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Twist Collective Blog

Spring in December

When Twist is ready to photograph the spring/summer projects, there's usually at least a foot of snow at our headquarters. That may actually be what a lot of you see in spring, (I know I did, growing up in New Hampshire) but we want an edition that brings to mind warm weather and bright sunshine. If money were no object, we'd jet set to some tropical location and shoot beautiful knits while sipping ridiculously fruity and extravagant cocktails. We'd probably also never return home. 

Instead, we make due with what we have. Frequent Twist Collective photographer, dyer and all around great person, Jamie Dixon, opened up her home to Kate and me (Marnie) in the middle of December, for our Two For Tea shoot. While New Mexico has wonderful light and relatively mild weather in winter, it's not exactly springy looking, unless you think of spring as being particularly...brown.

From the plane

Scoping out the perfect picnic spot, we had to find a way to make New Mexico's deep dark browns of December look bright and cheery. It would need to start with some sweeping. Dead leaves aren't very springy. 

brat brat
Does it look like spring yet?

Enlisting a little help from one of our models and Mary-Heather, we got to sprucing up the location

the gang
Note that we are all wearing warm coats and scarves. Glad I'm not a model.

Paper lanterns and ribbons bring those vibrant spring colors we were craving, and a little tarp protects Margaret Mills' lovely blanket from the dirt and debris. 

We had spent the previous day matching garments to accessories and raiding the home of one of the Sweater Girls for all those amazing props from the shoot.

Kate in hat Garments
Left: The Kate in the Hat looking for vintage props to dress the set. 
Right: Putting together outfits for the shoot the next day.
Clockwise from top: Raina, Lizette, Vesna, Carillon, Gus!, Carillon, Vesna, Addie, Budding Apple 

Our beautiful models, Amy and Jaclyn, were real troopers. It may be New Mexico, but December in Albuquerque is still pretty chilly. As we set up shots, the models kept themselves bundled while Jamie and Kate got all the little details perfect. 

baby it's cold outside Poor jackie
Raina and Sunbreak and Lizette hiding under a coat

My job was to make sure we didn't miss any shot and to generally be helpful and such. 

Task master
Serious clipboard holder is serious.

Sometimes, being helpful involved looking like Mary Poppins to keep the sun's glare off the models' faces. 

A spoonful of sugar.
Addie and Sunbreak 

Jaime and Kate stop frequently to check images for the proper light, composition and clarity of details. 

Kate and Jamie
Or maybe they are just hugging to stay warm.
Budding Apple 

And here's a little extra surprise for you all, Kate didn't just run the shoot, she also did a bit of modeling. 

Kate in socks
Those are some very talented ankles, right there.

This was my first shoot with Twist Collective (and, incidentally, the first time meeting Kate and Jamie in person) and it was a long hard day of work, but it was also great fun to get to see the magic behind the scenes. When you think of all the creative resources that go into making each shoot a reality, it makes the resulting story in the edition, all the more charming. 

A big thank you to Jamie and Mary-Heather for stuffing us full of food while we were in town. I am a sucker for chiles when they are verde and you did not disappoint. Here's hoping I'll get to go back again someday soon. 

Marnie and Kate at lunch Marnie and Kate shopping for yarn
Kate and Mary-Heather Jamie

And that about covers my little behind the scenes for our Two for Tea shoot. 

Stellar Prototype

Jenn Jarvis

Jenn Jarvis' third design for Twist Collective, Stellar, is a great layering piece for those breezy spring days.  In today's post, she talks about her original prototype. This is a cross post from her own blog. You can also see her other Twist Collective patterns;  Argyle Jacket and Kerouac.

green stellar 3

Since I hadn’t ever taken pictures of my green Stellar prototype for you I figured I do a little mini photoshoot so you could see another version of it.

This one’s in Frog Tree Alpaca, so it’s a little more drapey, but the texure is hidden. The O-Wool of the orange one is great for stitch definition and I think it will wash up really well, but I think I’d like to try making another in a different yarn. Something with a little more drape or loft (but without the halo of the alpaca) and see what happens there. I can’t wait to see pictures of ones other people make.

green stellar 7

I made the neckline a little too wide on this one, so it falls off my shoulders a little bit. I made the neckline a little closer on the actual one for the magazine. It’ll wear so much better (and easier! Picking up my neckline all the times is annoying). I also made it a little longer in the body and in the sleeves. Not everyone is as short as me. (You can tell in the silly pictures I took of me in the orange version. Those sleeves are hanging.)

green stellar 6

Follow the instructions for the collar join exactly as written in the pattern. The orange collar looks perfect. This one, not so much. I’m not showing you that join. It’s a little sad. Making a prototype really helps work out all those funky little construction details the first time around. It’s hard to take the time to make protoypes for everything, so I try to swatch all the little details as I’m knitting. Deadlines make that difficult sometimes though.

green stellar 8

I love the I-cord buttonbands and collar trim. It looks nice and knits up so easily. And the sewn-in hems are so nice. They require a good wet blocking to make them stay in place, but after that the collar has a nice drape, the hems stay in place and everything falls a little better. I love a good wet block – it cures so many evils. I do need to take a razor to my sweater though. The pills are getting out of hand.

green stellar 2

Also – I’m totally in love with my new sunglasses. I just look too damn cool.


carol feller

Carol Feller's latest design is Trousseau, a shawl in two sizes. This marks Carol's fourth contribution to Twist Collective, along with Parcel, Azami, and Necco Wafer. In today's post, Carol talks a little about designing her shawls. Check out Carol's site here and find out more about Trousseau here

I love the concept of the ‘Pi’ shawl; working outwards from the central point with increase rows being spaced further and further apart.  After the first few increases you have a wonderful large canvas to use for your lace stitches without needing to worry about fitting the increases in! This can make for very relaxing knitting as there is less counting as you work though it to ensure you have worked all of the increases every row correctly.

Smaller Raspberry Shawl

Smaller Raspberry Shawl

Now you may have noticed looking at the photos that this shawl isn’t actually a full circle ‘Pi’ shawl, well that’s because it’s a half-Pi shawl!  This seems like a much more practical shawl to me.  A full circle shawl can only be worn folded in two so half of your hard work never get to be seen.  The same concept as a full Pi shawl applies but you just start with half the amount of stitches and work back and forth rather than in circles.  

The lace pattern used in this shawl is not overly complex but it creates wonderful diagonals and visual interest across the knitting.  You can see how with each increase the direction of the lace diagonal changes and the lace panels increase in size and length with each repeat.  This lace is easy enough that it can quickly be memorized and the shawl quickly becomes a very relaxing knit.  If fact I think it would make an excellent first shawl for a confident knitter.

We have done something a little unusual with the yarn in this project, usually the larger shawl is knit in the heavier yarn but we have actually shown the smaller sample with the heavier  yarn - Sundara Yarns ‘DK Silky Cashmere’ in Raspberry.  This nicely size shawlette only take 2 skeins (50g each) of this truly delicious yarn (or 320 yds).  Almost all of both skeins were used, I think I just had a few feet of yarn left when I finished.  This is one of the most beautiful yarns I’ve knit with in a long time; it is so soft and just glides off the needles effortlessly.  The yarn holds the lace pattern while you are knitting also; it stayed open and did not need to be blocked aggressively to open it up.

Larger Caribbean Shawl

Larger Caribbean Shawl 

The second shawl was knit from Sundara Yarns ‘Fingering Silky Merino’ in Caribbean.  This shawl was a larger size (knit with lighter weight yarn and smaller needles) and used a little under 1 skein (150g).  This yarn behaved very differently and more like a wool based yarn being worked in lace.  As you are knitting it pulls in on itself with the lace pattern virtually invisible.  However after a good soaking and some aggressive blocking and pinning it opened out beautifully to reveal the hidden pattern.  I think that blocking lace often feels a little like a butterfly unfurling itself from its cocoon.

Two sizes and yarn weights are detailed (and knit) in the pattern but this is a very easy pattern to modify.  A much smaller shawlette can be knit if you used the lighter yarn and smaller needles (from the larger size) and only worked the smaller size or alternatively a larger version could use the heavier yarn with bigger needles but work it until it is the size of the large shawl.  The only thing to bear in mind with these modifications is yarn amounts; I’ve given an estimate in the pattern of how much more or less yarn would be needed for variations in the size but every knitter will vary with the yarn amount they use. 

We're live


The spring/summer issue is live!


Mary Ann Stephens

Mary Ann Stephens has a way with color and she shows it off beautifully with her Postwar Mittens, Sleepy Monkey, Polar Chullo and now with her extravagant Rosalia. This post combines two of Mary Ann's blog posts, found here and here, from her own site. 

My “Rosalia” is now out in the Winter 2010 edition of Twist Collective.


"Rosalia", by Mary Ann Stephens. See also Twist Collective Winter 2010.


The usual suspect in "Rosalia".


The departing view

Rose Medallion

What the heck is that thing???

When I was a child, unless it was Christmas or Easter, we were simply not allowed in the living room, which housed all manner of my mother's fascinating and delicate treasures. These treasures were not at all suited to inspection by a tree-climbing, rope-swinging, ball-playing tomboy like me,  so naturally, I could often be found there.  Among my favorites were her pieces of Rose Medallion, a type of 19th century Chinese porcelain awash in roses, depicting scenes from imperial life.  (Plus a few mysteries, too.  Can anyone tell me why this bowl features a belt stuffed in a pastry bag?  Or is that a hacksaw sheathed in a diaper?  What the heck IS that thing?!)

As a busy breakables investigator, it was obvious to me that everyone who was anyone had a kimono.  I vowed that someday, I would have one, too, one with plenty of deep, rosy pink in it!  Over the years, my dream of a full-length kimono silhouette became a bit more practical. The internet was a useful tool in reshaping this silhouette; I found happi coats – short,  practical variants of kimonos, made for festivals and adorned with mons (crests) on the back, to identify the festival goers. Rosalia lies somewhere between a Nordic cardigan and a Happi coat, complete with its very own mon.

Rosalia, back detail, copyright Mary Ann Stephens, 2010

Most of the motifs I knit are  either purely geometric or floral; Rosalia’s main motif is a combination of the two.  As I sat wrangling pixels in Excel charts, it occurred to me that the motifs I was favoring reminded me of two things: pomegranates, and stained glass windows.  More thoughts of stained glass brought to mind rose windows, the magnificent blossoms of stained glass that highlight the main entrances of many Gothic cathedrals.

pomegranatepomegranate top

As I charted out the crest, I felt like I was creating something entirely original; later, when I googled the images for rose windows, I noticed a striking resemblance to the one from the Cathedral of St. John the Divine,in upper Manhattan.  The rose window this New Yorker has seen innumerable times, unconsciously imprinted in my memory. Between the Rose Medallion and the rose windows, I knew it should be called “Rose-something”,  so it is named “Rosalia”, in honor of my Danish great-grandmother.

I used Dale of Norway Falk for my original Rosalia, mainly because of the great range of colors available in that line.  But there are plenty of other sport weight yarn options you could use, like Dale of Norway Heilo, which incidentally, is the yarn I would take to a desert island. As for colors, of course, you could knit Rosalia in whatever five colors strike your fancy.  Actually, you could get away with just 2 colors, if you’re so inclined. Although I love the vivid colors of the original, I kept imagining a little voice – with a heavy New York accent – saying “Dahlink, you need this in neutrals!”

There are 3 sleeve options in the pattern and the body length is also adjustable.  I really wanted to show you some of these variations, but after knitting my original, my arthritic hands weren’t thrilled with the idea of an encore.  Enter Debra Thayer, the most wonderful  test knitter I could ever ask for. Debra knit “Rosalia Encore” for me in Heilo, using charcoal grey, mist , grey heather, light steel blue,  and petrol.  She used the full-length sleeves with only one shoulder stripe and she added an extra repeat in the body length.  She used the middle size (as I did for my original) and incidentally, with her variations, used exactly the same amount of yarn as is called for in the largest size. Whichever variations you choose, I hope this pattern helps make your kimono dreams reality.

Rosalia Encore, the full length version of Rosalia by Mary Ann Stephens 2010

(That’s my husband’s shadow, to the right, and no, thankfully, he doesn’t really look anything like that!)

Rosalia Encore, the long version knit in Heilo yarn; copyright Mary Ann Stephens 2010