But if you look at your foot, the big toe extends straight out from the body of the foot. I shaped this sock's toe to fit the line of the foot more naturally, and this technique not much different than working a more standard wedge-shaped toe.
Then, we have the yarn...
While I tried these out first with yarn I had in my own stash, I had the opportunity to knit with some really lovely yarn, KnitGlobal Pollika sock yarn. This 4-ply yarn is fantastic for socks. It is a wool/nylon blend with a really firm twist. The four plies make the stitches just pop (I'd imagine it would also knit into some really amazing cables and twisted-stitch patterns) and it has a lovely, deep color. It knits up into a smooth fabric that I couldn't wait to put on my own feet (and did quite a few times before giving these babies their final careful wash and block to send them off). It's a real treat to knit with.
All in all, Inglenook takes a whole bunch of individual design elements I really like and combines them into a cohesive whole, and in them my toes are just as toasty and warm as they would be if tucked up close to the flames dancing in my fireplace.
The pattern for Inglenook is available from the Twist Collective in the Winter 2011 issue.
Carol Feller's most recent contribution to Twist Collective is Corcovado, a woven-look coat created with simple slipped stitches. Carol is a talented and prolific designer, having contibuted many wonderful designs to this publication. Keep up with her on her blog, twitter, or read (or knit your way through) her book!
I’ve just had a new pattern Corcovado published in the Winter issue of Twist Collective. It is always such an honor to be part of the wonderful Twist team, their attention to detail and wonderful photography makes it just as exciting for me as any other knitter when the issue goes live! One of the tech editors I work with, Ashley Knowlton, has some beautiful socks, Darlington in this issue also…now just to find some time to knit them (I appear to be running very short of hand knit socks!)
This cardigan was quite different for me in many ways. I rarely work in multiple colors or with seamed designs! The construction made sense for this cardigan, the back and front panels are worked in different directions so it was just as easy to sew a seam afterwards as to pick up stitches.
If stranded color work makes you nervous you’ll be happy to hear that this is created using slip stitch color work so you are only ever knitting with one color at a time and the color changes are close enough together that they can be woven up the side to avoid having to weave in a million ends!
I love how the brightly contrasting colors created a woven effect for the front of the cardigan. In fact that’s how I came up with the name, Corcovado is a national park in Costa Rica close to a spot that my sister in law used to live.
Sandi Rosner is the clever lady behind Midtown, a modern twist on the pencil skirt. This post about her design (one of many she has contributed to our magazine), can also be found on her blog. Make sure to also take a peek at her enlightening look at increases, also in the Winter issue of Twist.
My skirt design, Midtown, appears in the Winter 2011 issue of Twist Collective. I want to share a bit about this design with you.
I’ve been on a bit of a knitted skirt kick lately. In a fairly short period over the summer, I made Barn Dance for Kollage Yarns, Rumba for Universal Yarns, and Midtown for Twist. The funny thing about this is that I don’t often wear skirts. When I’m not teaching, I work at home. I generally find pants more suitable for my lifestyle. But I love the look of a knit skirt.
For Midtown, I wanted a classic, tailored pencil skirt silhouette. I envisioned the sort of skirt you could wear to the office or shopping in the city, something sharp and modern and graphic. I love stranded colorwork for a knitted skirt, because the strands of yarn across the wrong side help stabilize the fabric, preventing the baggy butt that can result after sitting for a while. I wanted a design with diagonal movement, not the strong horizontal that “fair isle” patterns often have. I also wanted to keep the knitting easy, so I avoided long color floats. I played around with pencil and graph paper, drawing lattice designs until I had one I liked with floats no longer than 4 stitches.
Here is a pro tip for you – when I’m working a gauge swatch in stranded colorwork, I make a hat. It is important that the swatch be worked in the round and that it be fairly large so you get an accurate sample of your gauge. Making a hat accomplishes both goals, and you end up with something cozy and useful. I don’t worry too much about finished size for these hats – after all, its purpose is to be a gauge swatch. If the hat doesn’t fit me or someone to whom I want to give a gift, I’ll use it as a class sample or donate it to a charity program.
I decided against a slit at the hem of the skirt – after all, knitting stretches, so a slit wasn’t needed for walking ease. I wanted to avoid bulky, bunchy gathers at the waist, so the skirt is fitted, with a zipper at the hip. Since fine finishing makes me very, very, happy, I decided to knit in a facing that would cover the zipper on the inside of the skirt. Here is what it looks like on the inside.
Don’t be intimidated – the pattern includes step-by-step photos of cutting the steek, sewing in the zipper, and sewing down the facing.For color, the charcoal gray and cream that Twist’s Creative Director, Kate Gilbert, selected really plays up the modern graphic effect of this piece. I think it would also be great in other color combinations. I’m a big fan of self-striping yarns, and this skirt would be fun worked in a self-striping yarn together with a coordinating solid, or in two different striping yarns.
While you could use just about any sport weight wool from your stash for this skirt, let me just put in a good word for the yarn Kate chose for this design. Blue Moon FiberArts BFL Sport may be my new favorite yarn for this kind of colorwork. It is soft and springy, but smooth enough that each stitch is distinct. This yarn is a joy to knit – it feels good in your hands, is exceptionally cooperative, and blocks beautifully. The hand dyed semi-solids we used give this pattern subtle depth and variation that a solid yarn just doesn’t have.I’m really pleased with the finished skirt. It was made to fit Kate (because sample size and Sandi size are not the same), and she has already put it into her wardrobe rotation.
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").