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Twist Collective Blog

Design Process Ongoing: Pamela

by Fiona Ellis

I know, I know, most of you hate to do gauge swatches or even swatch with new yarns in general. But some knitters do love to swatch - it is still knitting after all. And maybe itʼs the delight we take in swatching that leads us into a life of designing. Although, just in case you think that I am saying this with a superior air, I will tell you that I also hate to do gauge swatches when making something for myself and if you promise not to tell I will let you into a secret -- I start on a sleeve which is really not much more than a large swatch and if I get gauge Iʼm off to the races and if not . . . well . . . back to square one.

Seeing as I love to swatch and you might hate to do so, this blog piece is perhaps a perfect marriage. In the Spring issue of Twist Collective my design Pamela was featured worked in Classic Elite Yarns Classic Silk, 50% cotton / 30% silk / 20% nylon.



After it was completed I still kept wondering what that lace patterning would look like in a different yarn. How would it affect the stitch definition and the way the fabric drapes for example? So I spoke to the nice people at Elann Yarns and asked if I could get my grubby little mitts on a few sample balls to try it out. Here are the results of my experiments. Each of the swatches was produced on a 4.5 mm needle (the size my pattern calls for) and produces the same gauge as the pattern describes but the effect produced is a little different between each of the yarns. Suggested needle sizes for the Elann yarns are 3.25 - 3.75 (US 3 -5) except for Pegasus which suggests 4.5 mm (US 7), the Classic Elite yarn suggests a 4 mm (US 6).

These were the yarns I sampled:

Elann Pegasus (white-shiny): 52.5% mercerized cotton / 47.5% viscose.
Elann Luna (off white): 55% viscose / 45% cotton.
Elann Camila (oatmeal): 50% cotton / 50% linen.
Elann Callista (peach): 50% viscose / 25% cotton / 25% linen.
Elann Pure Bamboo (white-matt): 100% bamboo.

The sample in Pegasus is most like the original because of its weight, but with the sheen from the viscose and the mercerized cotton it gives it a more festive "party" or evening look.




Next in similarity to the Classic Silk is Luna, also because it is close in weight, but it is a tiny bit lighter so this swatch has more drape and again the sheen gives it a different look to that of the Classic Silk.




Camila has lovely stitch definition and the linen content gives a dry hand to the fabric (in other words, it feels crisp). It is slightly more drapey than the original version in Classic Silk because I used a needle size larger than is called for.*





Callista has both the sheen and crisp hand plus has even more drape than Camila which is this sample is almost limp. If I was going to use this yarn I would try it again on a smaller needle size for comparison.*


callista swatch



Pure Bamboo is the most different from the original yarn and because it is a much thinner yarn the 4.5 mm needles felt a little large when working it, but the lighter and more open feel gives considerably more drape. Again I would re-swatch this yarn on a smaller needles to compare the feel of each one. But worked as it is it will produce a different appearance than the original but it may be a look / feel that you prefer. Which proves that you can never tell until you have tried to yarn to know how it will work.


pure bamboo swatch



Something to note about the lace patterning for “Pamela” is that the stitch patterns look similar to each other because they are in fact just variations of each other. The first stitch pattern (lower half) has the lace worked on both the RS & WS but then as you move to the upper section (both of the swatch and garment) the pattern is elongated by the addition of “plain” WS rows between each “patterned” row. This produces a less open fabric which is something you might be looking for in the upper half of a sweater.

So think about yarn options when you look at sweater patterns, and about how playing around with different yarns can change a sweater's feel and style.  Have fun.

Sadie Dayton Photography

Sadie Dayton is a Boston-based photographer of extraordinary talent.  Sadie updated her on-line portfolio recently, and we are honoured to find she has included in Portfolio #3 some images from her work with us for the winter 2008 issue.


sadie's site


Sadie's website is ethereal and elegant, full of inspiring images from the last few years.  Look for awhile, and you may find yourself speaking more softly for the rest of the day so as not to break the spell.







They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace -

Christopher Robin went down with Alice.

Alice is marrying one of the guard.

"A soldier's life is terrible hard,"

Says Alice.

They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace -

Christopher Robin went down with Alice.

We saw a guard in a sentry-box.

"One of the sergeants looks after their socks,"

Says Alice.

They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace -

Christopher Robin went down with Alice.

We looked for the King, but he never came.

"Well, God take care of him, all the same,"

Says Alice.

They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace -

Christopher Robin went down with Alice.

They've great big parties inside the grounds.

"I wouldn't be King for a hundred pounds,"

Says Alice.

They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace -

Christopher Robin went down with Alice.

A face looked out, but it wasn't the King's.

"He's much too busy a-signing things,"

Says Alice.

They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace -

Christopher Robin went down with Alice.

"Do you think the King knows all about me?"

"Sure to, dear, but it's time for tea,"

Says Alice.

Alan Alexander Milne 1882-1956


Come see Kate Gilbert's newest pattern, Roo, in the magazine and in the shop.

Design Process: Laredo

by Angela Hahn


Years ago I knitted my then-boyfriend, now-husband a sweater.  He's not an especially big man, but he's significantly larger than I am, and I remember that it seemed like it took months to finish.  On top of that, I inserted a simple geometric stranded pattern on the lower body, but my floats were too tight, which created an unfortunate gathered effect -- accentuated because my gauge was a little too loose, giving the sweater's fabric too much drape.  All in all, it's probably no surprise that that sweater disappeared a year or two after it was finished, never to be seen again.

So when I decided to design a knit for a man, I wanted to keep two simple things in mind:  knitter-friendly, and wearer-friendly (assuming that in most -- but not all -- cases, knitter and wearer would NOT be the same person).  Here are the details that I considered to be knitter-friendly, wearer-friendly, or both as I incorporated them into my design for Twist Collective's Summer issue, Laredo:

1) Sleeveless! Faster than a long-sleeved sweater to knit, multi-season, versatile, fashionable and fun to wear -- I see a lot of men wearing vests, and love to wear them myself.*





2) Medium gauge (in my original concept, DK to worsted). I don't picture most men wearing something knitted with bulky yarn; on the other hand, although the machine-knit sweaters my husband wears are almost all of a fine gauge, even a sleeveless man's sweater would take a lot of knitting if worked in fingering weight yarn. So this item is somewhat of a compromise.

3) Worked in the round.  I know, this is a matter of preference (for knitters-- I doubt most men would care if their vest had seams or not!), but I find working in the round easier and funner than working flat.

4) Minimal finishing. Once again, not of concern to the wearer, but adding neckbands and armhole bands takes a lot of time, relative to knitting the body, so I decided to use stitch patterns that were self-finishing for the neck and armhole edgings.

5) Enough details to keep it interesting.  Functional details, if possible!  I originally spotted a larger version of the Twisted Diamond stitch pattern in Vogue Knitting's Stitchionary 2, and thought a bold panel like that would be a great accent for a man's sweater or vest.  After I started swatching it, I realized I could split the panel up the middle to form a V-neck, with the twisted stitches just under the point of the "V" handily reinforcing the fabric in that area.  Then I serendipitously discovered that the twisted stitches cause the fabric to lie flat along the edges of the "V"-- even better.


laredo neck

I did notice that the stitch pattern on each side of the "V" would be asymmetrical, because the edges of the "V" go in different directions across the twisted diamond columns-- so I decided to make the two sides of the front neckline symmetrical by reversing one of the three columns, making it a mirror image of the other two.  I prefer the way this looks at the neckline, and don't mind the asymmetry on the lower part of the front (in fact I bet a lot of people won't even notice it).  Anyway, this is why the panels are slightly different for front and back (the three columns within the back panel are all identical).  






For the stitch patterns for the side panels, I started from the top: that is, I knew I wanted a twisted stitch pattern in the center, to reinforce the bottom of the armhole and to coordinate with the front and back panels, and I knew I wanted a self-finished edge at the armholes, which required something that would lie flat, like a rib.  Fiddling with the decreases that shape the bottom armhole edges led me to start off with three twisted stitch columns separated by single ribs, which transitioned nicely into 1X1 ribbing along the armhole edges.





And finally, 6) Fit!!  Incorporating the neckline split into the stitch pattern meant that, unless I wanted to start the stitch pattern at the bottom with a partial rep for some sizes (which I didn't), changing the vest length in small increments would require changing the armhole depth-- which would then affect the depth of the V-neck and the width of the shoulder pieces.  So instead I decided to write the pattern for three different lengths in all sizes-- adding a full pattern repeat is what changes the length, which allowed me to calculate the depth of the V-neck without worrying that the vest would be too long or too short overall.  Eight sizes and three lengths...there should be a Laredo that fits almost anyone!


stitch pattern


*I donned Laredo to shoot a few photos before sending it off to Twist, and loved it!  The sample is a little too small for my husband, so after it's returned to me, I guess I'll just have to wear it myself.


Angela's pattern is in good company in the men's section of the pattern shop. Check it out.

Coming Soon...

Roo Sneak Peek
one thing is still missing from summer, but stay tuned...