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Twist Collective Blog

Design Process: Laredo

by Angela Hahn


Years ago I knitted my then-boyfriend, now-husband a sweater.  He's not an especially big man, but he's significantly larger than I am, and I remember that it seemed like it took months to finish.  On top of that, I inserted a simple geometric stranded pattern on the lower body, but my floats were too tight, which created an unfortunate gathered effect -- accentuated because my gauge was a little too loose, giving the sweater's fabric too much drape.  All in all, it's probably no surprise that that sweater disappeared a year or two after it was finished, never to be seen again.

So when I decided to design a knit for a man, I wanted to keep two simple things in mind:  knitter-friendly, and wearer-friendly (assuming that in most -- but not all -- cases, knitter and wearer would NOT be the same person).  Here are the details that I considered to be knitter-friendly, wearer-friendly, or both as I incorporated them into my design for Twist Collective's Summer issue, Laredo:

1) Sleeveless! Faster than a long-sleeved sweater to knit, multi-season, versatile, fashionable and fun to wear -- I see a lot of men wearing vests, and love to wear them myself.*





2) Medium gauge (in my original concept, DK to worsted). I don't picture most men wearing something knitted with bulky yarn; on the other hand, although the machine-knit sweaters my husband wears are almost all of a fine gauge, even a sleeveless man's sweater would take a lot of knitting if worked in fingering weight yarn. So this item is somewhat of a compromise.

3) Worked in the round.  I know, this is a matter of preference (for knitters-- I doubt most men would care if their vest had seams or not!), but I find working in the round easier and funner than working flat.

4) Minimal finishing. Once again, not of concern to the wearer, but adding neckbands and armhole bands takes a lot of time, relative to knitting the body, so I decided to use stitch patterns that were self-finishing for the neck and armhole edgings.

5) Enough details to keep it interesting.  Functional details, if possible!  I originally spotted a larger version of the Twisted Diamond stitch pattern in Vogue Knitting's Stitchionary 2, and thought a bold panel like that would be a great accent for a man's sweater or vest.  After I started swatching it, I realized I could split the panel up the middle to form a V-neck, with the twisted stitches just under the point of the "V" handily reinforcing the fabric in that area.  Then I serendipitously discovered that the twisted stitches cause the fabric to lie flat along the edges of the "V"-- even better.


laredo neck

I did notice that the stitch pattern on each side of the "V" would be asymmetrical, because the edges of the "V" go in different directions across the twisted diamond columns-- so I decided to make the two sides of the front neckline symmetrical by reversing one of the three columns, making it a mirror image of the other two.  I prefer the way this looks at the neckline, and don't mind the asymmetry on the lower part of the front (in fact I bet a lot of people won't even notice it).  Anyway, this is why the panels are slightly different for front and back (the three columns within the back panel are all identical).  






For the stitch patterns for the side panels, I started from the top: that is, I knew I wanted a twisted stitch pattern in the center, to reinforce the bottom of the armhole and to coordinate with the front and back panels, and I knew I wanted a self-finished edge at the armholes, which required something that would lie flat, like a rib.  Fiddling with the decreases that shape the bottom armhole edges led me to start off with three twisted stitch columns separated by single ribs, which transitioned nicely into 1X1 ribbing along the armhole edges.





And finally, 6) Fit!!  Incorporating the neckline split into the stitch pattern meant that, unless I wanted to start the stitch pattern at the bottom with a partial rep for some sizes (which I didn't), changing the vest length in small increments would require changing the armhole depth-- which would then affect the depth of the V-neck and the width of the shoulder pieces.  So instead I decided to write the pattern for three different lengths in all sizes-- adding a full pattern repeat is what changes the length, which allowed me to calculate the depth of the V-neck without worrying that the vest would be too long or too short overall.  Eight sizes and three lengths...there should be a Laredo that fits almost anyone!


stitch pattern


*I donned Laredo to shoot a few photos before sending it off to Twist, and loved it!  The sample is a little too small for my husband, so after it's returned to me, I guess I'll just have to wear it myself.


Angela's pattern is in good company in the men's section of the pattern shop. Check it out.

Coming Soon...

Roo Sneak Peek
one thing is still missing from summer, but stay tuned...

Twist report from KnitKnack

KnitKnack in Maplewood, New Jersey graciously hosted Irene and the Twist Tickle Trunk a week ago Saturday. I really like the event announcement they made, using the Buzz Bag cartoon that Marianne Dubuc did for us.  Irene had a wonderful time showing everyone the knits, and sent this report along to the blog.

What better way to spend a rainy, drab WWKIP day than to showcase your favorite projects from the past year?* That is just what I did, with (more than) a little help from my friends. Thanks to Meera, Knitknack shop owner, her husband Glenn, and my models Abby, Helen, Kellie, and Mary. We had a splendiferous day.

Twist took over Knitknack by storm, showcasing a sampling of a year’s worth of gems.
A great time was had by all. It was thrilling to see reactions to the pieces first hand, as I’m sure the audience could attest to.

Here is a smattering of images from the day.

* Not that I knit them myself, mind you. But these pieces have become a part of my life.




Twist Report from 3 Bags Full

Three Bags Full in Vancouver welcomed Rachael and the box of sweaters for a fashion show last week. Rachael sent along this dispatch.






This is the shop with all 50 people who crammed in to see the fashion show.  They were ooh-ing and aah-ing away while knitting fervently to finish up their current projects, so they could start right away on new Twist designs.





Francesca is the lady in the blue shawl, and she is the owner of the shop.  She gave out a door prize to every single person that attended.  Incredibly generous, and I got to bring home a nice Three Bags Full tote myself




At the end of the night, I got a photo of the remaining staff, as well as volunteers who modeled for the fashion show, wearing Twist Collective items that they especially loved.  In the middle is Sivia Harding, wearing her Aphrodite shawl.  Everyone was incredibly generous, welcoming and fun.  I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity to come and do the show at their shop.


Three Bags Full promises to post a video of the evening soon, and I'll post it here and tell the Twist Twitter feed when they get that up.  In the meantime, there are more photos of the show on Sivia's and Felicia's blogs to check out.


A Twist on Twist

Lately, I've been seeing knitters who have taken patterns from the magazine and put their own signature on them, repurposing charts and seeing things differently, so I'd like to share a few.


Ysolda Teague's Little Birds chart is a popular option, destined to become a classic.  Not only have people played around with the colour combinations (personal fun favourite is a blackbirds on red version), but they've made other things incorporating the chart as well.  Here's the vest Jo (jojowheeler on ravelry) made for her darling son:



And the hat that weezalana made for her birdwatching Mother-in-Law:


and mittens Annika's (Annika72 on ravelry) knit as a way to swatch colour combinations with a purpose before she launched into the sweater as a whole.



Mary Ann Stephen's Sleepy Monkey Blanket is beginning to proliferate as well.  Here's a pillow Cathleen (ravelry link) knit in the pattern, monkeys on both sides, if you're asking. I hear a rumour there's a full blown baby sweater in the works with this one too.  I'd love to see that when it's done if that knitter is reading.



Speaking of baby sweaters, Aasa knit a sweater using Stephanie van der Linden's breathtaking sock pattern, Harika, to great effect.



And last, but certainly not the least, is Chappy Mom Deb's fabulous blanket which she envisioned from Mari Muinonen's Sylvi pattern the moment she saw it in the magazine.




Personally, I would love to have the time to knit a pair of Sylvi socks, toe up, choosing a 32 stitch wide section from the bigger chart, a couple of those irresistible flowers embracing the ankle, and I have even got the toe started in some stash Cherry Tree Hill, but my plate is full at the moment.  Perhaps these will come together for me sometime this summer.  In the meantime, feel free to play with the idea (or any other pattern repurposing) if you are so inclined, and send me a picture.