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Twist Collective Blog

Knitting for Parties

Julia here.

Consider for a moment, the notion of the Holiday sweater. Those of us who survived the sartorial dominance of irony and/or cute in the early 80's (sometimes it was difficult to tell the difference) will immediately call to mind red sweaters with Christmas trees, lapel-bracketing leaping deer, or this lovely number courtesy of Mr. Firth in Bridget Jones' Diary:


However, this doesn't have to be the case.  Given the imminent arrival of the holidays, no doubt many of us are beginning to think about how we are going to jazz up the LBD this year (that's fashion blogeeze for little black dress, although in my case, it ain't so little), or get more mileage out of last year's party skirt.  May I suggest that your holiday knitting energies may be best directed at your own wardrobe?  And who do you know to better appreciate the wool? Forget making uncertain gifts for everyone you know: instead, take a look at what you have, think about what can be knit to make it great, select the perfect yarn, and set off!  With diligence, you can have the dress topper of your dreams in a few weeks, and certainly in time for for New Years. Oh golly, I am sounding like some mad knitting version of Martha Stewart, but knitters, I know you have it in you to imagine party togs and make then a reality, especially with Twist here to help.

It doesn't take too much to imagine Carol Sunday's Kelmscott, Barbara Gregory's Ormolu, or any of the "Anastasia" sweaters from the current issue in a party setting.  A shawl like Rosemary Hill's Manderlay, or one with beads like Sivia Harding's Dryad will make even the most basic outfit special.  And Ysolda Teague's Farinelli opera gloves can make you want to find a special dress just to be able to wear them.


But other Twist patterns also occur to me as great projects for personal holiday decoration. Cathy Carron's Bright Star is a quick knit and in almost any yarn would transform a summer dress into the right dress for that upcoming cocktail party. I feel the same way about Connie Chang Chinchio's Peyton from the fall issue.


Imagine this in black, a jewel toned yarn, or one with a little sparkle. How about a white version of Marnie MacLean's Lily from last fall's premier issue over a full-on party skirt and jeweled pumps?  Or her Bijou with great black pants and great jewelry? It's really all about the basics to which you add your own personal touch.

to top
to top by farwellclay featuring GAP

As for me, I'm knitting Marnie's Pas de Valse from the Fall issue in a sparkly sock yarn to throw over my LBD for a party on the 11th of December, and then revisited with a great shawl pin over trousers for our Boxing Day party rounds. I'm three days in and approaching the armseye, so it's right on schedule.

I hope I've inspired you to spoil yourself a little this season.  Now go knit something.

Design Process: Orvokki


by Mari Muinonen, originally posted to her blog, Made By Myself.


The Orvokki set is inspired by Finnish national costumes.  I have wanted to use them somehow in a design for a long time now. Finnish costumes are simple and clear, but still beautiful with great details.




The flower is modified from the old Finnish cross stitch model which I found in a very old embroidery book.



The mittens have buttons on the wrist, and the button hole is worked out of the i-cord edging. I love that little purely decorative, not functional detail. The yarn, Halcyon Victorian 2-Ply was a little rough to work with at first, but softened with washing and use.




The hat was interesting to knit. I worked it again and again until the form of it became clear. I want to shape it using the same idea I used in my version of Tychus.



The buttons are worn in the back of the head, the whole thing knitted one side to the other with the flower band in front.



There was something personal to this project for me, you should know, in honor of my other granny (not Sylvi). "Orvokki" is the Finnish word for violets, and my other granny's second name. Violets also happened to be her favorite flower.


Twist Collector: Stephanie

by Stephanie K.

Hello, my name is Stephanie, I’m an insatiable knitter and I love Twist Collective!  I learned to knit in 2002 with a craft store kit, books, and internet resources.  Handknitting is an extension of my sewn wardrobe, which I began creating in 1994.  I work in a fairly casual environment, higher education, and I wear my knits most days.

Cabling and lacework are a few of my favorite elements.   I was thrilled with the premiere issue of Twist, as I found the design aesthetic fresh and modern.  The level of talent was impressive; several of my favorite designers had published new patterns.  Also, the photography was inspiring and informative, with clear views from different angles.  So far, I have finished seven Twist sweaters, including at least one from each issue, and I have one in progress.  


My Twist Collective projects include (reading left to right, starting at the top row):

●Wisteria by Kate Gilbert is fun to knit, with a clear pattern and good charts.  Making a few size modifications was easy with the excellent schematic.  I find myself reaching for Wisteria frequently on cold winter days as it’s quite cozy with the cables and mock turtle neck. 

●Rebecca by Fiona Ellis has good charts for the body conscious cable pattern, and is a warm yet lightweight in dk yarn. 

●Primrose Path by Angela Hahn is great for spring, with figure flattering ribbing and an asymmetric lace pattern.

●Chartres is another Fiona Ellis design, a gorgeous shell and fast knit, with an entertaining cable/lace motif.

●Broderie by Connie Chang Chinchio is a cardigan perfect for summer in the Mid-Atlantic, knit with a cotton blend and shortened sleeves.  With intricate lace, an allover stitch pattern, and sport weight gauge, this project isn’t necessarily the easiest to execute, but it is interesting and engaging.

●Uhura by Connie is a pretty tank top with a few unexpected details, like its racer back. 

●Vine Yoke by Ysolda Teague is fun, knitting up quickly with an unusual sideways construction method, and offers many sizes in a comprehensible layout.  Vine Yoke has become my go-to fall sweater, with its unique style and warmth perfect for the transitional season. 

●Vivian by Ysolda (in progress) is a cabled hoodie with a seed stitch background.  The cabling looks elaborate, but it’s intuitive since most of the crossings occur on the same rows. 

One central theme emerged while working on these projects: all the patterns were extremely well written.  As a prolific sweater knitter, I appreciate a pattern that is easy to understand and does not require significant rewriting to correct errors or to obtain a garment like the one in pattern photos.  I keep returning to Twist Collective patterns because I know that they will have clear text, good schematics and charts, and they will provide me with a smooth knitting experience, free of errata.  Also, I am always pleased with the stellar design talent in each new issue.  I love and appreciate the concept of fair compensation for designers.  Another great aspect is Twist’s commitment to customer service.  The few times I needed assistance with download links, Twist customer service helped quickly and efficiently.
My primary priority in choosing my projects is to find sweaters that are interesting to create, stylish and unique, and also are highly suitable for my wardrobe. For longevity over several seasons, I aim to create garments that are modern while not tied to any transient fads. Thankfully, Twist Collective publishes many designs that fit my needs!  

You can find me on Ravelry as “Ohsewcrafty”, or check on my knitting progress via my 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.