you can imagine how excited i was for today to get here—finally a chance to share the big secret project we worked on all summer for the winter issue of twist collective—the leaving sweater, to knit as a pullover or cardigan.
when i say “we” i mean lots of people—my friend kim, the brilliant dyer, AKA the woolen rabbit, my friend karolyn whose knitting you marvel over here and on ravelry, my husband david, whose photography and filmmaking we enjoy so much, my friend tana, our inveterate tech editor and mistress of sizing, my friends ronni and anne marie who work so hard to dot the Ts and cross the Is (yes, i really did type that, which is why i don’t do proofreading . . .), and the editors at twist collective, who have shown great faith in my designs by publishing them frequently.
the story of this sweater goes back a ways (as my stories tend to do . . .), but is typical of my more complex designs. last november after the frost, while walking around my yard, i saw that the leaves of the hostas dying back had formed a really interesting arrangement and had taken on a beautiful coloring. i took a photo.
i loved it so much and wondered if it could become a yarn color (i didn’t know what for, just that i liked the color). let’s face it, there are very few people you can go to and say, hey can you make yarn that looks like these dead leaves??
fortunately, i do know a couple of dyers who would not think me completely off my gourd to ask, and i know at least one dyer who seems to thrive on just this kind of opportunity.
kim loves to create colors and she’s a spectacular collaborator. within a day or two of seeing my photo, she sent an email with a yarn picture. and within a week or so, actual dead hosta leaf yarn arrived at my house.
she dyed up a sock yarn to start, but then we started talking about creating a sweater in her oasis camel/silk blend, new to her shop at the time. i thought that yarn would be awesome in this new colorway, which she named birch beer. before long, a sweater-sized batch was in my hands.
it’s such a soft, comfy yarn that my first inclination was to design some sort of sweatshirt with it—casual, but elegant. but i couldn’t pull that together somehow. i wanted a big, bold, organic thing to happen with this yarn.
and i really don’t remember when it hit me, but i think it may have been the twist collective winter boards that nudged my designer focus into place, with their little pictures of victorian and edwardian skating costumes, stylized with swirls of braid. eureka—this was a way to use a large, voluptuous stitch pattern in a very structured garment shape. i loved the contrast. i started swatching and before i knew it, i had a sweater back, which i photographed for my submission materials.
at this point, i didn’t even care if it got into the magazine; i just wanted to make this sweater. i thought you would like it, even if it didn’t get in.
so i rallied karolyn and together we worked in secret on the cardigan— we wanted to be ready with a pattern either way. she knit her first one in woolen rabbit opulence, which she had on hand (it worked a treat BTW, in case you prefer a silk/wool blend).
ETA: whoa, kim ran out of oasis yarn yesterday (she says thanks, you guys!), but more supplies are on the way and she can take orders for batches to knit this sweater if you email her with a request. this is a great way to get exactly the color you want in the quantity you need. let her know it’s for a sweater and she will make sure the skeins are dyed as closely as possible.
then twist said they wanted the sweater for the winter issue—AND they wanted it as both a cardigan and a pullover, yippee!
we all got busy once again; kim generously supplied yarn for the pullover in moroccan spice, which karolyn offered to knit
and a batch of chocolate chambord for a second cardigan, one knit exactly to the pattern specs (the birch beer prototype has tiny variations; this is normal when developing a design). this is the copy i kept here at home, to wear to my winter and spring teaching gigs.
for buttons, i wanted something truly special, that looked almost like drops of dew or nectar down the front of the sweater
and my favorite button source, moving mud, more than came through with these incredible round glass buttons, sooo beautiful.
each set is very different but perfect for the sweater. sarina is another artist i am very lucky to know.
things were pulling together nicely and we were doing well on time; knitting this sweater was the most fun and relaxing thing i’d had on the needles in a long time. the only thing that slowed me down was stopping to admire the buttery hand of this lovely yarn. sooo luxurious.
as if all that wasn’t enough, kate asked if she could include this sweater in a layout about designers knitting for themselves—one that would require david and i to do the photoshoot here in my studio (which wasn’t even done yet, hee-hee!). well, of course i said yes; we were thrilled to do it.
david busted a move during august to get my study finished and during a very hot week in early september, we took photos. lots and lots of them.
some were obviously posed as usual, but some were relaxed pictures of me performing normal tasks at my desk and in my workrooms
and there was knitting, too
we just played around and got whatever we could that we thought everyone might like.
it was truly stifling, haha; i’m always surprised it doesn’t show more
so there you have it—our big secret. to purchase the pattern or see more information about the sweater details, please visit the pattern page in the twist collective shop.
ok, time for me to go teach a class . .