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Thien-Kieu Lam's headshot

 Today's post comes to you from Thien-Kieu Lam, designer of the stunning Shivelight set from the newest Twist. You can keep track of Thien-Kieu by following her on Twitter @KieuLam or checking out her website!  





I’m honored to make my debut as a Twist Collective designer with Shivelight, a hat and cowl design that is featured in the current winter collection. The idea for this design came from my obsession with language, specifically with my discovery of the Japanese word komorebi, a noun for the “sunlight filtering through trees.” I love these kinds of words (more frequently found in languages other than English), which encapsulate an entire situation, state of being, or phenomenon in a single word. So succinct!

With this image in my mind, I sat down with some graph paper and a pencil. My original swatch looks nothing like the finished design. I would show you, but that swatch seems to have disappeared into a black hole somewhere. It didn’t quite capture the feeling of komorebi so I filed the idea away and worked on other designs. I’m a big believer in stepping away from problems and coming back to them with a fresh perspective. I never looked at that swatch again. I didn’t think about it much either, until I came across a stitch motif called “roots and branches.” This was the light bulb moment. I knew I could adapt this motif to create the look I wanted, and it became the basis for this hat and cowl.



from the back


I sought to create a winter forest, branches bare, with space for sunlight. Thick cables became tree trunks, and the vertical lines of twisted stitches in between represent distant trees, there but barely visible. The large cables split into branches that intertwine to form a canopy. I strived to create a balance between density and openness, much like a forest that includes both light and shadow.






And during this process, I discovered the word “shivelight,” the English equivalent of komorebi. It’s a word coined by poet Gerard Manley Hopkins and it never quite made it into the vernacular, but I think it’s a beautiful word. And thus, the design was christened.

For Shivelight, I had the opportunity to work with a new-to-me yarn, Lakes Yarn and Fiber Organic Merino Sport. It’s made from 100% GOTS certified merino and is hand-dyed in small batches by Ami Volz. The color used in the samples is Soft Linen. The yarn was lovely to work with, and Ami offers many other beautiful colorways. Check out Kate’s post in which she re-imagines Shivelight in other Lakes Yarn and Fiber colorways.



designer's own Shivelight laid flat


Having shipped off my samples to Twist, I decided to knit another set for myself. I finished the cowl right before the holidays, using Harrisville Designs Flywheel in the color Mallard. I love the rolled hem, but I opted to omit the rolled edges for this cowl. The key here is to work the rib pattern a sufficient number of rows at the beginning and the end so that the cables don’t distort the edges. Of course, you could replace the rolled hems with any kind of edging. A band of garter stitch at the top and bottom would be lovely too.



designer wearing her Shivelight cowl



And this is me sporting my new Shivelight cowl on an unseasonably warm Christmas (hence the sleeveless dress). I’m happy to say the temperature has since dropped, and there have been many more opportunities to cozy up in this cowl!

Shivelight was a joy to design, and I can’t wait to see your interpretation of it!