last april, when budding apple appeared in the spring/summer issue of twist collective i was a week or so into a month-long teaching trip in texas; spring was heavy in the air, even at home in ohio and it was lovely to see my idea for a spring piece come to fruition just at the right season.
today as we reintroduce the design—now offered in our own online shop—ohio is blanketed with snow and we have escaped again to the southwest for a much-needed bit of sunshine to tide us over.
and on a walk down through the tyler’s orchard the other night, i saw this
an actual budding apple tree. i know it won’t be long til we have apple buds of our own in ohio to perfume the air in our yard, but it’s still exciting to see this harbinger of spring a little ahead of time.
why so many?
knitters often write to tell me they appreciate our extensive project photography and how much they enjoy exploring blog links to the wealth of gorgeous yarns available to us. i thought it would be fun to present a pretty, quick-knit project that would translate beautifully in a variety of fibers and colors, with an investment in just a skein or two of yarn (the better to try more of them, my dear!).
and what better time than spring to refresh our senses with a palette of soft colors in luscious non-wool fibers? so i set out in my usual way to create a project that would fit all of those parameters.
first step—you guessed it—swatches.
i worked up several swatches in various sample yarns i had on hand, til i came up with a set i liked in a range of non-wool fiber types, including alpaca, cashmere, silk, cotton, and milk.
i don’t remember when, exactly, i decided on these particular stitch patterns, but the moment i saw them together, i knew that they brought together a bunch of loosely-related ideas i had into one firm idea, which was now about apple trees.
in other words, up until that point, i had a general sense of the feeling i wanted to portray, but seeing the stitches together made apple buds come to mind. and since i was designing for a spring issue, that seemed just right.
the larger pattern for the hem portion is one of many “grapevine” variations; this one is particularly sensual, i think, with its sinuous movement and shading. the tiny eyelet trefoil provides a delicately punctuated field to rest the eyes on, while still keeping the feeling light and lively.
once i had my stitch patterns planned out, i did some preliminary charting and got started on the prototype in kollage creamy, in the cool, fresh canopy green color.
it was a quick knit all right and i was done in no time at all. i did see afterward that a few tweaks were in order—the insertion at the center back didn’t seem right, so i decided to change that
and while i was at it, i refined the placement of the small eyelet pattern as well. luckily, i was able to get more yarn to produce another sample that is knit exactly as the pattern is written—that’s the one you’ll see in the magazine pages, knit by our very dear friend karolyn. the changes are subtle, but they make a difference to me.
the insertion in particular is a lot more in keeping with the design. i hesitated about using it, since i would then be repeating a detail i’d used before, but my gut told me it was better for the design.
once i had the prototype knit and finalized the design, i wrote the pattern up and we got to work on samples to send to the magazine.
these were my secret projects in september and october—above you see it in pure silk precious 4-ply from the natural dye studio, colorway heather and below, the cashmere/silk version in spirit trail neith even traveled to rhinebeck with me, a delicious travel companion.
this soft blue is named chalcedony; the yarn is to DIE for, with a lovely density that gives the finished shawl a nice weight. i didn’t have photos of it to show in april, but now that the samples are back home with me, i was able to get some nice photos in my studio at sunset, the day before we left for vacation.
same goes for the one we knit up in a soft pink color called sugar, from the natural dye studio
it’s a gorgeous pink, the color of spun sugar, indeed and a fresh change of pace from cool winter whites and blues.
the design of a magazine piece takes place awfully far in advance of publication, so all this musing and planning happened way back in the fall of 2010, when the days were growing short and buds of anything were pretty scarce. i didn’t revisit this project for quite a few months, but when the pattern proofs arrived from twist, i took everything out again to take one last look before publication.
as it happened, the fruit trees were just beginning to show their buds as we put those final touches on the pattern and i was wowed by how accurately the stitch patterns mimic the look of their branches, droopy with buds and ready to burst into flower. i couldn’t help but be reminded of the shawl during my seattle stay last march.
and now with spring just around the corner (really, it is!) we are pleased to offer this design as a little glimmer of the sunnier days to come. the perfect accessory for those days when you’ll want to shed that coat and let your skirts blow in the breeze, but still have a little something to wrap around your neck and shoulders.
now, i could never have done all that knitting by myself in such a short time, though i wanted to very much. i was able to knit the prototype and two samples, but i am really lucky that our good friend karolyn was enthusiastic to pitch in and knit a couple as well. thank you ever so much karolyn!