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Twist Collective Blog

Knitting Jazz

Julia here.

One of my favorite things about the internet is how it spreads the inspiration around, be it a spark of an idea for an entirely new design, or a full blown finished object from another knitter to admire, and heck, copy stitch for stitch.  In this post, I thought I'd share with you some of  the "jazz riffs" on Twist projects I've come across in the last few weeks  (including an FO of my own, if you'll indulge me a bit), and a few ideas I have for projects to come (again, with the indulgence).

I always enjoy it when a knitter transposes a chart or a cable pattern from one pattern into another silhouette or socks or mitts.  The Sleepy Monkey Blanket, Little Birds, Harika, and Sylvi have all enjoyed alternative incarnations since they were released to the creativity of knitters.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that someone will similarly take Robin Melanson's Frost Tapestry to a new level, perhaps as a black and white sweater with that chart emblazoned across the chest.


Sometimes it's proportion that transforms a pattern from a "nice enough" to a "must knit", like the Karazuri Bag from Leila Wice.  Here it is in the original size, and also a shorter version which I think is delectable.


The potential of any pattern for personal translation is terrific, but Twist knitters seem to be particularly attuned to how to make our patterns work for them. No one has put sleeves on Uhura yet, but I have seen a sleeveless Pas de Valse, and a Kelmscott in process that convinced me it would also make a great vest. These are tweaks of detail that make a finished project special.

Martha's version (ravelry link) of Mari Muinonen's Luminen really grabs me.  Martha omitted the snowflakes of the original design, and continued the cable that borders the front edge and pockets so that it became a low slung belt around the back.



Suddenly this design has traded a bit of the wholesale whimsy of the original for some sophistication.  And if you ask me, that gorgeous shade of Cascade 220 Heathers doesn't hurt a bit.

It's wonderful how colour can change the perception of a pattern.  Often we photograph a sweater in cream or light colours so that all the little details won't be missed on the webpage.  Fiona Ellis's Paula is a good example of such a sweater whose wonderful cables and traveling stitches could have been lost if we chose a dark yarn.  I couldn't wait to make my own version in a bright happy green, a perfect antidote for the gloom of winter in New England.


Another sweater I think can be jazzed with as far as color goes is Kate Gilbert's Kirigami.  It's a sweater of unique construction techniques, and the two knitters I have heard from so far who have made it say it was the most fun sweater they ever made.  I can't wait. This image of a striped iceberg (via WebEcoist)


has planted an idea in my head to knit Kate's sweater out of Kureyon or Silk Garden, with a complimentary plain yarn, but probably not snow white.  Can't you just picture it?


Like I said, you never know where you're going to find ideas out here.

Polar Chullo Color Variations


by Mary Ann Stephens, orginally published on her blog Two Strands.


That’s my Polar Chullo. The yarn pack featuring Jamieson's Shetland Spindrift is available here.

A lot of thoughts about movement went into this:  The natural colorway moves back in time with a retro feel.  The bears move their legs from one motif to another as they amble around.  Some of the bears get just a bit leaner as they wander around toward the top.  They’re “stranded” – they can’t help it!  But it’s just by a stitch – can you find it?


If you’re moved to knit the design but want different colors, I’m busy putting a few alternate colorways together.  At 9 sts/inch, I’d recommend either the Spindrift or Dale Baby Ull (which I used for my Postwar Mittens, which were knit at exactly the same gauge.)  Here are some colorways to consider and I’ll add more as they become available:

Some traditionally-inspired Spindrift possibilities:


My delight with Spindrift at 9sts/inch has prompted me to start carrying it at Kidsknits.  Both of these colorways are available and I’ll post more as my Spindrift stock expands.

Some Baby Ull options:


Just the tip of the iceberg, my darlings!

Style Notebook, featuring Bijou

Funny thing about writing a blog is how often you run into people who never actually read the words, but instead just look at the pictures. So for the benefit of those who glaze over after a few dozen of the things, here in living color is what I meant when I said a few posts ago about how dressy accessories can transform a sweater into a party sweater, using Marnie MacLean's Bijou as an example:

Bijou by Marnie MacLean
Bijou by Marnie MacLean

Design Process: Sarabande


by Kristen TenDyke, orginally posted to her blog






When Sarabande was first born, I had many different visions for how it might look. I knew there would be stockinette stitch for the majority of the body and sleeves, and I wanted a fair isle band around the lower part of the yoke, but I was indecisive about using bobbles or eyelets, garter or seed stitch.


The first swatch I had made was in a skin-tone color and had bobbles. After discussing with my friends what the skin-tone bobbles looked like, I promptly frogged that swatch, and reknit it to show eyelets.




I liked it better than its "indecent" sibling, but the fair isle strands are visible through the eyelet holes which I wasn't entirely fond of. I tried seed stitch to create a subtle band below the fair isle band. I liked how soft and discrete the seed stitch made this band appear, but I was unsure how it would look for the entire yoke.




I swatched the bobbles again — this time in a different color, and I tried a garter stitch band, for a more bold statement. I liked both the garter stitch and the seed stitch, each for their own reasons.

I decided to submit both versions to Twist Collective, and let them decide. Kate Gilbert choose to go bold, with the garter stitch and contrasting blue and green colors. I'm really happy with the way the finished sweater came out.

You can't see them in many of the photos, but there are lovely darts gracing both the front and back of the sweater — used to shape the waist and create subtle, elegant vertical lines. That's one of my favorite features.

Behind the Scenes: Faneuil Hall Shoot

Julia here.

When we photographed our first issue two spring times ago, Kate and talented photographer Caroline Bergeron combed the financial district in Montreal early in the morning to take advantage of the clean and modern lines of the street scape there.  Kate and I often talk about the other beautiful places in Montreal worth shooting, but too many of them require a lot of money for location fees, elaborate permit processes, liability insurance, and other charges for which we just don't have money.

When Kate and I were brainstorming about how to get a slightly retro-slash-urban vibe for our "city" shoot for winter, I told her that Faneuil Hall here in Boston has some wonderful street lights that have a great Mary Tyler Moore vibe. She immediately agreed, and handed me that one to organize.


Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market is such a dynamic and busy place, I just knew there would be people I would have to ask, but finding Rebecca was a simple thing thanks to her organized management office, and once she understood what we wanted to do she was all too pleased to say yes.

Photographer Caro Benna Sheridan and I had a few email and phone discussions about the logistics: the crazy weather (we scheduled for three different days that turbulent week), and how we thought the shoot would play out. She soon after made a scouting trip first thing in the morning, and sent me this shot of the crowd at about 9:30 a.m. See those MTM streetlights? Hold your thumb over the cell phone antenna to see what I mean. And then look at the crowd.  Several tour buses has just disgorged.  At 9:30 a.m. Who for the love of Pete goes on vacation to be breakfasted and on the ground by 9:30 a.m.?  Nevermind.  It's shopping.  I see the point.


We would have to get there at first light to be able to use the place, and so we did. Five of us (photographer, assistant Stitchy, models Jill and Anna Stover, and yours truly) convened on the steps of Quincy Market, grabbed Starbucks, and dressed Anna in her first outfit right there in front of the pastry case. We shot Cecily Glowik MacDonald's Mystère on the steps while we sipped our lattes and made jokes.  I regretted that I hadn't shortened the skirt about three more inches, but I so love the red patent leather boots that Jill brought along, I forgave myself, and vowed to fit such things ahead of time on the future.


And there are those great lights, exactly as I imagined we'd see them. The image is clear and free of people clutter, but imagine that same angle with guys in flapping mackintosh raincoats talking on their cells going back and forth every 30 seconds or so. It was early enough that the sun hadn't peeked over the buildings yet, but not so early that there wasn't foot traffic to watch out for. Plus, we were trying to behave ourselves and not block doorways or get in anyone's way as part of the general politesse we worked on all morning in our gratitude to be allowed to shoot in such a great location. We didn't attract much attention, although while Anna dangled from a lamp post in her party dress for Cathy Caron's Bright Star, there was a guy just out of frame to the right enjoying his entire cigarette to the morning's entertainment.


After an hour and several outfits later, Anna had to find a restroom to change as the number of people passing through the place increased.  We shot Anna in Kate Gilbert's Kirigami on the side of the market down the long view while we still had a chance for an uncluttered background. We teased Anna about who she was calling. I think that may be Caro's cell phone. I doubt you can actually make this out, but she's wearing a terrific pair of vintage sailor's trousers, the kind with the button panel on the front. They didn't make crop, but they have a not-too-wide leg that was perfect with the sweater's proportions.


As the morning went on, we picked up the pace, sending Anna racing off over the cobblestones in borrowed shoes with the next pile of clothes to change into (Caro snapped a candid of our reflection while we waited for Anna to come back in jeans).


Delivery trucks blocked good vistas, people came in waves, but still the tour buses hadn't arrived. We checked our watches. We had maybe 15 minutes of freedom left.

Caro was in the middle of shooting Mari Muinonen's Orvokki from a stair landing, when suddenly the food service truck pulled away from the eastern facade of Quincy Market.  Opportunity!  I stopped the shot, hauled everyone over to the corner, threw the coat and the gloves on Jill, handed her Leila Wice's Karazuri Bag and said "Smile, before another truck comes."  Want to know what pressure looks like?


Jill's a master at this. And so is Caro, because she took great pictures before a big white van with red Chinese characters pulled up right behind her; we were done whether we like it or not (the van did give me an idea of shooting in Chinatown in the future), so we went back to finish Orovokki. By this time, at least one bus had arrived, as was evident from the groups of people in running shoes who did double takes when they saw us.  Small groups stopped to watch and point. If only they knew it was about knitting. ::snicker:: We had four things left to photograph, but we had planned ahead. We used the famous statue of Red Auerbach for two designs, Jennie Eveleigh Lamond's Rover and Mary Ann Stephen's Polar Chullo,



but you can't really tell after the magazine layout focused in on the actual thing we were shooting.  At the end of the day, ambience is really only a certain kind of useful.

Two to go. Caro liked the grey door at the front of Faneuil Hall, so we shot Angela Hahn's Plaited Tam and Kristi Schueler's Moxie hat and mitten set on Anna and Jill while they stood on the stairs, strategically blocking gum and bird marks with their heads, hoping Photoshop would do the rest. 


Note the suitcase on the cafe table in the foreground: the sum total of all the clothes, shoes, and extras in one American Tourister with dysfunctional wheels (it may be time for an upgrade). Meanwhile, people were gawking all the way across the street, but by now, we had nerves of steel.


Don't you just love Jill's boots? After that, it was a wrap (as they say), so we had brunch together in the rotunda (there's that fabled food court with fresh fruit cups and killer muffins, among other things), and went off in our separate directions. It had already been a long day, and it was only 10 o'clock.

So there you go, pretty much how we do it around here.  No magic tricks, just nerves and borrowed clothes.  So while I'm on the subject . . . anyone got some sparkly gold shoes I can use for spring?