BT News

Keep up with our current projects, collections, ideas and announcements here

Our recent Foundations installment on Reading Your Knitting has had us thinking about our own developments as knitters, the things we’ve learned, and the things we continue to learn as we progress in our craft. So, we asked members of the Brooklyn Tweed Team to look back and share the moments that helped expand their skills, what marked a significant development in their knitting careers, and what finally made them gasp and say, “Oh, now I’m a knitter!”

Read on, laugh, and feel empowered by stories of our aha! moments — and share your own in the comments below!

 

I still have revelatory moments even though I’ve been knitting for a few years. There is always something new to learn with knitting, but my first of these moments happened when I finally figured out how to count my stitches and distinguish between a knit and a purl. When I first started, I couldn’t figure out how to do seed stitch because it kept becoming 1×1 ribbing. I was so confused and frustrated but that’s really how I learned to understand and read knitting. — Sara Cade, Wholesale Specialist

What finally made me gasp and say, “Oh, now I’m a knitter!” was when I learned how to fix lace by trying to figure out what Laura Nelkin was doing with her pinned out dropped stitches! — Kel Moore, Wholesale Manager

One of the things I made in my first year of being a “real” knitter was a large lace shawl. At the time I was in between teaching jobs and had a lot of time on my hands, which fueled a desire to experiment with patterns well beyond my beginner skill set so that I could expedite my knitterly growth. I dove right into that lace shawl pattern knowing full and well that it was beyond my abilities — but from that one single project I learned so, so much! I learned how to read a chart and how to read my stitches; I learned how to fix a mistake in a working row and a few rows below; and perhaps, most importantly, I learned how to let go and move on when things weren’t coming out perfectly. With every stitch I thank past Jamie for taking that leap early on and trusting herself to undertake such an unfamiliar (and at times scary) project. I continue to reap the benefits of her bravery to this day! — Jamie Maccarthy, Customer & Community Relations Specialist

I’d say that a significant marker of development in my knitting career came upon reading Knitting Without Tears by Elizabeth Zimmermann. A good friend handed me a copy when she learned I was ready to move beyond hats and scarves toward knitting garments. EZ’s recipes were eye-opening in that they gave both instruction and permission to move beyond the printed pattern, allowing the knitter to create a knitted item of her own creation. My path toward knitting independence was furthered upon attending Schoolhouse Press’s Knitting Camps, originated by EZ and now led by her daughter Meg Swansen. Over the years I attended camp, I learned additional ways to make my knitting my own as well as methods and techniques that improved my knitting skills. Experiencing gauge or rowing out issues with stockinette stitch? Try knitting-back-backwards. Want a tidier-looking ribbing? Use the Norwegian purl. Learning how to manipulate my stitches forwards and backwards, regardless of which side of the work is facing me, has improved my ability to read my stitches in a way that makes for smoother and more confident knitting. — Jen Hurley, Office Manager

 

I learned how to knit from a friend in high school. We used a booklet that we bought at a craft store and I happened upon a plain text website that had some basic knitting instructions that helped me cobble together enough guidance to knit garter stitch scarves. I exclusively used the Backwards Loop Cast-On for about six years or so, diligently knitting my scarves and other basic projects. I wasn’t aware at the time that there are many, many ways to cast on. I would cast on my stitches very loosely and as I’d knit, my gauge would inevitably tighten, resulting in a bell-shaped fabric on the cast-on edge of my project. Eventually, I heard about the Long-Tail Cast-On method. By this time there were YouTube videos with instructional tutorials, so I watched a video of this technique over and over until I figured out how to do it — it took me a lot of time and patience to master. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the feeling that I had when it finally clicked. I remember thinking that I could now knit anything and it would actually look how I wanted it to. For me, it marked the transition from homemade to handmade in my knitting journey and it opened the world of knitting wide open. — Christina Rondepierre, Marketing Manager

 

When I learned how to knit four years ago (while stuck in the dorms during the Portland Snowpocalypse of 2014), YouTube was my best friend. As a (shy) full-time student, I didn’t quite have many opportunities to seek out knitting groups or sign up for knitting classes at local yarn stores, so many of the resources that helped me gain my skills I had to find online. Now that I think about it, I’m actually quite lucky to have picked up the craft at a time when so many resources are easily accessible from the comfort of my electronic devices!

More recently however, I’ve found myself in a space and occupation where I get to talk and write about knitting all the timewhether via e-correspondences or with a team member a mere couple feet away from my desk. It’s amazing how trying to put into words how to perform a complicated knitting technique, how to perform a simple knitting technique, or even just expressing wonder at a pattern design can encourage one to think more deeply about what happens when you pick up two sticks and a string. So, by making these connections — in the mind and with fellow makers — the current (less shy) me has become very emboldened and eager to keep growing in this making journey. — Korina Yoo, Marketing Coordinator

View Comments Leave a Comment
Share
Categories:

The transition from spring to summer invites us to consider our knitting in new ways, and with this in mind we are elated to be releasing our Wool People 12 collection today with its array of easy to wear sweaters and accessories that are perfect for this seasonal shift.

Inspired by the organic subtleties of coastal formations, Wool People 12 elevates simplicity of shape with intricate details and engaging techniques. Each designer featured in this collection has made the most of our Loft, Peerie, Arbor, and Vale yarns — finding the sweet spot where lightness of hand meets structure and drape.

From budding talents to seasoned experts, we have been fortunate to collaborate with designers from around the world for our Wool People series, and treasure each opportunity to witness a melding of BT’s contemporary style with each individual designer’s aesthetic. 

Join us in celebrating the talents of our guest Wool People designers, and feel inspired by the serenity of the Oregon Coast while perusing the collection lookbook, where you’ll surely find your next summer knitting project.

View Comments Leave a Comment
Share
Categories:

Today we have the thrill and pleasure to share our newest core yarn with knitters around the world. Peerie is four worsted-spun plies of all-American Merino wool, soft and sleek and springy, perfectly suited for stranded colorwork and so much more. It comes in our largest palette yet — 45 sumptuous solids — to support the tonal shifts, complementary notes, and zings of contrast necessary for Fair Isle-inspired knits.

Any yarn we add to our permanent stable needs to be a true workhorse, so we made sure Peerie would shine in all kinds of projects, from textural stitchwork to cables to lace. You can see the results of our ardent swatching in our new lookbook.

 

Four patterns from our archives are now available with directions for knitting in Peerie as well as the original yarn. You’ll find the fresh versions in the lookbook, and if you already own the pattern you’ll see a free update posted to your library on our website and/or Ravelry.

Most of all, we hope Peerie inspires you to play with color. As a tasting project to introduce the new yarn and the possibilities of the palette Jared Flood’s Lucerne hat pattern is ideal for knitters new to colorwork, with short carries and simple three-and-one color exchanges. Download a Lucerne hat coloring page and start exploring the possibilities of Peerie’s 45 colorway palette. Kits are available in six different combinations of two to four hues to get you started. If you’d like to join us for a speedy knit along with the Lucerne hat, join us in the BT Fan Club on Ravelry today!

View Comments Leave a Comment
Share
Categories:

Colorwork traditions have steadily been on our minds since we began the development of Peerie, our first fingering-weight, worsted-spun yarn. Deeply rooted in knitting traditions from around the world, we have always had a fond place in our knitterly hearts for the use of color to transform knit fabric into a work of art representative of the region from which the chosen technique originated. The Shetland Isles are well known for their colorwork traditions, and the name “Peerie” comes from the Shetland vernacular meaning “small” — it felt apropos to name our newest core yarn as such, especially given that peerie bands played a large role in the development of Peerie’s color palette. 

With a mix of familiar colors from Vale and Arbor as well as new colorways unique to Peerie, its palette is our most expansive to date, with 45 colors that offer a rainbow of options for discerning and playful makers alike. The joyful interplay of color that can be captured by simply alternating between shades is a source of endless inspiration to us, and one that we never tire of. If you’ve ever worked a Fair Isle, stranded, or any other kind of colorwork motif, you likely know how important it is to have a range of hues and values to choose from. You may recall our recent post about creating a color story for a Galloway cardigan. These tips can be applied to any colorwork project and help with the selection of a Peerie palette, which includes 11 light values, 13 medium values, and 21 dark values. This range of colors provides a variety of tonal variations within each color family — enough choices and combinations to keep a knitter busy for quite a while!*

Though designed with colorwork in mind, Peerie is equally beautiful when used to showcase other stitchwork. Our lookbook, available on May 30, will feature an exploration of the textures, cables, and lace fabrics that can be created with Peerie and will serve as a source of inspiration to guide you through your wardrobe planning. 

Seeing Peerie in the hands of makers marks a new chapter in our yarn family. Its production strengthens our bond with our domestic supply chain partners, namely Jagger Brothers where the yarn is spun and Maine Dye and Textiles where the yarn is skein-dyed. Peerie is a continuation of our intention to expand upon our breed-specific yarn offerings, this time with a new fiber source: 100% Merino wool humanely sheared from sheep raised in the American West.

Peerie will be available for purchase on May 30 — we can’t wait for you to join us in celebrating the arrival of this beautiful yarn!

*Never knit colorwork before? That’s okay! Our upcoming Foundations series will be covering this topic so be sure to sign up for our Outpost newsletter if you haven’t yet.

View Comments Leave a Comment
Share
Categories:

In the wool world, there is perhaps no other fiber more ubiquitous than merino. From our fiber and making community to the ready-to-wear industry, merino has become interchangeable with wool, regardless of the specific fiber content of the wool. However, beyond fabric, yarn and other textiles, Merino itself is its own breed of sheep, with a rich history dating back to 12th century Spain and distinct fleece characteristics that make our breed-specific-loving hearts sing. How is it that this one word — merino — can refer to two quite different things?

As we discussed in our Foundations installment on Breed Specificity, most commercial wool yarn manufacturers who produce yarns for both handknitting and ready-to-wear garments, focus on blending wool from different breeds of sheep into a homogenous fiber with the aim of amplifying softness.

This quality of softness is often expressed via micron count. A micron is a unit of measurement used for the diameter, and therefore fineness, of a fiber — the lower the micron count, the finer the fiber; the higher the micron count, the hardier or “coarser” the fiber.

For a finewool, commercial wool yarn manufacturers aim for an average micron range of 19–21.5 microns. In the process of blending wool from various breeds of sheep, only fibers that fall within this range are added to the blend. The resulting fiber is then a carefully calculated amalgamation of finewools from various breeds. Over time, the term merino, associated with unrivaled softness, has become an epithet for this blended (though not necessarily Merino) wool. In other words, merino used in this way references the micron count of the (blended) wool and not the breed.

What, then, sets apart Merino the breed?

Merino sheep, after having undergone centuries of breed refinement, are known for producing fleeces of remarkable fineness. However, as shown above, Merino fleeces come in a wider micron range (11–25 microns) that extends far beyond the typical commercial finewool range (19–21.5 microns). In other words, even within the Merino family, there is notable variation in softness levels from fleece to fleece, depending on the sub-breed. There are ultrafine Merino fibers at one end of the spectrum and strong, more durable Merino fibers at the other end.

There are other qualities special to Merino the breed that may be dampened in a blend that only focuses on softness. Our passion for breed-specific wool invites us to highlight all of those qualities equally and so it was exciting for us to find Merino ranchers in Nevada and Utah able to produce enough fleece to support our new core yarn — Peerie.

The fleeces we sourced average at 20.5 microns — still within the typical finewool range, but retaining the Merino-specific quirks of supreme density, high tensile strength, high crimp, and delightful springiness. Worsted-spun into a smooth, 4-ply fingering-weight yarn, Peerie hits the sweet spot of being both next-to-skin soft and durable.

Peerie arrives on May 30th — we hope you’ll join us in welcoming and getting to know this newest companion on our breed-specific journey.

In writing this piece, we consulted Clara Parkes’s The Knitter’s Book of Wool and Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius’s The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook. We highly recommend these titles to those of you interested in further reading!

View Comments Leave a Comment
Share
Categories:

For the launch of Ranch 01, we decided to revisit a few of our favorite patterns from Jared’s Woolens collection. Pairing naturally dyed yarns with cozy accessory patterns was an instinctive choice — the tonal natural dyes used for Ranch 01 truly highlight the textures of the Far Hills Hat and Scarf set and the Furrow Cowl and Hat set.

We entrusted Winona and Tyler of Green Matters Natural Dye Company with our vision of a yarn that was minimally processed and reflected a closeness to the earth in its appearance. The breathtaking result is a yarn that exhibits a range of colorful variance within each colorway that captures the spirited nuance of the natural world. Each skein of Ranch 01 is as unique as it is beautiful.

If this is your first experience knitting with naturally dyed yarns, we would like to share with you what we’ve found as we’ve learned a lot about natural dyes along our journey of developing and knitting with Ranch 01. As you handle Ranch 01, it may decide to impart some of its earthy remnants onto your person, tools, and/or general surroundings. Some natural dyes, particularly indigo, continue to release particles of unbound color due to the friction of handling. This process is called crocking and it may stain your fingers temporarily or your needles. The act of knitting usually completes the removal of any excess dye matter, so you shouldn’t experience any color transfer in wearing your finished garment after wet blocking. You may rest assured that the color will wash off of hands with soap and warm water.

When caring for finished Ranch 01 pieces, soaking for several minutes with cool water and a pH neutral soap works best to avoid any color modification. Do also know that while the dyes used for Ranch 01 are considered “light-fast,” meaning that they don’t easily fade away with exposure to sunlight, keeping the yarn from direct sun exposure will prolong its beauty. With proper care, knits made with Ranch 01 will serve you well for years to come.

To learn more about the characteristics of and materials used for Ranch 01, feel free to download our handy “Tip Sheet” here.

The garments used in our Ranch 01 photoshoot were designed, handcrafted, and generously loaned to us by Aliya Wanek, a designer based in Oakland, California.

View Comments Leave a Comment
Share
Categories:

Today we welcome Ranch 01, the first in an exciting series of small batch, limited edition, ranch- and breed-specific yarns. The creation of Ranch 01 has marked a special moment in our journey to highlight breed-specific wools, a moment that began with a beautiful clip of Climate Beneficial Wool from The Bare Ranch’s Rambouillet sheep. From the rangeland of Surprise Valley to Jagger Brothers’s bobbins and then to Green Matters’s natural dye pots, Ranch 01 has been a true labor of love.

[[Video 265671891]]

Each skein of Ranch 01 holds within it a hope for a re-imagined fiber landscape — one where sheep, people, and the land are treated with respect and care. We hope you enjoy knitting with Ranch 01, and can’t wait to see what you make!

View Comments Leave a Comment
Share
Categories:

As Jared set out to develop Ranch 01, the yarn’s origin story and the mission to support Climate Beneficial farming guided him to seek a dyehouse that could create a palette using only natural dye materials. In a moment of kismet, a young enterprise called Green Matters Natural Dye Company reached out to Brooklyn Tweed with a proposal for a dyeing project. A special collaboration was born, and today we profile Green Matters’s work in developing the colors for Ranch 01.

Green Matters Natural Dye Company was founded by two entrepreneurs who want to make a positive impact on society and the environment. Winona Quigley, after several years of working for luxury fashion houses in New York City, realized her calling was to explore sustainability and natural dye processes within the realm of fashion. Tyler Stoltzfus, a consummate problem-solver who likes to get his hands dirty, shared the same passion for the environment. Together, this duo decided to channel their experiences in winning college entrepreneurship competitions to address the water pollution caused by the garment industry.

In establishing a natural dyehouse, Winona and Tyler aim to discover new ways to incorporate plant dyes in an industrialized world. They grow or forage as many of their dyestuffs locally as they can, compost all their exhausted dyebath matter, and source more exotic materials from fair-trade partners. They have also formed a network of relationships to help their clients connect with producers of sustainably farmed fiber. In 2015, Winona received the Tishman Scholarship for Sustainability to create a zero-waste, locally sourced, naturally dyed knitwear collection.

Green Matters’s vision for environmentally responsible fashion made them the perfect partner for our Ranch 01 project. To create the custom palette, Winona first presented her own distillation of Brooklyn Tweed’s aesthetic by presenting color swatches in the form of yarn pigtails. The palette arose from the possibilities available in nature, using sources abundant enough to support dyeing an entire yarn line. Jared selected the final colorways, choosing hues derived from marigold, indigo, madder root, lac and cochineal insects, tannins, and iron.

Natural dyeing captures the beautiful irregularities of nature itself — just as wine imparts the flavors of terroir along with the native characteristics of the grape and the artistry of the winemaker, plants yield different colors depending on soil, weather, and other environmental factors. The dye strikes the wool more strongly here, more gently there, to produce rich tonal variations. Fabric knit from Ranch 01 will have subtle streaks and shifting depths, so we recommend alternating skeins for a smooth blend in larger projects. Because all the colors are naturally occurring, there is harmony across the palette that invites unusual color play.

Knitting with Ranch 01 gives us a new appreciation for the range of colors that skillful artisans like Green Matters can capture from natural materials. We hope you’ll love watching the soothing ripples of these beautiful hues, knowing that they’re easy on the earth as well as on the eyes.

Welcome Ranch 01 with us next week on April 20.

The photos in this post are courtesy of Winona Quigley and Madelyn Snow at Green Matters Natural Dye Company.

View Comments Leave a Comment
Share
Categories:

Last week, we delved into the story of one of the many remarkable teams who seamlessly came together to see to fruition the first iteration of our Ranch Project — Bare Ranch in Surprise Valley, California, whose devoted efforts at sustainably stewarding their land and animals resulted in the extraordinary Climate Beneficial American Rambouillet wool that we sourced and spun for Ranch 01. It was through our work with Bare Ranch that we connected with Fibershed and what would become another integral chapter in the Ranch 01 story, and hopefully in our collective fiber and making story as well.

[[Video 263077255]]

A fibershed is a concept referring to a strategic geography that defines a textile resource base, much like a watershed or a foodshed. In that sense, it means being connected to a place and a landscape, knowing what grows there, what options for production are possible there, and then supporting and relying on those resources to fulfill basic necessities such as water, food, shelter — and clothing. It is a step away from the human and environmental impacts of fast fashion and a return to tightly knit local communities founded on meaningful, necessity-based relationships. In many ways, it also points to a radical act of slowing down and of reinvesting attention and care into materials, whether inherited, made, or purchased.

As an organization, Fibershed is a 501(c)(3) non-profit founded by textile artist, author, and educator Rebecca Burgess. Their mission focuses on educating consumers and independent producers on strategic fiber systems and on connecting wearers to the soil in which their clothing was grown. Fibershed is also doing work in actualizing the concept of fibershed in regions such as Northern California and the Pacific Northwest, regenerating landscapes through carbon farm planning, rebuilding local manufacturing, and empowering regional communities. Fibershed envisions a soil-to-soil cycle of textile production, which decentralizes the conventional textile supply chain and ensures that textiles make their way back to the soil, ultimately for greater environmental, economic, and social benefit.

Climate Beneficial illustration by Fibershed

Fibershed is doing groundbreaking and awe-inspiring work in this regard through education efforts, research on fiber systems, and their Producer and Affiliate Programs. Their research on fiber systems is particularly fascinating in that they are aimed at bolstering fibersheds by developing land-based models and methods for reviving historically local fiber and dye plants and animals, and for creatively rethinking the ways in which local landscapes have been used in order to cultivate new textile resources (that might otherwise be imported). For example, through extensive research with Indiana University professor Rowland Ricketts (trained in indigo farming and dyeing in Japan), they were able to grow and process Japanese indigo in temperate northern California. Meanwhile, our very own Pacific Northwest Fibershed is working to revitalize the flax plant (which produces linen) in Oregon, which historically, up until the 1950s, supported the only flax industry in the United States.

Fibershed’s Producer and Affiliate Programs serve to inspire and continue these grassroots efforts at both developing and reviving regional fiber communities. The Producer Program (of which Bare Ranch is a member) connects farmers, ranchers, spinners, mill owners and textile artists working in northern and central California. The Affiliate Program is its global counterpart, which now has 35 national affiliates (or chapters) and 15 international affiliates. Those interested in participating in these affiliated fibersheds — whether they’re a producer, a scientist, a maker, or a consumer — can express and develop their skills while learning others in contribution to the “shed of their existence.”

Photo by Paige Green Photography

Re-imagining our involvement and investment in local communities is rooted in this: being connected to your materials and resources, knowing where they are from, keeping them in play for as long as possible, and then putting them to rest in the manner they are due. If it is say, a wool sweater, this can mean sourcing a yarn that was produced responsibly, taking the time to turn it into a garment, loving and wearing it to bits, and then composting it at the end of its life so it can regenerate the soil from which it came. In the words of Rebecca Burgess, “It’s healthy to find ourselves in a place where we feel like we need each other and the plants and animals, and to have respect for them. And it’s hard to have respect for things if you don’t know where they come from or if you don’t know who you owe your gratitude to.”

In that vein, next week we will visit the last chapter in our Ranch 01 story, Green Matters Natural Dye Company and the work they have done in imparting the earth’s colors to this beautiful Rambouillet wool.

View Comments Leave a Comment
Share
Categories:

One of the most joyful aspects of our work at Brooklyn Tweed is connecting with remarkable individuals in the world of wool. Melding passions and expertise can create magic, and we couldn’t be more excited to offer Ranch 01, a new single-batch yarn that showcases extraordinary Rambouillet wool grown by the Estill family of Bare Ranch.

In addition to Rambouillet sheep, the Estills also raise Suffolk sheep, cattle, and hay, on a northern California ranch first established by Thomas Bare in 1888. Nestled in the Surprise Valley on the Nevada border, the Bare Ranch was built by pioneers and is now an early partner in efforts to rethink the ways ranchers use rangeland pasture. The Estills are working with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and Fibershed to adopt innovative Climate Beneficial farm practices that sequester carbon, repair damaged streams, and steward their land and animals. As part of the Fibershed movement, Bare Ranch is also connecting with regional artisans to keep their wool clip close to home. The Estills now send some fleeces to a local mill to produce woven wool fabric called Community Supported Cloth.

Lani Estill noticed the incredible quality of their purebred Rambouillet wool and wanted to find a buyer who would share in her appreciation of the fleece, as well as share in the vision of giving back to the land to make wool production truly sustainable. She sought to work with a buyer willing to pay a premium for her top-quality wool as a means of investing in Fibershed to support the ranch’s work of creating a regenerative landscape — for example, by adding compost to their soils, planting miles of trees in windbreaks, restoring stream ecosystems to health, developing rotational grazing practices, and increasing the use of no-till farming practices. Brooklyn Tweed was honored to answer that call, and we believed many of our customers would be as excited as we are to play a part in this worthy story.

It’s rare to find a supply chain that goes all the way back to an individual ranch, and rarer still to find a ranch working so hard to change both their practices and their business partnerships to create better models of fiber production, community, and environmental stewardship. When you purchase a skein of Ranch 01, you’re supporting Bare Ranch’s work towards sequestering the amount of carbon equal to what is produced by 865 passenger vehicles every year. (You can read Bare Ranch’s Carbon Plan here.)  You’re directly funding implementation of a Climate Beneficial farming plan that will let the ranch draw six to nine times more carbon out of the atmosphere than it emits in livestock production. And you’re contributing to improvements in forage, shelter, and health for Bare Ranch’s 4,000 sheep.

We also think you’ll thoroughly enjoy knitting with the buttery soft, bouncy, 3-ply worsted-weight yarn we created from Bare Ranch’s beautiful Rambouillet. As you select your favorite hues from the naturally dyed palette, we hope you’ll meditate on how this special wool plays a role in making your crafting more local and more environmentally sustainable. Our post next week will take you deeper into the idea of Fibershed, a movement and organization founded by Rebecca Burgess to connect local farmers, artisans, and consumers and to radically change our framework for textile production.

All of the photos in this post are courtesy of Paige Green Photography.

View Comments Leave a Comment
Share
Categories: