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Twist Collective Blog

Sandridge: Origins

Elizabeth McCarten

Elizabeth McCarten's debut pattern for Twist Collective, is the versatile and flattering Sandridge Cardigan which includes instructions for a men's or women's version with a zipper or button closure. This cross post from her blog covers the design inspiration behind this beautiful and wearable piece


I'm very fortunate to have two young adult kids who enjoy wearing my knits. Perhaps I've just trained them to wear sweaters, but I like to think it's because I listen when they tell me what they want. When my son, James, announced that he really wanted a zip-front jacket, I cringed--in part because he would be leaving for the start of his third year at the University of Toronto in only a week, and in part because zippers really weren't my thing. I'd made the mistake of showing James the photo of Jared Flood wearing his version of Paton's Urban Aran. James thought he'd look totally cool wearing it, and I did too, but I had concerns:

  1. James hasn't inherited his father's height; he's about 5'9". Respectable, even average, but sometimes it's hard to get sweaters to be an absolutely perfect fit if they're knit in pieces. The sleeves might be just a little too long. Ditto the body, and it's a major hassle to change things knitted in pieces, especially once you've started the sewing. I wanted a top-down design so that he could try it on as I knitted. 
  2. I also wanted cables, but not too many. The jacket had to be interesting to knit, but not too interesting to look at, because guys generally don't want to stand out.
  3. I wanted to complete the whole thing in one week. I wanted a fairly easy, quick knit.
  4. I was prepared to deal with the 2-way zipper, but I was determined to insert it in such a way that it would be easy, neat, and the teeth of the zipper wouldn't show. I'll blog more about the zipper insertion in another post.

Next, I thought about where James would be wearing his new jacket. The University of Toronto is broken down into colleges. James is a student of Trinity College. Trin's Strachan (pronounced Stron) Hall is a beautiful dark grey stone building in the gothic style. If you look closely up near the roof, you can see stone snakes zigzagging back and forth just under the eaves--at least, I think they look like snakes. So,the sweater was born in time for the first cool weather of the season. 
While it was being created, I tried it on myself, just out of curiosity. I loved the way the cables made me feel taller and thinner (always a good thing), but I wanted room for my hips and a longer, more feminine silhouette. Soon I had a twin version for myself. I wore it with everything and everywhere, particularly when I went walking on the grassy heath along Sandridge Road near our then home in Ottawa. 

Sandridge Women's Gray Sandridge Women's Purple

Then, the Christmas season rolled around and Isabel, my daughter requested a version, but more fitted, please. She's very petite, even bird-like. So, this time I made the jacket fitted to the waist and found some ancient, Rowan buttons from my stash that looked unusually well with the purple heather wool Isabel had chosen. 
Three sweaters, related, but each with its own personality.

Tolovana: The Making Of

I put a lot more time into planning my wedding shawl than I did my actual wedding and to be honest, that's not saying much because my wedding planning amounted to sending an email to my closest family, booking a hotel room, getting a license and hoping for the best. If only knitwear design were so easy. Though, to be fair, I find designing pretty fun but would be entirely content to never plan another wedding.

So to start, I pulled out my entire collection of stitch dictionaries looking for motifs to pair together. I didn't have a strong sense for what I wanted but I knew I wanted to take what I learned from designing La Cumparsita and expand on it, making a project that had more details, and a strongly scalloped hem. I ended up choosing only a single motif and scaling it up and down to form three versions, a border and transitions between each.

At the same time, I started to think about yarn. I wasn't sure what I was going to be wearing but I thought red might be pretty so I ordered three Grafton Batts from Amy.

sweet batts are sweeter with candy

It was a little challenging but I did my best to work all three batts as one to maintaining the color transitions these batts are so well known for.

I ended up with about 1100 yards of rich glorious fingering/sport weight singles and began the swatching and knitting and charting and calculating. I was cranking along and doing great until I actually decided to start looking at dresses.

I suppose this my have been an acceptable reason to consider a white or ivory dress, but as I am already a brilliant shade of "fish belly" and since *ahem* the symbolism associated with wearing white most certainly wouldn't apply to me, I was determined to wear some other color and some other color I found. It just turns out that blue-green doesn't actually go terribly well with red and burgundy.

so sad, don't let the door hit you on the way out

At this point, spinning another 1000 yards or so of fiber just wasn't going to be an option, but I had some purple Handmaiden Seasilk burning a hole in my stash that was more than up to the task.

The final shawl is incredibly delicate and actually snagged quite dramatically right before the wedding. But really, what's a wedding without at least one moment of panic? The fibers smoothed out as easily as they snagged, but it was clear to me that this would always be a special occasion sort of wrap, not one to to throw around my neck before heading out to the city.

When Kate asked me if I'd like to publish the pattern in Twist Collective, I jumped at the chance. Instead of the delicate seasilk we decided to go for two uniquely different yarns and offer two variations of the pattern.

The green version is worked in Sundara Sock. The lace has larger expanses of stockinette for a warmer, denser feel. This is the version I'd use as my all purpose, scarf/wrap on chilly winter days. It's washable, strong, tightly spun and the colors are rich, yet it unfurls into a beautiful shawl that looks great wrapped around your shoulders while you are out on a dinner date.

The violet version is more true to the original, and worked in Sundara Silky Merino which offers the drape and sheen of the prototype with a little of that merino resiliency I love so much. The more delicate and open version of the lace pattern makes it a great option to wear for more formal occasions, but it's not so delicate that you'd be afraid to put it to good use.

It was really a fun design to come up with and as someone who knit the pattern twice (I did hire a sample knitter to knit the third one) I found it really enjoyable too. This may have something to do with my fond feelings for the whole project but I do hope that others will find it equally enjoyable. If you are interested in knitting Tolovana, you can get it here. And of course, don't forget to check out all the otherbeautiful patterns available at Twist Collective.

New From Twist Authors

The fall book harvest is abundant this year with great new titles from many talents featured in Twist Collective, and that we're proud to recommend.

Alison Sarnoff and Melody Moore have finally penned enough of their adorable and sassy Knit Princess strips to publish a hard copy of Knit Princess Volume 1 so you read about the wool-obsessed Tiara'd one even in the bathtub.


Regular Twist photographer Caro Benna Sheridan and the beloved Stitchy McYarnpants bring us Knitting it Old School, a sometimes silly, sometimes serious (and sometimes scifi) collection of retro-vamp patterns that includes the work of Twist contributors Marnie MacLean and Amy Herzog.


Make room on your sock book shelf for Stephanie van der Linden's Around the World in Knitted Socks, previously seen on this blog in the original German.  I'm so excited that English speaking knitters can now see Stephanie's genius in familiar terms.


And don't let me forget about friend of the house and prolific knitgrrl, Shannon Okey, and her newest book, The Knitgrrl Guide to Professional Knitwear Design, a book we highly endorse for anyone interested in cutting a professional path for themselves in the knit world.


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!