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Twist Collective Blog

Design Process: Sugarbeach

Fiona EllisToday's post is from Fiona Ellis. Fans of Twist are no stranger to her work. In the nearly six years we've been publishing, she's produced 21 designs for us. Today, she talks about her latest, Sugarbeach, as well as a few blasts from our publishing past.







Have you noticed that my Sugarbeach top has cables that divide and then flow around the V-neck to frame the face? It’s a pet idea of mine that I often include in my sweater designs. It serves to create a focal point for the garment and shows that you have spent time and effort to create a couture piece.


How does hand knitting differ from commercial practices?
Most commercially made garments are made by the cut-and-sew method. Each piece of the garment is cut from a length of fabric and then seamed together. So when it comes to the neckline there is already a cut edge and a break in the patterning. As hand knitters we are making custom made garments just as a couture house would do. We fashion each piece of the garment exactly the size it needs to be. So it is my belief that, as we are already engaging in couture practices (and harkening back to an age of elegance), we should continue this attention right into the details, edges, neatening and of course the neckline treatment. It’s what makes our work stand out as beautiful custom hand-work rather than the thrown together pieces we find so often in main stream stores.


Why do we need a focal point?
By careful placing a change in pattern we can ensure that the first place a viewer’s eye will be drawn to will be our best feature. Mostly I believe that the most interesting thing about all of us is what we think and say so it makes sense to draw the eye towards the face rather than say our derriere (unless you have a wonderful derriere of course).


How do we draw the eye towards the neckline?
Cables, generally speaking, create vertical lines (if we work them in the conventional fashion) automatically causing the eye to run up and down the piece. But we can utilize a number of different methods to further draw the eye toward the face. 


We can choose lines that create arrow shapes with the tip pointing towards the face - Rebecca & Chartres are both examples of this.

Rebecca   Chartres


We can add collars and worked in contrasting colours they are be especially eye catching, as with Charleston.


Or we can add feature patterning in the yoke area, which creates an effect a little like placing a piece of jewelry there. Merise is a great example of this.


We can also continue the patterning around the neckline rather than just cutting into it to do the shaping, like in Mehndi & of course with Sugarbeach.


With these design elements it is often important to finish on a specific row before beginning the change in patterning or shaping. So we need to pay attention to row gauge and the length that you need to make the piece. You can’t just knit a few more rows to achieve the correct length and still end on the correct row of the pattern.

How do ensure that the correct row of the pattern is at the neckline?
In writing the pattern instructions I have taken care of this for you. But what if you need to make adjustments to the length from those I have offered?

  1. Firstly we need to know our row gauge. I know that you all do gauge swatches right?
  2. Then we need to know how long the piece needs to be. So measure a garment that fits you well and check it against the schematic measurements to see if you will need to make any changes.
  3. We can then calculate the number of rows that will need to be worked to give your desired length. That is: the number of rows per inch multiplied by the length of the piece.
  4. Divide this number by the pattern repeat to see if you will arrive at the correct row in the pattern at the neckline. You will need to check the instructions to see which row.
  5. If it doesn’t work out quite perfectly we will need to adjust the pattern row we start from at the hem. The adjustment can be done one of two ways: To shorten simply begin on a higher number row, therefore subtracting rows.

OR to lengthen add extra rows before working row 1 of the pattern. These rows should be worked from the top of the chart as though you were ending a previous repeat before you begin working row 1.

I hope this has given you some food for thought and Happy Knitting!

The Spring/Summer 2014 edition is live

The new edition is live, and our contributors have outdone themselves again. See the whole magazine here, read the articles here and shop for patterns here

Spring/Summer 2014 Edition

Wash It Weekend!

Wash It Weekend


I was looking at the pile of stinky, dirty, nacho-cheese stained well-loved handknits I have sitting around and I've decided to declare this Twist Collective Wash It Weekend!

Spring is coming (or for some of you luckier people, already here) and it's time to get everything nice and clean so you can put away the heavy duty woolens and make room for your spring/summer knit wardrobe (hint hint). 

Need a refresher (pun intended)? See our blocking article and our tutorial on darning!

Mend it! Wash it! Put it away! I've already begun. Who's with me?

Twist Style Friday: Sulwen and Joist

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 am sitting in my friend Krista's kitchen, and the door to her little porch is open. I had to put socks on to sit and drink my coffee and write to you all this morning, but I am sitting in natural light and actual air! Spring, as they say, has finally sprung. Krista and I have been friends for nearly a decade, and have not grown tired of slumber parties. Currently, we are sitting with our laptops back to back, like we were playing a game of battleship. Krista is also part of team crop-top confidence, and we are planning a summer of dreams. 


This style post is a double feature, and probably you know what that means. It means our next issue is almost done baking, and we just have to test the center and let it cool a bit before we can share. It's not my work, so it's not bragging if I tell you it is dripping with pretty and you should be very, very excited. 


Last week, we looked at the men's version of Joist, and today we will take a closer look at the feminine version. 


Photo of men and women's Joist sweaters, modeled in the woods.


You've seen her as a woodsy sort of lady, but I think she can travel. She can be bookish, artsy, twee, and even elegant. Joist is versatile. You can probably guess which of the below outfits is my favorite; it boasts half a menagerie. 

four outfits with Joist

Let's take a look at the second star of today's show. Sulwen is no one's second fiddle. 


Sulwen is a grey sweater with raglan sleeves and lace patterning on the shoulders and arms, with a boat-neck.



This top is like a grown-up, elegant version of the baseball-style shirts I wore as a teenager. The wide neckline adds an easy grace, and the texture on the arms is just delicious. This is a fantastic basic. I am just beginning to learn the joys of having basics in your wardrobe; they really facilitate the wearing of wacky shoes. I think you could wear Sulwen with pretty much anything: jeans, yoga pants, tutus, tuxedo pants, pencil skirts with Bart Simpson's face on them, etc. I hope you agree. 

three outfits with Sulwen



How will you wear Sulwen and Joist

Twist Style Friday: Joist for Men

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.

Happy Friday, fashion fans!

I often feel like I have to learn how to dress myself all over again every time the seasons change. I spend more time in the mornings looking quizzically into my drawers and wondering how I can possibly assemble some of the items into outfits. That feeling is also what I get when I style menswear on Polyvore. The selection of stuff available is small and strange, so I did my best. You'll see in a second. First, let's take a good gander at this week's featured sweater. The squishiest, most deeply textured, lovely Joist.


men's and women's joist sweaters modeled.


We will get to the women's version next week; this time we are focusing on more masculine modes of dressing.


men's joist viewed from the back


These cables slay me. They're so sculptural! I want to squeeze them like pets.


Earlier this week I was discussing masculine ways of dressing with a friend of mine who is fond of bow ties, who explained three such modes to me; butch, dapper, and dandy. Now, I am not about to claim that these are the only masculine ways of dressing, I think there are probably millions. But these are some fun archetypes to work with, and so I'm going with it!


Butch is an idea folks are probably familiar with, even if that's not the word you'd use. It's sort of your garden-variety dude stuff (I'm making generalizations here, bear with me). Dapper has a little more attention to detail, and dandy is the most ostentatious; campy even. I could keep using silly words to explain, or I could show you a handy visual aid. We will use the true rulers of the internet as our guides: cats. You ready for this?



black and white photo of a cat wearing a suit and top hat. text at the top reads "one of the smart set"brightly colored drawing of a cat wearing a large hat with a ribbon tied around it, a shirt, bowtie, vest, and jacket, with a monocle and a flower on his lapel


See the difference? Me, after being shown these, I explained the dapper/dandy split like this: dapper asks "is this too much?" while dandy shouts "YOUR TOO MUCH IS MY NOT ENOUGH!" and then farts a glitter rainbow in your general direction. I don't have a good photo of a butch cat, but really the butch cat would probably just be a cat. Maybe it would be holding a beer, or wearing a baseball cap. You can imagine it.


 Below are my interpretations of butch, dapper, and dandy, all starring our good buddy Joist.


three outfits


In case you were wondering - yes - that bowtie on the right is leather.


I would love to know, how will you wear Joist?