Twist Collective Blog
Forest Mushroom Mittens
In today's post, Elinor talks about her design process for these charming mittens. This post can also be found at Elinor's own blog here.
All of my favorite knitting books follow the people's history of the craft. Michael Pearson's Traditional Knitting is, as far as I'm concerned, the best social history of knitting ever written. Nearly all the others on my list of top knitting books are primarily concerned with mittens: Latvian Mittens by Lizbeth Upitis, Folk Knitting in Estonia by Nancy Bush, Selbuvotter by Terri Shea, Mostly Mittens by Charlene Schurch, Folk Mittens by Marcia Lewandowski, Magnificent Mittens & Socks by Anna Zilboorg, Favorite Mittens by Robin Hansen. And what about the Ukrainian folk story, The Mitten?
I love mittens with a story, don't you? Mittens are the most fascinating article of knitted apparel because no matter where they come from, they always seem to reflect the cultural and religious values of those who wore them. As contemporary knitters, we have lost track of the tradition of our craft. We knit for enjoyment, for fashion, to make gifts for friends and family; we drift from stockinette to cables to fair isle and back again, dabbling in all sorts of styles and techniques along the way with little regard to those who came before us. People like Lizbeth Upitis and Nancy Bush bring us back to the roots of our craft with their research in the folk art of the humble mitten.
Last winter, while rereading Lizbeth Upitis' book, I followed a footnote to the text Latviesu cimdu raksti. Ornaments in Latvian gloves and mittens, by Irma Lesina, a text Upitis noted had many wonderful plates of mitten designs. Published by a small Nebraskan press in 1969, the book was long out-of-print. In fact, there were so few copies left in circulation that it took my university's inter-library loan service a month to track down a Canadian copy for me; needless to say, it was most certainly worth the wait!
I poured over hundreds of traditional designs from Kurzeme, Latgale, Vidzeme, and Zemgale, recharting many stitch patterns that interested me. I created a large Excel file of stitch patterns, mixing and matching different ones as I went along. I remained faithful to regional distinctions, trying only to pair up patterns originating in the same region.
Copyright Jane Heller
My Forest Mushroom design in Twist Collective Winter 2010 (Ravelry link) is one of the fruits of this lovely labor, combining several different motifs from the Kurzeme region of Latvia to be knitted with more contemporary colors at modern gauges.
Copyright Jane Heller
The cuff is elaborately detailed and includes three distinctive brown and white braids before breaking into the mushroom-like pattern of the upper mitten. Unlike a traditional Latvian mitten, the top rounds off instead of coming to a hard point.
The peasant thumb is placed with waste yarn and knitted in the mushroom pattern to blend in with the mitten body.
Some designs you love more than others and these are one of my favorites; they combine everything I love about knitting: gorgeous colors, Latvian braids, long mitten cuffs, and old, complex, crafting traditions. Every knitter needs to make a pair of Latvian mittens in his or her knitting life, perhaps these will be yours!
For a while now, I've wanted a super warm sweater that was easy to wear. After seven months (I'm not kidding) of swatching and false starts, I finally managed to get what I wanted. Halliard has a kangaroo pocket, thumbholes that are hidden when you aren't using them, fun to knit cables and an easy to wear shape. Besides that, it's knit in an incredibly warm and soft, not to mention ecologically processed, yarn. Maybe all of this is why I have worn it every single day since I knit it. I think this sweater will be on me until the snow is gone. Just to make you giggle, here's a silly picture of me pretending I'm a supermodel. You can find the nicer and more serious photos on the shop page and in the magazine.
Hi! It's Kate here. I've got a sweater that I've been working on for months. MONTHS! And I've decided that it must be done by February 1st, so I thought I would see if anyone else would like to join me in a FINISH FEST!
Do you have that one project with just a sleeve left? How about that finished cardigan that just needs a zipper? Almost everyone has that nearly finished object taunting them from the darkest corner of their knitting basket. Why not join our intrepid team in beating the winter blahs and starting fresh?
Marnie is going to finish a cardigan she's been working on. Irene told me she has some Sweetgrass socks that have been lingering. I'm sure everyone has something.
So let's do it together! And as if finally having something done isn't enough of a prize, anyone who finishes a project will be entered into a drawing for a twist pattern. Your needles will need something new! And who knows, maybe I can scrounge up another couple prizes! Post your progress and success to the Twist Collective FINISH FEST forum on Ravelry in order to enter. Posts must be up by the end of January 31st in order to be eligible.
Thayer Preece's first design for Twist Collective is Blair, a flattering cardigan with plenty of flattering detailing. Thayer tells us a little about her inspiration for this piece in today's blog post. She also posted this on her own site.
I was incredibly honored and excited when my cardigan pattern was accepted into the Winter 2010 issue of Twist Collective. Diving head-first into the world of sweater design has been quite an adventure!
Blair is a top-down raglan cardigan, knit all in one piece. The eyelet details give it some visual interest, but still maintain the simple quality of the garment, so that it’s suitable for everyday wear–perfect for throwing on over a t-shirt and pair of jeans. The simple construction makes it a good choice for all levels of knitters, and the simple shape makes it appropriate for a wide range of body types.
Before I sent the sample sweater in to Twist, I couldn’t resist taking a picture for myself, even though it was much too small for me. I’m working on my own size now, and can’t wait to wear it! Though it’s shown in my picture below with negative ease, I would advise aiming for as close to zero ease as possible, or slight positive ease, depending on what you plan to wear under the sweater.
I got the inspiration for this sweater while watching the Olympics last Winter. During the ice skating competition, I saw a girl wearing a sweater backstage with an eyelet detail running down the sleeves. After some swatching and brainstorming, I came up with the design you see above. When I saw the mood board for the Winter issue of Twist, and that it featured a segment inspired by ice skaters, I knew I had to submit it, even though I was pretty nervous about heading right into the big leagues with my first sweater pattern! The sketch I submitted is shown below:
When naming the sweater, I finally settled on Blair as an homage to Bonnie Blair, the 5-time Olympic gold medalist speed skater, who grew up in my hometown of Champaign, IL. Growing up, I took skating lessons on the same ice where she learned to skate, looking up at banners congratulating her on her wins.
I hope you enjoy this pattern, and I can’t wait to see what you create with it!
Blair can be purchased and downloaded from the Twist Collective, here.
The Ravelry page for the pattern is here.
This sweater started for me with the cable. I swatched this delicate intertwining cable and immediately fell in love. Originally it was worked with a reverse st st panel on each side but it really took away from the overall concept of the sweater as the cables stopped in different places as you moved up the garment leaving a harsh ending when the reverse st st ended. I talked with Kate about it for a while and we decided to try a st st background which ended up being just perfect (see the swatch below).
This cable is the main focus of the sweater, with them being spaced further apart as you move from one side to the other. The number of cables varies with the sizing so that the cable works well with each size. Due to the smaller shoulder size the smallest size only has one cable running up the complete length to the shoulder and the largest sizes have an extra cable down the side so there is not too big a stretch of st st.
The cables end in different positions as you move up the body; the first finishes at the waist, the next at the end of the bust increases and the final cable(s) run to the shoulder. As the sweater is worked in the round from the bottom up you can try it on as you are working allowing you to position the end of the cable so that it is just right for your body.
I got to use one of my favourite construction techniques with this pattern. The body is knit in one piece from the bottom up, shoulders are joined using a three needle bind off and then the sleeves are knit from the top down (using short rows to create a smooth set-in sleeve cap). In the photo below you can see how the short row shaping works to create a neat fitting sleeve cap with minimal effort. You can also see the waist shaping. This was kept to the side to minimise its impact on the cables. Waist shaping is easy to adjust for you own body type. If you use the same number of rows you can increase more (or less) frequently to create the perfect fit for your body. Just ensure that you take note of any changes you make so that you don’t get thrown by different stitch counts.
Below is the original sketch for this sweater, you can see how the cables move across and up the body. It’s probably not too surprising but as I was working on this sweater I always referred to it as my ‘Intertwining Cables’. This got renamed as ‘Parcel’ which was actually quite fitting as it seemed to be the parcel that would never arrive!