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Twist Collective Blog

Roxham Woolgathering

A few years ago, I went to a wool and arts and crafts gathering at a farm near the Vermont border. I remember walking around thinking that I wanted to do a photoshoot there... of what? I don't know. This was a pre-Twist.

Fast forward to this past spring and I found myself in a café meeting with a photographer whose work I had admired. It turned out that Roxham Farm was her mother's!

I felt so fortunate to shoot at Roxham Farm. The buildings are beautiful. The animals were friendly and are treated well. Jane's mother, Sue, is charming. She dyes her own wool, spins yarn and knits all sorts of things from it.

Luckily for those of you who aren't that far away, the Roxham Woolgathering is coming up in less than a week!

The Wool Gathering - a country style craft show - has been going on for 18 years. The 40 artisans are carefully chosen to exhibit originality, excellence and execution. As the location of the farm is far from any café or restaurant, food has always been a part of the show. Last year, there were five nationalities of food represented. Music in one form or another is part of the festivities and usually a sheep is shorn as well and demonstrations are held, such as spinning, knitting, black smithing and potting. The entrance is free and parking is in a nearby field. The craft fair will be on the 11th and 12th of September, 2010, from 10 AM to 5PM, at 332 Roxham, corner of James Fisher, Hemmingford. (If you're coming from Montreal, follow directions to the Parc Safari and go past it to the end of the road, that's where it is!). For more information, you can call Sue at 450-247-2174.

Below are some outtakes from the shoot that might give you more of a taste for the lovely location! Maybe we'll bump into each other there. Say hi!

Roxham Woolgathering collage

Design Process: Promenade

Mary-Heather Cogar

Promenade is Mary-Heather Cogar's first design for Twist Collective and the inspiration for the WWMHW shoot. This post first appeared on Mary-Heather's blog, which can be found here.


It's a little bit ridiculous, I know, that it has taken me just over 3 weeks to blog one of the most exciting things EVER, but... so it goes. The amazing Fall 2010 Twist Collective - you've seen it by now, yes? :) I was so, so honored to be a part of it! I was lucky enough to have a design chosen to be included: Promenade! (Ravelry link!) I have been a huge fan of Twist Collective since the very first issue, and to have a pattern in the magazine (in an issue just full of beautiful patterns from designers I admire) is really a design dream come true for me.


Promenade is a Regency-era inspired pullover with a very scooped neck on a slim, empire-waist bodice, puffy little cap sleeves, an a-line bottom, and a separately worked linen stitch tie detail. I've wanted to knit this garment for myself for so long - it's a simple, clean design, but has so many little style elements that I love and seek out in my clothing (seriously - give me an empire waist and cap sleeves and I'm a happy woman).

When my design was accepted, I happily threw myself into a period of research. Gotta love any type of research that allows me to watch Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, and the BBC Pride and Prejudice over and over (and, yes, over) again! I also dove deep into some serious eye-candy paintings from that era:

some promenade inspiration

Sigh. So beautiful, right? I wanted my pattern to be true to the promenade dresses so popular during the Regency era, but without any costumey elements - it had to be wearable today! Luckily, so many style elements we see in those beautiful dresses from the era are nearly universally flattering. To me, a more modern look came through some minor changes, the most important being raising of the neckline (the first version of the bodice that I knit, which was more true to a "period" neckline, was rather saucy by today's standards! I am pretty sure that it would be hard to find modern undergarments that would have worked with a neck that was so very, very scooped). Kate Gilbert (who is so inspiring to work with) and I also both felt strongly that avoiding a white, cream, or pastel color would give the design a more contemporary feel. As you can see from the inspiration paintings above, there were plenty of beautiful rich colors worn by the women during the Regency period.

promenade back

The yarn I worked with, Madelinetosh Pashmina, is delightful. A handpainted merino/cashmere/silk blend, it is luxurious to be sure... frankly, it's dreamy. It drapes beautifully and still has that great merino squishiness and memory. And of course, since we're talking about Madelinetosh here, the colors are just stunning!

I had so much fun playing with the details of this sweater, and it has been fun to see it added to faves and queues and even see some projects start up on Ravelry! There are many more construction details and notes on Promenade's Ravelry pattern page.

promenade sleeve detail

All the photos in this post are copyrighted by the fabulous Jamie Dixon... ok, yes, I'm biased because she is my friend, but she really is such a fabulous photographer. Jamie shot the entire "WWMHW" story of the Fall 2010 Twist Collective... yup, as you've no doubt seen already (if you are a Yarn Person), I got to model a whole story, full of gorgeous sweaters and accessories from some of my favorite designers (seriously), called "What Would Mary-Heather Wear?" Talk about exciting - and flattering, to have been included in such a fun way. More about that day up in the mountains (falling ticks and all!) to come in a few days. In the meantime, here is an outtake from the shoot:

Twist Collective Outtake

The hat is the lovely Community Garden, by Melissa LaBarre. With a cute hat like that, and my sweet happy dog by my side, no wonder I have a great big grin on my face! Such a fun day!

Design Process: Gwendolyn

Fiona Ellis

Gwendolyn is Fiona Ellis' eighth pattern for Twist Collective. See her other pieces; Bonnie, Rebecca, Pamela, Chartres, Paula, Lesley, and Mehndi to appreciate her fantastic range and attention to detail. Today's blog post will feature some of her inspiration and thoughts behind her intricately cabled Gwendolyn pullover and cardigan.

Image copyright Jane Heller

Many artists and designers have themes and inspiration sources that they return to over and over, and I am no exception. I find that this to be a cyclical occurrence and it can be a little like revisiting an old flame – it doesn’t take much to ignite the smolder and suddenly you find yourself in love all over again.

Along the way we build on each experience and over time begin to hone our skills with a particular subject.

So it has been for me with cables and Celtic Knot-work cables in particular. My love for them began when I was in university studying fashion knitwear design. I worked on a collection of cable designs that drew their inspiration from the rustic arts of corn dollies ( and basket weaving, and I also looked at Celtic knots. But their intricate crossings and meandering paths seemed daunting to me back then, so I left them for another day.

It is over 17 years since I graduated (really it’s been that long?) and I have found myself returning to Celtic patterns over and over.

I thought you might like to see some of the “rules” I have devised for myself for working these particular types of cables. I hope that these pointers might help you as you work through Gwendolyn as I always find that anything broken down into bite size pieces makes it more manageable.

I think of a traditional rope cable of being made up of two “cords” which twist around each other. When they diverge from this vertical placement the following things occur.

  • Resting (or not): Vertically placed cables need to “rest” between each crossing otherwise they become really tight. But when cables are traveling across the fabric they need to move on each right side row to avoid a jog being created.
  • Traveling “cords”: When crossings involving both knit and purl stitches are worked remember that the knit stitches of the “cord” need to be visible on the public side of the piece. I think of them being a prima dona standing in the limelight, thus the purls are her back-up singers and should never be in front preventing the audience from seeing the diva.
  • Direction of cable crossing: in order to achieve the interwoven look of the knots each “cord” needs to cross over, under, over, under the others throughout is path through the piece. This will tell you whether to hold the “cord” in front or at the back when two meet.
  • Chart “no stitch”: Often these types of cables require that we increase and decrease the number of stitches within the pattern. The chart will then be set up with the number of squares being equal to the maximum number of stitches used. So until the stitches are made (increased) the extra squares are simply blacked out and should not be counted when working a pattern.
  • Middle stitch crossings: Sometimes two cords almost meet but are separated by a single purl stitch, so a method of crossing the cords and keeping this center stitch is used. It’s a bit like a double crossing and involves putting the purl stitch back on the needle in between working each set of cord stitches.

Picasso said: “painting is just another way of keeping a diary”, I also believe this to be true of our knitting projects. Each of my designs reminds me of what I was doing in my life when I worked on it - Gwendolyn is no exception. As usual as I worked on it I carried it around with me. I even took it to the pub one night as I worked on one of the sleeves. As it was an Irish pub I thought it seemed appropriate to imbue the project with some genuine Celtic flair. Because I was following my “rules” I was very happy to find no mistakes the next morning in spite of my liquid refreshment.

Celtic Knot Pub
Sleeve Progress
Pub Logo

Inspiration photo 1
 Inspiration photo 2

Design Process: Crown of Leaves

Faina Goberstein

Cross posted from her own blog, Faina Goberstein talks about the inspiration for her beautiful hat, Crown of Leaves. This is Faina's first pattern for Twist Collective and also the topic of this season's Swatch It with Clara Parkes


Crown of Leaves
Image copyright Caro Benna Sheridan 

This hat is my first design in Twist Collective. I can't tell you how proud I am to be on the list of designers who contribute to this online magazine. Fall 2010 issue is full of beautifully crafted garments and accessories along with interesting articles.

It is very intriguing for me to watch the beginning of any design. Each pattern is different. You never know what will give you an idea.

Crown of Leaves SketchCrown of Leaves swatch

This particular hat's idea was triggered by a beautiful horizontal cable that reminded me of crowns, which my friends and I made out of maple leaves when we were children. Unfortunately, I do not have a quality photo of such a crown, but in this photograph taken in Russia you see the girl on the left wearing one.

Child wearing crownHere is another crown made by Larisa Vilensky for this post. Thank you, Larisa.

Crown of LeavesIf you are interested, here is the website showing how to make it. Although it is a Russian website, you do not need to know the language since the step-by-step explanations are in pictures and are very clear. I am sure that many such crowns are made by kids and adults outside of Russia as well.

I love hats and even though I do not need to wear them now as often as at the time when I lived in Russia, my memory of windy and cold days suggests to me that a hat needs to be functional and beautiful. Functional, because it has to stay on your head in the wind, and beautiful, because when you are bundled up, this is probably the most important of three small articles in your wardrobe (the other two are gloves and a scarf). So, when I planned the design of this hat, I kept those thoughts in mind. As you see on the original swatch, I began with the decorative cast-on that I love for the look. The problem with this cast-on is that it is loose. That's why I followed it with a rib for elasticity and for keeping it firm on a head. The rest of the hat was hinted by the cable stitch pattern. The crown part naturally flowed from the main pattern and decreases were done to taper the hat at the top.

Finished sampleThis shot is showing the cast-on, the rib, and the cable part.

When the Fall 2010 issue was live and I saw the photos, my thought was: "I hope people like this hat as much as I do."

I think what makes this magazine special is the combination of exclusive designs, gorgeous photography, and great articles. You can be sure that there are hard-working and talented people behind the scenes who make it all happen.

You can read a very nice article by Clara Parkes in Twist Collective about swatching using my hat's cable pattern. I was very pleased and honored that Clara liked my hat.

Remember that there are many more beautiful designs in this issue of Twist Collective. Go and check it out.

Design Process: Issara

Anne Kuo Lukito

Anne Kuo Lukito's strikes a balance of practical and flattering in her warm jacket, Issara, her first design for Twist Collective. This post can also be found at her own blog, Crafty Diversions.

Issara Front

After a few failed submissions, I finally made it into Twist Collective, and I couldn’t be happier! Yes folks, I had tried to submit to Twist 2-3 times prior, but unfortunately, it wasn’t in the cards for me at the time.

I finally achieved my goal with Issara, which was published recently in the Fall 2010 issue. What made this even more exciting for me is the fact thatIssara is the cover for my particular storyline, Roxham Farm. I was already a fan of Twist Collective and of the artistry and designs in each issue. Now that I’ve experienced a small taste of what it’s like to be a designer in Twist, especially with the multiple layers of review that goes into each pattern, I am even more impressed.

Named after a good friend’s daughter (a Laotian name), Issara is a snuggly coat worked in bulky yarn with simple lines. The WOW factor lies within the back pleat and the oversized reversible cable collar that can be worn up, down, or somewhere in between.

The Idea & Design Process

Usually, when I design, I like to incorporate a feature element and/or versatility.  And since I’ve been on a reversible cables kick lately, I really wanted a garment with a dramatic reversible collar. Thus, Issara was conceived. While I had a clear idea of what I wanted, some of the key elements in the concept required some tweaking and experimentation during the actual pattern-writing and design process.


In order for the collar to lay nicely on the shoulders when worn down, it needed to flare a little – I really didn’t want a straight funnel collar. To make a nice flare, I knew that I would have to work increases into the actual cable pattern instead of bunching it all into the beginning or set up section of the collar. I experimented with a few types of increases into the cable pattern. Lifted increases won over other types of increases because it met 3 main criteria: (1) increases had to be as invisible as possible, (2) they had to compliment and work with the stitch pattern, and (3) they had to look good on both sides.


Initially, I had intended the waistline to be a true empire waist. However, as I was working with it, I realized that the weight of the yarn in the skirt of the coat (especially with the pleat) may pull the waistline in a less than desirable way if I raised it to a true empire.  So, I change the plan a little and worked the waistline roughly about 1.5″ above a natural waistline so that there is still an elongated silhouette, but without having to carry the extra weight if it was set much higher.

p2-1 Issara sketch

Issara sketch


Because the coat is worked in a bulky yarn, Twist editor Kate Gilbert and I had some concerns that the pleat might be a little too thick and cumbersome in the back with all the layers. I really wanted to keep the pleat because I think it gives a nice balance to the dramatic and slightly flared collar; thus, I was determined to make it work. I experimented a little and I figured out a way to thin out some of the bulk in the pleat folding process: I bound off every other stitch in the center panel of each side of the pleat 2 rows prior the pleat fold. The photos below show the differences (click to enlarge) between a regular pleat fold and my thinned out version.

Issara Swatch1 - front Issara Swatch3 - back


Side Shaping Pleat detail

Cables 1 Cables 2

Closeup of back Issara back

Photos above, clockwise from top left (click photos to enlarge): (1) work-in-progress shot of the skirt shaping; (2) the finished pleat from the private side (WS); (3) collar detail from the public side (RS); (4) collar detail from the private side (WS); (5) waist line and back pleat; (6) back view of coat with collar worn down

Overall, I found the sample a relatively fast knit. Seriously. I’m not just saying that because I’m the designer or as a fast knitter. It goes much faster than one anticipates because it’s worked in a bulky yarn. The slowest part of it, IMO, was the blocking, which took forever and a day to dry.  Next post: Tips/notes on modifications, blocking, etc.