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Twist Collective Blog

Don't be Scared: Winter is Here

Julia here. If you don't know it yet, winter is ready and waiting for you. Meanwhile . . .


When Kate said to Toronto's Downtown Knit Collective last month that Twist is for knitters who want to try new techniques, I realized that this is something we do do alot.  So many of our patterns introduce knitters to something they may not have tried before, and do it in a friendly way.  Personally, I never learned a new knitting trick just for its own sake; it was always because that was the thing standing between me and the sweater I wanted, so I learned.  There's a lot of wonderful techniques crammed into just this issue: double knitting, spit splicing, after-thought shoulders, steeked collars, beaded lace, fulling, and slip stitches.  It is our hope that knitters take the plunge and trust us to get them through.  Every pattern has thorough instructions on the thing that might intimidate, and we're here to help if you need more than that.  So don't let that new technique stand in your way: go knit something.

Design Process: Mimico Vest


by Barbara Gregory

It has been almost two years since I started the process of creating this vest.



Looking back to remember the process as it happened, I recalled that in a folder of pictures saved for inspiration was this design from Toronto fashion label Smythe. Notice how what would normally be the neckband has expanded to become a yoke.


I remember making a sketch of the vest I wanted to design — I didn’t have this image in front of me, but there is no doubt that it had lodged in my subconscious mind. I borrowed the neckline construction which gave me a fresh, modern shape to fill with my own patterns.

Having chosen five colors that I wanted to use in this garment, I began experimenting to find a pattern that suited the values and contrasts of my colors. This image shows some of the variations that were tried and rejected before I settled on the final version. The colors shown here were the original colorway. I also knitted the vest in an alternate colorway to give knitters a sense of how they might change the colors, and the second colorway eventually became the featured one.


For the yoke I wanted another pattern to contrast and harmonize with the body pattern. There was a plaid-like edging I had devised and swatched for another design only to find that it didn’t suit that project. When I remembered and fished out that old swatch, my design came together with an almost audible click.

Now, almost two years later, I have a footnote to add to my memories of this design process. A comment that I had left on a knitter’s blog won me a prize, and the prize was an Amazon gift certificate. I remembered a book I had borrowed from the library a couple of years ago, and decided it would be the one I would buy. When Dress In Detail From Around the World arrived the other day it was all very familiar but I hadn’t seen it for a while, so it was with real surprise that I saw and remembered this: a French fisherman’s waistcoat from around 1820.



Ignore the buttons and the pockets. Doesn’t that patterned yoke construction look a little bit familiar? No doubt I had this lodged in my subconscious mind as well. Inspiration, sketching, trial and error, swatching — this is how it all came together.



Click for Twist

Julia here.

One week to go before we release the Winter 09 issue, and I know some of you are checking in to see if maybe there might be a glimpse of what's to come.  Facebook Fans have had a little taste, as have newsletter subscribers (Don't get the newsletter?  Sign up in the box on the left, we promise to never sell or share your information anyone), but of course, nothing is more fun than the full reveal which will be a week from today, November 15.

In the meantime, I have a little request, and to entice you to read through this post, I'm willing to give you more little tastes, like this:

swatch 1

Part of how Twist Collective survives is through advertising, and we are grateful to our supporters who line up every issue to be a part of our site.  Advertising is a gambling business, and advertisers make bets on placing their business, and they bet on us and what we are.  The internet has transformed expectations for some advertisers through the click. Here's what I mean by that: Advertising can be ambient, like a billboard or a television commercial, just sort of there in the background hoping to worm its way into your consciousness. Or it can be direct, like a coupon or a 1-800 number, asking you for an interaction.  Internet advertising is both.  While my own experience in advertising taught me that clicks aren't the only way to gauge a successful ad, some of our advertisers like to have feedback from their placements in our magazine. So here's the favor I would like to ask.

swatch 2

If you enjoy the magazine, please consider picking an advertiser or two out of our pages, and giving them a visit.  Click on their ad, wander around their site and admire the place a little.  If you ever buy something from one of our advertisers, tell them you appreciate their support of Twist.  Or if you're buying yarn for a Twist project from anyone at all, tell the shop what you're buying it for. Use that little comment box that shows up on the payment page.

Thanks for reading. 

swatch 3

Design Process: Cottage Garden



by Cheryl Burke

graciously cross-posted with her blog, Yarnbee

Last fall I moved into a cottage on a historic turkey farm in western Massachusetts. The cottage is a Sears kit house from 1919 that was delivered on the local train. For the gardener in me, it was love at first sight as I saw the rambling flowerbeds and beautiful wisteria vine trailing up the side of the cottage. Other bonuses included a beautiful kitchen garden and the resident pet pig next door named Pinky.



At the same time I was exploring the work of a group of New England artists from the 1950s called the Folly Cove Designers. Led by Virginia Lee Burton (who wrote and illustrated many children’s books including Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel) this group made incredible designs that were hand-block-printed on fabric. Here's the wikipedia entry on their history.

I was drawn to the fact that many of their designs described daily life in New England. It got me thinking about a vintage-inspired colorwork sweater that would speak to my story of falling in love with a little cottage garden. I started sketching a yoke design that was bursting with joyful flowers.


Cottage Garden was originally submitted to the Summer issue and I was thrilled when Kate asked if we could add longer sleeves and move the design to the Fall issue.




I had a lot of fun exploring color options for Cottage Garden but settled on one of my favorite combinations: teal and chartreuse (swatch knit in Reynolds Whiskey)




The best part has been seeing how other knitters have made Cottage Garden their own. Look at these beautiful versions!

Kelly's Cottage Garden:


Momo's Cottage Garden:


Tanya's Cottage Garden:



What stories can your knitting tell?

Many thanks to Kelly, Momo and Tanya for the photos.

Design Process: Audrey in Unst



by Gudrun Johnson


Audrey In Unst had been percolating in my mind for a wee while before I submitted it to Twist. After seeing that one of the themes would be vintage inspired I figured this would be a nice fit. 





I was definitely going for the fitted, slightly cropped look of an Audrey Hepburn era cardigan, hence the naming of the design.

I wanted a very simple bib of lace and swatched with a lace of Shetland origin, from the island of Unst. I didn’t want an ornate looking lace, so I went with this particular one as it is easy to work and has an almost crochet look to it.
(Original swatch done in Classic Elite’s Soft Linen yarn).




The swatch I submitted to Twist only showed one half of the bib and it didn’t quite enter my mind at that point that the other side would need to mirror the same slant that this particular lace pattern creates. Kate checked in to make sure this would be achievable, I swatched some more and made the necessary alterations to the lace pattern, and breathed a sigh of relief when it worked!





I chose to work this seamlessly from the bottom up in order that the lace be viewed from the correct orientation, otherwise it could have been worked top down. I felt that Audrey also needed some deep ribbing at the sleeves and cuffs and decided a twisted rib would give nice stitch definition in an otherwise mostly stockinette background.



This was my first seamless set-in sleeve design, having done raglans and round yokes before. It was very satisfying watching that sleeve cap grow out of the short rows and create its lovely neat turning-points around the armhole. I’m now a huge fan of this method!



As is always the case when a new design comes out, it is witnessing the interpretations of other knitters that is the most rewarding part. There are lots of beautiful finished Audreys out there showing off the cardigan’s wonderful versatility.
Here is a small selection from around the globe……Scotland, France and California!






Maybe I’ll even see a windswept Audrey in Shetland one day! Thanks to Hilary, Mel, Sarah, and Inga for letting me use their photos.