Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Smoky Lake

My Grandpa grew up near Smoky Lake here in Alberta, and I love when he tells the story of the time he and his brother came home with what they thought was a big fluffy dog that was only too happy to follow them. My Great-Grandmother was less than enthusiastic about any intent to keep the creature, and my Great-Grandfather brought the bear cub back to where the boys had found it.

The last time I was in Smoky Lake (the town, not the lake), it was rather an icy day in February, and I could have used a warm, sturdy, cozy cardigan to wrap myself up in. Smoky Lake, my design for Twist Collective Fall 2016, is a cabled and double-breasted cardigan with a shawl collar that totally fits the bill for warm, sturdy and cozy.

©Twist Collective. Used with permission
This cardigan is worked in Briggs & Little Atlantic, which is a bulky 3-ply wool that shows off cables nicely, even in a relatively darker shade like Grape, which Smoky Lake features. Of course, Briggs & Little Atlantic also comes in an excellent range of colours, both in heathered (like Grape) and solid. I think if I was knitting Smoky Lake again, I'd be tempted to also try Grey Heather, Fern, or Rust.

©Twist Collective. Used with permission
For warmth, I can tell you I tried this one on one warm summer day, and would have melted if I had kept it on any longer than it took to snap a few photos. I feel Smoky Lake would be perfect for a fall (and spring for that matter) coat. If I had been able to wear it while camping with my family this summer, it would have also been just the thing for chilly mornings in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

©Twist Collective. Used with permission
The wool is not only warm, but hard-wearing, and will keep your knitting in good form for a very long time. Briggs & Little Atlantic relaxes slightly with a wash, and plumps up a wee bit too; it keeps its shape and definition while making the drape and handle come out just right.

When designing Smoky Lake, I wanted to use cables that would be sculptural enough to stand out even on a darker wool, but that would work well with a bulky wool without distorting the overall fabric. I settled on two cables that would play nicely with each other in columns. I wanted a Pea Coat feel to the sweater, a sense of being wrapped in wool against all weather and ready for outdoor exploration over lake, sea, woodland or field. A double-breasted coat with a voluminous shawl collar had the right sort of feel too it, and so I sketched this up:

Of course, with bulky wool and a good sized button-band in the front meant that there would be less density of cables than in my sketch (I also don't think I got the eyes quite right, but that has very little to do with the sweater, right?); but the sketch conveyed the feel I was looking for, and once calculations and adjustments to assure a good fit for all the sizes in question for men and women were worked over and approved, I set about crunching numbers and making sure that the sweater worked up into a cozy and beautiful garment. I really enjoyed working up the shawl collar; no matter how often I use short-rows, they feel like magic, and the bands worked up particularly quickly in the bulky yarn.

©Twist Collective. Used with permission

I am so pleased to see my idea fully transformed into reality, even better than I had imagined it. I really enjoyed working with Twist Collective on this project; much thanks to all of the Twist staff! Twist Collective, as always, has beautiful photography, and I recommend even to the non-knitters who read this blog to go take a look through this issue (and back issues as well)!

Thanks and love to my Grandpa, who, by the way, always looks great in a double-breasted jacket.

The Smoky Lake pattern is now available for purchase here through Twist Collective.

©Twist Collective. Used with permission


  1. Ali (Dandelionfluff)11:39 am

    Great cardigan! I love Briggs & Little Yarn for cozy sweaters. Congrats on the Twist Collective publication.

    1. Thanks Ali! It's a great wool to work with!