Twist Collective Blog
Design Process: Issara
After a few failed submissions, I finally made it into Twist Collective, and I couldn’t be happier! Yes folks, I had tried to submit to Twist 2-3 times prior, but unfortunately, it wasn’t in the cards for me at the time.
I finally achieved my goal with Issara, which was published recently in the Fall 2010 issue. What made this even more exciting for me is the fact thatIssara is the cover for my particular storyline, Roxham Farm. I was already a fan of Twist Collective and of the artistry and designs in each issue. Now that I’ve experienced a small taste of what it’s like to be a designer in Twist, especially with the multiple layers of review that goes into each pattern, I am even more impressed.
Named after a good friend’s daughter (a Laotian name), Issara is a snuggly coat worked in bulky yarn with simple lines. The WOW factor lies within the back pleat and the oversized reversible cable collar that can be worn up, down, or somewhere in between.
The Idea & Design Process
Usually, when I design, I like to incorporate a feature element and/or versatility. And since I’ve been on a reversible cables kick lately, I really wanted a garment with a dramatic reversible collar. Thus, Issara was conceived. While I had a clear idea of what I wanted, some of the key elements in the concept required some tweaking and experimentation during the actual pattern-writing and design process.
In order for the collar to lay nicely on the shoulders when worn down, it needed to flare a little – I really didn’t want a straight funnel collar. To make a nice flare, I knew that I would have to work increases into the actual cable pattern instead of bunching it all into the beginning or set up section of the collar. I experimented with a few types of increases into the cable pattern. Lifted increases won over other types of increases because it met 3 main criteria: (1) increases had to be as invisible as possible, (2) they had to compliment and work with the stitch pattern, and (3) they had to look good on both sides.
Initially, I had intended the waistline to be a true empire waist. However, as I was working with it, I realized that the weight of the yarn in the skirt of the coat (especially with the pleat) may pull the waistline in a less than desirable way if I raised it to a true empire. So, I change the plan a little and worked the waistline roughly about 1.5″ above a natural waistline so that there is still an elongated silhouette, but without having to carry the extra weight if it was set much higher.
Because the coat is worked in a bulky yarn, Twist editor Kate Gilbert and I had some concerns that the pleat might be a little too thick and cumbersome in the back with all the layers. I really wanted to keep the pleat because I think it gives a nice balance to the dramatic and slightly flared collar; thus, I was determined to make it work. I experimented a little and I figured out a way to thin out some of the bulk in the pleat folding process: I bound off every other stitch in the center panel of each side of the pleat 2 rows prior the pleat fold. The photos below show the differences (click to enlarge) between a regular pleat fold and my thinned out version.
Photos above, clockwise from top left (click photos to enlarge): (1) work-in-progress shot of the skirt shaping; (2) the finished pleat from the private side (WS); (3) collar detail from the public side (RS); (4) collar detail from the private side (WS); (5) waist line and back pleat; (6) back view of coat with collar worn down
Overall, I found the sample a relatively fast knit. Seriously. I’m not just saying that because I’m the designer or as a fast knitter. It goes much faster than one anticipates because it’s worked in a bulky yarn. The slowest part of it, IMO, was the blocking, which took forever and a day to dry. Next post: Tips/notes on modifications, blocking, etc.
Styling "At Lowell's Boatshop"
The whole idea for the Lowell's Boatshop story was inspired by a pair of four dollar LLBean gumboots I found at a flea market. I am always trolling for clothes for the magazine shoots that I can pick up for a few dollars in my local consignments and thrift shops. Sometimes I borrow things from my step daughter, who is closer in size to the sweaters, but I also stock a closet dedicated to skirts and good under-sweater-neckline-blouses that will fit the women we ask to wear them for us. It's a odd element in my life that I own so many clothes no one in my family can wear! I know of one magazine editor who at one time kept a whole storage unit full of such things. Shoes are especially challenging, and often don't make it into the photo, but I have to provide them regardless. And while the model is wearing them in just about every photo, you can only see them there on the first page of the story!
The rest kind of fell into place after that. I ride my bike along the Merrimac River and pass by the historic Lowell's Boat Shop several times a week. I admire the views of the river from there, and also the beautiful building itself, full of nooks and details that record the craftspeople who have built dories and skiffs continuously since 1793. The head boat builder is the son of a friend of mine, so I only had to ask if we could spend the morning with them, promising to stay out of their busy way. And that I would renew my membership too, of course. I asked Caro to take the photos, and Casey to model. Everyone's schedule and the weather worked out perfectly.
My stepdaughter loaned us the beautiful coral dress here, the necklace is mine, and the shawl is Marnie MacLean's Tolovana. We had the most fun finding places among the boats to show it off (although I think this one below is technically a skiff).
Our model, Casey, is the beautiful wife of a karate buddy of mine. She is the mother of three children, if you can believe it. Her mom sat for the kids that Thursday morning so we could get the best light. I especially loved this photo of Tolovana, which made it into the July newsletter, but not the magazine. It was dramatic, but not particularly informational. It made a great tease a few weeks before we launched the fall issue.
Often we get beautiful photos of the knitwear, but can't use them because they don't help the knitter decide if they want to knit the project or not. I suppose I can leave the drama to the blogs. Give it a try, and send me a link!
Design Process: Lallans
Lallan is Christa Giles' second design for Twist Collective. Like her previous design, Piper, Christa offers us her creative blend of fashion, detailing and functionality. This is a cross post from Christa's own blog. Click to find out more about Lallans and Piper.
I have such a hard time keeping secrets, but here’s another can’t-tell-until-it-is-live project: Lallans for the Fall 2010 issue of Twist Collective, a fabulous online knitting magazine (but you knew that already, right?)
The mood boards for this issue included three stories: a woodland shoot, with the words “walk along quiet byways, wander through the woods”; What Would Mary-Heather Wear, a colourful and quirky tribute to the stylish Mary-Heather Cogar who is a knitting designer and Ravelry employee and lover of cute German Shepard dogs (her's is named Charlie); and then a black and white selection of glamourous, edgy, strong rocking women.
I submitted ideas for all three stories, and Lallans was chosen - this was the one that had already been fully knit, and perhaps my completed hats are easier to judge than my sketched ideas! (Piper was submitted in the same way, with photos of a completed hat along with drawings of other concepts.) I thought that design would work particularly well for the woodlands idea, as it had a bit more of the kicking-around-in-the-fields flavour and less of Piper’s glam or the playfulness that I’d associate with Mary-Heather!
The design itself was a sideline project that came after I finished my NaKniSweMo hoodie in January. I had used the braiding technique to trim all around the bottom, front, and hood edges before applying the final ribbing band, and I really loved the way it looked! (Note, however, that I did NOT love applying it to the hoodie! Lesson learned: braid is good on small things, like hats or mittens. That much twisted yarn as you work on hundreds of stitches, not so fun.) I wanted to use piping again (yes, I’m still on that kick) and also throw in a bit more texture, so that’s where those garter ridges joined us. The slip stitch pattern was tougher: I consulted a few different stitch dictionaries, but didn’t find anything I liked, so I started playing around. This pattern that resulted is the colourwork equivalent of the textured stitch in Picker’s Delight, balanced for easy shifting between colours and rows, and simple to remember! There’s a bit of fiddly work at the start and end of some of the rounds, but I think it does a good job of helping to minimize the jog.
This hat had the original working title of Hound, since I thought that the slip stitch patterning looked like the weave structure called Houndstooth. In the second or third round of edits, Kate suggested we rename it Lallans, the Scottish word for Lowlands (the region that developed the Houndstooth pattern). I always find naming patterns hard (read about Piper’s process here) but was content with Hound.. but Lallans is a lovely fit! I have a friend visiting Scotland right now, so I’ll be getting coached in the proper pronunciation.
Knitting the two samples was fun, and I loved the colour combinations that Kate chose for me. The Caledon Hills Worsted Wool was delicious to work with, too! One of the things I really enjoy about designing for publications that provide yarn support is that I get to experience a wide range of fibres, not just what the local shops carry..
And finally, I really love the photo shoot with the model digging around under the hood of a vehicle - my sister and I both spent a lot of time in our teen years working on motorcycles or my dad’s truck, as he tried to give us some good mechanical basics. It obviously stuck with my sister (she’s an electrician, working towards becoming a millwright in a sawmill in the middle of BC), but didn’t have as much of a lasting effect on me. I’m happy that Chris is a handyman and will help me out in that area when needed! As pretty as it looks on the Twist Collective models, I’m planning to get some photos of men wearing the straight ribbing version as I think this pattern can be pretty masculine or unisex too!
Design Process: Hallett’s Ledge
Elinor Brown's first pattern for Twist Collective is Hallett's Ledge, a beautiful cabled and ribbed cardigan in a universally flattering shape. This cross-post from her own blog, gives us a little peek at her inspiration and the construction of the garment.
Didn't I tell you twist collective's Fall issue would be amazing? . . . I feel so honored that my latest design, Hallett’s Ledge, is included among them. Allow me to share some of twist’s photos, taken by the talentedJane Heller. Hallett’s Ledge is a modern interpretation of a fisherman-style sweater. It takes its name from a shoal in Nantucket Sound, off the southern coast of Cape Cod.
Copyright Jane Heller
Knitted in Rowan Felted Tweed Aran, Hallett’s Ledge is a tailored and textured women’s cardigan that will prove both interesting to knit and easy to wear. The garment employs ribbing below the empire waist, garter eyelet rows marking the empire waist and echoed at the elbow, and an interesting cable pattern at the bust, upper back, and upper arms. It is intended to be worn with about 2″ of positive ease at the bust.
The body is worked in one piece from the bottom to the armholes, after which point the fronts and back are treated separately. The close fitting sleeves are knitted in the round to the armhole, and then the sleeve cap is worked flat and sewn into the body. The neck band and button bands are picked up and knitted onto the body.
This was another projectI swatched last fall, hoping to create a modern, flattering interpretation of an aran sweater for women. As you may know, it is myfirmly heldopinionthat heavily cabled garments should be trim fitting, with as little excess fabric as possible, due to the weight and bulk of the cabled stitch pattern. After all, there is nothing worse than a heavy, droopy, bag-shaped, boxy sweater. Nothing!
I received my yarn only days after learning we would be moving 800 miles away in less than a month’s time. Consequently, I did all of my math and worked out pattern sizing before we left, and knitted the bulk of the garment on the road between Kansas and Ohio. Let me tell you, this was the most compelling sight along the interminably dull trek!
The sweater itself knitted up quite quickly, although blocking took forever (DAYS!) because our washing machine had not yet been delivered to our new house. Who blocks the old-fashioned way?The spin cycle reduces drying time a hundred fold!
Of course, as with any ribbed garment, blocking is key. Look at the difference between the shriveled up in-progress body and the neatly blocked one.
Because the ribbing shrunk up so much on itself, I also aggressively pinned down the button bands.
As with the sleeves, the cabling on the upper back is also centered.
This requires a bit more math to set up the stitch pattern, but I feel it’s math worth doing. After all, I did not suffer through 7th grade algebra for nothing! Why didn’t anyone ever tell me algebra could be so handy?
Although I intended 2″ of positive ease at the bust for this cardigan, I had to try on my sample despite it being a size too small for me! As you can see, this is a much closer fit (roughly 1″ of negative ease at the bust) on me.
I do think the drape is better with positive ease, although your mileage may vary.
For more information about the pattern itself or to purchase a copy, please seethe pattern page at twist collective. I hope you enjoy it! . . . There are stunning works from many of my favorite designers in this issue!
Design Process: Kiloran
Cirilia Rose's graceful Kiloran dress is her first design for Twist Collective. Today she offers us a little about her inspiration for piece. She has written a similar post over at the Berroco blog. Find out more about Kiloran here.
This is my very first design for Twist and I couldn't be more excited about it! Kiloran, the dress I designed for this issue, was an absolute joy to work on from the initial inception to the agonizing wait for the debut issue.
In the past couple of years I have really tried to figure myself out as a designer. One item or shape I return to again and again is the dress. I think I like the design challenge of making something that won't stretch out of shape or look shapeless and unflattering. Two things that are vitally important are yarn choice and the judicious use of seams. I am all in favor of knitting things in the round and avoiding seams when possible, but in certain situations, a seam or a bound-off edge can add much-needed structure. Kiloran features several seams and where it makes sense, easy circular stockinette.
As for inspiration, I was first inspired by dramatic open necklines seen on the runway and on Princess Anne of Battenberg of all people. The loose, elbow-length sleeves and fitted empire waistlines gave way to full skirts, sometimes with generous bustles. Precisely the kind of dress I'd want to wear in early fall!