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Twist Collective Blog


Kris Carlson
Tourbillon is Kris Carlson's first Twist pattern. Here, she shares her inspiration for this coordinated set of winter warmers. Find out more about Kris on her blog, from which the following is cross-posted.

Knitted Set

Someone asked me the other day, “How do you pronounce the name of your pattern?”“Well,” I said, “you should drum up your best French accent and try: Tour • Bee • Yon.”

It’s not necessary, of course, but it’s fun. I love accents, but if your like me -- from the Midwest, specifically Chicago -- then it would be more like: Tour • Bill • On

Picking a name for a design can be hard. You want something that stands out, something that people won’t forget. What was important for this pattern was a name that stood for the visual complexity of the design.

I just couldn’t name the design Swirls or Twirls, even though they were my inspiration. You see, as a kid I loved it when the wind would kick up bits of leaf or snowflakes and twist and twirl them about. I would imagine being super tiny and riding those swirls around like a roller coaster. I suppose it was the fascination that you couldn’t see the pattern made by the wind until little bits were captured by random gusts and carried away.


It was back in the summer of 2010 that I first started sketching my design for the swirls. I would pull out my sketchbook and make notes about how I could incorporate the color work to be non-repetitive. The whole concept of swirls in general is their random movements, and this posed a challenge in the construction. How could I get the swirls to keep moving and yet have a repeating chart that flows? I exhausted my supply of graph paper, but a solution was found. The next step was to think about applying the chart to my intended projects.


I’ve knitted so many creatively designed accessories focusing on a single object that when I dress for the weather I’m always left feeling like Punky Brewster -- not that there is anything wrong with Punky Brewster, I LOVE her style. Yet as a grown woman, I feel the insatiable need to match. I knew that I wanted a tam and mitten set, but when the Twist Collective Fall 2011 mood boards were released, I knew adding a cowl would really make this set complete.

Cowl Sample

Off I went to swatch. The great thing about stranded color work is that by simply picking contrasting colors you can make stuff POP off the fabric. Once I knew how I wanted the design to flow, then I started to think about construction. There are different applications you can use to make brims, borders, and edges, but I needed one that was uniform for all three pieces. The picot edge is what won me over. It was a perfect edging for all three projects and added that extra finishing technique that makes the set complete.

Completed Set

I feel so honored to be among the selection of talented designers for this fall’s Twist Collective. I do have to say, though, that the one thing that I found quite hard to get over was sending in my samples. I wanted to keep them for myself! So, I’ve cast on for my own set. If you’d like to join me for a Tourbillon knit-a-long then please join us on the Twist Collective Ravelry Group.

Crane Creek

Sandi Rosner

Sandi Rosner is a knitter of many talents. Aside from bringing us wonderful designs (Lumen and Olivette among them), she does technical editing for patterns and writes fascinating articles to help the rest of us knit better.  This post (also on her blog), explains her inspiration for the wonderful and functional Crane Creek cardigan.

Finished Sweater

How many mornings have you stood in front of your closet and thought, “What I really need is…”? This is the story of Crane Creek, a jacket design that was born of just that thought, and was published in the Fall 2011 issue of Twist Collective. 

I have a dog. Baxter is an 8 year old Lab/Beagle mix who loves nothing more than our daily walk to the local Starbucks. Every morning, rain or shine, Baxter and I go to Starbucks for our morning infusion (non-fat Raspberry Mocha for me, water in an oatmeal cup for him), and a little social interaction.

Since I work at home, this is often the only time I leave the house in the course of the day. If I never left the house, the temptation to spend the day in sweatpants and a t-shirt would be nearly irresistible. But the morning walk to Starbucks requires that I actually put on real clothes and shoes and a bra. We do, after all, have standards. I try to land on the right side of the fine line between casual and schlumpy.

It’s often foggy and chilly in the morning here in Northern California. Our morning walk often requires a top layer over my standard jeans and a shirt. I need a sweater that I can pull on on my way out the door. A sweater that I can throw in the back seat of the car in case it gets cool later. A sweater that functions like a hoody, but has a bit more style.

Crane Creek was designed as that sweater. First, it is a button front cardigan, because this style is endlessly versatile. With a pullover, I feel like I need to build the outfit around the sweater. A cardigan is happy to fit in anywhere.

Here is my original sketch.


Second, it has a shawl collar. I love a good shawl collar – it’s cozy and polished, without being fussy. After making a lot of shawl collars that didn’t lie quite right, I’ve finally figured out the perfect shaping. I’m happy for any opportunity to put this knowledge to use.

Third, it has pockets. Pockets are essential, because I don’t want to carry a handbag on the morning walk, but I must carry my Starbucks card and dog cookies and poop bags.

I chose a combination of stitch patterns that are simple to knit, but create an interesting surface texture. I added a bit of waist shaping, fitted shoulders and set-in sleeves to keep the fit sharp.

I had told Kate I wanted to make this sweater in a “sturdy, wooly” yarn. While I love a good soft merino as much as the next girl, this sweater was intended to be an everyday, low maintenance piece. I wanted a wool that would hold up to hard wear without pilling or stretching out of shape. When Kate suggested Green Mountain Spinnery’s Maine Organic, I was thrilled. This yarn fit all my requirements, with the added benefit of being sustainable. In addition, the heathery gray natural color doesn’t show dirt or dog hair.

Sweater Side

So what’s with the name? Crane Creek is a park in the hills just east of the town where I live. Baxter and I love to go there at the end of a long day to walk and breathe and listen to the birds.


The grasses are dry this time of year – in the early spring, this view is a carpet of wildflowers.

Picnic Table

The most romantic spot for a picnic.

Dry Riverbed

The creek is nearly dry in early September.

Mossy Tree

An ancient California Live Oak veiled in moss.


My walking buddy.

Crane Creek turned out just as I hoped it would. Now I just need to make time to make one for myself.


Barbara Gregory
Barbara Gregory is a colorwork wizard. She has contributed a number of stunning patterns to Twist Collective, including Ormolu and Mimico. This season, she brings us a stunning cardigan with a unique closure. In this post, she explains how buttons played an important role in the inspiration and design of this garment. Keep up with Barbara's work on her website.

Finished Sweater

For a long time I had had a notion that I would like to design a red patterned jacket.
Although I vaguely imagined some sort of red colorwork and a front opening, I hadn’t put
any work into refining the idea further.

Then one day while looking through an old, dusty, button drawer in a shop I found these
buttons. I carefully searched but there were only 5 of them. Of course I bought them.

Long Buttons

These buttons with their red lacquer-like shine seemed Asian to me—their shape made
me think of chopsticks and as buttons they suggested the horizontal bar of a simple frog
closing. Inspired to actually expend some effort on my idea, I sat down and worked out a
mosaic pattern that I hoped would suggest brocade or other opulent fabric.

There followed a period of doodling and sketching to arrive at the garment details. I looked
at images of traditional Chinese, Korean and Japanese garments and found some very
interesting ways of closing a garment, but nothing that I could apply directly. What finally
seemed to work was a kimono collar, centrally placed but wide enough that a fastening
along the outer edge would create an asymmetrical emphasis.

By this time I realized that my long tapered buttons would not work for this design—instead
of using these buttons to suggest frog closings it would be better to have real frog closings.
I experimented on a swatch and found that even with my limited crochet skills I could
crochet frog style button loops right onto the surface of a garter stitch band.

Closure Detail

From little pencil sketches I progressed to an illustration that I hoped would make my
design submission irresistible to Twist Collective. I enjoy this part of the process for its own
sake but also find it valuable for getting a sense of how all the details of an idea will come
together. As I drew my sweater it was clear that there was enough going on with the three-
color pattern and the contrast of solid bands; no need for attention-getting buttons. I drew
in plain, color-matched buttons.


When it came time to knit the sample, obtaining suitable buttons became a priority. Finding
nothing in my first several attempts I made a trip to the other side of the city, where I
bought 2 sets of buttons—a sure sign that neither one was quite right. One was the right
color but a little too shiny, and lacking the shank construction that I preferred. The second
was a plain, matte, fabric-covered button, otherwise perfect but too bright to match the
main color used for the band and frogs.

Wrong Buttons

Luckily this set of buttons gave me the idea of covering buttons using the little kits sold
at sewing stores, which I happened to have on hand. With no time for another shopping
expedition, I searched through my box of broadcloth remnants and found a scrap of seam
binding that was a good color match. Crisis averted!

Covered Buttons

As for those long slender buttons, I think they’ve earned their keep. Perhaps I’ll use them in
some future project—there is still room in my life for more red sweaters.

Socktoberfest: it's not too late!

There are so many exciting things about October. It's prime knitting season, with colder weather on the way. Leaves are turning color, you can start to pull out those favorite scarves and hats, and there's that funny sugar-soaked costume-fest at the end of the month. It is also a whole month of celebrating SOCKS.

Socktoberfest doesn't have many rules or expectations. There are no deadlines, and no concrete expectations, except that you can band together with the nearly two thousand other folks who are signed up to celebrate the art and joy of knitted socks! Take it as an opportunity to finish an old sock project, find a sock-ish use for some great yarn you have been holding on to, learn a new sock related skill or technique, or cast on for a pattern you've been coveting.

And in case you're lacking in inspiration, check out some of the sock patterns we've published recently!

Try the invisible cast-on, for the sprightly, toe-up Loure socks;

Loure socks

or cozy colorwork for Kirkwall.

Kirkwall socks

Check out the twisted stitches and whimsical cables of Footsie;

Footsie Socks

The possibilities are endless. Check out the socks in the Twist Shop for more sockspiration, and get knitting! 


Adriana Hernandez

In this entry, cross-posted from her blog, Adriana Hernandez brings us inside the technical and logistical aspects of designing and publishing a pattern with Twist Collective, as well as sharing her inspiration and design process. Her design for this issue of Twist is the lovely vest you see here. She also brought us this smart jacket last winter. You can find her other designs here, and follow her on twitter here!

Finished Vest

First comes the idea...

Inspiration comes from many different sources.  Sometimes, I am inspired by something I see on the street, in a movie, on a magazine cover on the newsstands, or even at the museum within a painting or sculpture.  Inspiration can also come from practicality - Me: "Gosh, I really would love a cardigan in xyz color to go with that great top..."  Often, I am inspired by the mood boards sent out by magazines and publications; which was the case for Academia, a sweater vest I designed for Twist Collective.

For this project, I was inspired specifically by text on one of the mood boards for Twist Collective's Fall 2011 collection.  One of the themes mentioned "bookworm" and immediately I thought of sweater vests.  But, what of them?  What kind of sweater vest?  A ribbed one or cabled one?  I think those are pretty standard.  But, what about something a bit more adventurous to knit?  At this point, I have to mention that I had already been working on designing some fair-isle mittens so fair-isle was on my mind.  I spent over a week researching and reading about the Fair Isles and the history of the stranded color-work we have come to call fair-isle.  So, what popped into my mind was this image of the Duke of Windsor wearing a fair-isle sweater with a dog in his arms.  Yes, this was it.  A fair-isle vest it would be.

Duke of Windsor

Then comes refinement...

What would the color-work pattern be?  Would it be lots of X's & O's like on the Prince's jumper?  An all-over fair-isle design?  I thought the color scheme in the painting was a bit muted for my taste.  I studied the pattern and color choices carefully, but muted colors aren't really my style nor did the pattern itself really appeal to my aesthetics.

With those considerations in mind, I combined a series of fair-isle patterns including an argyle segment to create a motif that would be the eye-catcher of the garment.  I sketched out the idea, plotted the pattern on a grid with OpenSourceCalc, and then added an illustrated schematic with garment measurements.  I then knitted two swatches with yarn I had in my stash.  I scanned the swatches, bundled my sketches and illustrations together as a PDF document, and sent it off to the editors of Twist Collective...  and then waited.

Submission Screenshot

Once you've had your design proposal accepted, what's the next step?  The sponsored yarn for this project came in hanks, so my first step was to wind one hank of each color yarn into center-pull balls.


Then, I began the gauge-swatch process because the gauge of this yarn was different from that of my proposal.  I knew the project would entail some ribbing, plain stockinette, and also fair-isle.   So, I made swatches of all three areas to make sure my math worked out for the end-knitter.  I also used the first swatch in fair-isle to see if I liked the planned progression of color in the final yarn.


Once I had a good idea of the pattern numbers based on the swatches, I wrote a rough draft of the pattern including the various sizes.  I went through the early drafts of the pattern and then knit the sample based on this draft. So, even after the sample was done, there were some changes that needed to be made.  Although it's not ideal, some things you just don't see until after you've knitted it and see the garment as a whole!  The pattern is then test-knitted by a team of test-knitters who follow the edited second draft. 

Progress Shot

After assessing all the data gathered from the testers, I updated stitch counts, faulty charts, and edited any unclear text.  Then, I packaged schematics, charts, the written text, and the sample.  The sample was shipped off and the draft e-mailed to the publishers (the Twist Collective team).

Several weeks later, when the editing team was ready to work on the Fall issue, I received an e-mail notifying me of their progress.  After that, we went back and forth reviewing and editing a pre-press formatted version of the pattern.  Both sides are responsible for checking numbers, schematic accuracy, language, grammar, knitting terminology and conventions, etc.

Then a few weeks after that, the photos were processed and edited, and finally the pattern was published!

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