By Clara Parkes
For this issue we bring you a very special, swatchless Swatch-It. The fine editors of Twist have done the substituting for us—and on quite a massive scale. They’ve taken 12 beloved sweaters from the Twist archives and rebooted them in completely new yarns.
Note that the changes do not imply the old yarn was in any way bad or outdated. We shouldn’t even call it “old”—let’s call it “original.” What’s going on here is at the heart of what makes knitting so exciting: You can knit the same project again and again with a different yarn, and each time you’ll get completely unique results. “Boredom” is not a word that exists in the knitter’s vocabulary.
Fiona Ellis’s Gwendolyn
We begin with Fiona Ellis’s resplendently cabled hoodie Gwendolyn. The original was knit in one of my favorites, Green Mountain Spinnery Maine Organic Dark and Wonderfully Wooly. Both are crunchy, lively woolen-spun yarns that give the cables a really low-relief, organic look.
Switching the yarn to indigodragonfly SuperBaa Worsted is akin to a cartoon character who blinks, rubs his eyes, and sees the world clearly for the first time. All the woolly distortion has been removed, creating a crisp, bright, fully three-dimensional cabled fabric. The emphasis moves from an earthy uniformity to the flickering liveliness of hand-dyed yarn, bringing color more into center stage.
Alison Green’s Jaali
Next up is Jaali by Alison Green. Also based on cables, this design has a calm sea of reverse-stockinette against which a more restrained motif twists to and fro. The original was knit with Karabella Margrite, a sumptuous 80/20 blend of Merino and Cashmere with a traditional, multi-ply construction.
Again with the cartoon eye rubbing, now with a reduction in cashmere and the introduction of silk for a 75/15/10 blend of Merino, Silk, and Cashmere. The silk fibers heighten the color and contrast—another case where we move from a solid-dyed canvas to the flickering movement of hand-applied color.
Faina Goberstein’s Ormond
Faina Goberstein’s Ormond has been given the spa treatment, the original perky S-on-S cable-spun Rowan Belle Organic DK (50% Organic Wool, 50% Organic Cotton) being traded out for a slinky, traditionally plied 80% Baby Alpaca and 20% Silk. More tender and fluid, the yarn renders Faina’s design with far greater drape and brightness, thanks to the silk. It’s a bold change for a garment with so much textured patterning, but the three-quarter sleeves and abbreviated front minimize any potential bulk or stretching.
Robin Melanson’s Viridis
To make up for the shift from Merino to Alpaca in Faina’s sweater, Robin Melanson’s waist-length Viridis kimono was reworked in Madelinetosh Silk Merino. Gone is Miss Babs Tierno, both figuratively and literally, as this plush, high-drape 70% Baby Alpaca/30% Silk blend has been discontinued. In its place, Viridis has been transformed in Madelinetosh Silk Merino, a robust 50/50 blend of Silk and Superwash Merino. The yarn is round, strong, bouncy and lustrous, perfect for a kimono that both shines and hugs you back.
Cheryl Burke’s Epiphany
Moving on to colorwork, Cheryl Burke’s yoke-patterned Epiphany has been reknit to take advantage of the gradient craze in the hand-dyer world. A perfectly lovely but very solid Halcyon Yarn Victorian 2-Ply Wool has been replaced by the Superwash Merino Dragonfly Traveler DK. The nuanced, shifting colors in the yoke provide a striking contrast to the bright, single-hued circular motif, all rendered smoothly in this well-rounded four-ply yarn.
Lori Versaci’s Sympatico
Another project that said goodbye to Halcyon’s Victorian 2-Ply Wool is Lori Versaci’s Sympatico. This smooth, woolly boatneck coat has been transformed into a slightly thicker, tweedier look. While still composed of two plies, the new yarn (HiKoo Kenzie) produces a somewhat thicker fabric thanks to its complex blend of 50% Merino, 25% Nylon, 10% Angora, 10% Alpaca, and 5% Silk Noils, the latter being what gives the yarn its final tweedy effect. The thicker, more full-bodied fabric suits this jacket quite well.
Signe Simonsen’s Flux
Continuing the alpaca-merino swap is Signe Simonsen’s Flux, a ribbed and cabled slit-neck pullover whose form-fitting shape begs to be worn directly against the body. The original sample was worked in a relaxed three-ply 50% Alpaca, 30% Merino, 20% Silk called Peru by Blue Moon Fiber Arts.
Now, the alpaca has been given the boot in favor of a truly, truly sumptuous 80/20 Merino/Cashmere from Plymouth Yarns, called Cashmere Passion. The majority Merino gives the garment a desirable body-hugging shape, while the cashmere will sing love songs to your tender skin. I’ve swatched this yarn in the past and can’t imagine anything I’d rather wear.
Kate Gilbert’s Kirigami
Since she was spiffing up other people’s sweaters, Kate Gilbert decided to give her tiny-striped multidirectional pullover, Kirigami, a crispness boost too. The original garment was knit in Tahki Yarns Dove, a fuzzy singles blend of 44% Merino, 44% Alpaca, and 12% Nylon. It had the effect of textured handmade paper folded into an origami shape.
For this redo, she wiped away the nuanced fibers in favor of the classic, super-smooth, round and bouncy S-on-S cablespun Filatura di Crosa Zara 8. The resulting garment is no longer textured origami and more like a sleek paper airplane.
Carol Feller’s Parcel
I’ve long loved Carol Feller’s Parcel, a cabled pullover with an off-center stitch motif and attractively plunging neckline. The original was worked in Classic Elite Yarns Magnolia, a softly spun singles blend of 70% Merino and 30% Silk. It gave the finished garment a smoothness and uniformity that has been totally turbocharged with this reknit in Black Trillium’s 3-ply DK-weight Superwash Merino. Not only is the yarn more three-dimensional but the colors have moved from solid to the kind of nuanced surprise you only get when hands have applied color directly onto fiber.
Marnie MacLean’s Regent
Marnie MacLean’s fittingly named Regent, a ruffle-cuffed, tie-front cardigan, was originally knit in a Merino and Silk blend of Catherine Lowe’s exquisite Couture Yarns. That choice gave an optimal balance of bounce and glow to the fabric. The new version represents a stylistic about-face, going from refined couture to a more rustic and earthy Green Mountain Spinnery Alpaca Elegance. This woolen-spun yarn blends 50% Targhee Wool and 50% Fine Alpaca sourced from New England. A simple yarn change transforms the look of those ruffles completely. This is one example where you’d be well served to knit one sample in each yarn, just because.
Marnie MacLean’s Picard
Another garment to get de-glammed is Marnie MacLean’s sweet Picard cardigan. The original garment was worked in Handwerks Artisan Yarns & Textiles Cabled 8, a perky, hand-dyed, S-on-S cablespun 100% Superwash Merino. For the updated version, Blue Moon Fiber Arts’ Gaea Sport was brought in to show how well a 100% Organic Merino, twisted into four smooth plies, could do the job. Instead of rubbing our eyes for greater clarity, we dimmed the lights and declared naptime. The bouncy, super-clear S-on-S cablespun yarn was swapped out for a more cohesive fabric that still highlights the gorgeous inverted “V” motif in a very sweet way.
Julia Trice’s Wingspan
The final classic to be given a reboot is Julia Trice’s textured pullover Wingspan. Here we stay firmly within the domain of hand-dyed yarns, only making a subtle shift in base that produces surprising results. The original was worked in Yowza, Miss Babs’ three-ply Superwash Merino, a fine choice for a garment that needs body, structure, and stitch definition.
The new version? A slightly more luxurious, refined Shalimar Homage DK. This relaxed blend of 80% Superwash Merino, 10% Cashmere, and 10% Silk has been spun in three plies. That glimmer of silk makes the fabric pop in the sunlight, while the three plies quiet the cables and wide ribbing while maintaining perfect body-hugging elasticity.
See what happens when you change yarns? Everything old is new again when you simply swap one skein for another. When I think about the thousands of really gorgeous patterns that have been relegated to obscurity simply because their yarns are no longer available or no longer in fashion, it both boggles the mind… and gives me hope.
So open those books, browse those archives, and don’t be afraid to give it a reknit!
Clara Parkes is the brilliant mind behind knittersreview.com and the author of several fantastic fiber books.