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Twist Collective Blog

Design Process: Sarabande


by Kristen TenDyke, orginally posted to her blog






When Sarabande was first born, I had many different visions for how it might look. I knew there would be stockinette stitch for the majority of the body and sleeves, and I wanted a fair isle band around the lower part of the yoke, but I was indecisive about using bobbles or eyelets, garter or seed stitch.


The first swatch I had made was in a skin-tone color and had bobbles. After discussing with my friends what the skin-tone bobbles looked like, I promptly frogged that swatch, and reknit it to show eyelets.




I liked it better than its "indecent" sibling, but the fair isle strands are visible through the eyelet holes which I wasn't entirely fond of. I tried seed stitch to create a subtle band below the fair isle band. I liked how soft and discrete the seed stitch made this band appear, but I was unsure how it would look for the entire yoke.




I swatched the bobbles again — this time in a different color, and I tried a garter stitch band, for a more bold statement. I liked both the garter stitch and the seed stitch, each for their own reasons.

I decided to submit both versions to Twist Collective, and let them decide. Kate Gilbert choose to go bold, with the garter stitch and contrasting blue and green colors. I'm really happy with the way the finished sweater came out.

You can't see them in many of the photos, but there are lovely darts gracing both the front and back of the sweater — used to shape the waist and create subtle, elegant vertical lines. That's one of my favorite features.

Behind the Scenes: Faneuil Hall Shoot

Julia here.

When we photographed our first issue two spring times ago, Kate and talented photographer Caroline Bergeron combed the financial district in Montreal early in the morning to take advantage of the clean and modern lines of the street scape there.  Kate and I often talk about the other beautiful places in Montreal worth shooting, but too many of them require a lot of money for location fees, elaborate permit processes, liability insurance, and other charges for which we just don't have money.

When Kate and I were brainstorming about how to get a slightly retro-slash-urban vibe for our "city" shoot for winter, I told her that Faneuil Hall here in Boston has some wonderful street lights that have a great Mary Tyler Moore vibe. She immediately agreed, and handed me that one to organize.


Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market is such a dynamic and busy place, I just knew there would be people I would have to ask, but finding Rebecca was a simple thing thanks to her organized management office, and once she understood what we wanted to do she was all too pleased to say yes.

Photographer Caro Benna Sheridan and I had a few email and phone discussions about the logistics: the crazy weather (we scheduled for three different days that turbulent week), and how we thought the shoot would play out. She soon after made a scouting trip first thing in the morning, and sent me this shot of the crowd at about 9:30 a.m. See those MTM streetlights? Hold your thumb over the cell phone antenna to see what I mean. And then look at the crowd.  Several tour buses has just disgorged.  At 9:30 a.m. Who for the love of Pete goes on vacation to be breakfasted and on the ground by 9:30 a.m.?  Nevermind.  It's shopping.  I see the point.


We would have to get there at first light to be able to use the place, and so we did. Five of us (photographer, assistant Stitchy, models Jill and Anna Stover, and yours truly) convened on the steps of Quincy Market, grabbed Starbucks, and dressed Anna in her first outfit right there in front of the pastry case. We shot Cecily Glowik MacDonald's Mystère on the steps while we sipped our lattes and made jokes.  I regretted that I hadn't shortened the skirt about three more inches, but I so love the red patent leather boots that Jill brought along, I forgave myself, and vowed to fit such things ahead of time on the future.


And there are those great lights, exactly as I imagined we'd see them. The image is clear and free of people clutter, but imagine that same angle with guys in flapping mackintosh raincoats talking on their cells going back and forth every 30 seconds or so. It was early enough that the sun hadn't peeked over the buildings yet, but not so early that there wasn't foot traffic to watch out for. Plus, we were trying to behave ourselves and not block doorways or get in anyone's way as part of the general politesse we worked on all morning in our gratitude to be allowed to shoot in such a great location. We didn't attract much attention, although while Anna dangled from a lamp post in her party dress for Cathy Caron's Bright Star, there was a guy just out of frame to the right enjoying his entire cigarette to the morning's entertainment.


After an hour and several outfits later, Anna had to find a restroom to change as the number of people passing through the place increased.  We shot Anna in Kate Gilbert's Kirigami on the side of the market down the long view while we still had a chance for an uncluttered background. We teased Anna about who she was calling. I think that may be Caro's cell phone. I doubt you can actually make this out, but she's wearing a terrific pair of vintage sailor's trousers, the kind with the button panel on the front. They didn't make crop, but they have a not-too-wide leg that was perfect with the sweater's proportions.


As the morning went on, we picked up the pace, sending Anna racing off over the cobblestones in borrowed shoes with the next pile of clothes to change into (Caro snapped a candid of our reflection while we waited for Anna to come back in jeans).


Delivery trucks blocked good vistas, people came in waves, but still the tour buses hadn't arrived. We checked our watches. We had maybe 15 minutes of freedom left.

Caro was in the middle of shooting Mari Muinonen's Orvokki from a stair landing, when suddenly the food service truck pulled away from the eastern facade of Quincy Market.  Opportunity!  I stopped the shot, hauled everyone over to the corner, threw the coat and the gloves on Jill, handed her Leila Wice's Karazuri Bag and said "Smile, before another truck comes."  Want to know what pressure looks like?


Jill's a master at this. And so is Caro, because she took great pictures before a big white van with red Chinese characters pulled up right behind her; we were done whether we like it or not (the van did give me an idea of shooting in Chinatown in the future), so we went back to finish Orovokki. By this time, at least one bus had arrived, as was evident from the groups of people in running shoes who did double takes when they saw us.  Small groups stopped to watch and point. If only they knew it was about knitting. ::snicker:: We had four things left to photograph, but we had planned ahead. We used the famous statue of Red Auerbach for two designs, Jennie Eveleigh Lamond's Rover and Mary Ann Stephen's Polar Chullo,



but you can't really tell after the magazine layout focused in on the actual thing we were shooting.  At the end of the day, ambience is really only a certain kind of useful.

Two to go. Caro liked the grey door at the front of Faneuil Hall, so we shot Angela Hahn's Plaited Tam and Kristi Schueler's Moxie hat and mitten set on Anna and Jill while they stood on the stairs, strategically blocking gum and bird marks with their heads, hoping Photoshop would do the rest. 


Note the suitcase on the cafe table in the foreground: the sum total of all the clothes, shoes, and extras in one American Tourister with dysfunctional wheels (it may be time for an upgrade). Meanwhile, people were gawking all the way across the street, but by now, we had nerves of steel.


Don't you just love Jill's boots? After that, it was a wrap (as they say), so we had brunch together in the rotunda (there's that fabled food court with fresh fruit cups and killer muffins, among other things), and went off in our separate directions. It had already been a long day, and it was only 10 o'clock.

So there you go, pretty much how we do it around here.  No magic tricks, just nerves and borrowed clothes.  So while I'm on the subject . . . anyone got some sparkly gold shoes I can use for spring?

Design Process: Cambridge Cables


by Becky Herrick, originally posted to her blog, LadySaphira.


Designs come to me in a lot of different ways. Sometimes there is a fair amount of work: plotting, swatching, testing, and fiddling to get a design to look the way I want it to. Other designs appear in my head pretty much in their final form. Cambridge Cables was one of the latter. I know exactly what inspired the design too, it was this shirt:






I was getting dressed one morning and I realized the reason I like this shirt so much is the combination of the empire waist with the A-line body. So many empire waist shirts make everyone who wears them look pregnant but the A-line increases seem to help with that. The next thing I thought was — I bet I could knit something like this.

The cable was the immediate answer to the question, “How do I work the waistband?” I’d used the cable cast off in a previous design so I knew it could work well here. I also knew right away that I needed to change the neckline — it may look nice but it’s my least favorite part of the shirt. I decided to pair the waistband cable with a similar cable forming a V-shaped neckline which is one of my favorites. I wanted to be certain the empire waist would fall below the bust line for ladies of all sizes, so I went with top down raglan shaping. I was able to write the directions for the bust short rows independent of the chosen garment size so that everyone can customize the garment to their own shape. Hemming the tunic body and the cuffs with cables and putting cables on the raglan increases carried the cable theme throughout the garment without cables becoming the main point of the sweater.




The idea came easily to me, but then there’s the matter of getting it across to others. I admit to not being the best at sketching garments. I mostly just hope to get the general shape and theme down on paper. Then I like to highlight the details in my swatch. I showed the collar design, raglan increasing, and cable bind off all in one 4x4 inch square (well, trapezoid-ish, actually).






Once my design was accepted, I let the folks at Twist Collective pick the yarn. I had some suggestions on fiber content and weight to give it the right drape, but I felt the sweater would work in just about any color. I was thrilled to get a chance to work with Tosh Merino; it’s a lovely yarn, possibly one of the softest I’ve ever worked with. Once it arrived I had a bit of a mad dash to get the sweater knit up on time. Luckily I could knit during the conference I had at work that week! With eight hours of knitting time every day the sweater worked up quickly, and I even took a moment to take a quick photo before blocking it and sending it on its way:





The sweater has about one inch of negative ease when I wear it, compared with one inch of positive ease on the model.






I like knit tops with a little negative ease so I’m struck by how much nicer it looks with positive ease. The fit of the collar and the drape of the body and sleeves really need that extra ease.

I think this sweater could easily be changed in a few ways to fit the needs or mood of the knitter. I’d be really interested to see it knit up with the stretches of plain stockinette knit in a more variegated or handpainted yarn and the cables worked in a coordinating solid color. The V-neck could be extended, as long as the knitter is willing to pay attention to the sleeve and bust shaping while working the cables at the same time. And for people who want a more fitted body, working some extra decrease rows in the bust before the empire waistline would be a breeze.

Knitting for Parties

Julia here.

Consider for a moment, the notion of the Holiday sweater. Those of us who survived the sartorial dominance of irony and/or cute in the early 80's (sometimes it was difficult to tell the difference) will immediately call to mind red sweaters with Christmas trees, lapel-bracketing leaping deer, or this lovely number courtesy of Mr. Firth in Bridget Jones' Diary:


However, this doesn't have to be the case.  Given the imminent arrival of the holidays, no doubt many of us are beginning to think about how we are going to jazz up the LBD this year (that's fashion blogeeze for little black dress, although in my case, it ain't so little), or get more mileage out of last year's party skirt.  May I suggest that your holiday knitting energies may be best directed at your own wardrobe?  And who do you know to better appreciate the wool? Forget making uncertain gifts for everyone you know: instead, take a look at what you have, think about what can be knit to make it great, select the perfect yarn, and set off!  With diligence, you can have the dress topper of your dreams in a few weeks, and certainly in time for for New Years. Oh golly, I am sounding like some mad knitting version of Martha Stewart, but knitters, I know you have it in you to imagine party togs and make then a reality, especially with Twist here to help.

It doesn't take too much to imagine Carol Sunday's Kelmscott, Barbara Gregory's Ormolu, or any of the "Anastasia" sweaters from the current issue in a party setting.  A shawl like Rosemary Hill's Manderlay, or one with beads like Sivia Harding's Dryad will make even the most basic outfit special.  And Ysolda Teague's Farinelli opera gloves can make you want to find a special dress just to be able to wear them.


But other Twist patterns also occur to me as great projects for personal holiday decoration. Cathy Carron's Bright Star is a quick knit and in almost any yarn would transform a summer dress into the right dress for that upcoming cocktail party. I feel the same way about Connie Chang Chinchio's Peyton from the fall issue.


Imagine this in black, a jewel toned yarn, or one with a little sparkle. How about a white version of Marnie MacLean's Lily from last fall's premier issue over a full-on party skirt and jeweled pumps?  Or her Bijou with great black pants and great jewelry? It's really all about the basics to which you add your own personal touch.

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to top by farwellclay featuring GAP

As for me, I'm knitting Marnie's Pas de Valse from the Fall issue in a sparkly sock yarn to throw over my LBD for a party on the 11th of December, and then revisited with a great shawl pin over trousers for our Boxing Day party rounds. I'm three days in and approaching the armseye, so it's right on schedule.

I hope I've inspired you to spoil yourself a little this season.  Now go knit something.

Design Process: Orvokki


by Mari Muinonen, originally posted to her blog, Made By Myself.


The Orvokki set is inspired by Finnish national costumes.  I have wanted to use them somehow in a design for a long time now. Finnish costumes are simple and clear, but still beautiful with great details.




The flower is modified from the old Finnish cross stitch model which I found in a very old embroidery book.



The mittens have buttons on the wrist, and the button hole is worked out of the i-cord edging. I love that little purely decorative, not functional detail. The yarn, Halcyon Victorian 2-Ply was a little rough to work with at first, but softened with washing and use.




The hat was interesting to knit. I worked it again and again until the form of it became clear. I want to shape it using the same idea I used in my version of Tychus.



The buttons are worn in the back of the head, the whole thing knitted one side to the other with the flower band in front.



There was something personal to this project for me, you should know, in honor of my other granny (not Sylvi). "Orvokki" is the Finnish word for violets, and my other granny's second name. Violets also happened to be her favorite flower.