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Twist Collective Blog


Tanis Gray

The lovely Fairfax is Tanis Gray's first design in Twist Collective. Tanis is a prolific designer, featured in a number of magazines and books. Today she shares with us why this gorgeous spring pullover will always remind her of Santa Claus. You can learn more about Tanis on her website (from which this entry is cross-posted), or follow her on twitter.

I’ve been dying to have a design in Twist Collective since the first issue came out.

I submitted a proposal last year and promptly forgot about it until I got an email letting me know my design had been accepted! Super excited, I waited patiently for yarn to arrive in the mail. Kate chose one of my favorites, Classic Elite Solstice. A top-down raglan (my favorite) with bits of lace running down the 3/4 sleeves, picot hems and a huge, fold-over cowl; Fairfax is a great winter-to-spring pullover. Download the Fairfax pattern here.

Cowl closeup

I design a lot. The funny thing about my designs is I always associate each of them with what was going on while they were coming into existence. Or,  way back in BC (Before Callum, my son) what I was watching on my computer while furiously knitting into the night. The days of late night knitting and TV watching are mostly over, and have been replaced with feedings and diaper changes, but I still have that association.

Side view

The best way to learn a lesson is to make a mistake once and hope to never repeat it again. For example, touching a hot stove, agreeing to babysit sextuplets alone, going against your gut or eating all the cookie dough batter before it makes it into the oven. Or in this particular case, deciding to go see Santa on Christmas Eve. “What the hell were we thinking,” you ask? Excellent question. We dragged our feet on whether or not to take C to see the man in red for weeks. I thought Santa might scare him, or the lines would be insane, or the mall would be too hot, or I’d want to find the stereo piping holiday music on repeat and beat it with a baseball bat a la Office Space. Yet Christmas Eve rolled around and I decided that Callum would only have one first Christmas, so we had better do it.

Back view

We went to the smaller mall and thought we’d be the only idiots who waited until the last-minute. Perhaps you heard the thwak that was my head hitting the wall over and over when we got in line and were told it was a 2.5 hour wait. While C slept peacefully in his stroller most of the time, my husband called his sister and mom to come keep us company and to entertain him. I on the other hand, grabbed my knitting bag and started to work, happy to have long ago mastered the art of knitting while standing, a skill i developed through years of knitting on the NYC subways.

Cowl detail

The Twist Collective deadline was such that my sweater had to be in the mail on December 26th in order to make it to Kate in time to be photgraphed. Two and a half hours of knitting in line later-- I knew I’d be able to finish it, block, and write the pattern by the appointed hour. This sweater will forever be associated with standing in line, waiting for Santa. And yes, I learned my lesson. We’ll be in line next time on the first day he arrives.

As for Callum, he was a champ through and through.

Callum and Santa


Christa GilesChrista Giles designs beautiful stuff. Functional, whimsical, detailed, interesting stuff. You can see a whole bunch of her work in Twist, including Boundless and Lara. Here she shares her inspiration, process and some helpful tips for the gorgeous Candlewick, from our newest issue. Keep up with Christa on her website

Candlewick side

This sketch was first submitted to Twist Collective for Fall 2011 (when they chose Boundless and Asher (!!)), resubmitted for Winter 2011 (when they chose Corinth and Thornia (!!!)), and then held for Spring 2012 (!!!!!) The mood boards prepared by Kate and her team are always so inspiring that my head is overflowing with ideas. Sometimes I send them a ton of swatches and sketches, other times I send photos of fully-made things that fit the theme.


My original design idea came from this question- if a Bond girl wore handknits, what would they look like?  I think I had been watching Casino Royale while working on another project, and this idea began drifting around in my head. It would be black; it would be close fitting; it would have a high collar but a plunging neckline, and it would be sexy. I had also been noticing that the lace patterns that were sticking in my head were those with a fair amount of texture to them, those made by combining decreases, plain stitches, and yarn overs in ways that created changes in fabric depth, not just opacity.

Designer at work

My laptop had been suffering from a cracked case for several months, and just before it was time to start writing up the pattern, the screen decided to die, so my new glam writing space was a table in our living room, with a HUGE old monitor taking up most of the table while I used the laptop’s keyboard to type. The pieces of graph paper you can see here are bits of chart that I printed and cut apart, so I could figure out the spacing for every size that would keep the main Honeybee motif in the right place while removing or filling in extra stitches for larger or smaller bodies. Sandi Rosner and the tech editing team at Twist Collective deserve special credit for this pattern, as it got a major rehashing of the charts that resulted in each size having its own page, instead of the knitter having to do all the cutting and pasting manually!


Candlewick is written to be worked in pieces, from the bottom up, and then the fronts are joined to the back with a saddle extension from the sleeves. Above is what the piece will look like when you get to the blocking stage.

Blocking collar detail

To get the collar to stand up during blocking, I propped it around the lid from a small wicker basket that has been living in my collection of containers for years… see? There’s a reason why I don’t like to get rid of things, they might be useful someday!

Setting in the sleeve

Post-blocking, the sleeves are ready to be set in, then side seams worked from hem to armpit and cuff to armpit-  I recommend these seam-paths so the most visible areas look smooth, and you can leave any fudging for the less-inspected armpit.


I love these buttons. I wanted something with a bit of subtle glam, but knew that cut glass would be too heavy for this airy sweater. These are made from mussel shells, and I found them at the glorious Button Button shop in the Gastown section of Vancouver. The yarn from Elann is wonderful too - I’m making a second version in my size, using the same Peruvian Baby Silk in the same colour.


Final photos here were taken on the shop mannequin at Three Bags Full (thanks Francesca and Zoe! [best bosses ever]) You can see that the stitches are expanded a fair bit, especially on the upper back.. the mannequin is a 36 bust, the sweater is a 34ish, and the model that Twist Collective used for Jane Heller’s photos was probably a 32!


This is the joy of knitting for yourself, getting to choose the size you make based on the amount of ease you want (bloglady's note- for more on ease, see Sandi's article). The size I am making for myself is the 46″, with short rows in the front to give my 38Es a bit more space without adding extra width (I’ve made that mistake too many times before, and have the baggy-busted sweaters to prove it) so it will be fairly close-fitting at my bust, and hang from there. Photos can be found on my Ravelry project page whenever I finish it!

Saddle detail

Are you thinking of making Candlewick? I’d love to see your projects! Please share your photos on Ravelry (I watch for user activity on my patterns pretty regularly so I will spot them when you post) or drop me a note in the comments if you are sharing your photos and project notes elsewhere!


Sandi RosnerSandi Rosner is a familiar face at Twist Collective. Not only does she consistently contribute wonderful designs to our pages, she also does technical editing and amazing articles! You can find more about her, as well as this post, on her blog. This issue, check out her great piece on decreases (the companion to last issue's article on increases). In this post, she shares her experience creating Sanderling, the lacy tunic found in our newest issue. When yarn and pattern really connect- it's love.

Sanderling full

I wanted this sweater to be comfortable and casual with a feminine touch.  I love the look of all-over lace patterns, and this interlocking pendant lace is one of my favorites, but sometimes lace can seem a little much for everyday. How can you relax the mood a bit?

In the case of Sanderling, the answer was the yarn.

I've done quite a few designs with Kollage Yarns Riveting, and it has some special qualities I haven't found anywhere else. Riveting is made from recycled jeans.  Specifically, it is 80% post-consumer recycled denim, with the remaining 20% made from mill scraps.  Spun in Italy, Riveting is not dyed - the yarn gets its color from the source fabric. When working with Riveting, you'll occasionally come across a bit of orange from the stitching, or a fleck of metallic thread from embroidered jeans.  I love these little surprises.

Riveting is soft, like your favorite old jeans.  It has a slightly nubbly texture.

The real magic with Riveting comes when the knitting is done.  Instead of  the careful blocking I'd give a wool sweater, I throw my Riveting pieces in with a load of laundry.  No kidding - it likes to be machine washed and dried. When you pull it out of the drier, it has been transformed. The fabric softens and pulls up, making your slightly stringy looking knitting into a cohesive fabric. It does shrink a bit in length - about 12% - but not in width.  The patterns I've written for Riveting, including Sanderling, account for this anticipated shrinkage.

Sanderling back

In Sanderling, the shrinkage changes up the lace pattern in an interesting way.  The pattern still shows through, but the lace becomes less precious. The sweater is airy, but not transparent. I love it.

For me, this would be a weekend-at-the-cottage sweater (not that I have a cottage, but I do have a rich fantasy life). I imagine it tossed on over shorts or jeans for those times when you want to look sexy but not exposed. The silhouette is loose and simple, with minimal details. The lace forms a slight natural scallop at the hem and cuffs. The split neckline is edged with attached i-cord. I would probably never tie the cords at the neck because I think the look of an untied neckline is inherently alluring. The fabric feels great against the skin, and since it is easy care, you won't mind wearing it to take the dog to the beach or gather wild blackberries with the kids.

Collar detail

Take some time to check out the rest of the Spring issue.  As always, Kate has done a brilliant job putting together a beautiful piece of eye candy. The photography is inspirational, and the collection of projects is among the best. Thanks also to Jane Heller, who took the photos seen here.

I'd be remiss not to mention the articles - I have one about decreases for the technique lovers out there, and Fiona Ellis' article about the ancient pattern we call paisley is a great history lesson. I am so fortunate to be a part of such a great publication.

Spring/Summer 2012 Edition is Live

We've picked a whole bouquet of gorgeous patterns for our Spring/Summer 2012 edition, wrapped them up with a few sprigs of stories, and how-tos and tied it all with a bow.

From shawls, to socks, to garments, we have plenty to pick from. See it all here

Spring Summer 2012 new edition


Megan Goodacre

Megan Goodacre is the designer who brought us Dylan- a classic trench inspired by rock'n'roll. This is her first contribution to Twist, and you can also find this entry on Megan's blog. Today she shares her inspiration and design process, as well as an extra embellishment you can add to your Dylan, if you so desire!


Designing knitting patterns for publication has a strange contradiction; on the one hand, knitting itself is a methodical, labour-intensive, and (if we're lucky) meditative act. Although we might visualize the finished item to keep ourselves motivated, we have to focus on the present in order to avoid mistakes. There's no Undo command in knitting, so we have to Knit in the Moment. On the other hand, knitting design has to follow the calendar of the publishing industry. Designers, advertisers, printers, writers are all thinking in the future tense, often a year in advance.

Which is all good, it keeps things moving, and really forces you to finish ideas, projects. But I find that I don't often have time to reflect on the process. I was flipping through a magazine just now, and didn't recognize one of my own designs for a second, because I've already moved on in my mind to new design ideas.

So I thought this might be a good excuse to reflect and share a little of my creative process for Dylan, which was in Twist Collective Fall 2011.

Dylan full view

The Twist moodboard included a music concert theme, and my mind went to old black and white photos of music pioneers like Chrissie Hynde, Lou Reed, Patti Smith, Laurie Anderson, Bob Dylan. They know how to rock the most modest of clothes: scarves, trench coats, t-shirts, jeans, white shirts. And they know how to layer. I had a few sketches of jackets already, and being an 80s girl, I have a weakness for trenchcoats. So my own moodboard (you can see part of it, above) was made up of iconic photos of these artists. The top left (Bob Dylan of course, and that must be a Richard Avedon photo) and bottom right (an unusually colourful photo of Patti Smith) ended up driving the mood of the project.

I wanted a classic trench shape, with deep pockets, a double-breasted front, and wide cuffs. Here's the submitted sketch, on the left. Originally, I visualized a running stitch embellishment to simulate top-stitching. But although it was easy to work the stitching, it seemed unnecessary for the pattern, so I took it out. Here's what the jacket looked like with the stitching, on the right. It was very quick to do: just thread a contrast yarn on a tapestry needle, and run it in and out between two columns of stitches.

SketchStitching detail