Anatomy of a Design: Twist

While I’m laid up convalescing, I have been hard at work on a new design. Some designs are a snap to tackle. If it’s a item I’ve either knit or designed before that follows a standard shape, such as a sweater, then it usually will follow the same basic layout.

TwistWhether a sweater is knit from the bottom or top, the mechanics are the same. While you may adjust dimensions, throw in a stitch pattern, choose from a wide assortment of necklines, sleeve types, edgings, etc., you still have a standard template to work with.

Lately I’ve been envisioning sweaters that don’t follow a basic layout, requiring me to start from square one. The Twist design is a perfect example.

•An Idea
I had a vision in my head of an open front sweater with a twist in the front. As with any creative process, you must start with an idea, but getting it from inside your head into an actual object can get a little tricky.

•The Shape
PatternI started building the rest of the design around this twist. Looking to create a multi-season garment, I decided on a three-quarter batwing sleeve. Not really wanting to knit an entire garment only to realize that the fit was completely wrong, I pulled out my sewing machine. I made a rough pattern of what I thought I wanted and stitched it up with muslin.

Keeping in mind that the muslin fabric would have a totally different drape and tighter feeling fit, I was able to make a few adjustments to my dimensions and felt comfortable moving forward to the next phase.

•Yarn and Pattern
ChesapeakePavilionI really love Classic Elite’s Chesapeake yarn, but had yet to find a pattern I wanted to use for a shop model. With a nice mid-weight gauge, its blend of organic cotton and wool is perfect for multi-season wear.

After playing around with many stitch patterns, I finally settled on the Pavilion Stitch. What sold me on this stitch pattern is that it requires a large area to really have impact, but at the same time isn’t overpowering. It gives the garment a textural finish without becoming the focal point of the design. When worked with the heathery colors of Chesapeake, I knew we had a winning combination

•The Mechanics
Twist-schematicNow that I had my shape, yarn and pattern decided, I had to figure out the best way to tackle knitting it. I’ve never been a fan of cuff-to-cuff designs, in that it just isn’t possible to achieve exact mirroring from one side to the other; but in order to achieve a seamless twist, it really needed to be knit from the cuff. I briefly toyed with a mobius beginning, but when it came to incorporating sleeves I wasn’t pleased with the options.

After much head scratching, I decided to knit from the cuff in four pieces: right front, left front, right back, left back.

•Finesse
Twist-backI love it when a plan comes together, especially when sweater components are involved. I threw all of my tricks at this design including:

-Three-needle bind off with an exposed seam for the shoulders (from picked up stitches) and back. The exposed seam gave it a nice touch.

-Grafted front twist, using kitchener stitch.

-Short-rowed neck shaping, along with a traditional sewn seam for the lower sleeve and three-needle bind off with a hidden seam for the sides where the front/back meet.

-A grand finale neck band, combining picked up stitches with hiding short row wraps, all while knitting around this crazy twist.

All of the pieces of this design came together beautifully, using nontraditional methods in a logically fun way. Even the 18 stitch pattern repeat melded beautifully with my dimensional requirements. Usually working with a repeat this large poses dilemmas with sizing, but this one just perfectly fell in line. It was meant to be.

•The Pattern
worksheetWhenever you veer away from traditional construction, transforming these notes into an understandable pattern can be challenging. I realized a nontraditional pattern would be needed. I am never a fan of writing out lengthy instructions row-for-row. Not only is this torturous for the designer (and increases probability of error), it makes for an intimidatingly long pattern that is difficult to navigate.

Throw in the fact that the pattern required increasing at different intervals on each end of the row AND a 18 stitch x 36 row pattern repeat, I knew it would be a nightmare to keep up with, so I included a special worksheet to keep everyone on track. The worksheet simply lists the row number according to the pattern repeat and whether you increase at the beginning or end of the row (or both!).

The stitch pattern is charted. I also included written instructions, but with a stern warning to USE THE CHART. I know this is the last thing a chart-o-phobe wants to hear, but with this pattern it is imperative.

The question I am asked most about this particular pattern is how to incorporate a stitch pattern into shaping. Any knitted item that has shaped edges AND a stitch pattern will require you do to this, and it will not be written out row-for-row. It takes a bit of intuitiveness to accomplish this task.

This particular design begins by casting on 36 stitches and working in the pavilion stitch pattern. It is an 18 stitch repeat, so you will begin with 2 complete pattern repeats.

On the 3rd row you increase one stitch at each edge, and the pattern continues to increase at varying intervals. The chart is the best way to figure out how to incorporate the stitch pattern into these new stitches. It is imperative to place markers to designate the beginning of new repeats on each edge, even if they are only 1 stitch areas at this point. They will continue to grow in size, eventually becoming a full repeat and beyond.

The red outlined areas on these charts indicate how these new stitches are to be worked. Your stitch markers will help you calculate where in the chart to begin and end each row, however if you find this difficult you can copy the chart and draw lines like this to reflect the increases from row-to-row.

                    Beginning of Row                                                    End of Row
inc1inc2

Attempting to incorporate these increases into a stitch pattern from the written instructions is not impossible, but with this particular stitch pattern it is nearly impossible to do. Your brain will hurt, and you will make many, many mistakes. You really, really, really need to use the chart!

If you are working from another pattern that does not chart the stitch pattern and are having difficulty incorporating increases, I recommend grabbing some graph paper and charting the stitch pattern out yourself. It is not hard to do. I promise!

calcJust wait until you see the new design I’m currently working on! All I can tell you is that it is very involved, at least from a design perspective.

I’ve even had to blow the dust off my protractor and refresh my trigonometry skills. It will be a bit before it is anywhere near completed, but I’m making great progress!

 

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