Twist Collective Blog
Sunny Day: And it was called yellow...
I am so fortunate to have been included amongst the many talented designers in the Fall issue of Twist Collective. The Sunny Day cardi is a retro-inspired, asymmetrical cardigan with a fair isle portrait collar done in Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend which has in its contents merino wool for body that can retain a structured collar and silk for drape, all in a DK weight yarn. I want to address the use of bright color in my design.
Last February my friends at Shibui Knits had been kind enough to send me some samples of their new sock yarn Staccato, and I had been having fun swatching with all of the bright colors when I received a Call for Submissions from Twist Collective. When I saw the mood board for what turned out to be WWMHD, I was immediately drawn to the collection of pictures in wonderfully bright and cheery yellows, oranges, greens and reds. I don’t know Mary-Heather personally, but she seems so bright and cheery and who can resist a strawberry blonde in yellow? So I was off to the races. Picking a color palette was easy -- I knew the base color had to be yellow and I wanted the contrasting colors to really pop, so I chose an ocean blue and watermelon to set it off.
I love all of the bright colors Kate Spade uses in her collections and the sort of retro feel to the styles. She uses unbelievably bright hues but the styles look cool and kitschy without a matronly, resort-wear feel (I’m a big fan of Project Runway).
So I selected a silhouette that was more cropped and boxy, and what is more retro than a portrait collar? I chose to do an asymmetrical front for a bit of modernization.
The colors are very bold, so I opted to put the contrast only on the collar with the exception of the thin watermelon edging on the front, hem and cuffs.I think a lot of people feel like they can’t pull off wearing yellow, but I say “Wear what makes you feel good!” I know that yellow makes me happy--it makes me feel brighter, less tired and more optimistic, so even with my Asian skin tone, I still go for the yellow especially when feeling a little down. So now you know how to recognize me...I’m the sallow-looking Asian woman in yellow with a big smile on her face!
Sandridge: Gender Studies
When I graduated from law school 27 (yikes!) years ago, I won the prize for Women and the Law. I was part of the first big wave of women graduates in law, and full of assumptions that would be blown away over the succeeding decades. I worked for 5 years and then, when Bill, my husband, was offered a job with the International Monetary Fund in Washington, DC, I left my job and became a stay-at-home mum for 20 years. I became the glue that held the family together while Bill was globe trotting and we were on our own in a foreign country. I knitted my way through those years, attending the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, Montgomery County Studio Tours, and workshops with Alice Starmore and Debbie Bliss.
My goal is always to create, in a subtle way, a garment that is unfussy, but unmistakably feminine.
Red Oak: Pattern Notes
Julia Trice's debut pattern for Twist Collective, Red Oak, is featured on the Fall 2010 cover. In today's post, she discusses a little about her design process and her inspiration for this lovely piece. You can also find this post at Julia's personal site.
I think that if you spend enough time doing anything, you develop a style and when you do your best work it is true to that style. I tend to focus on two things when I design. The first is shape. I like pieces with smooth, organic lines, and I generally prefer to have size and noticeable endpoints fall in less standard places - nothing radical, but I am more likely to choose a cap sleeve than a bracelet sleeve, and more likely to make a piece oversized or body-skimming than to give it the standard ease of around two inches. I like shape to influence the overall feel of a piece in an important but subtle way, and make it feel just a little different.
The second thing I like to do is to limit the number of stand-out details to as few as possible - one is ideal. The fewer details there are the more impact a single detail will have. This concept has come back to me again and again, and my favorite phrasing of it (well, ahem, paraphrasing probably) is that perfection is reached not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
When a design isn't working, I look to these two factors to see if something needs to be changed. Is there too much going on? What needs to be taken out? Does the shape flow? If not, how can I change it to work with the details? Often this means omitting something that I really like - maybe even the element that I began with - but ultimately it is the process that makes the pieces I like the best work.
The shape for the Red Oak coat was inspired by a wonderful camel coat I bought in college that I wore for over a decade. It still hangs in the back of my closet waiting for the day that I mend the frayed-through lining and wear it again. It isthat good. Red Oak differs from my old coat significantly but it retains the same spirit - refined and classic, but somehow casual. To reach the final shape I omitted many of the elements that made the original special to me - no hood, no pockets, no drawstring cinch at the waist (sounds funny, but it worked!), less ease. Instead of focusing the eye on shaping details, I settled on having a dramatic central motif running down the front panel, but slightly offset. I discovered the oak leaf and acorn stitch pattern that gave Red Oak its name in a Japanese stitch book years ago, but I have since learned that it was designed by Julie Weisenberger and originally appeared on a square in the popular Great American Afghan in 1996. The stitch pattern stayed in my mind, and when I began sketching the coat and realized that I wanted to use a stitch pattern to capture the same refined, classic-yet-casual feel as my old camel coat, I knew that the oak leaf stitch pattern, which was intricate and organic, yet with clean, clear lines, was perfect.
I didn't realize how perfect the oak leaves and acorns were when I drafted the proposal in February, but by the time I was knitting the sample in May the pattern had personal significance for me. My father passed away in late April, so I ended up spending late April and the first part of May in my childhood home in Virginia with my mom. I hadn't been back since my brother's memorial service over eight years ago because the memories were just too painful and the thought of facing our old life completely changed felt totally overwhelming to me. Surprisingly, it ended up being one of the easiest, and strangely happiest, of my visits there. My mother and I had a week to ourselves talking and pulling things together, and after that we had about a week and a half with Griffin there, too, making us laugh and reminding us that there was still life and that it was good.
During the week we had alone I spent nights working on the final calculations for the Red Oak coat, and then feverishly knitting it. Our house has a life and a personality of its own, and I often think of it as the fifth member of our family. My parents restored it themselves when we were kids, so we know the ins and outs of it more intimately than you might normally know a house. One of the house's defining characteristics is a fairly severe lean where a huge old oak tree's roots have lifted the foundation out of kilter. Our house is surrounded by old oaks, but the one pushing up the house is by far the largest and oldest. I'm not completely certain, but if two people were to stand on opposite sides of the tree and try to link hands, I don't think they could. When the oak goes, it is taking the house with it, and to me that feels right - the two are inseparable.
Anyway, the room that I slept in as I worked on Red Oak was the one right next to the tree - you can touch it if you lean way out of the window. At night I could hear the sound of the trains down by the river, the crickets, and the rustling of the oak leaves. I cannot imagine more comforting sounds. We knitters often talk about the memories worked into our knitting. This coat has more of those than almost any other knit I can think of - rivaled only by husband's wedding sweater. I like to think there is a little piece of my dad in it, too. I wish he had lived to see it on the cover of Twist, just as I wish he had lived to see so many much more important things, not the least of which is Griffin toddling all over his house and garden. But I take comfort in the fact that he left the world just as he would have wanted, reading his morning paper in his house, under his oak trees, and I am grateful to have had the time that I did sitting under those trees knitting, laughing at my son with my mother, and thinking about him.
P.S. As Elli so astutely noticed, there is a photo with a little bit of the camel coat showing on my archive masthead. I don't have a full length photo, and didn't remember that I had any photos at all, so I didn't link to a picture. Although this just gives a little snippet of what it looks like, it's worth a peek if you are curious.
Issara: Customizing & Tips
I know I promised this post a while back, but better late than never, right? Here are some ideas and tips for customizing your Issara
Issara is rather bulky and heavy, which can make blocking challenging, especially with the pleat. Before wet blocking, I suggest basting the pleat closed and in place with a high contrast waste yarn. Then, to shorten your blocking time by several days, I would put it in your washer on spin cycle. Do not actually run it through the washing machine. Once your machine has done all the work of sucking off the excess water, you can block the coat as you would normally do.
I was a bit impatient when blocking the sample, especially for the stubborn pleat, which remained damp when other parts of the coat had dried. This is due to the thickness of the multiple layers. Thus, I sped up the process in the pesky areas with a hairdryer. You can also face a fan towards your garment, which will shorten the overall time considerably.
After the coat had dried both naturally and with the help of my handy hairdryer, I fine-tuned blocking some of the other elements, such as the pleat and the edging, with my steam iron. When you steam-block with an iron, make sure that you are not touching your garment with the iron, especially if your yarn contains synthetic fabrics. You don’t want to melt your yarn! Instead, hover above your garment by about 0.5″ to 1″.
Adding More Waist Details:
If you would like to add a more substantial and visual waistline than the single purl ridge, then I’d suggest omitting the purl ridge and instead, work in about 4-5 rows (or more, if desired) of seed stitch right after the folding of the pleat. You can also do a reverse Stockinette stitch band, though I think doing the seed stitch will be more unifying design-wise with the rest of the garment.
If you’d like to add a belt that’s 1.5″/ 4cm wide, CO 5 sts. Row 1: Sl1, [k1, p1] twice. Repeat Row 1 until desired length and BO. Then, for the belt loops, I’d crochet 3 or 4 chains that are a little longer than the width of the belt and attach the loops right above or over the waist ridge. Don’t forget that you’ll need to allot extra yarn for this.
Shortening the Coat:
If you’re a bit short, or would just like a shorter coat, the best way is to reduce the number of Stockinette stitch rows between the skirt shaping. The gauge works out to 4.5 rows per 1″/ 2.5cm. Thus, if you’d like your coat to be 2″/ 5cm shorter, then I would omit 8 or 10 St. st rows in the skirt. I would disperse throughout the skirt to maintain the gradual A-line shape.
If I had more ample assets in the hip area as well, I’d probably work the omissions closer to the top of the skirt. This way, I’m shorting the skirt, but also do so in a way that gives my hips more room. For example, if I was working size 39 3/4, instead of working the Decrease row every 10 rows in the 6th and 7th repeat, I’d work the Decrease row every 6 rows.
Making it a Jacket:
I you are in a warmer climate or just prefer a jacket over a coat, you can omit the pleat and make it a shorter, hip-length jacket. The following instructions will get you a jacket that measures about 5.25″/ 13.5cm below the waistline of Issara, which would give you a length of 17.25 (17.5, 18.25, 18.75, 19.25, 20.25, 20.5) from shoulder to hem. Of course, you should modify it further as desired to accommodate your needs and preferences.
CO 125 (133, 137, 149, 153, 161, 169)
Tutorial & FAQ:
In case you are not aware, I try to post tutorials/FAQ pages for many of my patterns, especially those that require some special, unusual or more intermediate techniques.Click here for an index of all the tutorials on this site. Click here for the Issaratutorial/FAQ. If you have a question that’s not addressed in the tutorial, you can post your question in the comments or go to my Ravelry group.
Elizabeth McCarten's debut pattern for Twist Collective, is the versatile and flattering Sandridge Cardigan which includes instructions for a men's or women's version with a zipper or button closure. This cross post from her blog covers the design inspiration behind this beautiful and wearable piece.
I'm very fortunate to have two young adult kids who enjoy wearing my knits. Perhaps I've just trained them to wear sweaters, but I like to think it's because I listen when they tell me what they want. When my son, James, announced that he really wanted a zip-front jacket, I cringed--in part because he would be leaving for the start of his third year at the University of Toronto in only a week, and in part because zippers really weren't my thing. I'd made the mistake of showing James the photo of Jared Flood wearing his version of Paton's Urban Aran. James thought he'd look totally cool wearing it, and I did too, but I had concerns:
Next, I thought about where James would be wearing his new jacket. The University of Toronto is broken down into colleges. James is a student of Trinity College. Trin's Strachan (pronounced Stron) Hall is a beautiful dark grey stone building in the gothic style. If you look closely up near the roof, you can see stone snakes zigzagging back and forth just under the eaves--at least, I think they look like snakes. So,the sweater was born in time for the first cool weather of the season.