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by Claire Montgomerie,

orginally published on her blog, MontyKnits.

Novak's journey began way back in January, when I received the fall mood boards from Twist. One of the themes was "vintage inspired" and I immediately thought of a sweater I have wanted to knit for ages, but had never had the time to bring to life.



novak sketch



I had made this sketch while watching a favourite film, Bell, Book and Candle, starring two of my favourite Hollywood stars, Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak. It is my interpretation of a sweater Novak wears in the film; I have always found her wardrobe in it spectacularly dramatic and inspirational, as her character is a mysterious witch who falls in love with Stewart's more human form. With design already sorted, I did some swatching for the woven look trims and sent off my board, complete with swatches, and luckily the Twist folk liked the idea as much as I did.

From there it was all systems go and in March we struggled over choosing a yarn which would do the sweater justice, while also creating a satisfyingly swift knit. Eventually Frog Tree Merino Melange 2ply was chosen, a beautiful worsted weight yarn in one of my of-the-moment shades, a soft rust red, as opposed to the scarlet of the original film.



novak knit

The yarn eventually arrived from overseas after a scarily long time and I began work in April, with a tight deadline to keep to get it back to Canada by May. This led to a few weeks tied to a cold sofa with only daytime T.V., my woolen blanket, and slippers for company! Luckily the yarn was a dream to work with, and aside from having to re-knit the neckline many times to get the shape I wanted, it was a really enjoyable process.



novak on Claire

I originally envisaged a soft, cosy and quick knit with a big fifties kick, and though Novak has evolved during the design process, I am very pleased with the finished product. The simple structure and retro silhouette are very me, so before the sweater went on its round-the-world trip, I could not resist having a fun trying-on session, imitating those elegantly eccentric poses of the many old knitting patterns I have from the era. The yarn is beautiful, giving a sumptuous drape and unbelievably light and cosy fabric, and Twist Collective have made it shine with the fifties styling. So, the only downside to the whole affair is that I won't be able to wear it this winter, as Novak is still touring the world, enjoying its fame and freedom!


Saturday, kids.

Julia here.  I will be at Knit Wit this Saturday, the 19th, at 3:30 with as many sweaters as I can cram into my car. All the details are in the shop newsletter, so check it out if you think you might like to come.


I'll have Vaganova, Cherry Fizz, Sylvi, Ardent Jacket, Icicle Fantasy, Poffertjes, and so many many more.  With a whole year's worth of gorgeous knits from which to chose, my head is spinning like a yarn swift. So come on over if you're in the area, say hi, pat the sweaters, and get a Twist button too.

See you then!

Julia here.

It's winter shoot week(s) at Twist Collective, and Kate, Mary, Irene and I are all running around the fabric shops, shipping boxes back and forth across international borders, dipping into our friends' closets, and looking for just. the. right. belt.  I fantasize about having a styling staff at my beck and call, and a budget to pay them with to do the magic they do at someplace like Kate Spade, a lady-like candy store of skirt-and-blouse petit fours.  Last week, there was a lovely flash tour of their own photography process.



This week, they play with the clothes. I like the wardrobe ideas they have for such things as their boxy cardigan, and the layers you can put under a simple dress to change the mood. These are the sots of ideas a knitter can use when we consider the project queue and the crazy sweater love.  I may want to knit a purple lace tunic in mohair yarn because it looks so darned glamorous on the model, but how would I actually wear such a thing?  Kate Spade grounds me for a moment, reminds me of the wardrobe, how fun a navy cardigan can still be, and makes me feel all Jackie and Grace Kelly inside.


It is just me, or do you see Papineau in this outfit here? Or Sweet Pea Jacket in that great colour? The possibilities are, ahem, useful.

Carry on.

Julia here.

You may have noticed that one of our fall sweater stories, Dressage, was photographed at a riding stable, TROtt, the Therapeutic Riding Association of Ottawa-Carleton.  Thanks to our model, Leslie, who was familiar with the good folks there and the wonderful work they do, we were able to spend the day, meet the horses, and pick up after ourselves and, uh, others.

My own son has benefited from therapeutic riding at a New Hampshire stable near where I live, so when Kate told me this was the work they do at TROtt, we thought it would be an opportunity to share my own enthusiasm for the practice with Twist readers, and to explain a little about why it's an important tool for so many people.

Therapeutic riding is a kind of physical therapy with a specially trained physical therapist that uses horses as equipment.  The natural rhythmns in the saddle of a walking horse requires the rider to focus their mental and physical attentions, and with practice, develops both muscle strength and concentration in the rider.  Therapeutic horses are also especially gentle animals, particularly talented and tolerant of frustrations and outbursts their riders can be prone to because of their own personal challenges. The horse is also a calming presence for the rider, and the empathy the rider has for the horse reinforces a willingness to do the work, something that can't be reproduced in a traditional therapeutic office setting with swings and yoga balls.  


Children and adults with all manner of challenges and disabilities can benefit from work in the saddle.  I have seen grown adults hoisted out of wheelchairs to ride enthusiastically, children with cerebral palsey trott giggling around the ring, and kids with anxiety disorders climb up on horse's back with hard-earned trust.  The experience is often liberating and unique in the rider's life, and an invaluable tool in their therapeutic development.

TROtt has served the Ottawa, Ontario area for over 30 years, offering therapeutic riding lessons to children and adults with disabilities.  TROtt instructors, all of whom are certified with the Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association (CanTRA), give lessons to dozens of students each week with disabilities ranging from learning delays to paraplegia to multiple sclerosis.  Twelve specially selected and trained horses currently work at TROtt and as we found out during the photoshoot, therapy horses make excellent models!  Sam and Monty, both featured in the photostory, couldn't have cared less about the cameras, props, and constant clothing readjustments going on around them. 

TROtt relies on the help of over 140 volunteers to make lessons available and affordable to their riders.  If you're in the Ottawa area, you might consider helping out--you don't need horse experience to volunteer.  For those readers who live elsewhere, you can find a local therapeutic riding center through the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA) or CanTRA.

Thank you Nancy Reid and Paula Rolfe for the work that you do at TROtt, and for the day we got to spend with you.

Before Marnie MacLean sent us her fall sweater, Pas de Valse, she took some photos of the many ways she can imagine wearing her versatile design.


How will you wear yours?