Eclectic Closet Litblog, Book Reviews & Knitting Designs

A litblog dedicated to book reviews/recommendations, as well as literary and publishing news. Now enhanced with knitting designs.

Variations on a Theme


I suspect many designers do it. We create a design and then, much like a composer does, we continue to work with the stitch patterns over time – putting them together in different ways. Essentially, variations on a theme.

Sometimes this is because we aren’t done with a stitch pattern, it still has us in its grasps. Like a melody that haunts a composer, this stitch pattern isn’t ready to let us go. For me, that haunting stitch pattern is the one used in my Cartouche series (Cartouche Shawl, Cartouche Stole and Cartouche Slouchy Beret, if you’re curious). I’m pretty sure I’m not done with it yet.

Designs using cartouche stitch pattern

Cartouche Stole, Shawl & Beret

As I mentioned in the blog post announcing the release of Twisted Circles Cowl, the idea for it was sparked in early 2013, after I saw a picture of a stitch pattern that creates the illusion of circles, reminiscent of op-art, by the simple use of blocks of reverse stockinette stitch. I knew instantly that I wanted to use it in something but didn’t have an idea yet. Fast forward a year to a doodle made while I was on the phone and I suddenly found the inspiration to use the stitch pattern. I had been doodling hour glass shapes and it suddenly came to me – alternate sections of this circle pattern with a densely cabled pattern to create the hourglass shape. Do this multiple times in a circle to make a unique infinity cowl!

Twisted Circles Cowl, showing wide and narrow sections

Figuring out the shape I wanted essentially determined the construction. The cowl begins with a provisional cast on and is knit flat back and forth. The piece is finished by grafting the two ends together. The gently scalloped cable edging provides a beautiful frame to the face. All that was left was to figure out what yarn to use. I knew I wanted it to be a worsted yarn that had spring and loft and I love knitting with Indigodragonfly Yarn’s wonderful yarns and colourways. So I turned to Kim for advice and she pointed out the rich green colourway – “Is the Money Okay? Did they Hurt the Money? (Buffy)” – in their MerGoat Worsted base.

Twisted Circles Cowl

Twisted Circles Cowl

I had thought that would be the end of working with these stitch patterns until a friend presented a challenge – could I use the same stitch patterns to create a long, shallow shawl. The quick answer was yes, of course I could, but to make it something that would be attractive, wearable and yet could be written up as a pattern would be the challenge.

The shape was already determined what I had to do was determine how to put the stitch patterns together that would showcase the best qualities of each design. The added challenge was the differences in gauge between the two main patterns. In the cowl where the two stitch patterns alternated, these differences wouldn’t matter. In a longer piece, those differences could be significant, depending on where the stitch patterns were place.

Twisted Circles Shawl cover shot

Twisted Circles Shawl

During the design phase, I considered multiple shawl constructions methods; top down, bottom up, and even working the body first in the circle pattern followed by an attached edging of the dense cables. None felt quite right until I looked at the piece from a different angle and decided the construction needed to be worked from tip to tip. That way all three stitch patterns could be knit at the same time with periodic short rows are worked in the densely cabled sections to compensate for row gauge differences.

Twisted Circles Shawl, back view

I already knew this shawl was going to be published in Knitty and that it would be done in the luminous Clematis shade of Miss Babs Yowza – Whatta Skein. On to the knitting!

Thus ends the story of the Twisted Circles variations. Now I’m curious to see what variations the knitterati choose as they knit these patterns!

Twisted Circles Shawl

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My Knitting Patterns

Audrey II

Angular Path Scarf

Cartouche Stole

Fossetta Cowl

Fossetta Hat

Sargaço Shawl

Whitman Hat

Every Which Way Cowl

Every Which Way Hat

Every Which Way Fingerless Mitts

Gothic Forest Scarf

Valencia Scarf

Branching Path Cowl

Flower Bell Stole

Whitman Cowl

New Tech Cowl

Vieux Carré Stole

Stacks Socks

Anna Perenna Shawlette

Taming of the Fox

Don't Ask Y

Cantilevering Leaves

Amplification Stole

Combs Cowl

Mindfulness Cowl

Tipsy Scarf

Gridwork Scarf
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