Why is Norah Gaughan’s Twisted Stitch Sourcebook such a fantastic resource for your knitter’s bookshelf?
1. It’s a great introduction to a super-simple, but weirdly underused technique
Since I started releasing twisted-stitch patterns a few weeks ago, I’ve come across so many knitters who have never worked a right or left twist in this way, or who assume the textured effect of the fabric is achieved through 1×1 cables (it is not: see this post for further explanation). As I’ve mentioned previously, I find twists much simpler and speedier to work than cables, and this really is your go-to tome to be introduced to, and learn more about, this transformative technique. In the book’s introductory section, Norah Gaughan explores different methods of working twisted stitches (with different instructions for standard and combination knitters); explains which yarns best lend themselves to this kind of textured knitting; and outlines a series of great tips for fixing mistakes and making adjustments to your technique (to ensure, for example, that your right and left twists look the same).
2. It’s a collection of beautiful, knittable designs
There are fifteen fantastic patterns in this book, ranging from the Snowflake scarf (in which twisted stitches creatively combine with Norah’s signature modular hexagons) to wonderfully wearable garments (such as the Island Pullover or Cropped Cardi), to stunning, show-stopping pieces like Grandpops or Sketch Coat. This is a great collection from a world-class designer, and it’s certainly worth getting hold of the Twisted Stitch Sourcebook for its fabulous patterns alone – but the book is also so much more than this. . . .
3. It’s an expansive stitch resource
The book includes charts and written instructions for well over a hundred different twisted stitch motifs, incorporating a wide range of styles and involving different degrees of complexity. In many cases, Norah describes her own swatching experiments out of which these motifs emerged . . .
. . . so that as well as fabulous stitches, the knitter gains really valuable insights into her design and development process which, in turn, further enhance our understanding of the creative potential of the simple twisted stitch! It’s really worth reading the short paragraphs that introduce each motif – I learned a lot through doing so.
4. It’s a generous and enabling prompt to create your own designs
If you are interested in designing a twisted-stitch piece from scratch, or simply want to adapt or modify your favourite sweater pattern to feature some twisted stitches, then the book’s third section is for you. There are blank grids accompanied by instructions about how to begin creating your own charts and motifs; and ten basic lessons about what really works, and what works less well, when developing twisted stitch design. This section is a brilliant read about the different creative choices designing handknits involves, but if all you want to do is knit a simple hat or whip up a circular yoke, then there are also templates in the book to enable you to do just that.
In short, whatever kind of knitter you are, this book is a wide-ranging, very generous, and highly accessible introduction to a brilliantly simple technique, produced in the characteristically clear style (both visual and conceptual) that you’ll recognise from Norah’s previous books. It’s a tome chock-full of inspiration, and even if you have no interest in designing your own handknits, you may well find yourself wanting to slot your favourite Sourcebook motifs into an existing pattern. So I thought I’d conclude this post by giving you some examples of how you might choose to do just that with my Gruggle cowl.
This cowl features an adapted version of motif 114 in the Twisted Stitch Sourcebook.
To make the cowl, you cast on 132 stitches, work a few rounds of 1×1 twisted rib, and then, integrating the twisted rib into the pattern, begin the twisted stitch motif, which repeats, 6 times across each round, over 22 stitches.
As a super-simple alternative, you might choose motif 117 in the Sourcebook, which, in a similar fashion to motif 114, combines the visual lines of each-round twists with those worked on alternate rounds, and also repeats over 22 stitches. You could begin the cowl in exactly the same way as written in the pattern, integrating the twisted rib seamlessly into the motif’s strong diagonals (ending on a chart round 11).
As well as being divisible by 22, 132 is also a multiple of 12, and an interesting alternative surface design for the cowl would be created with motif 99, in which strong verticals, neat diagonals, and squishy horizontal garter stitch ridges all combine into a very attractive, rhythmic fabric. In this instance, rather than working the 1×1 twisted stitch rib, you could simply repeat the chart’s first two rounds for a couple of inches, to give you a sturdy garter stitch edging, whose vertical lines will flow simply and seamlessly into the motif’s twisted stitch diagonals.
Finally, to create a cowl with strong and interesting verticals, you might choose to work this motif, which is number 79 in the sourcebook, and which repeats over just 6 stitches (so again works with our starting stitch count of 132). A brief look at it (and its chart) will tell you that this motif is essentially a very slight elaboration of 4×2 rib, in which alternating left and right twists are separated by breaks of 7 or 14 rounds. To integrate this motif into the cowl pattern, simply cast on 132 stitches, begin working the motif’s chart at round 15, knit 14 rounds of 4×2 rib, and then return to round 1 and start again.
All you then have to do is change needle sizes when prompted in the pattern, continue until your cowl is long enough, and bind off.
If you feel remotely hesitant about working out your own designs, swapping out and integrating motifs in this way is a great way to get started. Why not get hold of a copy of the Sourcebook and give it a go?