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Twist Collective Blog


Sandi Rosner

Sandi Rosner is the clever lady behind  Midtown, a modern twist on the pencil skirt. This post about her design (one of many she has contributed to our magazine), can also be found on her blog. Make sure to also take a peek at her enlightening look at increases, also in the Winter issue of Twist.

My skirt design, Midtown, appears in the Winter 2011 issue of Twist Collective.  I want to share a bit about this design with you.

Midtown skirt

I’ve been on a bit of a knitted skirt kick lately.  In a fairly short period over the summer, I made Barn Dance for Kollage Yarns, Rumba for Universal Yarns, and Midtown for Twist. The funny thing about this is that I don’t often wear skirts.  When I’m not teaching, I work at home.  I generally find pants more suitable for my lifestyle.  But I love the look of a knit skirt.

Midtown wide shot

For Midtown, I wanted a classic, tailored pencil skirt silhouette. I envisioned the sort of skirt you could wear to the office or shopping in the city, something sharp and modern and graphic. I love stranded colorwork for a knitted skirt, because the strands of yarn across the wrong side help stabilize the fabric, preventing the baggy butt that can result after sitting for a while. I wanted a design with diagonal movement, not the strong horizontal that “fair isle” patterns often have. I also wanted to keep the knitting easy, so I avoided long color floats. I played around with pencil and graph paper, drawing lattice designs until I had one I liked with floats no longer than 4 stitches.


Here is a pro tip for you – when I’m working a gauge swatch in stranded colorwork, I make a hat. It is important that the swatch be worked in the round and that it be fairly large so you get an accurate sample of your gauge.  Making a hat accomplishes both goals, and you end up with something cozy and useful.  I don’t worry too much about finished size for these hats – after all, its purpose is to be a gauge swatch.  If the hat doesn’t fit me or someone to whom I want to give a gift, I’ll use it as a class sample or donate it to a charity program.

Side zip

I decided against a slit at the hem of the skirt – after all, knitting stretches, so a slit wasn’t needed for walking ease. I wanted to avoid bulky, bunchy gathers at the waist, so the skirt is fitted, with a zipper at the hip. Since fine finishing makes me very, very, happy, I decided to knit in a facing that would cover the zipper on the inside of the skirt. Here is what it looks like on the inside.

Facing and zipper

Don’t be intimidated – the pattern includes step-by-step photos of cutting the steek, sewing in the zipper, and sewing down the facing.For color, the charcoal gray and cream that Twist’s Creative Director, Kate Gilbert, selected really plays up the modern graphic effect of this piece.  I think it would also be great in other color combinations. I’m a big fan of self-striping yarns, and this skirt would be fun worked in a self-striping yarn together with a coordinating solid, or in two different striping yarns.

Example color schemes

While you could use just about any sport weight wool from your stash for this skirt, let me just put in a good word for the yarn Kate chose for this design.  Blue Moon FiberArts BFL Sport may be my new favorite yarn for this kind of colorwork.  It is soft and springy, but smooth enough that each stitch is distinct.  This yarn is a joy to knit – it feels good in your hands, is exceptionally cooperative, and blocks beautifully. The hand dyed semi-solids we used give this pattern subtle depth and variation that a solid yarn just doesn’t have.I’m really pleased with the finished skirt. It was made to fit Kate (because sample size and Sandi size are not the same), and she has already put it into her wardrobe rotation.


Sharon Fuller

This entry about the lovely Calliope socks is brought to you by Sharon Fuller. You can find this post, as well as tutorials relating to this pattern, on her blog.

I am thrilled and honored to have my Calliope brioche socks published by Twist Collective. Even though the pattern bears my name, it’s amazing how much of a collaboration it really is, what with yarn choice, editing, layout, photography, and modelling. And a rocking sample knitter who made the red and purple socks, which totally sell the pattern.

Calliope short socks

I work with multiple colors whenever I get the chance, but go to great lengths to avoid working more than one color at a time. Mosaic, double knitting, duplicate stitch – I love them all, but brioche is my favorite.

There’s a lovely rhythm to brioche knitting. It makes a beautiful and luxurious fabric, and can be varied to achieve umpteen million stitch patterns, many of them reversible, of which, Nancy Marchant, to whom I am profoundly indebted for her trailblazing work, has documented all but a few hundred thousand (I tried to fit a few more dependent clauses in that sentence but ran out of commas).

Calliope long socks

Better yet, even after designing several brioche patterns, I’m still not entirely sure how it works. I’m endlessly entertained by the mystery of how on earth I’m actually producing that fabric. With designing, I have started to pierce the veil in places--try enough ways to make the perfect increase, decrease or cable, and something’s bound to sink in. But much remains opaque (such as how to drop down a column, fix a mistake and work back up; grmble grmble ratzen fratzen).

Yet another thing I love about brioche is that it’s an emerging style, so there’s plenty of room for new unventors to make contributions to the literature. Who knows, maybe it’s even possible to invent? There’s no way of knowing, of course. One can only say, well, I was unable to find instructions for this on the Internet.


So, I think I may have un/invented the stockinette short row brioche heel. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, really. In fact, when I made my proposal to Twist, I blithely sketched the stripes continuing uninterrupted down the heel, assuming I would easily find instructions on how to achieve this effect. Nope. No how. No where.

I set out on a quest to conquer the short row. The main thing I can tell you about the process is that there are many, many wrong ways to do stockinette brioche short rows. Finally I decided there might be only one right way to do them. This was an astonishing notion, because that is just not the way things work in knitting. In fact, I rather hope that stating my conclusion publicly will prompt someone to step forward and disprove it.

As a side note, I hope I’m not the only designer who writes down in excruciating detail exactly what she did, follows those instructions to the letter to confirm them . . . and arrives at a different result. This does not facilitate the xxvention process. Fortunately, the Kollage Sock-a-Licious was more than up to the task of repeated frogging and re-knitting.

Oh, and the name. I could write something high-flown about how the socks were inspired by the rowdy music surrounding striped big top circus tents and curlicued carousels.* But in truth, I was inspired by men’s stockings of the Regency era. Probably one didn’t find stockings with both stripes and clocks back then, and a dandy certainly would not have worn wool stockings. But one of the great things about inspiration is that it can accommodate a fine and appropriate disregard for the facts.

*By the way, the Wikipedia article on calliopes is an excellent read (although in my neck of the woods, we do NOT pronounce it "kal-ee-oap").


Rachel Erin

Rachel Erin is the talented designer who brought Voluta to the Winter 2011 issue of Twist. This entry is cross-posted from her blog, where you can also find tutorials to help you with the novel increases and decreases used to create these calligraphic cables. This is Rachel's first design with Twist, but you can find more of her work on her website, here, and follow her on twitter, here.

I did it, I finally had a design published in Twist Collective! Voluta is a wrap or drape cardigan with a cabled edging that I invented. It has eight sizes, and all kinds of design details that I love. It is definitely the most complicated thing I've designed so far, and the most complete, coherent idea, so I wanted to blog about the little things that make it special.

Cable detail

The cable. It uses closed ring cabling increases and decreases to make the loops and swoops .The bobbles at the ends are very small - as small as I could make them. To me they are like the serifs on the ends of calligraphic capitals, or the little knobs that often end swirls in wrought iron. It took some serious charting and swatching to get the point to both match and grow properly into the main motif.

Front view, closed

The cross-over front. Wrap styles are flattering an a wide range of body types, and the great thing about making your own sweater is that you can position the buttons exactly where you want them to make a sweater that really hugs the curves closely, or skims over them more like the pictures here. I love the way it curves up a little in the middle of the bottom, too, creating movement and verticality at the hip area. I also like the way it hugs a little at the bottom, showing off that curve without being too sexy.

Rear view

The Draped Look. Of course, I knew that the closely wrapped look isn't everyone's style, and the drapey, swingy cardigan is popular right now as well. To satisfy the desire for a freer look, I made sure that the cardigan would fit well at the shoulders so that it could hang open and swing without falling off. In fact, you could even use a shawl pin or decorative hook-and-eye at the top, around or above the armpit level, to fasten the sweater and let it swing free around your hips. The waist shaping that makes it hug curves when wrapped also gives it structure and keeps the volume from being overwhelming when open.

Front view, open

The shoulders. Below, you can see how the shoulder seam is offset. This is for two reasons - one, I think it is more comfortable and professional looking. Two, it helps make it easy to have the collar cables meet at the center back neck.

Neck detail

The symmetry. The cables are centered to meet in the same way at the neck and the center middle in the bottom. Mirroring the cables was one of the design challenges of this sweater, since the motif is fairly large. The raised neck is warm, and also part of what helps the fronts lay properly whether closed or open.

Front view, closer

I think it looks beautiful here with the larger amount of recommended ease - it skims the model's shape in a way that is flattering yet cozy to wear; put together yet comfortable.

The sleeves.This picture above demonstrates why I chose the sleeve length I did. It may not seem intuitive to have a winter sweater with 3/4 sleeves. If the sleeves were full length, however, I felt that they would make the whole thing too bottom heavy, and the cuffs would compete with lower edging. Having them stop near the waist helps draw the eye upward. Of course, the individual knitter is free to lengthen them, but if your hips are bigger than your bust you may want to consider leaving the cuff detail off, or picking up stitches and working downward in stockinette stitch to 

Here is one more picture, just because I think it's sweet one of me and my daughter.

Sweater, plus cute kid


Leah Thibault

Leah Thibault is the talented designer who brings us Wetherell this issue, as well as our first blog post from Winter! You can also find it (and more!) on her blog; or you can catch her chirping on twitter.

Wetherell back view

It’s been a big week for me a designer, I’ve had not one, not two, but three designs come out in the past four days. The one I’m perhaps most excited is Wetherell, which came out in the Winter 2011 issue of Twist Collective.

Wetherell front view

This design started way back in the early days of 2010, when I challenged myself to design a sweater as my 2010 knitolution. I’ve knit plenty of sweaters, and adapted a few, but I wanted one that was all me.

As with most deadlines, I procastinated and didn’t even start thinking of my design until early October, when I was doodling during a meeting and came up with this (and promptly dripped water on it):


The big question was how to do the diagonal feature on the yoke. After flipping through some stitch dictionaries, I deciding on modifying a slip stitch pattern. I love slip stitches because their woven-look texture and I find them less commonly used than other stitch patterns (though it is my second Twist pattern featuring slip stitches).

FO with book

The downside to this heavy of a slip-stitch pattern is that is takes almost twice as many rows to get get the same length as Stockinette stitch. The upside is that it looks great and since it’s confined to the yoke and the cuffs, it isn’t overwhelming. The name for the sweater came when Bristol Ivy and I did this photoshoot in March. It comes from the copy of The Wide, Wide World I’m holding in the shoot, a 1850 novel by Susan Warner, published under the pseudonym Elizabeth Wetherell. According to Wikipedia, it is often acclaimed as America’s first bestseller (if you’re interested you can read the whole thing here).

Sleeve Detail

The front and back of the sweater are knit flat, while the sleeves are knit in the round until the sleeve cap, then everything is blocked and seamed together. The sweater is finished off with a knitted hem on the bottom. All together it’s a simple sweater with the right amount of detail.

Both my prototype and the Twist sample were knit in Valley Yarn’s Williamstown, a worsted weight wool/acrylic blend in a lovely range of tweedy shades. I even found matching buttons 8 months apart in the button box at Z Fabrics

Finished Sweater

The pattern is available here!

Winter's coming

Though I hate to say it, winter is coming. I think I may have even seen a couple snowflakes the other day. At least that means the winter issue is nearly here and we'll have lots of new things to knit and plenty of indoor days to do it. The issue will be up in less than 24 hours, so I figured I'd share some behind the scenes shots today.

winter peek

The whole family helps out.

winter peek

How many computers can you fit on the kitchen counter? At least five.

winter peek

Want to take my picture?

winter peek

No, horses, I swear there are no treats in this bag.

winter peek

James gets the shot.

winter peek

If you can't carry all of the clothes and props, wear them.