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Twist Collective Blog

Crane Creek

Sandi Rosner


Sandi Rosner is a knitter of many talents. Aside from bringing us wonderful designs (Lumen and Olivette among them), she does technical editing for patterns and writes fascinating articles to help the rest of us knit better.  This post (also on her blog), explains her inspiration for the wonderful and functional Crane Creek cardigan.



Finished Sweater

How many mornings have you stood in front of your closet and thought, “What I really need is…”? This is the story of Crane Creek, a jacket design that was born of just that thought, and was published in the Fall 2011 issue of Twist Collective. 

I have a dog. Baxter is an 8 year old Lab/Beagle mix who loves nothing more than our daily walk to the local Starbucks. Every morning, rain or shine, Baxter and I go to Starbucks for our morning infusion (non-fat Raspberry Mocha for me, water in an oatmeal cup for him), and a little social interaction.

Since I work at home, this is often the only time I leave the house in the course of the day. If I never left the house, the temptation to spend the day in sweatpants and a t-shirt would be nearly irresistible. But the morning walk to Starbucks requires that I actually put on real clothes and shoes and a bra. We do, after all, have standards. I try to land on the right side of the fine line between casual and schlumpy.

It’s often foggy and chilly in the morning here in Northern California. Our morning walk often requires a top layer over my standard jeans and a shirt. I need a sweater that I can pull on on my way out the door. A sweater that I can throw in the back seat of the car in case it gets cool later. A sweater that functions like a hoody, but has a bit more style.

Crane Creek was designed as that sweater. First, it is a button front cardigan, because this style is endlessly versatile. With a pullover, I feel like I need to build the outfit around the sweater. A cardigan is happy to fit in anywhere.

Here is my original sketch.

Sketch

Second, it has a shawl collar. I love a good shawl collar – it’s cozy and polished, without being fussy. After making a lot of shawl collars that didn’t lie quite right, I’ve finally figured out the perfect shaping. I’m happy for any opportunity to put this knowledge to use.

Third, it has pockets. Pockets are essential, because I don’t want to carry a handbag on the morning walk, but I must carry my Starbucks card and dog cookies and poop bags.

I chose a combination of stitch patterns that are simple to knit, but create an interesting surface texture. I added a bit of waist shaping, fitted shoulders and set-in sleeves to keep the fit sharp.

I had told Kate I wanted to make this sweater in a “sturdy, wooly” yarn. While I love a good soft merino as much as the next girl, this sweater was intended to be an everyday, low maintenance piece. I wanted a wool that would hold up to hard wear without pilling or stretching out of shape. When Kate suggested Green Mountain Spinnery’s Maine Organic, I was thrilled. This yarn fit all my requirements, with the added benefit of being sustainable. In addition, the heathery gray natural color doesn’t show dirt or dog hair.

Sweater Side

So what’s with the name? Crane Creek is a park in the hills just east of the town where I live. Baxter and I love to go there at the end of a long day to walk and breathe and listen to the birds.

Longview

The grasses are dry this time of year – in the early spring, this view is a carpet of wildflowers.

Picnic Table

The most romantic spot for a picnic.

Dry Riverbed

The creek is nearly dry in early September.

Mossy Tree

An ancient California Live Oak veiled in moss.

Baxter

My walking buddy.

Crane Creek turned out just as I hoped it would. Now I just need to make time to make one for myself.

Kiyomi

Barbara Gregory
Barbara Gregory is a colorwork wizard. She has contributed a number of stunning patterns to Twist Collective, including Ormolu and Mimico. This season, she brings us a stunning cardigan with a unique closure. In this post, she explains how buttons played an important role in the inspiration and design of this garment. Keep up with Barbara's work on her website.



Finished Sweater

For a long time I had had a notion that I would like to design a red patterned jacket.
Although I vaguely imagined some sort of red colorwork and a front opening, I hadn’t put
any work into refining the idea further.

Then one day while looking through an old, dusty, button drawer in a shop I found these
buttons. I carefully searched but there were only 5 of them. Of course I bought them.

Long Buttons

These buttons with their red lacquer-like shine seemed Asian to me—their shape made
me think of chopsticks and as buttons they suggested the horizontal bar of a simple frog
closing. Inspired to actually expend some effort on my idea, I sat down and worked out a
mosaic pattern that I hoped would suggest brocade or other opulent fabric.

There followed a period of doodling and sketching to arrive at the garment details. I looked
at images of traditional Chinese, Korean and Japanese garments and found some very
interesting ways of closing a garment, but nothing that I could apply directly. What finally
seemed to work was a kimono collar, centrally placed but wide enough that a fastening
along the outer edge would create an asymmetrical emphasis.

By this time I realized that my long tapered buttons would not work for this design—instead
of using these buttons to suggest frog closings it would be better to have real frog closings.
I experimented on a swatch and found that even with my limited crochet skills I could
crochet frog style button loops right onto the surface of a garter stitch band.

Closure Detail

From little pencil sketches I progressed to an illustration that I hoped would make my
design submission irresistible to Twist Collective. I enjoy this part of the process for its own
sake but also find it valuable for getting a sense of how all the details of an idea will come
together. As I drew my sweater it was clear that there was enough going on with the three-
color pattern and the contrast of solid bands; no need for attention-getting buttons. I drew
in plain, color-matched buttons.

Sketch

When it came time to knit the sample, obtaining suitable buttons became a priority. Finding
nothing in my first several attempts I made a trip to the other side of the city, where I
bought 2 sets of buttons—a sure sign that neither one was quite right. One was the right
color but a little too shiny, and lacking the shank construction that I preferred. The second
was a plain, matte, fabric-covered button, otherwise perfect but too bright to match the
main color used for the band and frogs.

Wrong Buttons

Luckily this set of buttons gave me the idea of covering buttons using the little kits sold
at sewing stores, which I happened to have on hand. With no time for another shopping
expedition, I searched through my box of broadcloth remnants and found a scrap of seam
binding that was a good color match. Crisis averted!

Covered Buttons

As for those long slender buttons, I think they’ve earned their keep. Perhaps I’ll use them in
some future project—there is still room in my life for more red sweaters.


Socktoberfest: it's not too late!

There are so many exciting things about October. It's prime knitting season, with colder weather on the way. Leaves are turning color, you can start to pull out those favorite scarves and hats, and there's that funny sugar-soaked costume-fest at the end of the month. It is also a whole month of celebrating SOCKS.

Socktoberfest doesn't have many rules or expectations. There are no deadlines, and no concrete expectations, except that you can band together with the nearly two thousand other folks who are signed up to celebrate the art and joy of knitted socks! Take it as an opportunity to finish an old sock project, find a sock-ish use for some great yarn you have been holding on to, learn a new sock related skill or technique, or cast on for a pattern you've been coveting.

And in case you're lacking in inspiration, check out some of the sock patterns we've published recently!

Try the invisible cast-on, for the sprightly, toe-up Loure socks;

Loure socks

or cozy colorwork for Kirkwall.

Kirkwall socks

Check out the twisted stitches and whimsical cables of Footsie;

Footsie Socks

The possibilities are endless. Check out the socks in the Twist Shop for more sockspiration, and get knitting! 

Academia

Adriana Hernandez


In this entry, cross-posted from her blog, Adriana Hernandez brings us inside the technical and logistical aspects of designing and publishing a pattern with Twist Collective, as well as sharing her inspiration and design process. Her design for this issue of Twist is the lovely vest you see here. She also brought us this smart jacket last winter. You can find her other designs here, and follow her on twitter here!





Finished Vest

First comes the idea...

Inspiration comes from many different sources.  Sometimes, I am inspired by something I see on the street, in a movie, on a magazine cover on the newsstands, or even at the museum within a painting or sculpture.  Inspiration can also come from practicality - Me: "Gosh, I really would love a cardigan in xyz color to go with that great top..."  Often, I am inspired by the mood boards sent out by magazines and publications; which was the case for Academia, a sweater vest I designed for Twist Collective.

For this project, I was inspired specifically by text on one of the mood boards for Twist Collective's Fall 2011 collection.  One of the themes mentioned "bookworm" and immediately I thought of sweater vests.  But, what of them?  What kind of sweater vest?  A ribbed one or cabled one?  I think those are pretty standard.  But, what about something a bit more adventurous to knit?  At this point, I have to mention that I had already been working on designing some fair-isle mittens so fair-isle was on my mind.  I spent over a week researching and reading about the Fair Isles and the history of the stranded color-work we have come to call fair-isle.  So, what popped into my mind was this image of the Duke of Windsor wearing a fair-isle sweater with a dog in his arms.  Yes, this was it.  A fair-isle vest it would be.

Duke of Windsor

Then comes refinement...

What would the color-work pattern be?  Would it be lots of X's & O's like on the Prince's jumper?  An all-over fair-isle design?  I thought the color scheme in the painting was a bit muted for my taste.  I studied the pattern and color choices carefully, but muted colors aren't really my style nor did the pattern itself really appeal to my aesthetics.

With those considerations in mind, I combined a series of fair-isle patterns including an argyle segment to create a motif that would be the eye-catcher of the garment.  I sketched out the idea, plotted the pattern on a grid with OpenSourceCalc, and then added an illustrated schematic with garment measurements.  I then knitted two swatches with yarn I had in my stash.  I scanned the swatches, bundled my sketches and illustrations together as a PDF document, and sent it off to the editors of Twist Collective...  and then waited.

Submission Screenshot

Once you've had your design proposal accepted, what's the next step?  The sponsored yarn for this project came in hanks, so my first step was to wind one hank of each color yarn into center-pull balls.

Yarn

Then, I began the gauge-swatch process because the gauge of this yarn was different from that of my proposal.  I knew the project would entail some ribbing, plain stockinette, and also fair-isle.   So, I made swatches of all three areas to make sure my math worked out for the end-knitter.  I also used the first swatch in fair-isle to see if I liked the planned progression of color in the final yarn.

Swatch

Once I had a good idea of the pattern numbers based on the swatches, I wrote a rough draft of the pattern including the various sizes.  I went through the early drafts of the pattern and then knit the sample based on this draft. So, even after the sample was done, there were some changes that needed to be made.  Although it's not ideal, some things you just don't see until after you've knitted it and see the garment as a whole!  The pattern is then test-knitted by a team of test-knitters who follow the edited second draft. 

Progress Shot

After assessing all the data gathered from the testers, I updated stitch counts, faulty charts, and edited any unclear text.  Then, I packaged schematics, charts, the written text, and the sample.  The sample was shipped off and the draft e-mailed to the publishers (the Twist Collective team).

Several weeks later, when the editing team was ready to work on the Fall issue, I received an e-mail notifying me of their progress.  After that, we went back and forth reviewing and editing a pre-press formatted version of the pattern.  Both sides are responsible for checking numbers, schematic accuracy, language, grammar, knitting terminology and conventions, etc.

Then a few weeks after that, the photos were processed and edited, and finally the pattern was published!

Shop Image

Yay!

Meridian

Lee Meredith


Lee Meredith is the innovative (and prolific) designer of the stunning (and all-gender-friendly) hat- Meridian. In the following entry (cross-posted from her blog), she takes us inside the playful process of designing a hat with unusual construction.





So, something very exciting happened a couple weeks ago – the new Twist Collective came out, and I’m in it!!  My design, Meridian:

original

Here it is being modeled by me, but you can head over to the Twist Collective page to see their shots (or to ravelry).  This was a huge deal for me, as I’d submitted design ideas to them multiple times before this one got picked up – I love Twist Collective so much and am so happy to be a part of this amazing issue!  And, I am super duper happy with how this hat design turned out!

final1

This is pretty different from most of my accessory designs – if you are very familiar with my patterns, you’ll be surprised to hear that this hat has a set gauge (well, three different gauges for three different sizes), no short rows, no variations beyond choosing either a crochet edging or a ribbed front (both of which will take care of the hat front’s urge to curl up).  It’s a straightforward seamless construction – start flat, increase out a bunch, then join around and decrease in a bunch.

finalblue1

And let me tell you, it’s a fun knit!  It works up fairly quickly, considering that slip stitch designs always take longer, and it’s constantly changing row to row, keeping it from ever getting boring, but always easy to follow the intuitive striping pattern.  Just when you start feeling like it’s going slowly, it’s time to join around and then the decreasing begins and it’s almost done!

finalflat

So hey, want a big glimpse into my design process with this one?  It started out with a sketched out concept of a hat that’s knit starting flat in the back, worked up around the back of the head, then joined in front and decreased in at the top of the head…

sketch

That idea turned into this original prototype pictured below, worn as I’d planned it out in my head… Well, damn, I thought, design fail.  This hat looked terrible. 

fail1 fail2

All that work and… wait… let’s play around with it for a minute……what if I put it on backwards?  Hey!  Much better!

backwards

And my design prototype was born – very similar to my final design!  Because of the way I had thought about the shape as I made it sort of backwards the first time, and just because it was my first try, this one had some major size/shape issues.  Mainly, the height was just about right, but the width was way too large.  Also, that front curling up issue was something I’d have to deal with. But, there it was, a pretty cool design, I thought.  And so it was submitted, got accepted (woooo!) and I went on to solve the problems…I started out with some spare yarn in approximately the same weight, just as another prototype attempt.  As you can see, I changed it quite a bit, and it ended up looking much worse than the original…

fail3

But, as these things do, creating this super failed hat version taught me what needed to be done to make the design work.  It was too short, lumpy, and came together all wrong in the back, but I used it has a learning tool and moved on to my next try, using my official yarn (Sunflower Yarns Windham, which was great!), this is how that next attempt turned out:

fail4

Wow, right?!  It doesn’t even look like a hat!  Because of the weird construction, it was just really tricky to get those increases and decreases to make just the right shape.  Obviously.  So, several partial froggings and reknittings later, and I finally got that shape to curve just right, and Meridian was here!

In case any aspiring designers are interested in this aspect, I’ll tell you, as I did all this knitting, reknitting, frogging, reknitting… I was keeping track of everything in written pattern form, saving copies of old tries as I made changes, in case I needed to go back and reference them later.  Once I had my successful version, I kind of finalized that written pattern, then charted the whole thing.  Then I knit up my second example from the finished pattern, to double check everything.

The pattern pdf includes both the complete written pattern and the entire hat charted, so you can use whichever your brain prefers.

finalyellow

As mentioned, there are 2 ways to prevent the front from curling up – above, you can see the crochet edging option; below, there’s no crochet needed because the first front bit is ribbed, which is hardly noticeable but does the trick.  The other difference between these two is that the top is size small, which just barely fits my head, and the bottom is size large, which fits me loosely and is a good man-size.  You should be able to make a child size by dropping to a finer weight yarn, but I couldn’t tell you the exact gauge you’d need…

lastblue

And as for yarn variations – I really liked that self-striping combo in my failed attempt, so I frogged that and am making the yarn into a new hat for myself!

You’d think after all that work in creating the design, knitting and reknitting these hats, I’d never want to make another, but now that some time has passed, I’m really looking forward to knitting up a new Meridian!  If anyone wants to join me, perhaps we can put together a casual knit-a-long in the leethal ravelry group!

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