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Since clothing is an essential human necessity, an initial awareness of fast fashion’s pitfalls can be disheartening. Rather than becoming overwhelmed by the enormity of the scope of fast fashion and its range of issues, though, we choose to focus on things we can change by thoughtfully considering how our role as a business in the textile industry can support the burgeoning slow fashion movement.

In its present form, slow fashion has been steadily gaining a foothold in the crafting and making communities over the last decade. We find this movement and the conversations it inspires deeply significant, being firm believers in making intentional choices about the products we manufacture and design. By choosing to focus on quality over quantity, and striving to produce yarns and patterns that embody timeless style and lasting beauty, we can help to ensure our business practices are in line with the slow fashion principles.

As it is with slow fashion, traceability is also important to our work. By being able to identify the origins of a product and its production path at every step, we are able to ensure that our production processes are sound and our impact on the environment is as minimal as possible. Our breed-specific wool yarns are sourced from and support ranchers who are taking the time to care for their flocks of sheep (and their wooly coats). A breed-specific wool yarn preserves the natural character of each singular source of fiber, which in turn gives your finished garments unique personality.

Our domestic manufacturing efforts aim to bolster local communities and contribute a revenue source for domestic production facilities that are preserving textile traditions or changing the landscape of the textile industry in the United States. Working with mills and dye houses such as Harrisville Designs, Jagger Spun, G.J. Littlewood and Sons, and Saco River Dyehouse gives us the opportunity to support companies that face the challenge of preserving and passing down their knowledge to the next generation.

In our knitwear design house, we strive to create patterns that are as thoroughly and thoughtfully considered as our breed-specific yarns. Patterns are developed over the course of a year and are designed to be wardrobe staples that will be of value for years, if not generations, to come. Each pattern undergoes a vigorous technical editing process before making its way to our talented sample knitters who knit each piece by hand. We aim to provide well-written and supported patterns that allow knitters to enjoy the process of creating garments by hand while simultaneously taking control of their wardrobe options.

Next week we’ll be continuing this discussion by providing some practical steps you can take with your own wardrobe in order to participate in slow fashion.

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The cooler months here in Portland, Oregon often find our hardy locals eschewing umbrellas to brave the rain in hoodies, and our obvious choice against the local elements is a knit hat tucked into a pocket or bag. Wanting this workhorse to serve faithfully through capricious downpours as well as fashion trends, we look for versatile hat patterns we trust. Our go-to lately has been Mawson, a watch cap released last summer to commemorate the launch of Shelter’s three marled hues.

During the crush of last year’s gift knitting season in our office — we lovingly called it our “Mawson holiday” — the BT crew knit a total of 12 Mawson hats. It wasn’t long before we reached for Arbor to try a modification of the original, and we wanted to share it with you, too.

Arbor’s Mawson uses the exact directions as the original Shelter version (the stretchy ribbed fabric makes for a standard fit for both DK and worsted weight yarns), and we even riffed a bit on the original, adding a half-twisted rib* version to highlight the worsted-spun stitch definition. As a slightly more fitted hat, the Arbor version makes a great foil against the wind. And a palette of 30 shades offers a chance for a sophisticated nod to a favorite piece of outerwear or even a beloved alma mater.

Even if you’re not as adventurous as the pattern’s namesake Australian explorer, Mawson’s rib cable cast on and unique double decreases may still bring you a few new discoveries in your knitting. Special crown decreases lay flat and make the hat completely reversible, while also forming a distinct three-legged crown shaping. (Andriknitsalot of Ravelry keenly observed the resemblance to a trillium flower.)

The humble back-and-forth of Mawson’s one knit, one purl stitch combo — any way you twist it — is both relaxing and handsome. Along with providing a meditative knitting process, it gives the fabric enough stretchiness and structure to allow slouch without flop.

We’re not sure yet which patterns will go viral across our BT knitting bags this fall, but this is one we have our eyes on as our thoughts turn happily to cooler weather!

* Our half-twisted rib variation simply involves working all the knit stitches TBL (through the back loop) on all even-numbered rounds. In other words, twist your knit stitches every other round to achieve this distinctive variation.

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Here at BT headquarters, we’re always on the lookout for accessory pairings to keep us covered from head to toe in wool. Since the launch of our Fall 17 collection, we’ve been queuing up all of the accessory patterns in the collection. First up on our collective needles are the Wallace wrap and the Huck beanie.

While some may hesitate to mix such rich motifs, we think that the textured patterning of Wallace coupled with the high-relief cables of Huck creates the perfect partnership of visual and tactile interest. Additionally, pairing Quarry and Arbor gives ample opportunity to play with fabric, drape, and color, adding another layer of visible interest to your wardrobe — not to mention, you’ll be plenty warm bundled up in all of that wool!

With color stories still fresh on our minds since our recent post about hue and value, we thought it’d be fun to play with some color combinations featuring our three new Quarry colorways for a Wallace wrap matched with some of the deep and nuanced hues of Arbor for a Huck beanie. Whether you color-coordinate your accessories with your wardrobe or prefer to knit contrasting accent pieces, we’ve compiled some curated palettes to suit many tastes.

Granite — Described as a steady, enduring, medium grey, we think that a Wallace wrap knit in Granite would pair wonderfully with a neutral Huck beanie knit up in either Parka, Degas, Cobbler, or Fleet.

Lapis — If you’re a knitter who prefers clear summer skies, a Wallace wrap knit with Lapis will surely keep the winter chill away. Brighten up your Wallace by pairing it with a Huck beanie knit with Tincture or Thaw. Alternatively, a dark-neutral version in the Porter or Dorado colorways would look equally stunning.

Garnet — A deep red flecked with pops of several bright colors including purple, rust, and gold, a Wallace wrap knit with this colorway is sure to excite your senses. A Huck beanie knit with either Klimt, Kettle, Nightfall, or Potion would complement your wrap quite nicely. 

It’s not too late to cast on your first, or maybe second, project for the #BTFall17KAL. Join in on the fun and start your accessory pairing today!

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Every October we pause and ponder on slow fashion: what it is and what it means to us as a company and as individuals. Though you may be hard-pressed to find a concrete definition of what this movement is all about as it moves in and out of our collective consciousness, Karen Templer of the Fringe Association blog writes that the intention behind starting the slow fashion conversation in our modern maker community was to celebrate “the small-batch, handmade, second-hand, well-loved, long-worn, known-origins wardrobe.”

Our vocation to continue supporting domestic textile production and empowering knitters with patterns that can become staples in their wardrobes feeds directly into the goals and outcomes of the slow fashion movement. Needless to say, all of us here at Brooklyn Tweed have a deep investment in slow fashion and thought we’d first share some thoughts on the subject from our staff and then invite you to join the conversation by commenting below.

Making one’s own clothing meant garments with higher quality fabric and craftsmanship, while exercising creativity and individuality. I continued to sew through high school and college and beyond. When my children were young, I made clothes, toys, and costumes.  The family was given matching pajama bottoms every year for Christmas. Eventually, I had less time due to family life, and then full-time work, to pursue sewing with the same passion and commitment. Quilting replaced sewing, then knitting replaced quilting. I still consider myself a sewer and a quilter but those activities require equipment and knitting is so very portable.

I feel that the pendulum is swinging and I’m interested in garment sewing again. It is like many activities in life — the more you do, the better you get, with the converse being true as well. Time away from the sewing machine has meant reacquainting myself with techniques and construction methods — not a bad way to spend one’s time.

The current Slow Fashion October trend doesn’t really speak to me because I was participating in slow fashion long before it was a thing. I wore hand-me-downs, bought used clothing, and made my own clothes as a way of life. While it’s interesting to see what people are doing for Slow Fashion October, I’m more inclined to keep doing my own thing which isn’t limited to a certain time period or social movement.

– Stephanie Engle, Production Coordinator

 

Slow fashion to me means being mindful of what I am choosing to wear, from considering who is making my clothes to the source of the materials to the working conditions of the maker. If I’m the maker, it also means taking time to pay attention to the design and being proud of creating something by my own hands that will be enjoyed by either myself or my loved ones.

– Jen Hurley, Office Manager

 

Fashion isn’t everything. But we all have to clothe ourselves, and I think how you choose to do that says a huge amount about your character. Many people don’t know the stories behind the clothes I wear: the hours it took to knit a sweater or charity shop in which I found my favorite woolly cardigan. And they don’t have to — but I do. 

– Anna Moore, Art Production Coordinator

 

To be honest, I’m still working on wrapping my head around the “slow” of slow fashion, specifically in the context of my making. I deeply respect its ethos, and after impulsively — and soullessly — dancing with fast fashion in my high school and early college years, I’ve learned the hard way exactly how crucial it is to tangibly exercise consciousness in the seemingly superficial act of clothing oneself. Thankfully, asking myself such questions as, “What is this? Where did this come from? How was this made? Will I wear it? Will I love it?” is every day becoming more and more an instinct. At some point in this learning process it just suddenly made a lot of sense to invest more in making my own garments, too.

And here lies the challenge for me. I do love knitting as a process, but I may actually be a 100% product knitter. Since I spend a lot of time thinking about how a project will fit in my rotation, as a matter of principle, the vision of the finished piece becomes the sole focus of my making, which quickly — defiantly — turns impatient. In other words, I value the slow of handmade, but still expect myself to work like a machine, to churn out pieces like a factory — hence the debilitating guilt when projects languish and incapacitating fear of failure or “wasted” time when planning a custom piece.

I don’t believe we should take garments at face value. Rather, I believe we should be constantly working to uncover the stories they tell about how they came to be and what those, in turn, say about their makers and their wearers. Yet for some reason I find it difficult to do this uncovering when it comes to my making. I find it difficult to accept my own processes as useful and illuminative in their own right.

Thankfully, I’ve recently found myself surrounded by amazing people who are actively pushing me to realize the value of the process in all of its unhurried, yet frighteningly spontaneous (to me), yet infinitely creative glory. So my work this month is to meet them halfway in this quest to understand “slow” by being kinder to myself, allowing mistakes, allowing room for “distractions” (sometimes a movie just begs to be watched without the stress to multitask!), accepting my limitations, and really, not worrying about failing too much.

– Korina Yoo, Creative Coordinator

“There is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger and unhappiness.” –  Mahatma Gandhi

There are so many elements of the fashion industry that are broken and harmful nowadays and I have always loved this quote for really stating this feeling so simply and strikingly. For me slow fashion means making my own clothes through sewing or knitting, buying from ethical producers, extending the life of a garment through mending, and resurrecting treasures from charity and thrift shops. It is not a frivolous privilege but a necessity.

– Lis Smith, Wholesale Specialist

 

Growing up in a family of crafters, sewing, thrifting, and embellishing clothes were just part of daily life. With three kids at home, figuring out how things were made and then making them ourselves was a necessity as well as useful entertainment. That early interest in craft led me to a degree in theatre with a focus in costume design and historical fashion — really digging into the process of how and why textiles and garments were created in the past and using that knowledge to create something new. I discovered the community aspect of crafting later, after ending up working in IT (like a lot of art majors). Finding a group of people to learn from, create with, and pass on skills to was hugely beneficial — and eventually allowed me to make a career jump to the knitting industry. So my introduction to slow fashion began in a communal, creative, knowledge-sharing environment.

From there, it was a natural progression from simply making things to learning about the real-world impact of the materials I was making things out of. How was this fabric or yarn made? Who is making it? Where is the fiber sourced from? Are the land and animals being managed ethically? Are workers receiving fair wages and working in safe conditions? What is the environmental consequence of commercial production? What materials can I use that support sustainability and ecologically sound practices? And realistically, how can I implement these considerations into daily life as a consumer and crafter, as well as encourage and enable others to do so?

The last, in particular, is a balancing act. Of course I want to make every new pattern I see, and to buy all the beautiful yarn and fabric I can get my hands on, but then I’m just back to fast fashioning my slow fashion — and how many of those projects will I actually finish? My goals for Slow Fashion October this year are to look before I leap (and purchase), to complete and use the things I make, and, I think most importantly, to explore how I can better share slow fashion with others who may not enjoy the same access to knowledge, materials, or simply time to craft that I am privileged to have.

– Kel Moore, Wholesale Specialist

 

I grew up wearing a uniform to school every day, so when it came time to dress myself in high school, and more importantly as an adult, I was at a bit of a loss. It’s taken me many, many years to realize that in making my own clothing, I’m able to identify how I want to dress and present myself to the world in a way that simply can’t be done with ready to wear clothing. Initially, I liked the challenge of making my own clothing, but what has become more meaningful to me is to be able to find my personal style through my creativity and handwork. 

— Christina Rondepierre, Marketing Coordinator

 

I have a lot of fraught feelings about Slow Fashion, mostly to do with how accessible it is. So often the rhetoric is about the individual: “This is what I am doing…” “My intentions are…” “These things matter to me…” While focusing on our individual actions is one step in the process of effecting change, it’s absolutely necessary to move beyond that at some point to consider “we,” “us,” and “our.”

More than anything else, Slow Fashion is about creating community and sharing knowledge. As makers, what are we doing to empower other makers and non-makers in our communities? When will we start hosting workshops on making, thrifting, and mending? When will we begin sharing our stashes and knowledge with those who don’t have the privilege to shop small or learn on their own?

It’s not enough to tell folks to not judge themselves if they are unable to legitimate their standing in this moment through the purchasing of known materials or garments, nor is it enough to linger on the sidelines cheering folks on. Let’s take to the streets arm in arm and work to inspire and share our knowledge with makers and non-makers alike. When we work together, we can make an impact on more closets than just our own.

– Jamie Maccarthy, Customer Service

Join us next week for Part 2 of this series, when we’ll share more about how Brooklyn Tweed’s story and business model reflects similar values as the slow fashion principles. In the meantime, we’d love to hear your own thoughts and responses to the above ideas and considerations.

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Introducing three new Quarry colors, just in time for winter knitting. Garnet and Lapis add brightness to the existing mineral-based hues, and Granite rounds out our grey and black palette, complementing Moonstone, Slate, and Obsidian.

To see these new colors knit up, we’ve re-knit Burnaby, Lancet, and Halus (shown above from right to left). Each hat can be knit with just one skein of Quarry — pick your new favorite color and knit away!

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Bon tricot! Glückliches stricken! ハッピーニット! Счастливого вязания!

Over the years, Brooklyn Tweed has occasionally released translations of individual patterns in languages other than English. For the first time ever, we’re pleased to announce that as of today, the entire 12-piece Fall 17 collection is now available in French, German, Japanese and Russian. We cherish knitting traditions from around the world as well as support diversity within our collective knitting culture. For these reasons, we chose to work with native-speaking translators who are knitters themselves to bring a full Brooklyn Tweed pattern collection to more knitters of the world. May these additional pattern translations help bridge the barrier when it comes to sharing handwork options globally.

When you purchase a Brooklyn Tweed pattern through our webstore or on Ravelry.com, the pattern PDF will automatically be available in all of its translations. The file name of each PDF designates its language. If you have already purchased a pattern from the Fall 17 collection, the translated versions are available to download in your BT account and/or Ravelry library. (If you’re purchased patterns from our webstore, read how to transfer them to your Ravelry library here.)

Additionally, our Pattern Translations page serves as a resource where you can find a list of all the translations available for Brooklyn Tweed patterns. This list is frequently updated as we’re committed to continuing to offer this service and sharing Brooklyn Tweed patterns with the world’s knitters.

Are there particular patterns from the BT Archives that you wish to see translated into a particular language? If so, leave us a comment below with the pattern name and language and we will add it to our wishlist!

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We’re ready as ever to start knitting for our fall and winter wardrobes, and are eager to have you cast on with us for Brooklyn Tweed’s Fall 17 Knitalong! From now through November 10th we’ll be knitting away at our favorite patterns from the Fall 17 collection.

In the Brooklyn Tweed Ravelry group there has been talk of knitting Hucks, Galloways, and Ginsbergs. Those of us here at BT Headquarters also have plans to knit a few Wallace wraps and Hunter vests. How about you?

Visit our Ravelry group KAL thread to share photos of your project as well as cheer your fellow knitters along. Feel free to use hashtags #BrooklynTweedKAL and #BTFall17KAL on Ravelry, Facebook, and Instagram to join in on the fun and so that we can see what you are making.

We can’t wait to knit along with you!

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The Scandinavian-inspired Galloway cardigan is the perfect blank canvas for knitters wanting to explore “painting with yarn.” Stranded garments that use four colors, like this one, offer a staggering range of possibilities for how your finished sweater looks; the colorway shown in our photos is just one of hundreds of ways you could interpret the design.

When Jared was creating this garment, he tested many color combinations and came up with a total of eight color combinations to get your gears turning. We’re also providing some resources about hue and value to help you make informed color decisions for your own project.

Understanding Color

Generally speaking, the goal of selecting a color palette for colorwork knitting is to ensure the pattern will be easily discernible in the finished fabric, and not muddied or lost among neighboring colors.

Both the hue and value of a color are essential considerations in determining how successful your chosen colorway will be. Simply put, value refers to a color’s relative degree of lightness or darkness (picture a greyscale) and hue is the noticeable attribute of a color (redness, greenness, etc.)

If these terms or concepts are new to you, check out an in-depth explanation about hue and value in Jared’s post about color theory.

Color Values in the Shelter Palette

Above we’ve shown the Shelter palette broken down into three value categories: dark, medium, and light.

In the Galloway pattern, four colors are used to knit the cardigan. Selecting the background color first (C1 in Galloway) will allow you to make better decisions about the rest of your palette, so we recommend you start there.

Selecting colors from all three categories (light, medium, and dark) is always the best approach to stranded colorwork, especially with smaller motifs. When yarns from all three categories are represented, the pattern will have visual “pop.” Alternatively, if multiple colors of very similar values are used, pattern motifs will be difficult to discern.

To give you a sense of the different values used in our samples, we’ve written them down for you here. Use the value categories, corresponding colorways, and the samples listed below as a guide to mix and match your own combinations.

As you can see, some of the mid-values may be used as darks because their hue is so strong/bright that they will hold their own against dark neutrals. With color, everything depends on relative combinations — meaning rules can often be broken — but using the dark/medium/light value approach is a great starting point for color planning, especially if these concepts are new for you.

Compare Colors on Our Website

 

Our yarn product pages feature a useful “Compare Colors” feature aimed to help knitters in color selection. On the Shelter yarn page, select the Compare Colors button just above the color selection box. Once open you can select the colors in the palette and reorganize or remove them to view colors side-by-side.

Additional Color Palette Inspiration

The Grettir pullover also requires four colors of Shelter to knit. For additional color palette inspiration on a similar-style project to Galloway, check out the Grettir projects knit with Shelter on Ravelry.

Speed Swatching for Circular Knitting

Once you’ve made a decision about a final colorway using the above information, it’s time to swatch and test your choices! In knitting, there is simply no substitution for knitting a swatch to see how the finished fabric will appear, and this has never been more true with colorwork. Even experienced colorwork knitters sometimes are surprised by their results with a given color combination after swatching, and it’s always better to be surprised — whether positively or otherwise — on a swatch than on your finished garment!

The Galloway pattern includes instructions on how to speed swatch in the round for colorwork patterns. After swatching, you may find that you need to swap the position of two or more of your colors to achieve a more visually interesting fabric, or even replace one or more of your initial choices to finesse a fabric that needs a touch more contrast.

(And even if you’re using one of our pre-selected color palettes, speed swatching is still important in order to ensure you’re getting gauge!)

We’re Here to Help

Although the Galloway pattern is considered advanced, the required techniques are described at length in the pattern and we’re always here to help. You can reach us on Ravelry in the Brooklyn Tweed Fan Club group or email our pattern support specialist directly at support@brooklyntweed.com. Perhaps you’ll challenge yourself to knit this eye-catching colorwork cardigan during the BT Fall 17 KAL. If so, we’ll be right there with you every step of the way.

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Every year we find ourselves eagerly awaiting the end of summer and the transition to fall. We’re especially excited to share with you this year’s BT Fall collection because it reminds us of all the things we love about the season. We’re looking forward to settling down to work in earnest on our cold-weather wardrobes and for any excuse to wear our knitwear in the meantime.

Join us on Ravelry for our BT Fall 17 KAL to kickstart this transitional knitting season. Choose your favorite pattern (or two!) from the BT Fall 17 collection and join in the fun — the official cast-on day is September 29 so there’s plenty of time to mull over your ideas. We invite you to share what you’re planning to knit in the BT Fan Club forum as the kick-off approaches.

In celebration of the KAL, the Wallace wrap pattern is available to purchase as a limited-edition kit with Quarry yarn. This quick-to-knit and easy-to-memorize pattern will keep you busy throughout the KAL, and you’ll be sure to cross the KAL finish line with a wrap large enough for keeping warm through the rest of the season’s knitting. The Wallace kit ships for free domestically through September 22, just in time to reach you for cast-on day.

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September in the Pacific Northwest is for picking apples, walking the riverbanks under yellow alders, and gathering with friends to watch flocks of migrating swifts bed down for the night in the old school chimneys. Inspired by Oregon country living, our Fall 17 collection offers respite from the city grind. Whether you prefer to curl up in a handsome library with a view of the forest fringe or walk the pastures amongst horses and llamas, the lookbook we’ll release on Wednesday the 13th promises solace and spark for your autumn knitting plans.

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