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Twist Collective Blog


Fiona Ellis

Fiona Ellis rules. She has contributed many wonderful patterns to Twist, including Georgie, Mehndi, and the completely adorable Ruthie, just to name a few. She uses colors and geometric patterns in exciting and inventive ways, and her most recent Twist design- Athabasca- is no exception. In this post by Fiona, we get a peek into the world of the designer- and the life the sweater before it made it to the pages of Twist!

Athabasca, back

As Robin wrote, when we designers are working on a project for a specific issue we are usually knitting a garment that will be worn in an entirely different season. Each project also serves as a kind of memory jog or journal entry. I can always remember what I was working on during 9/11 or the summer that I trained for a half marathon. Seeing those projects reminds me of just what was going on in the world or my life at that time.

close view

So when I see Athabasca I remember last summer and all the beautiful spots and sunny warm days I knit on it. It accompanied me to a friend’s cottage and on several long summer evenings spent down by the edge of Lake Ontario (she rode with me in the basket of my brand new bike). But the over riding memory is of her being my carry ‘round project when I taught at Sock Summit in Portland OR.

Sock Summit

One of the events that took place outside of the classes and marketplace at SS’11 was a flash mob, dancing to “I’ve had the time of my life”. The knitters taking part brought along yarn to hug and fondle during the routine and at the end we were all supposed to throw our yarn into the air. The yarn I had on hand was a ball of Valley Yarns Northampton in pale blue that I was using for Athabasca. As the music ended I didn’t dare throw my yarn; what if it got lost it in the crowd? What if it fell to the ground and got dirty? It seems that I wasn’t alone, many of the knitters clung tightly to their yarn probably for the same reasons.

in progress

When I see Athabasca it reminds me both of both contemplative evenings and having the time of my life with 600 of my knitting buddies. If you haven't seen this video of the flashmob in action, check it out below. It's pretty charming.


Madison Knit-In- Twist Fashion Show!

Look out Wisconsin, Twist Collective is headed your way! Kate and Marnie will be joining the Madison Knitters' Guild for a day long Knit-In, featuring classes, speakers, vendors, and more. It's a day to celebrate yarn and the things it can become. We would love to see you there!

Kate and Marnie will be holding a fashion show, with oodles of garments straight from the pages of the magazine. During the show, Kate will also share insights about knitwear design and working on Twist Collective.

The Knit-In takes place on March 10, all day. Find out more info about the Madison Knitters' Guild here, and register for the Knit-In here!

Behind the Scenes- Free Spirits

Jane Heller

You may be familiar with Jane Heller's work- she is no stranger to Twist Collective, contributing to many of our photoshoots. In this post, she shares some outtakes from the Free Spirits shoot from the most recent issue. Be sure as well to check out some of her amazing portrait work, or snag yourself some of her crafty prints and magnets.

Hi everyone! I'm back again with my "Behind the Scenes" from my second shoot from the Winter 2011 edition of Twist Collective.

I spent most of my childhood summers on a farm, the very same farm you have seen in past features on Twist (Roxham farm & Return to Roxham).

Considering I'm a bit of a farm girl, I have a big secret - I'm afraid of horses!  Less so in the past few years since my mother has become the owner of a few retired old horses.

So you can imagine my concern when we decided to do the shoot at a stable in Hudson, Quebec. Having my head behind the camera it was very difficult to keep an eye on the whereabouts of all the horses. I was so happy we had two amazing horse handlers - Joanne and Dani to take care of me. My lens got smeared a few times by a few curious noses but other than that no trampled toes. Phew.

Behind the scenes collage

Stay tuned for the behind the scenes for the upcoming Spring/Summer 2012 issue!


Ann-Marie JacksonToday's entry is brought to you by Ann-Marie Jackson, the designer of the delicately detailed Eira pullover. She shares her inspiration and design process that brought about this lovely garment. You can find this post (and more!) on Ann-Marie's website. This is also one of the garments that a certain fashion-obsessed bloglady has been playing with over on our Polyvore page.

Eira full view

It took a few months to get over the wonderful shock of having my first design for Twist Collective published. At Twist's invitation, I've put together a bit of information on Eira's design inspiration and features.

I woke up one morning, a week before the Twist Winter 2011 submission deadline, thinking I had to just try, even though it felt awfully ambitious. My thoughts kept returning to a sweater I'd had years ago, purchased in a second-hand clothing store in Vancouver. It was a plain knitted pullover with slightly puffed sleeves that I wore to tatters because it was so simple and comfortable and flattering.


So as I set out to design something similar, I worried that it might be a bit too boring, visually and technically. I thought about how to give the sweater some figurative festive sparkle by considering what makes winter so magical to me: the patterns of light and water - sparkly bits of ice and rain, the polka-dots of falling snow, and blurred twinkling lights. This is how the eyelet details at the neckline and cuffs came about, as well as the little glass buttons on the left shoulder.

I confess that Eira was designed for my body shape;  I used slight puffed sleeve to exaggerate my small shoulders, and a longer length to skim over my wide hips. The final design however, looks beautiful on all sorts of body types.  The body and sleeves are knit in the round because I feel seams are unnecessary for such a light and smooth garment, but the sleeves do have to be set in because of their gathered tops. The whole thing reaches towards a style that I've always liked, a slightly vintage and feminine look that isn't too fussy.

Back view

I imagine Eira knit in a soft and somewhat luxurious yarn, perhaps merino wool with a bit of cashmere or silk. I love the Elann Peruvian Baby Cashmere I used for the sample shown here. When I knit a second Eira, I'll be tempted to try Classic Elite Vail, one of Handmaiden's amazing fingering-weight yarns, or maybe the new Knit Picks Capretta.

Neckline detail

The pattern itself is very straightforward, with the exception of the acrobatic neckline details. To create the starburst arrangement for this detail requires simultaneously creating pleats, making eyelets, and doing short row shaping along the neckline. Definitely best done in one sitting, if possible, but great fun for those who like their knitting to come together in one big final flourish. And, I'll be the first to admit, knitting an adult-size sweater in fingering weight yarn isn't for the faint of heart - it's a lot of knitting! But for all your hard work, if you choose to make Eira, you'll get a pretty sweater that looks great when worn unlayered, with just a skirt or some dressy pants. I hope you like it!


Corrina FergusonCorrina Ferguson is the designer behind Winter's Cithara, a gorgeous hooded cardigan with lovely cable details. This is Corrina's first contribution to Twist! You can also find this post on her blog, and you can keep up with her on Twitter.

All I can think about lately are sweaters. Probably because my fingers are slightly blue – it’s actually been cold here in Florida lately – and I refuse to turn the heat up on principle. Last night I was sketching up and submitting sweaters, and I am quite seriously considering hitting the yarn store today to get yarn for a sweater for myself. I’d also like to make myself one of these:

Cithara with pony

When I designed this sweater, I had the perfect sweater in mind. I thought about features on other garments I had knit – what I liked, what I didn’t like. I knew I wanted a zipper, and I’m a sucker for turned hems and i-cord edgings. So I starting thinking and I started sketching.


I played around a lot with where the cable motifs would go; how they would integrate into the sweater and what seemed most organic. I swatched the cable motifs in Malabrigo worsted – because it’s always good to have some of that on hand for swatching. The motif I had chosen lent it self well to sleeve insets and panels up the front of the sweater and around the hood. The motif itself reminded me of a harp, so after a smidge of research (wikipedia to the rescue!) I found that a cithara was a kind of ancient Greek harp or lyre. Hence the name. Naming things is sometimes the hardest part!


When I received the Mountain Mohair from Green Mountain Spinnery I was pleased to find out how well it cabled. And the little tweedy bits were perfect for the large areas of stockinette in this sweater. Something with a bit of interest is best – either texturally or color-wise. That way the stockinette areas don’t look flat.

Hood view

And when push came to shove I ended up with a sweater that was actually better than I envisioned. Which is really all a designer can hope for.

Sleeve detail