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Twist Collective Blog


Ann-Marie JacksonToday's entry is brought to you by Ann-Marie Jackson, the designer of the delicately detailed Eira pullover. She shares her inspiration and design process that brought about this lovely garment. You can find this post (and more!) on Ann-Marie's website. This is also one of the garments that a certain fashion-obsessed bloglady has been playing with over on our Polyvore page.

Eira full view

It took a few months to get over the wonderful shock of having my first design for Twist Collective published. At Twist's invitation, I've put together a bit of information on Eira's design inspiration and features.

I woke up one morning, a week before the Twist Winter 2011 submission deadline, thinking I had to just try, even though it felt awfully ambitious. My thoughts kept returning to a sweater I'd had years ago, purchased in a second-hand clothing store in Vancouver. It was a plain knitted pullover with slightly puffed sleeves that I wore to tatters because it was so simple and comfortable and flattering.


So as I set out to design something similar, I worried that it might be a bit too boring, visually and technically. I thought about how to give the sweater some figurative festive sparkle by considering what makes winter so magical to me: the patterns of light and water - sparkly bits of ice and rain, the polka-dots of falling snow, and blurred twinkling lights. This is how the eyelet details at the neckline and cuffs came about, as well as the little glass buttons on the left shoulder.

I confess that Eira was designed for my body shape;  I used slight puffed sleeve to exaggerate my small shoulders, and a longer length to skim over my wide hips. The final design however, looks beautiful on all sorts of body types.  The body and sleeves are knit in the round because I feel seams are unnecessary for such a light and smooth garment, but the sleeves do have to be set in because of their gathered tops. The whole thing reaches towards a style that I've always liked, a slightly vintage and feminine look that isn't too fussy.

Back view

I imagine Eira knit in a soft and somewhat luxurious yarn, perhaps merino wool with a bit of cashmere or silk. I love the Elann Peruvian Baby Cashmere I used for the sample shown here. When I knit a second Eira, I'll be tempted to try Classic Elite Vail, one of Handmaiden's amazing fingering-weight yarns, or maybe the new Knit Picks Capretta.

Neckline detail

The pattern itself is very straightforward, with the exception of the acrobatic neckline details. To create the starburst arrangement for this detail requires simultaneously creating pleats, making eyelets, and doing short row shaping along the neckline. Definitely best done in one sitting, if possible, but great fun for those who like their knitting to come together in one big final flourish. And, I'll be the first to admit, knitting an adult-size sweater in fingering weight yarn isn't for the faint of heart - it's a lot of knitting! But for all your hard work, if you choose to make Eira, you'll get a pretty sweater that looks great when worn unlayered, with just a skirt or some dressy pants. I hope you like it!


Corrina FergusonCorrina Ferguson is the designer behind Winter's Cithara, a gorgeous hooded cardigan with lovely cable details. This is Corrina's first contribution to Twist! You can also find this post on her blog, and you can keep up with her on Twitter.

All I can think about lately are sweaters. Probably because my fingers are slightly blue – it’s actually been cold here in Florida lately – and I refuse to turn the heat up on principle. Last night I was sketching up and submitting sweaters, and I am quite seriously considering hitting the yarn store today to get yarn for a sweater for myself. I’d also like to make myself one of these:

Cithara with pony

When I designed this sweater, I had the perfect sweater in mind. I thought about features on other garments I had knit – what I liked, what I didn’t like. I knew I wanted a zipper, and I’m a sucker for turned hems and i-cord edgings. So I starting thinking and I started sketching.


I played around a lot with where the cable motifs would go; how they would integrate into the sweater and what seemed most organic. I swatched the cable motifs in Malabrigo worsted – because it’s always good to have some of that on hand for swatching. The motif I had chosen lent it self well to sleeve insets and panels up the front of the sweater and around the hood. The motif itself reminded me of a harp, so after a smidge of research (wikipedia to the rescue!) I found that a cithara was a kind of ancient Greek harp or lyre. Hence the name. Naming things is sometimes the hardest part!


When I received the Mountain Mohair from Green Mountain Spinnery I was pleased to find out how well it cabled. And the little tweedy bits were perfect for the large areas of stockinette in this sweater. Something with a bit of interest is best – either texturally or color-wise. That way the stockinette areas don’t look flat.

Hood view

And when push came to shove I ended up with a sweater that was actually better than I envisioned. Which is really all a designer can hope for.

Sleeve detail

Behind the Scenes - At This Moment Shoot

Jane Heller is one of the photographers who routinely works with Twist Collective. You can see her lovely work in the magazine in Fall's ma belle guitare, and Spring's Better than Basic, just to name a few. You can find much, much more of her work on her website, or even get some for yourself from her etsy shop.

Hello everyone! Kate and I thought it would be fun to do a regular post of the "behind the scenes" of each photo shoot. The winter issue is out already but I always find it interesting to see how things are done. This series was shot at a lovely beach that is usually deserted in the month of September but to our surprise there was a bus load of kids swimming in the frigid water! Thankfully the beach was big enough for all of us.

At This Moment collage

Our wonderful model Caro was a real trooper as the cool winds blew in off the water. You might not know, but we never use professional models for the shoots. At times it can be really challenging to get the right pose or expression, but all in all we have been very lucky with the girls we find. Kate is the one who usually finds our models, either in a café, on the street or working in a pharmacy - she has no qualms about approaching people to see if they would like to model. Caro works at a local café where both Kate and I spend a lot of time with our laptops. This shoot went smoothly so I have no horror stories to tell. Stay tuned for more behind the scenes photos!


Robin Melanson

Robin Melanson is a prolific designer. In the past, she has brought us dreamy cabled cardigans, gorgeous jackets, and beautiful accessories; and these are just her contributions to Twist Collective. She shares a slice of life for a busy designer in this post about Bellevue, which can also be found on her blog.

My Bellevue sweater pattern is published in Twist Collective Winter 2011 edition*. It’s a hip-length pullover with a deep v-neck, and it is worked in two coordinating textured stitch patterns. It works up very quickly on 5.5 mm needles in Filatura di Crosa “Charly” 100% wool yarn.

Sweater + Pony

*Pony not included with purchase.

This sweater was made back in July-August, which gives you an idea of the lead time involved in publishing patterns in magazines. So way back in the nice warm Summer, while I was picnicking by the river, I was dreaming of wintry sweaters and snow and ice.

Luckily, it is now winter and I was able to take some winter-inspiration photos over the last few days while out for my usual walks.

Inspiration shots

I don’t take photos of projects in progress with the plan of using them later in a blog post. There are a few reasons for this. Sometimes I am not the one knitting the sweater, or not even anywhere near the person who is knitting it. Another is that I am not a photography wizard – the reference photos that I take for pattern writing aren’t works of art, they are tools. Publishing knitting patterns tends to be seasonal, and the work comes in great big stacks all at once at certain times of the year, not spread out in a comfortable fashion. So, at Busy Time, my workspace (= apartment) is a disaster area and my free time is non-existent. All waking hours are spent trying to meet stacked deadlines. Hence the dearth of in-progress photos! You see one sweater here, but at the time this was made I had about sixteen on my plate in various stages of their creation.

Luckily for you, Twist Collective took lots of photos!

Button Detail

In this one you get a good view of the buttons. I confess I am somewhat of a button hoarder aficionado. These are vintage buttons, from my personal collection. They were just the right colour to go with the yarn, and their shape is so pretty.

Cuff detail

Here is a nice close-up of the cuff. I have to say I cannot wait until I get this one back and can wear it myself. That’s another good thing about Twist Collective – they return the samples to the designer after the trunk shows are over. Given the number of sweaters that I make (in recent years, it’s been about 40 or so per year), I have very little to show for it in my own closet. However, that doesn’t bother me terribly, what I enjoy the most is thinking of new things and creating them (in fact, there is a new thing from me which will appear in the Spring issue of Twist Collective).

Should you knit this sweater, I hope that you will enjoy it as much as I will, and that it will keep you warm on days like this:

Chilly day

Styling your Twist handknits

Hi! Carly here- one of many behind the scenes Twist tinkers. Today I'm geeking out over fashion, and hoping you will too.

Tell me if this story sounds familiar; you see a sweater in a knitting magazine or book and fall madly in love. You find the perfect yarn (maybe even in your stash) and lovingly swatch (or lovingly don't, you rebel). You work on it furiously, falling more and more in love with your amazing creation. When it's finished, you are elated! Then you find that it is actually kind of difficult to work it into your wardrobe. You love this sweater, but even though you have been wearing clothes for your whole entire life, you cannot figure out how to wear it. This is not your fault, and it is certainly not the sweater's fault. The sweater is awesome, and also innocent. Sometimes it is just hard to picture your wonderful sweater in new situations-- like with your other clothes.

In the magazine, we can only really show you one way a garment can be worn, and sometimes fashion shoots are more about fantasy than practicality. Well, the blog is here to help. We don't just want you to make the garments we feature in this magazine. We want you to wear them! Polyvore is a website that allows you to construct outfits from a seemingly endless array of clothing items. It's pretty fun to play with, and also reminds me of Cher's closet from the 90s classic Clueless.  You can use it to imagine a million ways to wear any given item, and you can use items silimar to ones you already own. This isn't the first time we've talked about Polyvore on the Twist blog- Marnie gave us a really helpful primer on how to use it, and Julia shared some reader submissions for Timpani. We'll be adding items from Twist to the site, so you can make your own outfits with them too! Taking out their backgrounds is the only tricky part- if you can do that, you can "clip" any Twist item you like straight from the shop! If you want to, you can tweet your outfits and tag then with the hashtag #twiststyle.

Here are a few to start you off. I started playing with Oscillate, Amy Herzog's ladylike cardigan design.To me, the buttery yellow just cried out to be paired with something rich and bright. Two takes on that are below...

Oscillate with jeans

Oscillate with fancy shoes

How would you wear your Oscillate?