Twist Collective Blog
Leaving: Twist & Shout
Anne Hanson, designer of Gnarled Oakwoods, Icicle Dream, Ice Fantasia and Artichaut, is also the designer of the popular Leaving cardigan and pullover design in our Winter 2010 edition. In today's blog post, she discusses her inspiration and shares more of her lovely photos. This entry is cross posted from her own blog.
you can imagine how excited i was for today to get here—finally a chance to share the big secret project we worked on all summer for the winter issue of twist collective—the leaving sweater, to knit as a pullover or cardigan.
when i say "we" i mean lots of people—my friend kim, the brilliant dyer, AKA the woolen rabbit, my friend karolyn whose knitting you marvel over here and on ravelry, my husband david, whose photography and filmmaking we enjoy so much, my friend tana, our inveterate tech editor and mistress of sizing, my friends ronni and anne marie who work so hard to dot the Ts and cross the Is (yes, i really did type that, which is why i don't do proofreading . . .), and the editors at twist collective, who have shown great faith in my designs by publishing them frequently.
the story of this sweater goes back a ways (as my stories tend to do . . .), but is typical of my more complex designs. last november after the frost, while walking around my yard, i saw that the leaves of the hostas dying back had formed a really interesting arrangement and had taken on a beautiful coloring. i took a photo.
i loved it so much and wondered if it could become a yarn color (i didn't know what for, just that i liked the color). let's face it, there are very few people you can go to and say, hey can you make yarn that looks like these dead leaves??
fortunately, i do know a couple of dyers who would not think me completely off my gourd to ask, and i know at least one dyer who seems to thrive on just this kind of opportunity.
kim loves to create colors and she's a spectacular collaborator. within a day or two of seeing my photo, she sent an email with a yarn picture. and within a week or so, actual dead hosta leaf yarn arrived at my house.
she dyed up a sock yarn to start, but then we started talking about creating a sweater in her oasis camel/silk blend, new to her shop at the time. i thought that yarn would be awesome in this new colorway, which she named birch beer. before long, a sweater-sized batch was in my hands.
it's such a soft, comfy yarn that my first inclination was to design some sort of sweatshirt with it—casual, but elegant. but i couldn't pull that together somehow. i wanted a big, bold, organic thing to happen with this yarn.
and i really don't remember when it hit me, but i think it may have been the twist collective winter boards that nudged my designer focus into place, with their little pictures of victorian and edwardian skating costumes, stylized with swirls of braid. eureka—this was a way to use a large, voluptuous stitch pattern in a very structured garment shape. i loved the contrast. i started swatching and before i knew it, i had a sweater back, which i photographed for my submission materials.
at this point, i didn't even care if it got into the magazine; i just wanted to make this sweater. i thought you would like it, even if it didn't get in.
so i rallied karolyn and together we worked in secret on the cardigan— we wanted to be ready with a pattern either way. she knit her first one in woolen rabbit opulence, which she had on hand (it worked a treat BTW, in case you prefer a silk/wool blend).
ETA: whoa, kim ran out of oasis yarn yesterday (she says thanks, you guys!), but more supplies are on the way and she can take orders for batches to knit this sweater if you email her with a request. this is a great way to get exactly the color you want in the quantity you need. let her know it's for a sweater and she will make sure the skeins are dyed as closely as possible.
then twist said they wanted the sweater for the winter issue—AND they wanted it as both a cardigan and a pullover, yippee!
we all got busy once again; kim generously supplied yarn for the pullover in moroccan spice, which karolyn offered to knit
and a batch of chocolate chambord for a second cardigan, one knit exactly to the pattern specs (the birch beer prototype has tiny variations; this is normal when developing a design). this is the copy i kept here at home, to wear to my winter and spring teaching gigs.
for buttons, i wanted something truly special, that looked almost like drops of dew or nectar down the front of the sweater
and my favorite button source, moving mud, more than came through with these incredible round glass buttons, sooo beautiful.
each set is very different but perfect for the sweater. sarina is another artist i am very lucky to know.
things were pulling together nicely and we were doing well on time; knitting this sweater was the most fun and relaxing thing i'd had on the needles in a long time. the only thing that slowed me down was stopping to admire the buttery hand of this lovely yarn. sooo luxurious.
as if all that wasn't enough, kate asked if she could include this sweater in a layout about designers knitting for themselves—one that would require david and i to do the photoshoot here in my studio (which wasn't evendone yet, hee-hee!). well, of course i said yes; we were thrilled to do it.
david busted a move during august to get my study finished and during a very hot week in early september, we took photos. lots and lots of them.
some were obviously posed as usual, but some were relaxed pictures of me performing normal tasks at my desk and in my workrooms
and there was knitting, too
we just played around and got whatever we could that we thought everyone might like.
it was truly stifling, haha; i'm always surprised it doesn't show more
so there you have it—our big secret. to purchase the pattern or see more information about the sweater details, please visit the pattern page in the twist collective shop.
ok, time for me to go teach a class . .
Inkberry formed itself in my mind over a year ago during a stroll at Reed College in Portland, at a moment that I happened to be under a huge cedar tree, gazing upward through the spiraling branches. This may sound strange, but that momentary gaze inspired me, the queen of paneled triangles, to turn my inspiration toward circular forms. Amongst other ideas, in my mind's eye, I saw almost immediately a simple ray-formed circular wrap with an intricately cabled back panel and a beaded border.
Then, the search for the perfect yarn with which to implement this vision that was born of the forest. Fortunately, Schaeffer Yarns' Laura Nelkin had just sent a package that contained a lovely skein of Audrey in the Spruce colorway. This yarn is a silk/wool single ply, incredibly soft, light as air, yet with great stitch definition. The sheen tempted me to play with beads... which of course I did. And the border grew beaded leaves in the process.
This is the description from the submission that was sent to Twist Collective:
Inkberry evolved into an lyrical, flowing design that I hope is intuitive AND intriguing to knit. Not your grandmother's tablecloth by any means. And very nice to wrap up in.
Ringo & Elwood: Design Process
Barbara Gregory, designer of Mimico and Ormolu, which both feature compelling and intricate slip stitch colorwork, has a brand new colorwork design for Twist Collective called Ringo & Elwood. Today, Barbara shares a little about her design process in making these charming mittens. Find out more about Barbara at her website.
Two activities were the impetus for this design. The first was a personal project which involved drawing a family of raccoons. I looked at lots of pictures of raccoons and was immersed in my drawings, postponing other activities. Then life interrupted in the form of an illness in the family; a deadline sailed by and the drawings were put aside unfinished.
Around the same time, I was designing and knitting a pair of colorwork mittens for women. I found them an appealing project, small enough that a detailed chart didn’t seem too daunting to knit. Mittens seemed a perfect small canvas for colorwork and image. (I remember idly wondering what cute image might be good for a pair of little boy’s mittens—because there’s never enough cute stuff for little boys.)
But for me, colorwork mittens presented a minor design problem when it came to the thumbs. I didn’t want a completely plain thumb, but having happily stranded two colors throughout the hand sections of the women’s mittens, I found I was reluctant to do so for the finicky little tube that makes a thumb. My solution for that design was to knit a plain thumb and then embellish it with a bit of duplicate stitch.
Apparently the thumb issue was still there in the back of my brain. It sat quietly until one day it collided with the raccoon from my drawings and produced one of those ‘Aha’ moments: the thumb! will be striped!
I was off and running. I measured a young neighbor’s hand and immediately sat down to start working out a chart. I wanted my raccoons to look friendly and happy, so it didn’t seem right that a child looking down at his two hands would see the raccoons facing away from each other. With the position of the tail a given, my solution was to pose the raccoon looking up over his shoulder so each one would have his head turned toward his twin. And for the back? The back! From that point I couldn’t rest until I had acquired suitable yarn—this was an idea that I couldn’t not knit.
When Kate Gilbert suggested doing a beaver as well I couldn’t resist playing with the chart. I soon realized the beaver would be brown on a gray ground, the reverse of the raccoon, and liked the positive/negative look of the two different mittens. I thought the beaver was a good way to add value to the pattern and might be welcomed by a knitter with second mitten syndrome. Knitting up the beaver mittens also gave me an opportunity to test the smaller size.
Some designs start as a vague concept, and have to be coaxed and prodded through much trial and error to a successful conclusion. This one arrived in a flash of inspiration which propelled me through to the finished product.
Find out more about Ringo & Elwood here.
Design Process: Greenaway
Today's post is by Amy Herzog, designer of figure flattering and beautifully detailed Greenaway and Twinflower. In this cross-post from her site, she talks about her design process for her Winter piece, Greenaway.
I am once again flattered and humbled to be in the company of so many wonderful designers for the latest issue of Twist Collective. Please, take a few minutes to go, look, be inspired, get lost in the stunning collection of creativity and skill there. I am not sure how the team manages to get such massive collections out (31 patterns in this issue!) three times a year, but I’m sure glad they do.
My design, Greenaway, began with some reminiscing about a certain style of dress my grandmother often made me when I was a child. They had fully smocked bodices, slightly ballooned sleeves, and cuffs made elastic by more smocking. If you grew up in the 70s, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about. Of course, a fully-smocked bodice isn’t really wearable for me at work, which is where I wear most of my sweaters. So I played around with the idea a little bit, trying to come up with a sweater that would be at home in my work wardrobe while keeping some of the girly, dressy feel from my childhood dresses. Something that I could wear with a beautiful skirt.
Originally, I’d started sketching and swatching without beads in the slip-stitch pattern, but as I was thinking about jewelry, I wondered what beads would look like in the stitches that worked the slipped stitch back into the main body of the knitting. I still had some left over from knitting Lucette, so I grabbed them and worked them in.
I loved the sparkle they gave to the design, and I loved the drapey, silky feel of the Blue Sky Alpacas Alpaca Silk that I used for the swatch. I knew that in a pure merino, the beaded section would feel less flat and drapey and more puffy/quilty. So when Kate accepted the design for Winter, we searched out a similar yarn that I could work in a slightly larger gauge.
Blue Moon Fiber Arts Peru was the perfect choice and I highly recommend it. I didn’t find it to be an aran weight, and preferred the fabric I got at 5.5sts = 1”. It was smooth, soft, and wonderful to work with, and of course the color (“In the Navy”) is just a dream.
The design changed somewhat from my original sketch, which is often the case and a really good thing. My original idea for buttoning the tighter cuffs wound up looking too bulky, and we wanted a smaller balloon than I’d originally drawn–something more like the cuff of a button-down shirt. Once those ideas were out of the way, all there was left to do was knit! The knitting itself went quickly, especially since the sample size of the sweater was quite small. So small, in fact, that it wouldn’t come close to fitting me, so while we were out to lunch I asked Thea if she’d mind trying on the sweater and me snapping a few pictures. I’m including them here so that you can see the hem–it’s a plain faced treatment.
I chose beads that were a little more subtle for the finished sweater; the light has to catch them just right for the full effect, which I think is great for a garment one could wear every day.
The sweater itself includes lots of design elements that you’ll recognize if you’ve been here for awhile: vertical darts for waist shaping, a trim and tailored fit, a construction that allows for lots of modification based on personal preference. I love square-necked tops and had wanted to use a square neckline in a design for some time, and it seemed to fit very well with the diagonal slipped stitches. The cuffs and neckline are trimmed with a small band of applied i-cord to keep things tidy and provide stability to the neck.
Plain backs drive me a little nuts, so I knew I wanted to include the beading detail around the back neck as well. I wound up using another square neck, which I think is both attractive and a bit unexpected.
The design is offered in 10 sizes from 29.75”/75.5cm to 53.75/136.5cm in the bust; I recommend that for most figures you choose a size that gives you about an inch of positive ease in the bust. If you’re large-busted, choose a size that gives you an inch or two of positive ease over your torso measurement (to take, snug a tape measure up tight in your armpits and measure around your torso there, above the fullest part of your bust) and add short rows or additional vertical darts (or both, if you’re very large-busted) for the fullest part of the bust. The sweater body is stockinette there, which allows for easy customization.
I hope you enjoy the sweater, and all of the other fantastic sweaters in this issue! You can find the pattern page with purchase information here.
Two books from two fantastic designers
Cathy Carron, designer of Bright Star, has just released a new book with the playful title, Cowlgirls. But don't be fooled by the title, this book doesn't cover just cowls, it has gaiters and balaclavas and snoods and more, ranging from simple to the most elaborate designs, all meant to keep you snuggly warm when the weather is cool. Whether you love knitting lace or cables or stripes or ribbing, there are patterns to please both the process and product knitter amongst you.
Check out Cowlgirls over at the publisher's website and pick a copy for yourself.
Get your copy of Brave New Knits here.