Receive HTML?

Twist Collective Blog


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!

Shop Image



Lee Meredith

Lee Meredith is the innovative (and prolific) designer of the stunning (and all-gender-friendly) hat- Meridian. In the following entry (cross-posted from her blog), she takes us inside the playful process of designing a hat with unusual construction.

So, something very exciting happened a couple weeks ago – the new Twist Collective came out, and I’m in it!!  My design, Meridian:


Here it is being modeled by me, but you can head over to the Twist Collective page to see their shots (or to ravelry).  This was a huge deal for me, as I’d submitted design ideas to them multiple times before this one got picked up – I love Twist Collective so much and am so happy to be a part of this amazing issue!  And, I am super duper happy with how this hat design turned out!


This is pretty different from most of my accessory designs – if you are very familiar with my patterns, you’ll be surprised to hear that this hat has a set gauge (well, three different gauges for three different sizes), no short rows, no variations beyond choosing either a crochet edging or a ribbed front (both of which will take care of the hat front’s urge to curl up).  It’s a straightforward seamless construction – start flat, increase out a bunch, then join around and decrease in a bunch.


And let me tell you, it’s a fun knit!  It works up fairly quickly, considering that slip stitch designs always take longer, and it’s constantly changing row to row, keeping it from ever getting boring, but always easy to follow the intuitive striping pattern.  Just when you start feeling like it’s going slowly, it’s time to join around and then the decreasing begins and it’s almost done!


So hey, want a big glimpse into my design process with this one?  It started out with a sketched out concept of a hat that’s knit starting flat in the back, worked up around the back of the head, then joined in front and decreased in at the top of the head…


That idea turned into this original prototype pictured below, worn as I’d planned it out in my head… Well, damn, I thought, design fail.  This hat looked terrible. 

fail1 fail2

All that work and… wait… let’s play around with it for a minute……what if I put it on backwards?  Hey!  Much better!


And my design prototype was born – very similar to my final design!  Because of the way I had thought about the shape as I made it sort of backwards the first time, and just because it was my first try, this one had some major size/shape issues.  Mainly, the height was just about right, but the width was way too large.  Also, that front curling up issue was something I’d have to deal with. But, there it was, a pretty cool design, I thought.  And so it was submitted, got accepted (woooo!) and I went on to solve the problems…I started out with some spare yarn in approximately the same weight, just as another prototype attempt.  As you can see, I changed it quite a bit, and it ended up looking much worse than the original…


But, as these things do, creating this super failed hat version taught me what needed to be done to make the design work.  It was too short, lumpy, and came together all wrong in the back, but I used it has a learning tool and moved on to my next try, using my official yarn (Sunflower Yarns Windham, which was great!), this is how that next attempt turned out:


Wow, right?!  It doesn’t even look like a hat!  Because of the weird construction, it was just really tricky to get those increases and decreases to make just the right shape.  Obviously.  So, several partial froggings and reknittings later, and I finally got that shape to curve just right, and Meridian was here!

In case any aspiring designers are interested in this aspect, I’ll tell you, as I did all this knitting, reknitting, frogging, reknitting… I was keeping track of everything in written pattern form, saving copies of old tries as I made changes, in case I needed to go back and reference them later.  Once I had my successful version, I kind of finalized that written pattern, then charted the whole thing.  Then I knit up my second example from the finished pattern, to double check everything.

The pattern pdf includes both the complete written pattern and the entire hat charted, so you can use whichever your brain prefers.


As mentioned, there are 2 ways to prevent the front from curling up – above, you can see the crochet edging option; below, there’s no crochet needed because the first front bit is ribbed, which is hardly noticeable but does the trick.  The other difference between these two is that the top is size small, which just barely fits my head, and the bottom is size large, which fits me loosely and is a good man-size.  You should be able to make a child size by dropping to a finer weight yarn, but I couldn’t tell you the exact gauge you’d need…


And as for yarn variations – I really liked that self-striping combo in my failed attempt, so I frogged that and am making the yarn into a new hat for myself!

You’d think after all that work in creating the design, knitting and reknitting these hats, I’d never want to make another, but now that some time has passed, I’m really looking forward to knitting up a new Meridian!  If anyone wants to join me, perhaps we can put together a casual knit-a-long in the leethal ravelry group!


Amy Herzog

Amy Herzog is the talented designer of this issue's Twinings, and has given us other gorgeous designs including Twinflower and Greenaway. Today's post takes us to the drawing board (and the swatching board), behind the scenes of the design. You can find out more about Amy's work at her website, from which this is cross-posted.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m just so thrilled to be included in this fall’s issue of Twist Collective. My sweater, Twinings, is a pullover with detailing designed to evoke the look of a wrap sweater.

sweater image

You can find all the tech specs either on the Twist Collective page linked above or on the design page here.

Twinings started out with a comment someone made about how wrap sweaters looked so flattering, but tended to feel really bulky over the stomach. My initial ideas involved trying to use a row of snaps to allow for just an inch or two of overlap, but I quickly realized such a sweater would simply be an asymmetrical cardigan. The nice thing about a true wrap sweater vs. a cardigan is that the fabric doesn’t pull open at many tension points down the front of the sweater.

So I started thinking about how I could spread the tension evenly, and sketching, and would up with the idea of a single cable panel traveling across the front of a sweater:


I knew I wouldn’t be able to make the cable panel move quite as severely as the sketch without some serious biasing in the fabric, but I started swatching to play around with the maximum movement rate:


And I was able to move a cable every other RS row without things getting too nasty. So when Kate told me she liked the sweater and wanted to include it the Fall issue, I calculated the different required cable positions at three points of the sweater and worked out the rate of decrease within each section.

I had lots of fun working with the other details of Twinings, too. The hem of the sweater body is trimmed with the same cables present in the panel; the sleeves are deeply cuffed with the same cables.


The back neck gave me a little bit of trouble: I started out wanting a wide, curved cable band on the back. But I quickly realized that working short rows on a back neck cable, combined with the complicated front of the sweater, would intimidate a lot of knitters. So instead, I charted out some attractive diminishing cables from the front neckline, moving into 1×1 rib. These extensions of the front cable panels are then sewn onto the back neckline. I wound up liking the effect far more than my original idea:


The merino-silk blend from Catherine Lowe Yarns was just great. I’d never worked with a yarn like this before (the individual plies are laid out parallel to one another and wound into a cake like that; CL says that they’re sprayed with sizing to keep them together but although they did stay together fine I couldn’t detect any stiffness or anything), and I don’t necessarily understand why it makes such a difference–but it does! The stitch definition is utterly fabulous and I have to say that the yarn produced the single best fabric that has ever come off my needles. It manages both a dense-looking, opaque fabric and an incredible lightness–the sample weighs far less than you’d expect. The silk adds a lovely drape and shine. And the ex-goth in me definitely appreciated the color, which was a lovely dark violet that looked black in some lights, stunning purple in others.

All in all, I’m really pleased with the way the sweater turned out, and hope you are too! If you’d like to knit Twinings, we’re having a knit-a-long for the sweater in my ravelry group and would love to have you join us.

Behind the scenes: Winter is coming

Yes, the Fall edition just went live, but for us, it's the middle of winter with spring on the horizon. 

Our photographers are setting the cool, crisp mood of winter while our models bundle up, all to make next season's knit's look their very best. And of course, our tech editors, layout designers, web developers and everyone else are all doing their part to make the edition great.

Winter 2011 Shoot

While that is happening, we have a stack of amazing submissions to sort through for spring. No rest for the knitted, around here. 

In the mean time, we hope you are enjoying the Fall edition, along with all the projects in our archives


Nancy Whitman

Nancy Whitman's first design for Twist Collective is a stunner of a pair of socks called Shani. It's been popular enough that she's put together a Knit-A-Long [KAL] that starts today. Find out more about the socks and the KAL in today's blog post and find out more about Nancy at her website


Shani is my first published pattern, apart from self-published ones, so I wanted to share the design process with you.  The stitch pattern evolved from one originally found in a stitch dictionary.  This particular pattern caught my eye because of its asymmetrical quality that was achieved by varying the rate, either every row or every other row, of yarn overs and corresponding decreases.  The lines of decreased stitches that are worked on every row form an acute angle that sits closer to the horizontal plane than the lines of decreased stitches on every other row.   To my eye, this made for a stitch pattern with many interesting angles.  Now that I had the pattern it was time to swatch.

Shani Decreases

I quickly learned that this pattern produced a fabric with very little shape retention, something I like to have in socks.  My first thought was to change to a 100% Merino yarn because the original swatch was made with a Merino/cashmere blend, but that did not solve the problem completely.  The solution was to manipulate the stitch pattern to create that body.  Removing a section of lace and replacing it with ribbing added the necessary body to the knit fabric and, as a bonus, added continuity to the design.  Now the k3, p2 cuff ribbing could travel down the leg.

Shani ribbing

At this point, I was pleased with the cuff and leg, but knew there would be some decisions in how to transition to the heel and the toe.

The stitch pattern for Shani is repeated three times around the body of the sock.  This meant the center of the heel flap and the center of the instep would occur at a different point in the pattern repeat.  From a design perspective there would be more details to decide and opportunities to create interesting and varied transitions between different parts of the sock.

Centering a full pattern repeat down the front of the leg created a natural point to continue the ribbing from the leg onto the heel flap.  Like the cuff, the ribbing would have a V-shaped transition, albeit upside down.  To keep the design cohesive, I repeated that V-shaped transition at the toe.  You can see it in the first picture above.


Much of this design was decided on the needle when I knit the prototype pictured here in yellow.  For me, this is the best way to design a sock since you will know right away what works and what does not.  This was fun to design and I hope you enjoy reading about it and making the sock!

There is a KAL for Shani in the Twist Collective Ravelry group.  The official start will be August 24, and all are welcome and encouraged to join then or later.  I will be there to give whatever support and help I can.