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Twist Collective Blog


Amy Herzog

Amy Herzog is the talented designer of this issue's Twinings, and has given us other gorgeous designs including Twinflower and Greenaway. Today's post takes us to the drawing board (and the swatching board), behind the scenes of the design. You can find out more about Amy's work at her website, from which this is cross-posted.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m just so thrilled to be included in this fall’s issue of Twist Collective. My sweater, Twinings, is a pullover with detailing designed to evoke the look of a wrap sweater.

sweater image

You can find all the tech specs either on the Twist Collective page linked above or on the design page here.

Twinings started out with a comment someone made about how wrap sweaters looked so flattering, but tended to feel really bulky over the stomach. My initial ideas involved trying to use a row of snaps to allow for just an inch or two of overlap, but I quickly realized such a sweater would simply be an asymmetrical cardigan. The nice thing about a true wrap sweater vs. a cardigan is that the fabric doesn’t pull open at many tension points down the front of the sweater.

So I started thinking about how I could spread the tension evenly, and sketching, and would up with the idea of a single cable panel traveling across the front of a sweater:


I knew I wouldn’t be able to make the cable panel move quite as severely as the sketch without some serious biasing in the fabric, but I started swatching to play around with the maximum movement rate:


And I was able to move a cable every other RS row without things getting too nasty. So when Kate told me she liked the sweater and wanted to include it the Fall issue, I calculated the different required cable positions at three points of the sweater and worked out the rate of decrease within each section.

I had lots of fun working with the other details of Twinings, too. The hem of the sweater body is trimmed with the same cables present in the panel; the sleeves are deeply cuffed with the same cables.


The back neck gave me a little bit of trouble: I started out wanting a wide, curved cable band on the back. But I quickly realized that working short rows on a back neck cable, combined with the complicated front of the sweater, would intimidate a lot of knitters. So instead, I charted out some attractive diminishing cables from the front neckline, moving into 1×1 rib. These extensions of the front cable panels are then sewn onto the back neckline. I wound up liking the effect far more than my original idea:


The merino-silk blend from Catherine Lowe Yarns was just great. I’d never worked with a yarn like this before (the individual plies are laid out parallel to one another and wound into a cake like that; CL says that they’re sprayed with sizing to keep them together but although they did stay together fine I couldn’t detect any stiffness or anything), and I don’t necessarily understand why it makes such a difference–but it does! The stitch definition is utterly fabulous and I have to say that the yarn produced the single best fabric that has ever come off my needles. It manages both a dense-looking, opaque fabric and an incredible lightness–the sample weighs far less than you’d expect. The silk adds a lovely drape and shine. And the ex-goth in me definitely appreciated the color, which was a lovely dark violet that looked black in some lights, stunning purple in others.

All in all, I’m really pleased with the way the sweater turned out, and hope you are too! If you’d like to knit Twinings, we’re having a knit-a-long for the sweater in my ravelry group and would love to have you join us.

Behind the scenes: Winter is coming

Yes, the Fall edition just went live, but for us, it's the middle of winter with spring on the horizon. 

Our photographers are setting the cool, crisp mood of winter while our models bundle up, all to make next season's knit's look their very best. And of course, our tech editors, layout designers, web developers and everyone else are all doing their part to make the edition great.

Winter 2011 Shoot

While that is happening, we have a stack of amazing submissions to sort through for spring. No rest for the knitted, around here. 

In the mean time, we hope you are enjoying the Fall edition, along with all the projects in our archives


Nancy Whitman

Nancy Whitman's first design for Twist Collective is a stunner of a pair of socks called Shani. It's been popular enough that she's put together a Knit-A-Long [KAL] that starts today. Find out more about the socks and the KAL in today's blog post and find out more about Nancy at her website


Shani is my first published pattern, apart from self-published ones, so I wanted to share the design process with you.  The stitch pattern evolved from one originally found in a stitch dictionary.  This particular pattern caught my eye because of its asymmetrical quality that was achieved by varying the rate, either every row or every other row, of yarn overs and corresponding decreases.  The lines of decreased stitches that are worked on every row form an acute angle that sits closer to the horizontal plane than the lines of decreased stitches on every other row.   To my eye, this made for a stitch pattern with many interesting angles.  Now that I had the pattern it was time to swatch.

Shani Decreases

I quickly learned that this pattern produced a fabric with very little shape retention, something I like to have in socks.  My first thought was to change to a 100% Merino yarn because the original swatch was made with a Merino/cashmere blend, but that did not solve the problem completely.  The solution was to manipulate the stitch pattern to create that body.  Removing a section of lace and replacing it with ribbing added the necessary body to the knit fabric and, as a bonus, added continuity to the design.  Now the k3, p2 cuff ribbing could travel down the leg.

Shani ribbing

At this point, I was pleased with the cuff and leg, but knew there would be some decisions in how to transition to the heel and the toe.

The stitch pattern for Shani is repeated three times around the body of the sock.  This meant the center of the heel flap and the center of the instep would occur at a different point in the pattern repeat.  From a design perspective there would be more details to decide and opportunities to create interesting and varied transitions between different parts of the sock.

Centering a full pattern repeat down the front of the leg created a natural point to continue the ribbing from the leg onto the heel flap.  Like the cuff, the ribbing would have a V-shaped transition, albeit upside down.  To keep the design cohesive, I repeated that V-shaped transition at the toe.  You can see it in the first picture above.


Much of this design was decided on the needle when I knit the prototype pictured here in yellow.  For me, this is the best way to design a sock since you will know right away what works and what does not.  This was fun to design and I hope you enjoy reading about it and making the sock!

There is a KAL for Shani in the Twist Collective Ravelry group.  The official start will be August 24, and all are welcome and encouraged to join then or later.  I will be there to give whatever support and help I can.

For the Love of I-cord

Fiona Ellis

Fiona Ellis is not just a prolific designer, with 13 designs for Twist Collective, alone including such favorites as Harriet, Gwendolyn and Bonnie, she's also innovative to boot. In today's post, she talks about using i-cord in her designs. You can see her most recent application of this technique in Charnwood.


Did you have one of those spool knitting gadgets / toys when you were a kid?

icord icord

Apart from the time when I, aged 5, “helped” my Mum while she was sleeping with a Fair Isle yoke sweater, one of my earliest knitting memories is of making yards and yards of cord using my “French Knitting” doll. Oooh not for me the simple spool with 4 nails hammered into it, I had a long thin wooden toy pained to look like a doll. I’m not sure if my Grandmother saw me having a career in knitting but her encouragement of my love for it was rewarded with not just potholders but many small rugs. I caught the bug very early.

icord icord

Then when I was in university studying fashion knitwear design I discovered that you could make cords by setting the cams on the knitting machines to slip in one direction.  We were obliged to put in a specific number of studio hours each week. So at 4pm in the afternoon when we would rather be somewhere else we would sit and make miles and miles of “Rouleau” cords AND be able to gossip at the same time. Having been brought up to waste nothing this prompted me to come up with creative ideas for using the cord that I had made. And so it continued.

icord icord

Now knitting only by hand again I, like most knitters, always have a carry around project with me at all times. Sometimes if I’m at a point in a project that needs concentration I will throw a pair of dpn’s into my bag and make “I-cord” on the subway. I have come to see this humble piece of knitting as not only a great tool for sparking creative ideas but also as the perfect accent to a cable sweater. This is because they are simply cords that are not yet set into the fabric. I am totally hooked.

icord icord

I have used them as edgings, to gather a hemline, added to cables in many different ways so they appear to be spilling out of the pattern. I now realize that it was only a matter of time before I started not only adding cords to cable projects but also adding 3-D pieces of knitting to those cords. Charnwood is not my first and I know it won’t be my last. I see a new avenue opening up.


Elizabeth Doherty

Elizabeth Doherty's first design with Twist Collective is the charming Litchfield Cloche and Mitten set. Today's post, cross posted from her own blog talks a little about her inspiration for the design.

My Great-Grandmother Nettie Mae Colby was a prolific knitter, and what she made was mostly mittens. She made them for her family, for the hired men who worked on the family farm, for folks around town. In this she was abetted by my Great-Grandfather James, who would bring her reports of children with cold hands and the approximate dimensions of the needed mittens.

nettie mae

The mittens she made were extremely fine, knit on steel pins, probably #000 or #0000, and apparently very warm. My mother had a treasured pair that she lost some years ago. She mentions them every winter. This past year one of her cousins unearthed a pair, and passed them along to me. I made a fairly faithful reproduction of them for my mom – though I could only bring myself to use #00 needles.

Nettie Mae taught me some interesting tricks with those mittens: the rolled-edge cuff, and the purled gutter around the thumb gusset. Somewhere along the way, I became rather fascinated with mitten construction, and came up with a few of my own improvements. The result is Litchfield.

I have always liked the anatomical shaping of “technical” mittens, those used for skiing or ice-climbing, and used them as a model for the shaping that I built into the design. And where Nettie Mae made a purely functional mitten, I can’t resist embellishing those small blank canvases with a little balanced asymmetry.


Designing a companion hat was a natural progression from the mitten. The suggestion for its shape came from twist collective's editor, Kate Gilbert. As soon as I heard the word 'cloche', I saw the hat perfectly – what fun to take that asymmetrical cable, and make it run around the band. The technical challenge was to create a brim with enough structure to keep it from going floppy as soon as the hat was washed. My solution was to use a ribbing pattern that comes together before the rolled edge to form a sort of buttress to the brim. It was quite an interesting puzzle to work out.

nettie mae and james

The pattern name? It's the New Hampshire town where Great-Grandma Nettie Mae's steel pins were kept so busy.