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Twist Collective Blog

Designer Post: Alizeh

Today we welcome Moira Engel to the blog to share her process on creating Alizeh


I have a confession to make; I have never knit a shawl even though I have always wanted a shawl! I love the portable snuggly-ness that they provide, but I was never really sure that I was a shawl person. They always look so elegant, both the shawls and the wearers.  I am of a practical style that will tromp through woods, grocery store and then off to do errands without bothering with a wardrobe change. 



Alizeh was my personal journey for a shawl like object.  I like scarves and wraps, but one is too narrow and the other is a bit too big.  So I dove into creating the perfect over the shoulders cozy that would work for me and that hopefully other people would like too! 

Alizeh is more generous than a scarf.  Just wide enough to cover the shoulders which is just what I was looking for!  I wear it inside for a cozy evening knitting and outside to keep the chill at bay.  Wrap around, drape it, pin it or toss it over your head, it works! 



Alizeh has some shaping borrowed from a shawl silhouette, but no short rows.  It also features a generous amount of my favorite thing.  Cables!  Cable patterns will stop me mid-sentence and snap my head around.  I have even been known to subtly stalk people wearing them, just to see if I know the pattern or can figure it out.  Alizeh is a favorite go-to piece for me now and that’s how Alizeh came to be...for me!


Find her on Instagram and Raverly 

Designer Post: Undercut

Today we welcome M.K. Nance to the blog to share her process on creating Undercut. 


I feel in love with top down sweaters with set in sleeves while working on a sweater for New York Sheep and Wool 2016. It was my intention to have a new cardigan in a sport weight alpaca acquired at Sock Summit 2011 but that did not happen between knitting Fenugreek (Twist Collective Winter 2016) and the flu (but it was also unseasonably warm so wearing one would have not been fun).  I ended up finishing it a few months later.


I used a photo of that Rhinebeck sweater in my submission (because I can’t draw) and knit a quick swatch.  I wanted to design a cardigan that would have some interest in the front but be playful in the back.  Undercut lacks waist shaping as it is a transitional piece meant to be worn in overly air conditioned office in the summer and or as a layer on a cold winter day.  This style of cardigan is flexible and allow for easy adjustments to waist shaping and length while one could try it on as it is being made.  


When I finally knit a version of Undercut for myself, I will do it in Peacock because it is a lovely color.

Find her on Instagram, Ravelry, and Twitter  as Kathynancygirl

Designer Post: Yojimbo

Today we welcome Nancy Vandivert to the blog to share her thoughts and process on creating the Yojimbo shawl. 

Mosaic stitches are a type of slip stitch knitting.  Like brioche stitch, two rows of knitting produce one row of a mosaic pattern.  Multi color patterns result by working specific stitches in one color and slipping the remaining stitches.  Colors alternate every two rows; this means both colors remain attached to the work throughout.  Patterns may be worked in all Stockinette, all Garter, or a combination of both.  The simplest motifs are frequently geometric or rectilinear.  Most important, there are NO LARGE FLOATS along the back of the work. Knitted mosaic patterns retain much of the flexibility of plain Stockinette stitch.


Yojimbo features mosaic designs inspired by Japanese Sashiko embroidery.  This technique began as a simple running stitch used by peasants to repair clothing.  Matching thread was used to create utilitarian, and invisible, patches.  However, as undyed cotton thread became available, more elaborate and decorate patching designs developed.  In addition to repairs, this more showy style of embroidery was used to quilt together layers for durability and insulation.  Once Sashiko spread from the peasant classes to Japanese merchant and upper classes, it transformed from a practical skill to one valued as pure decoration.


The genesis for my design arose from the eponymous movie by Akira Kurosawa.  In the 19th century, a lone samurai enters a rural Japanese village and finds the peasants beset by a feud between two rival factions.  After being betrayed and seriously injured, the samurai is hidden in a forest shrine and warms himself under a patchwork quilt made of Sashiko and kimono fabric scraps. 


If you are interested in Sashiko, my favorite book is Sashiko: Easy and Elegant Japanese Designs for Decorative Machine Embroidery, by Mary S. Parker.  Although written for machine sewing, the stitch dictionary in the back is worth the book’s price. 


When it comes to design, I am old school.  Give me a sharp pencil and graph paper, and I am a happy camper.  The full shawl has multiple sections in different designs intended to appear as though pieced from fabric scraps.  I knew the increase rate for the shawl shape I hope to make, and this guided me (for everything except Chart C) to small, symmetrical designs.  This means one pattern multiple has either the same number of rows as stitches OR the number of stitches is a factor of the number of rows.  This allows the design to predictably repeat at the increase edge.  Chart C, the design is called “Persimmon Blossom”, broke all of these rules.  Hey, I really, really liked this big flower pattern in the middle of my shawl. 



Mosaic stitch basics:

  • All slipped stitches are slipped purlwise (always, really).
  • Working yarns can be carried at the back OR at the front, depending on the pattern.  
  • When working flat, stitches that are worked on the right side are again worked on the wrong side with the same yarn.  Stitches that are slipped on the right side are again slipped on the wrong side.
  • Yojimbo’s patterns are made with a combination of knit and purl stitches and produce embossed color work patterns on the right side.  Study the charts carefully. Some stitches that were knitted on the right side will again be knitted (not purled) on the wrong side to produce the raised patterns.  Be sure to move the working yarn!


Yojimbo’s charts are unlike the pure mosaic charts developed by Barbara G. Walker.  Traditional mosaic charts show only the right side rows and assume the knitter will know to repeat the pattern when working the wrong side.  Yojimbo’s charts show every row.  Read them as you would any chart: right-to-left for right side rows and left-to-right for wrong side rows. 


This shawl also features an attached edging along the vertical edge.  Yes, this means the main color and contrast color will both be attached throughout.  However, working the attached edging is not the same intarsia torture as an isolated, multi-color motif in the middle of a sweater. In addition to a lovely finished edge, the transition between the edging and mosaic stitches is a convenient place to conceal color changes. Instructions for wrapping yarns are included with the pattern. The main thing to remember is not to snug the working yarn too tight at the color changes. Trust your eyes and feeling of the fabric in your hands. 

You can visit Nancy at her website, facebook, or raverly store 

Twist Style Friday: Undercut

Every Friday we feature one of the garments from the magazine in a post about styling. We suggest different ways to wear the garment in question using mock-ups from Polyvore. We encourage readers to tell us what they think about these outfits via our Facebook page or Twitter, and if folks want to make their own outfits, please tweet them at us with the hashtag #twiststyle. You can find all of the Style Friday posts here.



I'm writing to you, fashion fans, from my sweetheart's couch in Ottawa, with a huge jar of throat-coat tea and a box of tissues close by, because I finally got the cold that's been going around to everyone I know over the last few weeks. The wild temperature fluctuations ("wintermission") have really been wreaking havoc on everyone's immune systems. If you too, have been stricken with the dreaded winter lurgy, I hope you feel well enough to put your (sock and slipper clad) feet up, snuggle into some blankets, put on something innocuous, and get into your knitting. 


Maybe you want to make a pretty-as-heck cardigan for the cutest winter layering, or for transitional seasons. Like this one, perhaps? 


pink cardiganlaceback



I love Undercut's bracelet-length sleeves, the allover-lace back, and did you know that this yarn  is an absolutely scrumptious blend of merino, silk, and caaaaaaaashmere??? Delicious. 



close up of sweater front



Folks on Instagram this week have been sharing their #myfirsthandknitsweater, and it's made me think about how I used to only knit sweaters with worsted or chunky yarns, because I couldn't imagine the patience required to make a whole sweater out of fingering weight yarn. Audrey was my turning point, and since then, I have hardly made a sweater that *wasn't* fingering. I think they're perfect. 


I know I often advocate for wearing brights with neutrals, and I do think that those two color styles are really well-matched, but this grey weather has me jonesing for every bright color and every tropical fruit. 

How will you wear Undercut

Designer Post: Bilberry

Today we welcome Pauliina Karru to the blog to share her process creating the Bilberry accessory set. 

Knitting and living in Helsinki, Finland. I design patterns, tech edit and otherwise help other woolly people. My aim is to help knitters find joy in every stitch.


My inspiration for Bilberry came from a walk in the winter forest. The bare tree trunks against a snowy landscape encouraged me to make a beautiful set of accessories. I played around with thick cables, swatching until I found one that reminded me of thick knobbly trees and paired it with a stockinette column that’s like a smoother, thinner tree.


I wanted to use a heavier yarn weight to match the intended season and create a warm and cozy set. The Bilberry set also knits up quite quickly thanks to the Aran weight yarn and an interesting yet easy cable pattern. The result: a set of accessories that are just what one needs for the winter!


I always imagined this set to be worn when going sledding, commuting to work on chilly mornings, or on walks through the forest.

You can visit Pauliina at her website, instagram, or ravelry store.