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Our latest collection, BT Yokes, offers even the most seasoned colorwork knitter lots of opportunity for experimentation. We had fun playing with color options for Schulz, a unisex pullover designed by Michele Wang. Try Cinnabar or Thistle for a bright pop of vintage nostalgia, or a neutral like Cast Iron or Pumpernickel for a slightly more subdued effect. These are just a few ideas — we can’t wait to see what you come up with!

The colorways as shown in the photo above:

1 — Almanac (C1), Fossil (C2) & Cast Iron (C3)

2 — Tent (C1), Fossil (C2) & Cast Iron (C3)

3 — Thistle (C1), Fossil (C2) & Cast Iron (C3)

4 — Cast Iron (C1 & C3), Fossil (C2)

5 — Pumpernickel (C1), Fossil (C2) & Cast Iron (C3)

6 — Embers (C1), Fossil (C2) & Cast Iron (C3)

7 — Hayloft (C1), Fossil (C2) & Cast Iron (C3)

8 — Cinnabar (C1), Fossil (C2) & Cast Iron (C3)

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Sunbursts, trees and stars, reindeer and snowflakes, mutable landscapes of blended color. In vivid hues or in natural sheep shades, figural or geometric in design, the yoke sweaters of the North Atlantic are distinctive and enduring. The story of their creation in the 20th century is one of enterprise and canny marketing as knitters leveraged traditional skills to make ends meet in a rapidly changing and newly global economy.

The Icelandic lopapeysa, the Scandinavian and Shetland yokes, and the sweaters of the Bohus Stickning cooperative in Sweden may all have their roots in a Greenlandic ornamental accessory called the nuilarmiut that has nothing to do with knitting — it’s an element of traditional formalwear made of glass beads that cover the shoulders and bust in a large collar of brightly patterned geometric designs. The nuilarmiut’s appearance in a 1930 Danish film and, later, on members of the Danish royal family seems to have inspired several Scandinavian knitwear designers to imitate the effect in wool. Three of the earliest known circular yoke patterns bore the name “Eskimo,” suggesting their common inspiration. In the 1940s, the Bohus Stickning company in Sweden made the yoke sweater a mid-century status symbol. The designers’ innovative and masterful color play broke entirely with traditional motifs and methods to create subtly shifting forms and juxtaposed hues, all rendered at extremely fine gauge in luxurious angora-blend yarns. Bohus sweaters were worn by royalty and cultural icons — and commanded prices to match. The knitters’ earnings supported many families during an economically difficult time. Cottage industries in Shetland and Iceland were also quick to capitalize on the international taste for yokes, channeling their potent knitting histories to create garments that became lucrative exports more accessible to the average pocket book.

The strategic position of the patterning on a circular yoke serves two purposes. The designs ring the throat and shoulders like jewelry, drawing attention to the face. The plain body and sleeves heighten this effect while slyly achieving a second end: all that unadorned fabric is easy and relatively speedy knitting. In the case of the famous Shetland yokes, many of which featured tree and star designs borrowed from neighboring Norway, the jumper bodies and sleeves were knit by machine and then passed to the handknitters for the colorwork portion. The sweaters could then be completed at a cracking pace to achieve a successful commercial scale, and the knitters could develop one beautiful variation after another by skillfully shading both the background and foreground colors. The Bohus sweaters were always knit entirely by hand, but even at 8 or 9 stitches to the inch, the plain bodies allowed the most accomplished knitters to complete a couture garment in just a few weeks. Icelandic production knitters still work by hand, but take advantage of their native sheep’s long-stapled fleeces to work at a loose large gauge that supports strong geometric motifs and rapid sweater completion.

Yokes have climbed to the height of fashion, plunged into outmoded fustiness, and ascended once again in recent decades. Across the North Atlantic, a resurgence of admiration for these powerful symbols of national identity has led younger generations to embrace them. Knitters around the world have been quick to appreciate the joy of crafting yokes; a basic circular yoke is one of the most foolproof sweaters to knit, and the possibilities for elaboration are endless.

Brooklyn Tweed pays homage to the bold beauty and variety of yoke designs in five sweaters and two accessories that tip the cap to history, but hew to modern fit principles and allow each designer to explore original ideas. In these pages you’ll find seamless construction (both bottom up and top down), stranded colorwork, cabled texture, and even a wink at classic cartoons. Welcome to BT Yokes.

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Winter is lingering long in Portland this year, but we’re choosing to see these days of near-freezing drizzle as a prompt to make the most of our knitwear. Warm weather still feels so far away that we’re more than happy to contemplate casting on another sweater, especially with the lure of a just-right portion of decorative stitchwork. That’s what we love about yoke designs: their perfect balance of carefree stockinette seasoned with a dash of colorwork or textural patterning. They’re fun to knit, easy to integrate into any wardrobe, and endlessly inviting when we want to experiment with color or cables. To share our enthusiasm, we’re releasing our themed collection for 2017 today: BT Yokes.

We drew inspiration from the sweaters of Iceland, Shetland, and Scandinavia — a history we enjoyed researching for a feature in our lookbook. Jared Flood’s Atlas (now sized for the whole family) nods to the lopapeysa; Véronik Avery elevates her Frostpeak colorwork with cunningly placed purl stitches, an idea pioneered by the Bohus Stickning designers of Sweden; Michele Wang’s Morse cowl stacks bands of small geometric motifs common to Shetland and Norway.

The beauty of yokes has always been their versatility as a canvas for anything a designer can dream up, so we haven’t been too faithful in our interpretations of the form. Some garments apply inventive shaping principles (wait till you see Julie Hoover’s newest take on raglan decreases) and motifs that owe more to Charlie Brown than to anything ever knit in the North Atlantic regions. Norah Gaughan’s flights of cabled fancy are iconic in and of themselves, and her full powers are on display in Tundra and Pyry.

A surprise storm system meant we had to be creative about staging our photoshoot for BT Yokes, but is there a more perfect backdrop for a collection of cozy woolens than a fresh blanket of snow? We hope you’ll enjoy browsing the new lookbook and making the most of the knitting weather.

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We were delighted to release Michele Wang’s Capsule last week. This book represents a tremendous amount of labor and love, and we think Michele’s beautiful aesthetic truly shines in this focused collection. We chatted with her about this project for today’s blog post.

 

 

You’ve been designing for Brooklyn Tweed for six years, preparing an amazing 59 pieces for the seasonal collections. Did planning your Capsule book feel different from your usual design process?

It definitely felt different because there was the pressure of being the only designer. For the seasonal collections, the planning is collaborative and what we end up designing depends greatly on what the other designers are contributing. For the Capsule, it was nice to be able to design all the pieces I wanted to for the collection, but it’s also a lot of pressure — more pressure than I like or am used to! After this solo effort, I appreciated working with a team so much more.

You’ve created a lot of iconic garments that have helped to define the house style at BT; you’re especially known for your cables, and they figure prominently in this collection. What do you love about cabled texture and where do you find ideas for new motifs?

There are so many things I love about cables! I think I always come back to cables because they transcend time and trend. The same cable used in one way feels traditional, but in another setting can yield an updated, trendy look. I also love cables because they’re so much easier to knit than they look! They’re visually impressive, yet all you’re doing is working stitches out of order. To design new motifs, I depend greatly on stitch dictionaries. They’re an endless source of inspiration for me. I love flipping through them as you’d peruse a catalog, imagining where I would use a certain cable or what it would look like in a particular yarn. From there, I’ll usually play off of one motif and grow some supporting cables, changing the scale or introducing a mirroring effect.

The theme of your Capsule is loungewear. Did you know that would be the focus from the outset, and can you tell us what inspired that choice?

I did know that would be the focus and theme. I presented a mood board to Jared way in the beginning and he liked it, so we went from there. For me, hand knits are all about loungewear. Like Mr. Rogers, I love coming home and throwing on a big cardigan. There’s something about it that feels like a hug, and it grounds me. There’s nothing better than putting on a handknit (or many), some fuzzy slippers, making yourself a hot beverage and settling in for the evening. Handknits are a necessity for lounging!

Do you have a favorite piece from this collection? How do you imagine wearing it?

Wow, that’s a tough question. I guess the obvious answer would be Aspen. It’s everything a piece of loungewear should be: cabled, robe-like, with a shawl collar and waist tie. I envisioned a knitter reaching for this cardigan when she plans on staying in her jammies all day!

We confess we may have done a bit of working from home in jammies during Portland’s successive snowstorms of late, and Aspen (or Radmere, her masculine counterpart) would have made the experience so much more glamorous!

How about you, knitters? Do you have an early favorite from Michele’s new collection? How would you wear it?

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Michele Wang has gained a passionate following amongst knitters who love her comfortably stylish garments, opulent cables, and modern shapes. We are so proud to present a new single-designer collection from Michele as the second volume of our Capsule series. The eight patterns in this handsome printed book express her love of loungewear and bring true elegance to cozy living.

Michele’s signature cables leaven chunky knits like Hague and Bingham, create motion and energy in Celyn and Cleridae, build up bold structure in Ilia, and stop traffic with Aspen and Radmere. And when you need palette-cleansing minimalism, Palmer makes a soothing stockinette-based knit that’s bound to become a staple in your closet.

Shot on location in a beautifully renovated Portland apartment and on the streets of the Nob Hill neighborhood, the book is an invitation to relax and dream as you plan your next knitting journey. Photographer Jared Flood’s sensitive eye captures every detail of the garments and reveals the thoughtful design that makes them such a pleasure to knit and wear.

All patterns are worked in our woolen-spun Targhee-Columbia yarns —Shelter, Loft, and Quarry — and are presented in Brooklyn Tweed’s educational format with accurate schematics and thorough descriptions of special techniques. The 138-page softcover book is available at BT stockists around the world; it can also be bundled with an optional e-book if purchased through our web store. We’ve made this book as eco-friendly as possible, printing on Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper at a US facility powered by 100% renewable energy.

Michele hopes you’ll find garments in these pages that will become old and treasured friends. We hope you’ll agree with us that her new collection is hygge gold and give yourself permission to lounge in serious style! Pull on your shearling slippers and pour a mug of steaming cocoa to browse the book preview on our website today.

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Greetings from wintry Portland! As we get ready to leaf over to 2017, we’ve enjoyed looking back on our work from the past year and remembering our favorite BT knitwear. All of our office staff have weighed in with their picks of 2016, and a Top Ten have emerged.

 

The striking poncho shape of the women’s version captured our hearts in particular — not to mention those luscious cables.

Originally knit in Quarry as part of our Ganseys collection, this hat got a whole new look when we released our worsted-spun DK Arbor last fall. Those cables really pop in a yarn built for stitch definition.

Melissa Wehrle knocked it out of the park with her modern interpretation of the Aran pullover in Wool People 10. We love the traditional cables updated with the vented hem and slim sleeves.

We all agree: classic cabled shawl-collar cardigans forever. Especially when they’re warm but light in quick-knitting Quarry.

Oh, those elegant lines! This beautiful cardigan is flattering on everyone.

This quick and satisfying knit uses Arbor to render the Tree of Life — one of our favorite traditional motifs — in stunning high definition. If you can part with it, this cowl makes a great gift.

We love the tailored fit and the bold, simple patterning against a background of reverse stockinette.

This layering piece is perfect for three-season wear, and the shawl collar really sets it apart.

The intriguing fabric of this scarf is such a delightful opportunity to play with color and yarn weight combinations.

 

Maximum coziness, beautiful cables. We love the oversized fit cleverly adapted to eliminate bulk under the arms.

What were your favorite Brooklyn Tweed patterns this year? Let us know in the comments!

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Looking for a special gift for the knitter in your life? Or maybe you are the knitter and want to add something special to your holiday wish list? Brooklyn Tweed offers electronic gift cards that can be used for anything in the Brooklyn Tweed webstore. From yarn to printed books to digital patterns, shade cards, knitting kits, and more, our electronic gift cards can be used as the recipient wishes and do not expire. Here’s a quick how-to on how to purchase an electronic gift card through the Brooklyn Tweed webstore. (Knitters who wish to receive such a gift might consider forwarding this post to their favorite people, hint hint.)

Please note: Electronic gift cards are sent immediately to the recipient after purchase, so consider the timing of your purchase if you wish the gift to be made at a particular time. Also, it is very important that the recipient’s email address be entered in the appropriate box on the checkout form, in order for the recipient to be able to use the gift card.

Ready to purchase an electronic gift card? Let’s go!

Gift cards are available in pre-set amounts ranging from $25 to $200. From the electronic gift card page, select your purchase amount and then click “Add to Cart.”

The following page will allow you to update your cart, continue shopping, or proceed to checkout. When you are ready to check out, select “Proceed to Checkout.”

If you yourself are already registered with an account through www.brooklyntweed.com, select “Returning customer? Click here to login” and enter your Brooklyn Tweed username/email address and password to log into your Brooklyn Tweed account.

Don’t have a Brooklyn Tweed account? No worries, just enter your billing details as requested and then enter an account password (passwords should be a minimum seven characters with a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols; an account is created so that we can look up your order details in the future if needed).

Once you have either logged in to your existing Brooklyn Tweed account or entered your billing information and new password, you will see the following box:

Assuming you are purchasing the electronic gift card for someone else, select “Gift Coupon to Someone Else,” enter the recipient’s email address, and include any message you wish to appear in the email that will be sent to the recipient announcing the gift card. (If you select “Send Coupon to Me,” the gift card will become associated with your email address, not that of the intended recipient, and the recipient will need to contact our Customer Service department to straighten out the email address associated with the coupon code. This can be avoided by entering the recipient’s email address from the start.)

Once you have entered your payment information and completed your purchase, you will receive a receipt by email and the recipient will receive an email announcing your gift along with a unique coupon code for store credit to the Brooklyn Tweed webstore. (Again, electronic gift cards are sent immediately to the recipient after purchase, so consider the timing of your purchase if you wish the gift to be made at a particular time.) This credit will never expire and can be split over multiple orders.

Ta-da — that’s it! Thank you for your electronic gift card purchase — we hope the process was easy and that your intended giftee will be delighted to receive a credit to the Brooklyn Tweed webstore.

Questions? See our electronic gift card FAQ page and/or email us at info@brooklyntweed.com.

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The season of twinkly lights, eggnog, and snowball fights is the most wonderful time of the year — for woolens!  Some of us are trying to calculate how many hours of sleep we can exchange for crafting time to eke out a few more handmade gifts; others are blissfully escaping the chaos by casting on a long-term project that has nothing to do with the holidays and stresses of the wider world. If you’re in either of these camps, or simply dreaming of your next adventure in knitting, we have a surprise for you today: BT Winter 17, dropping early this year!

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Our house designers have decked the halls with twelve new garments and four accessories that use all four of Brooklyn Tweed’s core yarn lines. This collection includes our very first garment designs for Arbor, our worsted-spun DK Targhee wool. We’re so excited to show you what this new yarn can do on a larger canvas! Jared Flood’s masculine Svenson pullover, Norah Gaughan’s Shoji cocoon cardigan, and Véronik Avery’s Nila lap-front pullover were designed to make the most of Arbor’s vivid stitch definition and drape.

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If you need gift-knitting inspiration, Winter 17 offers up several unisex accessories. The Lancet hat can be worked in chunky Quarry for soft, tweedy, practically instant results or in Arbor for crisply defined chevrons and a full, nuanced palette. The Proof hat and Proof scarf can be paired for perfectly matched winter warmth.

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If your world needs a meditative still point, the soothing stockinette of Julie Hoover’s Rivage coat or the hypnotic shifting textures of Michele Wang’s Binary scarf may do the trick.

This collection is all about cozy comfort trimmed with distinctive details and innovative textures. We hope you’ll find something in the new lookbook to brighten the season for yourself and your loved ones. Happy knitting!

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Today we’re taking you behind the scenes to show you where Arbor gets its vibrant color: all aboard the bus for a field trip to Saco River Dyehouse!

When we set out to create a new palette of solid colors for Arbor, we felt Saco River Dyehouse in Biddeford, Maine would be the ideal partner for the job. We first worked with them on the colors for Plains, our single-batch Rambouillet laceweight, and the chance to collaborate on a fuller range of colors for Arbor was truly exciting. Apart from their skill at creating beautiful hues, Saco River stands apart in terms of environmental stewardship. This venerable company, which originally operated in Manhattan, changed ownership in 2012 and moved to an historic mill building on the banks of the Saco River in southern Maine. On a mission to bring their old-world craft into alignment with modern technologies and concerns, the dyehouse focused on making its processes organic and environmentally friendly. In 2013 it earned organic certification under the GOTS International Textile Standards, the only yarn-dyeing operation in the United States to have done so.

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Brooklyn Tweed’s woolen-spun heathered yarns are dyed in the fleece, but Arbor is different. It was spun in its natural sheep’s fleece white and then dyed in the skein. Skein-dyeing is a labor intensive and scientific process. It requires careful handling of the yarn and precise calibration of temperature and water flow to protect the lofty softness of the wool. The dyes must be mixed with perfect accuracy; it takes years of experience to master the chemical recipes that produce various colors and to achieve predictable and repeatable results—blue-greens are notoriously finicky, and even a single grain of pigment more or less can alter the final shade. The temperature must be adjusted over a process of several painstaking hours to develop certain colors or prevent a shift to unwanted overtones. Translating Jared’s vision for the Arbor palette into the final colors required many months of collaboration and test batches, but all that effort was well worth it. We love the depth and saturation the Saco River dyemasters were able to achieve.

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We’re excited about our partnership with Saco River Dyehouse and hope you’ll enjoy the many colors they’ve helped us create!

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We’ve loved following along with the Slow Fashion October movement this month and thought we’d join in the fun with a group photo featuring our Portland office team in their handknits.

Regardless of whether or not you participated in Slow Fashion October, we appreciate that there is a time set aside to have these conversations, which can be continued throughout the year. Read more about Slow Fashion October on the Fringe Association blog.

And in case you’re wondering what we’re wearing(!), patterns from left to right are: Stasis (Loft), Rift (Shelter), Manzanilla (Arbor), Sous Sous (Arbor), Little Wave (Shelter), Timberline (Shelter), Hayward (Loft), Freeport (Shelter doubled), Grettir (Shelter).

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