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Twist Collective Blog

Trefoil: A hat, some mittens, and a trip down memory lane

becky herrickBecky Herrick's first design for Twist was Cambridge Cables, featured in last year's winter edition. She's back with another cold weather knit, with her hat and mitten combo, Trefoil. Becky talks a bit about her design process in this cross post from her own blog.

The winter issue of Twist Collective went live this morning! And while there are many lovely patterns in it, I’d like to take a moment to draw your attention to mine:

trefoil at door
photography by Jane Heller, pattern Trefoil by me!

Trefoil is a cabled winter hat and mitten set with an elegant three pointed celtic knot on the crown and a single leaf of the knot mirrored on each mitten. The knot is framed by arching stockinette and trimmed with stretchy i-cord edging.

The idea for Trefoil started a loooong time ago. The idea seemed so simple, a celtic knot on the top of a hat. The decreases for the crown could be worked right into the cable and the cable would repeat three times around the crown, with the crossovers interlocking from each repeat into the knot. If you were reading my blog back then, you might remember the discussion of the hat I was designing. The one with the cable I couldn’t get quite right. The one I knit no less then 15 times! After the first few tries I’d broken down to just knitting the crown over and over and over… I couldn’t get the crossovers to work right. My best try looked like this:

prototype knot

Let’s not even cover how busy the hat looks with the textured background! Eventually I gave up and stuffed the swatch into the back of my closet (in fact, I still have that purple prototype, as well as the knot swatch, hiding there now)

This story becomes a lesson in “why knitting other people’s designs is a good thing” for me. It never occurred to me to try a top-down hat until I was knitting one by another designer. I realized that this approach would allow the crossovers to flow much more smoothly, but I worried that the first cables would bow out, downward, instead of directly across. I thought that cabling every row might give the horizontal cable look I needed.


After knitting this one little swatch in DK weight yarn I knew I had solved my problem! But the knot was very small, and would barely cover the crown. So before putting together my submission I knit a second hat in bulky yarn, so I could show the knot in two very different sizes.


I had considered adding mittens to my submission, but didn’t because the hat was my first and main goal for this design. However I wasn’t at all surprised when Kate Gilbert asked if I could add mittens to the pattern to create a set. Of course this provided it’s own challenge. Did I need yet another mitten take on the 3 cornered knot? I decided the mittens should reflect the motif, without mirroring it exactly, in part because I didn’t want to do a third take on that look. But mostly because the aran weight yarn was too heavy to fit a whole knot on a single mitten!

blocking trefoil

Once I’d finished with knitting the pattern write up provided a whole new challenge. Like many cable designers I work from primarily from charts, and if I include row-by-row directions in a pattern they’re reverse engineered from those charts. But this hat was different, I worked the knot purely from the image in my mind, and noted my stitches as I went. This means I had the row-by-row directions first! Because of the way the stitches shift from one repeat into another this worked especially well in this instance. However I knew, for many cable knitters, I would need charts in the pattern. As a knitter myself I’ll pass right over a cable project if it doesn’t include charts. But I didn’t want to chart the whole repeat, just the first repeat, so when you’re knitting from the charts pay special attention to the rounds that begin and/or end with those vertical colored lines!

trefoil icord

I absolutely loved working with Osprey from Quince & Co. It’s very soft without losing the stretchy bounciness that I love about 100% wool yarns. The plied texture shows off stitches and cabling very well. That being said, blocking is completely necessary to make the stitches as even as possible. On that note if you’re having trouble getting gauge on this pattern – Block It. Due to the increases in the cables of the crown of the hat the whole thing will need to be stretched horizontally just a touch during blocking for the fabric to lay flat.

And finally, as if that weren’t saga enough, the original name of this pattern was Highland.  As in, the scottish highlands, highland cattle, windy highland moors, and celtic knots.  But if you search “highland” in patterns on ravelry you’ll get more then EIGHTY results.  So I spent some time looking for something properly scottish as a replacement, but in the end it was Kate Gilbert who suggested Trefoil.*

*the girl scout cookies didn’t even occur to me, until someone else mentioned it earlier today!  Mmmm, cookies…


ann kingstone

Ann Kingstone's first design for Twist Collective, is a Sylvana, a beautiful lace beret with a warm inner layer. She talks about her inspiration and design process in this cross post from her own blog

Yesterday my hat design, Sylvana, was published in the Twist Collective winter edition. As the hat is based on a rather unique concept I thought you might like to read about how I created this innovative design.

In my experience fine lace knitting is generally the preserve of summer garments and evening wear, whereas for the winter edition of Twist I wanted to create an everyday application for fine lace knitting suitable for wearing in winter. These considerations led to the Big Idea – layers!


Any of you with experience of designing for magazines will know that they send out 'mood boards' to designers to help inspire us and in order to help create a thematic feel for the magazine. So it is with Twist, and in early summer I received the mood boards for the current edition. Lots of hats, snowy forests, and sparkly ice-skating scenes. I particularly liked a very Victorian ice-skating scene featuring a lady in a full-length grey coat with a very soft and fluffy plum-coloured stole. It was a desire to re-create the colour balance of this scene that inspired the idea of lace overlaying a contrasting underlayer. The mauve version of the hat pictured in the magazine most closely does this.


A lot of design work is a problem-solving exercise, marrying an aesthetic ideal to a practical application. Alas, a hat only provides a very small area for a lace pattern, so I needed a relatively small lace motif. I also knew I wanted it to be a leafy motif to be evocative of festive evergreens. Hunting through my library I decided the motif from the Myrtle Leaf Stole was most suitable. However, it needed adapting to a decreasing circular pattern, and I needed a solution for the centre of the crown where the stitch count could no longer support the full number of leaves that appear in the earlier portions of the hat. Lots of pen and paper play, and swatching ensued.


The last problem to be resolved was the hat band. Initially this was going to be a lace edging in the DK yarn used for the underhat, but I didn't like the look of my first prototype with this type of band. Eventually I realised the lace pattern was visually fighting with the lace in the main body and that the band would be less aesthetically intrusive if knitted in the same colour as the overlace. But laceweight yarn is too fine to create a snugly fitting traditional ribbed band unless it is formed of hundreds of stitches on tiny, tiny needles! Solution; double the laceweight!

Thus Sylvana was born. It is my proudest achievement yet as a designer, and I am very happy to at last (the wait has been excrutiating!) present it to you. :0)


Gudrun JohnstonGudrun Johnston, designer of Vaila, Audrey in Unst, and Tanit's Jacket,  tells us a bit about her latest design, Skalva, in today's blog post. This post is also found on Gudrun's own blog

"Skalva"-snow falling in large flakes

We're not quite there yet with the weather (at least not in Masachusetts) but Twist's Winter 2010 issue is now live, packed with wonderful knitwear patterns to keep you warm as the temps drop ( and yes, I have a new pattern in it)! Kate asked a few designers to come up with a garment that reflected something they enjoy to wear during this season. So while anticipating those flakes of snow I decided on a long sweater/tunic, something to be worn over jeans or leggings, a simple piece with shaping and a few girly touches. Part of the deal was that we would do our own modeling in the backdrop of our work spaces. Having been behind the camera a lot more this past year I've become reluctant to have photos taken of me but David did a good job. Unfortunately my corner of the living room is pretty dark so we ended up needing to shoot mostly outdoors.

skalvaHere you see me with some of my inspiration, the original Shetland Trader poster (from the days in which my mum ran her business), her original swatches and also the sketches that my grandmother did of the designs.

skalvaSome of the little details: Slightly bouffant sleeves with pleats and an I cord bind off, little inset pockets, folded hem…………..

skalvaSeamless set in short row sleeves (still pretty addicted to that one)…….

skalvaFolded neckline and more pleats.

skalvaHere's my original sketch. I had planned on pleats at the shoulders but wasn't comfortable with how that looked on me so I scrapped that part. The neck area changed a little too and I went with a neater neck/collar as opposed to the cowl like look in the sketch.

The yarn is Woobu from Blue Moon Fiber Arts and it was such a delight to knit with. As you can see the stitches are well defined with a lovely even look to them and the bamboo adds the perfect amount of drape. I highly recommend it!

Once again it is such a pleasure to be part of this publication and in such good company!


Mari Muinonen

Mari Muinonen's previous Twist pieces; Sylvi, Pyorre, Pisara, Luminen, and Orvokki, show off Mari's love for texture, shape and lively motifs and her newest design, Freija, is no exception. Her blog post today discusses her design process for her winter piece and is cross posted from her own blog


Freija Submission

The story of Freija began last winter, but there were problems with emails etc, so my submission never went to the Twist. But I didn't despond, I really love that kind of cables and the bobbles, so I re-sent the submission.

I have used these cables before in Yellow harvest -mittens and Side Cable Hat. I had a vision how to use it at a larger scale and almost follow the sketch. There was almost the nightmare of the sizing, but luckily I got pieces together and Freija has 10 sizes available. I think the asymmetrical fronts looks even better in large sizes than the sample version which is size 33"/84 cm. So I'm waiting to see more projects and sizes in Ravelry.

Sleeve detail

The buttons were nearly a problem, I didn't find any suitable set of 11 in my stash and in this town the button store's storage was smaller than my own. At last I picked over all my metal buttons on the jacket and voila, found 11 buttons, 3 different kind of them and all looks good together. :)


The yarn is Manos del Uruguayn Rittenhouse and needles 4 mm / 6 US. Gauge is 20 sts and 30 rows on 4” / 10 cm Stockinette st-pattern. Sizes are 30 ¾ (33, 35 ½, 37 ¾, 40, 43 ¼, 46 ½, 49 ½, 52 ¾, 56)” / 78 (84, 90, 96, 101.5, 110, 118, 125.5, 134, 142) cm


Sleeves are worked around and body flat, on the armpits all add together and yoke is worked one piece. Only seams are on the armpits. The pattern includes all the cable charts. If the collar doesn't feel good, it is easy to leave out or make lower, also the bobbles are easy to leave out if you don't like them.

Leaving: Twist & Shout

Anne Hanson Anne Hanson, designer of Gnarled Oakwoods, Icicle Dream, Ice Fantasia and Artichaut, is also the designer of the popular Leaving cardigan and pullover design in our Winter 2010 edition. In today's blog post, she discusses her inspiration and shares more of her lovely photos. This entry is cross posted from her own blog.

red and gray

you can imagine how excited i was for today to get here—finally a chance to share the big secret project we worked on all summer for the winter issue of twist collective—the leaving sweater, to knit as a pullover or cardigan.


when i say "we" i mean lots of people—my friend kim, the brilliant dyer, AKA the woolen rabbit, my friend karolyn whose knitting you marvel over here and on ravelry, my husband david, whose photography and filmmaking we enjoy so much, my friend tana, our inveterate tech editor and mistress of sizing, my friends ronni and anne marie who work so hard to dot the Ts and cross the Is (yes, i really did type that, which is why i don't do proofreading . . .), and the editors at twist collective, who have shown great faith in my designs by publishing them frequently.


the story of this sweater goes back a ways (as my stories tend to do . . .), but is typical of my more complex designs. last november after the frost, while walking around my yard, i saw that the leaves of the hostas dying back had formed a really interesting arrangement and had taken on a beautiful coloring. i took a photo.

i loved it so much and wondered if it could become a yarn color (i didn't know what for, just that i liked the color). let's face it, there are very few people you can go to and say, hey can you make yarn that looks like these dead leaves??

fortunately, i do know a couple of dyers who would not think me completely off my gourd to ask, and i know at least one dyer who seems to thrive on just this kind of opportunity.

kim loves to create colors and she's a spectacular collaborator. within a day or two of seeing my photo, she sent an email with a yarn picture. and within a week or so, actual dead hosta leaf yarn arrived at my house.

she dyed up a sock yarn to start, but then we started talking about creating a sweater in her oasis camel/silk blend, new to her shop at the time. i thought that yarn would be awesome in this new colorway, which she named birch beer. before long, a sweater-sized batch was in my hands.

it's such a soft, comfy yarn that my first inclination was to design some sort of sweatshirt with it—casual, but elegant. but i couldn't pull that together somehow. i wanted a big, bold, organic thing to happen with this yarn.

and i really don't remember when it hit me, but i think it may have been the twist collective winter boards that nudged my designer focus into place, with their little pictures of victorian and edwardian skating costumes, stylized with swirls of braid. eureka—this was a way to use a large, voluptuous stitch pattern in a very structured garment shape. i loved the contrast. i started swatching and before i knew it, i had a sweater back, which i photographed for my submission materials.

at this point, i didn't even care if it got into the magazine; i just wanted to make this sweater. i thought you would like it, even if it didn't get in.

so i rallied karolyn and together we worked in secret on the cardigan— we wanted to be ready with a pattern either way. she knit her first one in woolen rabbit opulence, which she had on hand (it worked a treat BTW, in case you prefer a silk/wool blend).

ETA: whoa, kim ran out of oasis yarn yesterday (she says thanks, you guys!), but more supplies are on the way and she can take orders for batches to knit this sweater if you email her with a request. this is a great way to get exactly the color you want in the quantity you need. let her know it's for a sweater and she will make sure the skeins are dyed as closely as possible.

gray front

then twist said they wanted the sweater for the winter issue—AND they wanted it as both a cardigan and a pullover, yippee!

we all got busy once again; kim generously supplied yarn for the pullover in moroccan spice, which karolyn offered to knit


and a batch of chocolate chambord for a second cardigan, one knit exactly to the pattern specs (the birch beer prototype has tiny variations; this is normal when developing a design). this is the copy i kept here at home, to wear to my winter and spring teaching gigs.


for buttons, i wanted something truly special, that looked almost like drops of dew or nectar down the front of the sweater

and my favorite button source, moving mud, more than came through with these incredible round glass buttons, sooo beautiful.

each set is very different but perfect for the sweater. sarina is another artist i am very lucky to know.

things were pulling together nicely and we were doing well on time; knitting this sweater was the most fun and relaxing thing i'd had on the needles in a long time. the only thing that slowed me down was stopping to admire the buttery hand of this lovely yarn. sooo luxurious.


as if all that wasn't enough, kate asked if she could include this sweater in a layout about designers knitting for themselves—one that would require david and i to do the photoshoot here in my studio (which wasn't evendone yet, hee-hee!). well, of course i said yes; we were thrilled to do it.

david busted a move during august to get my study finished and during a very hot week in early september, we took photos. lots and lots of them.


some were obviously posed as usual, but some were relaxed pictures of me performing normal tasks at my desk and in my workrooms


and there was knitting, too


we just played around and got whatever we could that we thought everyone might like.


it was truly stifling, haha; i'm always surprised it doesn't show more


so there you have it—our big secret. to purchase the pattern or see more information about the sweater details, please visit the pattern page in the twist collective shop.

dress form

ok, time for me to go teach a class . .