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Twist Collective Blog


Lee Meredith

Lee Meredith is the innovative (and prolific) designer of the stunning (and all-gender-friendly) hat- Meridian. In the following entry (cross-posted from her blog), she takes us inside the playful process of designing a hat with unusual construction.

So, something very exciting happened a couple weeks ago – the new Twist Collective came out, and I’m in it!!  My design, Meridian:


Here it is being modeled by me, but you can head over to the Twist Collective page to see their shots (or to ravelry).  This was a huge deal for me, as I’d submitted design ideas to them multiple times before this one got picked up – I love Twist Collective so much and am so happy to be a part of this amazing issue!  And, I am super duper happy with how this hat design turned out!


This is pretty different from most of my accessory designs – if you are very familiar with my patterns, you’ll be surprised to hear that this hat has a set gauge (well, three different gauges for three different sizes), no short rows, no variations beyond choosing either a crochet edging or a ribbed front (both of which will take care of the hat front’s urge to curl up).  It’s a straightforward seamless construction – start flat, increase out a bunch, then join around and decrease in a bunch.


And let me tell you, it’s a fun knit!  It works up fairly quickly, considering that slip stitch designs always take longer, and it’s constantly changing row to row, keeping it from ever getting boring, but always easy to follow the intuitive striping pattern.  Just when you start feeling like it’s going slowly, it’s time to join around and then the decreasing begins and it’s almost done!


So hey, want a big glimpse into my design process with this one?  It started out with a sketched out concept of a hat that’s knit starting flat in the back, worked up around the back of the head, then joined in front and decreased in at the top of the head…


That idea turned into this original prototype pictured below, worn as I’d planned it out in my head… Well, damn, I thought, design fail.  This hat looked terrible. 

fail1 fail2

All that work and… wait… let’s play around with it for a minute……what if I put it on backwards?  Hey!  Much better!


And my design prototype was born – very similar to my final design!  Because of the way I had thought about the shape as I made it sort of backwards the first time, and just because it was my first try, this one had some major size/shape issues.  Mainly, the height was just about right, but the width was way too large.  Also, that front curling up issue was something I’d have to deal with. But, there it was, a pretty cool design, I thought.  And so it was submitted, got accepted (woooo!) and I went on to solve the problems…I started out with some spare yarn in approximately the same weight, just as another prototype attempt.  As you can see, I changed it quite a bit, and it ended up looking much worse than the original…


But, as these things do, creating this super failed hat version taught me what needed to be done to make the design work.  It was too short, lumpy, and came together all wrong in the back, but I used it has a learning tool and moved on to my next try, using my official yarn (Sunflower Yarns Windham, which was great!), this is how that next attempt turned out:


Wow, right?!  It doesn’t even look like a hat!  Because of the weird construction, it was just really tricky to get those increases and decreases to make just the right shape.  Obviously.  So, several partial froggings and reknittings later, and I finally got that shape to curve just right, and Meridian was here!

In case any aspiring designers are interested in this aspect, I’ll tell you, as I did all this knitting, reknitting, frogging, reknitting… I was keeping track of everything in written pattern form, saving copies of old tries as I made changes, in case I needed to go back and reference them later.  Once I had my successful version, I kind of finalized that written pattern, then charted the whole thing.  Then I knit up my second example from the finished pattern, to double check everything.

The pattern pdf includes both the complete written pattern and the entire hat charted, so you can use whichever your brain prefers.


As mentioned, there are 2 ways to prevent the front from curling up – above, you can see the crochet edging option; below, there’s no crochet needed because the first front bit is ribbed, which is hardly noticeable but does the trick.  The other difference between these two is that the top is size small, which just barely fits my head, and the bottom is size large, which fits me loosely and is a good man-size.  You should be able to make a child size by dropping to a finer weight yarn, but I couldn’t tell you the exact gauge you’d need…


And as for yarn variations – I really liked that self-striping combo in my failed attempt, so I frogged that and am making the yarn into a new hat for myself!

You’d think after all that work in creating the design, knitting and reknitting these hats, I’d never want to make another, but now that some time has passed, I’m really looking forward to knitting up a new Meridian!  If anyone wants to join me, perhaps we can put together a casual knit-a-long in the leethal ravelry group!


Amy Herzog

Amy Herzog is the talented designer of this issue's Twinings, and has given us other gorgeous designs including Twinflower and Greenaway. Today's post takes us to the drawing board (and the swatching board), behind the scenes of the design. You can find out more about Amy's work at her website, from which this is cross-posted.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m just so thrilled to be included in this fall’s issue of Twist Collective. My sweater, Twinings, is a pullover with detailing designed to evoke the look of a wrap sweater.

sweater image

You can find all the tech specs either on the Twist Collective page linked above or on the design page here.

Twinings started out with a comment someone made about how wrap sweaters looked so flattering, but tended to feel really bulky over the stomach. My initial ideas involved trying to use a row of snaps to allow for just an inch or two of overlap, but I quickly realized such a sweater would simply be an asymmetrical cardigan. The nice thing about a true wrap sweater vs. a cardigan is that the fabric doesn’t pull open at many tension points down the front of the sweater.

So I started thinking about how I could spread the tension evenly, and sketching, and would up with the idea of a single cable panel traveling across the front of a sweater:


I knew I wouldn’t be able to make the cable panel move quite as severely as the sketch without some serious biasing in the fabric, but I started swatching to play around with the maximum movement rate:


And I was able to move a cable every other RS row without things getting too nasty. So when Kate told me she liked the sweater and wanted to include it the Fall issue, I calculated the different required cable positions at three points of the sweater and worked out the rate of decrease within each section.

I had lots of fun working with the other details of Twinings, too. The hem of the sweater body is trimmed with the same cables present in the panel; the sleeves are deeply cuffed with the same cables.


The back neck gave me a little bit of trouble: I started out wanting a wide, curved cable band on the back. But I quickly realized that working short rows on a back neck cable, combined with the complicated front of the sweater, would intimidate a lot of knitters. So instead, I charted out some attractive diminishing cables from the front neckline, moving into 1×1 rib. These extensions of the front cable panels are then sewn onto the back neckline. I wound up liking the effect far more than my original idea:


The merino-silk blend from Catherine Lowe Yarns was just great. I’d never worked with a yarn like this before (the individual plies are laid out parallel to one another and wound into a cake like that; CL says that they’re sprayed with sizing to keep them together but although they did stay together fine I couldn’t detect any stiffness or anything), and I don’t necessarily understand why it makes such a difference–but it does! The stitch definition is utterly fabulous and I have to say that the yarn produced the single best fabric that has ever come off my needles. It manages both a dense-looking, opaque fabric and an incredible lightness–the sample weighs far less than you’d expect. The silk adds a lovely drape and shine. And the ex-goth in me definitely appreciated the color, which was a lovely dark violet that looked black in some lights, stunning purple in others.

All in all, I’m really pleased with the way the sweater turned out, and hope you are too! If you’d like to knit Twinings, we’re having a knit-a-long for the sweater in my ravelry group and would love to have you join us.

Behind the scenes: Winter is coming

Yes, the Fall edition just went live, but for us, it's the middle of winter with spring on the horizon. 

Our photographers are setting the cool, crisp mood of winter while our models bundle up, all to make next season's knit's look their very best. And of course, our tech editors, layout designers, web developers and everyone else are all doing their part to make the edition great.

Winter 2011 Shoot

While that is happening, we have a stack of amazing submissions to sort through for spring. No rest for the knitted, around here. 

In the mean time, we hope you are enjoying the Fall edition, along with all the projects in our archives


Nancy Whitman

Nancy Whitman's first design for Twist Collective is a stunner of a pair of socks called Shani. It's been popular enough that she's put together a Knit-A-Long [KAL] that starts today. Find out more about the socks and the KAL in today's blog post and find out more about Nancy at her website


Shani is my first published pattern, apart from self-published ones, so I wanted to share the design process with you.  The stitch pattern evolved from one originally found in a stitch dictionary.  This particular pattern caught my eye because of its asymmetrical quality that was achieved by varying the rate, either every row or every other row, of yarn overs and corresponding decreases.  The lines of decreased stitches that are worked on every row form an acute angle that sits closer to the horizontal plane than the lines of decreased stitches on every other row.   To my eye, this made for a stitch pattern with many interesting angles.  Now that I had the pattern it was time to swatch.

Shani Decreases

I quickly learned that this pattern produced a fabric with very little shape retention, something I like to have in socks.  My first thought was to change to a 100% Merino yarn because the original swatch was made with a Merino/cashmere blend, but that did not solve the problem completely.  The solution was to manipulate the stitch pattern to create that body.  Removing a section of lace and replacing it with ribbing added the necessary body to the knit fabric and, as a bonus, added continuity to the design.  Now the k3, p2 cuff ribbing could travel down the leg.

Shani ribbing

At this point, I was pleased with the cuff and leg, but knew there would be some decisions in how to transition to the heel and the toe.

The stitch pattern for Shani is repeated three times around the body of the sock.  This meant the center of the heel flap and the center of the instep would occur at a different point in the pattern repeat.  From a design perspective there would be more details to decide and opportunities to create interesting and varied transitions between different parts of the sock.

Centering a full pattern repeat down the front of the leg created a natural point to continue the ribbing from the leg onto the heel flap.  Like the cuff, the ribbing would have a V-shaped transition, albeit upside down.  To keep the design cohesive, I repeated that V-shaped transition at the toe.  You can see it in the first picture above.


Much of this design was decided on the needle when I knit the prototype pictured here in yellow.  For me, this is the best way to design a sock since you will know right away what works and what does not.  This was fun to design and I hope you enjoy reading about it and making the sock!

There is a KAL for Shani in the Twist Collective Ravelry group.  The official start will be August 24, and all are welcome and encouraged to join then or later.  I will be there to give whatever support and help I can.

For the Love of I-cord

Fiona Ellis

Fiona Ellis is not just a prolific designer, with 13 designs for Twist Collective, alone including such favorites as Harriet, Gwendolyn and Bonnie, she's also innovative to boot. In today's post, she talks about using i-cord in her designs. You can see her most recent application of this technique in Charnwood.


Did you have one of those spool knitting gadgets / toys when you were a kid?

icord icord

Apart from the time when I, aged 5, “helped” my Mum while she was sleeping with a Fair Isle yoke sweater, one of my earliest knitting memories is of making yards and yards of cord using my “French Knitting” doll. Oooh not for me the simple spool with 4 nails hammered into it, I had a long thin wooden toy pained to look like a doll. I’m not sure if my Grandmother saw me having a career in knitting but her encouragement of my love for it was rewarded with not just potholders but many small rugs. I caught the bug very early.

icord icord

Then when I was in university studying fashion knitwear design I discovered that you could make cords by setting the cams on the knitting machines to slip in one direction.  We were obliged to put in a specific number of studio hours each week. So at 4pm in the afternoon when we would rather be somewhere else we would sit and make miles and miles of “Rouleau” cords AND be able to gossip at the same time. Having been brought up to waste nothing this prompted me to come up with creative ideas for using the cord that I had made. And so it continued.

icord icord

Now knitting only by hand again I, like most knitters, always have a carry around project with me at all times. Sometimes if I’m at a point in a project that needs concentration I will throw a pair of dpn’s into my bag and make “I-cord” on the subway. I have come to see this humble piece of knitting as not only a great tool for sparking creative ideas but also as the perfect accent to a cable sweater. This is because they are simply cords that are not yet set into the fabric. I am totally hooked.

icord icord

I have used them as edgings, to gather a hemline, added to cables in many different ways so they appear to be spilling out of the pattern. I now realize that it was only a matter of time before I started not only adding cords to cable projects but also adding 3-D pieces of knitting to those cords. Charnwood is not my first and I know it won’t be my last. I see a new avenue opening up.