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Twist Collective Blog

Designer Process: Horatio and Oren

Barbara Geregory

Today's entry is brought to you by Barbara Gregory, designer of many wonderful Twist patterns, including these other whimiscal mittens- Perianth and Ringo & Elwood. She shares where she got her inspiration for Horatio and Oren, adorable owly mittens for hands of all ages. She also gives you a sneak peek at  just how she got those owls to look so darn cute. Keep up with Barbara on her website.

Horatio and Oren

The idea for this design came to me one night in a moment of wakefulness about 4:30 a.m.
I don’t remember if I was dreaming of mittens, but I woke up, thought “Hm, mittens with
owl ears
?” and went back to sleep.

I think this might have been inspired by a Ravelry forum thread discussing preferred
mitten-top shapes: round, pointed or oval. And I had heard a knitter speak of ‘ears’ to
describe the little bumps of untidiness that can occur when grafting the top of a mitten. I
liked the idea of turning those ‘ears’ to advantage.

Some time the following day I remembered this thought and doodled on a little scrap of
paper to stick in my back pocket. The ear tufts were too big, but the sketch served to pin
down the idea so it wouldn’t float away and be forgotten.


The next morning was a day when I was at home, alone and with no pressing chores or
appointments. I opened up my grid program and started to sketch.

Looking back at my initial tries, I see some clumsy first attempts and a couple that might
have been usable with a little work. But these first owls didn’t look cute enough; the
unibrow look can be slightly intimidating and it’s hard to put a smile on an owl!

Attempted Owls

The turning point was realizing that I could show the whole owl: by adding little wings,
skinny legs and feet, suddenly my owl was a baby with body language. I refined the details,
tweaking and adjusting. The first attempt at feet looked more chicken than owl. The body
and the background had to be broken up with some contrast stitches, and that took some
experimenting. Once the front was solved, the back fell into place. By the end of that day I
was bleary-eyed from the computer screen, but happy with the chart for my little owlet.

Finally, owls

For fun I’ve made a short animation using some of the charts I saved as I went along. It
shows how the mitten front evolved from the first baby owl to the final version.


After all that went into the design of the horned owl, the snowy owl came about as an
afterthought. Knowing that there will always be knitters who prefer to switch the dark and
light colors, I tried recoloring the chart. It almost worked, but I didn’t like the eyes as well
when they became pale circles instead of dark ones. A few tweaks made the pupils dark
again and there was my snowy owlet.

Snowy Owls

In the end the owls had become the focal point and the ears were just a cute little detail—
which is as it should be. Now I’m enjoying seeing Horatio and Oren appear in many lovely
and imaginative color combinations, with or without ears.

Twist Style Friday: Barberry

Every Friday we feature one of the garments from the magazine in a post about styling. We suggest different ways to wear the garment in question using mock-ups from Polyvore. We encourage readers to tell us what they think about these outfits via our Facebook page or Twitter, and if folks want to make their own outfits, please tweet them at us with the hashtag #twiststyle. You can find all of the Style Friday posts here.

Happy Friday everyone! This was a heck of a week for a lot of folks. We hope everyone's safe and sound.Here's an extra cozy sweater to keep you warm when the winds get blowing.


Wearing this is basically like being snuggled all day. At the moment, I can't think of many things better than that. Barberry is a versatile hoodie- easy weekend wear with jeans or leggins and a super soft tee. But, you ask, can I wear it to the office? I think you can. Then again, I think leopard is a neutral, so take my judgement as you will. Or take a look at these outfits, and judge for yourself! The only thing to watch- if you plan to wear it buttoned up-is to wear something with a high enough collar thay you can see it above the neckline, or else you might look like you forgot to put a shirt on (or you deliberately went shirt free- who am I to judge your intentions??). Keeping the palette in one color family, or mixing with neutrals will keep it from looking too junior (if you worry about that sort of thing). I would love to see it in petrol blue, or a deep ochre. Fall is for saturated colors.

Barberry, gussied up

How would you wear Barberry?

ps. Just in case you forgot, here is a reminder that you can also make a Barberry for a more teacup-sized human. Everything is cuter in miniature, right?

Little Barberry

Twist Collector: Jessica

Today's post is brought to you by a lovely Twist reader and prolific knitter! Jessica Ewing is from Pasadena, CA. She is the mother of a little girl and wife of a camera operator. When not working at an Arts School in Downtown Los Angeles, she is knitting, sewing, taking ballet classes, and sampling her husband’s handiwork. She is also a volunteer at a living history museum specializing in late Victorian Los Angeles. You can find her amazing work on Ravelry here. In addition to the projects you'll see below, she's knitted this one and this one, and has *four* Twist WIPs. We love you too, Jessica.

Jessica's Audrey in Unst

My first Twist pattern was the ever popular Audrey in Unst. It introduced me to the creative ways Twist designers adapt classic silhouettes using new (at least to me) techniques. This was the first time I used a short row set in sleeve and it is an amazing technique for adding sleeves without the seams.

Jessica's OscillateOscillate, back view

Probably my favorite pattern to make was Oscillate. I typically avoid patterns with cabling, but it was my all time favorite type of garment to wear and a perfect fit for alpaca yarns, so I threw my fears out and dug into this wonderful pattern. What a wonderful reward it was; so soft and so perfect to wear with a wide range of outfits.

Oscillate has a tiny fan

The most worn Twist pattern in my collection is hands down my Blair. It was the pattern that got me hooked on two addictions. Twist patterns and Madelinetosh yarn. That shawl collar, the rich plum color, it all just mixed together for the perfect combination on a cool evening. It gets worn multiple times a week in the winter and I hope that never changes.

Jessica's Blair

Right now I’m finishing up a Regent and I can hardly wait to snuggle deep into its warmth this winter…should winter ever choose to appear here.

Jessica's Greenaway, plus bonus puppy!

(this one is Greenaway- plus a bonus fuzzface!!)

Quick Dispatch: Carrie takes her first shots

Carrie takes her first shots as the sun rises...


Shooting at dawn



Designer Process: Altocumulus

Angela HahnToday's post comes to you from Angela Hahn, designer of the wonderful Altocumulus. You can also find it here, on her blog. Check out some of her other Twist patterns as well, like Plaited Tam, Laredo, and Primrose Path.

I'm thrilled to have another pattern in Twist Collective! Here are some details about the design process and inspiration for Altocumulus, a lace shawl.


Triangular shawls are almost always shaped by increasing (or decreasing, depending on whether working bottom-up or top-down) along the center of the shawl, resulting in a mitered construction, where the two halves of the shawl stitch pattern angle toward each each other. It's no accident this shaping is popular-- not only is it a logical way to create a triangle, it can yield really gorgeous results. But when I created the design for Altocumulus, I was in the mood to try something different: a triangular shawl worked straight up from the bottom edge, with the triangular shape coming from rapid increases worked into a lace stitch pattern.

Example half-drop chart

I knew I wanted to use a lace pattern based on the "half drop" principle, where pattern repeats are staggered (many leaf- and diamond-motif laces are constructed this way). At left is an example of a simple diamond/leaf stitch pattern (NOT the stitch pattern used in Altocumulus), constructed on the half drop principle: the full repeat is outlined in red, and the staggered half repeats in blue. This staggering often causes a diagonal flow to the lace, which I thought would adapt perfectly to the angled edges of a triangular shawl.

I found a lovely base stitch pattern in the Japanese "Knitting Patterns Book 300," a swirling design that reminded me of flames or peony petals. Each repeat was 20 stitches, and although the total repeat was 24 rows, that 24 rows was really made up of two sections of 12 rows each, with the stitch pattern simply staggered in the second section. So I knew that to create a repeatable increase along the bottom edges of the shawl, I would have to increase a total of 20 stitches every 12 rows: this would result in one repeat added every 12 rows, so that the repeats could be stacked on each other like bricks in a wall.

Then it was just a matter of trial and error, attempting to add yarnovers and sprinkle in judicious decreases so that I could get enough stitches increased while still maintaining as much of the movement of the original lace pattern as possible. 20 stitches every 12 rows is a rapid rate of increase, so while I had plenty of yarnovers to work with, I had to be choosy about where I placed my decreases. Once I had an edge increase repeat that I liked, I submitted the idea to Twist, and was delighted when they accepted it.

Altocumulus Blocking

One major issue presented itself once I began working on the pattern sample: I realized that even with the rapid rate of increases along the edges, the edge stitches would have to be stretched to their limit while blocking, while the center of the shawl would be stretchier than the edges, tending to form a convex curve along the top edge of the shawl-- not the most shoulder-friendly shape for the wearer. To counter this tendency, I added decreases and a narrow ribbing along the top edge.

Backlit Shawl

I pinned out the yarnovers along the edge while blocking (see above), but once unpinned, the edge did contract a bit, so I ended up with more of a swirled, textured edging than an open one (see below). I actually like it this way, and I also like the fact that the lace stitches on every row pull strongly on the fabric, giving it a slightly three-dimensional quality.

Altocumulus Detail

And the name? Altocumulus clouds are the type of clouds in a mackerel sky, and once I saw the shawl knitted up in the gorgeous gray-blue Acadia yarn (from the Fibre Company), that is what the fabric reminded me of. (It also reminded me of William Morris wallpaper, but I don't like the name William Morris so much....)

Mackerel Sky