Sometimes I knit swatches just because I like the look of a stitch pattern and I’m curious as to how something as simple as knit and purl stitches can create the pattern. Twist Collection started from that sort of curiosity. I’d seen a stitch pattern that looked woven – not the classic basket weave effect created using knit and purl stitches – this stitch pattern had stitches crossing each other diagonally. It was used by Teva Durham in ‘New Pea Coat’ (Interweave Knits, Fall 2008, p. 122) and by Amanda Jones in ‘Epaulette’ (The Knitter, 2009, Issue 12, p. 80). Teva uses two yarns together to create a chunky tweed effect fabric in a gorgeous red. Amanda pairs the woven stitch with a herringbone stitch pattern to create a military-inspired slipover. And like many stitch patterns it has several names; I’m going to call it woven stitch, although I have also seen it named basket weave.
I knitted a swatch in ‘woven stitch’ using a soft chunky yarn and I liked the stitch pattern. I wanted to add a rib and didn’t want to use a plain rib – I thought ‘rick-rack rib’ would work. And ‘woven stitch’ and ‘rick-rack rib’ did look good together, just not right next to each other. I’ll explain; I like the knit stitches to flow from one stitch pattern to another, so for example, if I’m knitting a rib followed by a cable I want the knit stitches of the rib to flow into the knit stitches of the cable. And the knit stitches in the ‘rick-rack’ rib, with a three stitch repeat, just were not going to flow into the two stitch repeat of ‘woven stitch’. In this situation, there is an alternative to a jarring boundary – that is to add something that deliberately separates the two stitch patterns. This can be achieved with horizontal stripes, and in designs featuring texture rather than colour, it can be achieved using a garter stitch rib. Did I try that? No, of course not! I thought I’d try a traditional Estonian technique called a Vikkel braid by Nancy Bush (Interweave Knits, Fall 1999, p. 33), simply because I’d never done it before.
One interesting thing about this sample is that rick rack rib, the Vikkel braid and woven stitch all use the same technique, which is working the second stitch in a pair before the first. Some books refer to this as a ‘twist’ and others as a ‘cross’ or a ‘cable’ (since you can achieve the same effect using a cable needle). Now, technically a ‘twist’ is a knit stitch moving in front of a purl, whereas a ‘cross’ or a ‘cable’ is a knit stitch moving in front of another knit stitch, and since in all three stitch patterns the pairs of stitches are knit stitches, ‘twisting’ is incorrect, however, ‘Twist’ stuck as a name. One way or another, it seems that these stitches were meant to be together.
I should point out, that at this point in time, I had a fabric sample that I liked, but did not know if I was going to use it. One night, unable to sleep, I got up in the early hours of the morning and sketched out a few ideas, one of which was for a paper-bag style hat. I chose a simple style to avoid spoiling the woven stitch with decreases. I added ‘seam stitches’ on either side, which imitate the Vikkel braid and since I wanted to knit the hat in the round, also prevented the jog in pattern that would occur between the end of one round and the start of the next.
Much time passed – I was working on an MA. I had been given a selection of yarns from the Rowan Purelife British Sheep Breeds range. I wrote about these yarns and why it took me a long while to use in a previous post. For some reason I thought I’d try the chunky yarn in ‘light Masham’ for my ‘Twist’ sample. And by luck, I’d found a perfect combination – a stitch that makes the yarn look good, and a yarn that makes the stitch look good. And woven stitch really does look good in this yarn. I became a fan of this range of yarn and ‘light Masham’ in particular.
Originally there was just ‘Twist hat’, but eventually I added a cowl, some fingerless mittens and finally some mittens; ‘Twist Collection’ was born. They were also test knitted, by Amanda Golland, in Rowan Purelife British Sheep Breeds Chunky, Shetland Moorit, which is a lovely warm mid-brown.
Twist Collection was modelled by Claire Tidmarsh and the photos were taken by Adam James Brown. The location for the photoshoot is a local woodland, The Outwoods, which has some fantastic lichen covered rocks …
… trees to hug and a glorious display of bluebells, although they’re not quite right for winter accessories!
The patterns are available as Twist Collection or individually.
Twist hat comes with instructions to fit head sizes 52, 56 and 59 cm.
Twist cowl is one size (56 cm at the upper edge, 60 cm at the lower edge and 15.5 cm deep).
Twist mittens and fingerless mittens are in four sizes: to fit palm circumference 16, 19, 22 and 25 cm.
The hat uses two 100 g balls, the cowl uses just over 100 g and the mittens and fingerless mittens use one to two balls depending on size.
The patterns are available for those who knit right-handed (stitches move from left to right needle) or those who knit left-handed (stitches move from right to left needle).