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Twist Collective Blog

Harriet as a Cardigan

fiona ellis

Prolific and talented designer, Fiona Ellis interviews a knitter who worked her Harriet design as a cardigan instead of the pullover shown in the magazine. Find out about working the cardigan version, below, and purchase the pattern and make your own pullover or cardigan or both, here


I love to see what knitters have done with my patterns, especially if they have made modification of their own. It’s one of the things that I love about Ravelry and reading knitter’s blogs.

I have a couple of patterns on Twist that give instructions for both a sweater and a cardigan version. I had only made up the sweater version for photography so I was dying to see what knitters did with the cardigan versions of each.

I had used Green Mountain Spinnery Cotton Comfort yarn for Harriet so I was particularly delighted to hear that Eric Robinson who works at GMS had made up the cardigan version. I did a mini telephone interview with her to find out first hand her perspective on the project.

Harriet Cardigan

Fiona: What yarn did you use for your cardigan?

Eric: GMS Sylvan Spirit (50% wool / 50% tencel), which has good stitch definition so the cables look really good in it. It is one of those yarns that look better knit up than in the skein – it’s more complex and sophisticated looking as a fabric, probably because the fleece is dyed and then blended with white tencel.

Fiona: What did you enjoy about the pattern?

Eric: I loved that there was always something going on so it kept me interested the whole way through.

Actually Eric said that I was diabolical (meaning devilish or fiendish) with the pattern, which made me laugh, and I took as a compliment - I love to challenge knitters. She said having knit since she was a girl (21 years+…I never tell a lady’s age) she enjoyed the complexity of it.

Fiona: How did the cardigan fit when you were finished?

Eric: I made the 38” size which gives me about 2” of ease…I love how it fits. I love the shape of the neckline; it’s flattering and a little unusual. I also loved the lower sleeve shaping with the flare of the sleeve.

Springing from questions that have arisen in my cable workshops the whole team at Twist and I attempted something different with the cable charts for this pattern. We included color as well as symbols for added clarity. So I asked…

Fiona: How did you find working from the charts?

Eric: I did find having color on the charts helpful but I must say I am so experienced at cables that I didn’t feel that I needed the extra information, it does make the chart easy to look at, though.

Fiona: Is there anything that you would change about this pattern?

Eric: I found having to seam in Reverse Stockinette a bit tiresome, it didn’t go quickly and I had to pay a lot of attention but I was pleased with the result in the end.

I think that you will agree that Eric looks really fabulous in her Harriet, that color looks amazing on her doesn’t it? 

I would also love to hear from other knitters who have worked from the charts for Harriet as the Twist team endeavor to give you the clearest, easy to use and accurate patterns that we can, so we love your feedback.

I’ll be teaching a cable intensive weekend of workshops at GMS this fall.


Mary-Heather Cogar

Mary-Heather Cogar is not only an outstanding model but a wonderful designer too. Last year, she designed a soft, feminine and flattering Promenade pullover, and she followed that up with this season's Avivah socks. In this post, Mary-Heather describes her designing process. This is a cross post from her own blog

I'm in a rare phase in my crafting where I have no pressing deadlines for secret projects and am actually in the mood to finish up a few works-in-progress. Since I'm about to cast off my current portable project, though (more on that soon!) I brought out this pretty Miss Babs Windsor to start a pair of Avivah socks (my pattern from the Spring 2011 Twist Collective) for myself:

future avivah socks for me

I love that color! Since I don't have progress pics yet, I thought this would be the perfect better-late-than-never time to blog about my Avivah pattern.


I submitted for Twist with a desire to make a sock pattern that would have a very spring-like, sweet look and feel. I knew that I wanted the main focus of the sock to be a single motif up the entire foot and front of the sock, so I swatched and charted until I'd created a trellis of twisted stitches which framed climbing eyelet rosettes. This stitch pattern could be carried on longer if desired; there are separate charts for the neatly closing toe and cuff parts of the trellis. The socks are worked from the toe up, and have a short-row toe and a tidy gusset heel.


It was also important to me that this motif neatly-but-organically flowed into the deeply ribbed cuff, but as this design is garden-inspired (and my favorite gardens always have a bit of a wild look about them, at least in places), there are some rosettes on the back of the leg, as well - rambling roses, bursting forth from the contained garden trellis.


The yarn I used for the Twist sample socks is Miss Babs Windsor - a beautiful, squishy soft, handpainted semisolid blend of 80/20 superwash merino and nylon. I always love to fondle the beautiful range of semisolid colors that Miss Babs creates when I see her booth at fiber festivals, so getting to work with the yarn for Twist was exciting - there were so many gorgeous colors from which to choose! The Twist socks are worked in the Sugar colorway, which is a lovely pale pink that is perfectly but not overly sweet.


The name was the last thing to come for this pattern - until a few days before the issue went live, we were working with another pattern name that means "rose garden." Unfortunately, the name was a touch too similar to another recent Twist Collective pattern name, so we started brainstorming other names that evoked springtime and gardens and flowers. Avivah is a beautiful Hebrew name that means Springtime, and I happened to work with a woman named Avivah once - she was smart, and bubbly, and so sweet and fun, so my associations with the name are really good. I thought the name would be perfect for these socks, and thankfully Kate Gilbert agreed!

It is always so fun to see projects pop up for my designs on Ravelry, and the biggest advantage to my delayed blog post about this design is that there are a few more finished Avivah socks to admire through Ravelry projects!


All the photos in this post except for the first one are copyright Jamie Dixon - she did the photoshoot for Twist Collective right here in Albuquerque. :) Marnie blogged about the shoot and the trip that she and Kate took to New Mexico; it was so great to see them here - maybe Jamie and I should try to convince them to come out to the 'burque again soon! (I'm not sure that our 100-degree temps are much of a draw right now, but hey, no humidity!)

Twist Collective is consistently full of thoughtful, beautiful designs, and I was so honored to once again be a part of this publication!

Blue Daisy Genesis

Hilary Smith Callis

Hilary Smith Callis' debut pattern with Twist Collective, is Blue Daisy, a charming double-breasted cardigan, worked in an artful combination of stitch patterns. In today's post, she talks about coming up with this design. This is cross posted from her own blog

A post I've been meaning to do for awhile now (but someone hasn't let me, the little stinker) is about the origins of the Blue Daisy cardigan, which can be found in the Spring/Summer 2011 issue of Twist Collective. Last spring, I kept seeing dresses and outfits in my favorite shops that combined patterns that I wouldn't normally put together -- stripes with polka dots, paisleys with plaids, florals with all of the above -- in very interesting ways. I wanted to use this idea in a knitted garment, but how? I thought about using different patterning yarns or multiple colors, but ultimately decided that contrasting textures was the way to go. So I got swatching.

For the pattern that would make up the body of the sweater, I thought some sort of light cabley thing might be cool.

Too busy. A more delicate slipped stitch pattern perhaps?

Hmm. I like this, but it still seems a little too dense. Maybe something with some yarnovers...

swatch 3

Getting closer, but definitely not right with this yarn. What's this Little Knot Stitch?...

swatch 4

Bingo! I loved the airiness the eyelets added, and the fact that they looked a bit more delicate in the worsted weight yarn than yarnovers did.

Now onto the contrasting pattern. Double seed stitch?

swatch 5

Meh. But I liked the denser fabric next to the more open and airy Little Knot.

swatch 6

Daisy stitch, yes! 

And the first incarnation of Blue Daisy looked like this, in Tess' Designer Yarns Superwash Merino with some vintage buttons in the exact same color that I coincidentally had in stash.

(Note: This photo is from last year...I have not miraculously returned to my pre-baby state.)

When I submitted the design to the great minds at Twist Collective, I proposed remaking the sweater in a silk or bamboo blend, for an even lighter and more warm weather-appropriate piece. They teamed Blue Daisy up with Briar Rose Fibers' Celebration, a gorgeous blend of bamboo and merino wool. The two stitch patterns worked so well in the more variegated, hand-painted Celebration. Some of the little "daisies" turn out a different shade of blue than their neighbors, which I think is pretty charming. I was so happy with how the cardigan turned out in the Celebration and was beaming when the issue of Twist Collective went live. Of course, the great styling and gorgeous model didn't hurt!

blue daisy


Fiona Ellis

Fiona Ellis has a way with cables (and lace and colorwork, for that matter) and her design for Spring/Summer is no exception. Harriet is proof that gorgeous cables can be perfect for cool weather in a comfortable cotton blend. Fiona takes us through her design process in this fascinating blog post. 


“Knitting is a traditional craft, linked both to the past and to the future by the thread of current practice.” A line that I use over and over to describe my approach to designing: basically we don’t have to re-invent the wheel every time, we can apply what we have learned from traditional techniques to make contemporary garments and thus come up with new ways to approach our craft.

So when I was designing Harriet I knew that I wanted to add what I call “filler stitches” into the areas defined by the cables to add extra texture and dimension. So my starting point was looking at cables that already existed and at what filler stitches had been used before. I quickly came to the conclusion that from a technical standpoint, I could not deviate easily from this tried and tested route. These patterns need to have small repeats to make them simple to put into small areas and so ruled out many interesting initial possibilities. I ended up with the old stand-bys of seed and rib, both of which have a two stitch repeat.

With that settled I moved onto looking at the path the cable cords themselves would draw. Harriet was to be a feminine sweater or cardigan (instructions are given for both), so the lines created needed to be soft and flowing. I also liked the idea of working with a pattern that created pairs or double elements. Using tradition patterns as a jumping off point I came up with several variations, some of which I liked and some of which I thought were ugly.

You can never tell what a cable will look like until you knit it, so swatching is the only way to know. I love doing this. It is the part of the process which for me can generate many other ideas, some of which head off on tangents, that’s why I keep a notebook, enabling me to return to them one day.

The size of the repeat, especially the row count became very important at this stage. I could certainly come up with something beautiful but knew that some (although certainly not all) knitters might be put off by a huge long repeat. I think that there must be some kind of magic number to this, you know not so long that you can never learn it but long enough to encourage you to knit a whole repeat in one sitting and thus move the project along at a good speed. Now if only I knew what that magic number was…. but I’m sure it varies from knitter to knitter.

Anyway I thought you might like to see a few of my swatches and hear my thoughts on what I thought worked (and what did not).

 cable 1

1)   Single element divided with the two filler stitches contained in the same circle - didn’t look feminine enough and would produce a sort of polka dot effect.

cable 2

2)   Celtic Knot first attempt: mirror cables within the same repeat. This is 52 rows long – yikes! Plus the areas for adding the filler stitches are way too small.

cable 1

3)   Titling cables: loved the lines and the filler stitch areas are a good size but again repeat is too long at a whopping 56 rows.

cable final

4)   Final design: row repeat is a minuscule (ahem) 42 rows, nice size areas for the filler stitches. Soft gentle curving lines.

Then I decided to create the mirror image cable, as the negative space created between two cables can sometimes be almost as interesting as the cable its-self. Also I felt that the double element aspect would be more aesthetically pleasing if placed symmetrically.

I guess I didn’t achieve my aim to have a really manageable row repeat but I loved the cable and knowing that it would probably appeal to avid cable knitters I decided to go with it anyway.

Budding Apple - A Spring Twist

Anne Hanson

Right from Twist Collective's first edition, Anne Hanson has been designing lovely lace shawls for us, along with her incredibly popular Leaving cardigan and pullover design. Her most recent design, Budding Apple Shawlette, is the topic of this blog post, cross posted from her own blog. You can find the Budding Apple Shawlette here

Budding Apple

When the Spring/Summer issue of Twist Collective was launched, I was deep into the opening class day of sock camp and had hardly a moment to talk about our Budding Apple Shawlette design included in the issue.

Fortunately, news spreads fast, thanks to our very enthusiastic ravelry group (i love you guys!), as well as excited fans of the dyers involved in the project—Spirit Trail Fiberworks providing NeithKollage Yarns providing Creamy, and The Natural Dye Studio providing Precious and Angel 4-ply.

That’s a lotta yarn and we did a lotta knitting to make a sample in each one. why so many?

Knitters often write to tell me they appreciate our extensive project photography and how much they enjoy exploring blog links to the wealth of gorgeous yarns available to us. I thought it would be fun to present a pretty, quick-knit project that would translate beautifully in a variety of fibers and colors, with an investment in just a skein or two of yarn (the better to try more of them, my dear!).

And what better time than spring to refresh our senses with a palette of soft colors in luscious non-wool fibers? So I set out in my usual way to create a project that would fit all of those parameters.

First step—you guessed it—swatches.

I worked up several swatches in various sample yarns I had on hand, until I came up with a set I liked in a range of non-wool fiber types, including alpaca, cashmere, silk, cotton, and milk.

I don’t remember when, exactly, I decided on these particular stitch patterns, but the moment I saw them together, I knew that they brought together a bunch of loosely-related ideas I had into one firm idea, which was now about apple trees.

In other words, up until that point, I had a general sense of the feeling I wanted to portray, but seeing the stitches together made apple buds come to mind. and since I was designing for a spring issue, that seemed just right.

The larger pattern for the hem portion is one of many “grapevine” variations; this one is particularly sensual, I think, with its sinuous movement and shading. the tiny eyelet trefoil provides a delicately punctuated field to rest the eyes on, while still keeping the feeling light and lively.

Once I had my stitch patterns planned out, I did some preliminary charting and got started on the prototype in kollage creamy, in the cool, fresh canopy green color.

It was a quick knit all right and I was done in no time at all. I did see afterward that a few tweaks were in order—the insertion at the center back didn’t seem right, so i decided to change that

And while I was at it, I refined the placement of the small eyelet pattern as well. Luckily, I was able to get more yarn to produce another sample that is knit exactly as the pattern is written—that’s the one you’ll see in the magazine pages, knit by our very dear friend Karolyn. The changes are subtle, but they make a difference to me.

The insertion in particular is a lot more in keeping with the design. I hesitated about using it, since I would then be repeating a detail I’d used before, but my gut told me it was better for the design.

Once I had the prototype knit and finalized the design, I wrote the pattern up and we got to work on samples to send to the magazine.

These were my secret projects in September and October—above you see it in Pure Silk Precious 4-ply from the natural dye studio, colorway heather and below, the cashmere/silk version in spirit trail neith even traveled to rhinebeck with me, a delicious travel companion.

This soft blue is named chalcedony and is worn by the model on the right in this photo. the yarn is to DIE for, with a lovely density that gives the finished shawl a nice weight. I’m so sorry I didn’t get a modeled shot of it before I sent it off, but time grew short and I was traveling a lot at that point, oy. Same goes for the one we knit up in a soft pink color called sugar, from The Natural Dye Studio.

And all that was way back in the fall, before thanksgiving. I didn’t revisit this project for quite a few months, but when the pattern proofs arrived from twist, I took everything out again to take one last look before publication.

As it happened, the fruit trees were just beginning to show their buds as we put those final touches on the pattern and I was wowed by how accurately the stitch patterns mimic the look of their branches, droopy with buds and ready to burst into flower. i couldn’t help but be reminded of the shawl during my Seattle stay, just as this issue went live.

One week later, i finally have a chance to sit and write a thoughtful recap of the process of designing this piece and to thank the staff at Twist Collective for including it in this spring/summer issue.