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Recently released, Vale is the first laceweight offering in our line of core yarns. Since we also currently have our small-batch laceweight Plains in stock, we thought we’d tell you a little more about their similarities as well as their unique qualities. 

Vale and Plains share many similar characteristics: they are both two-ply, worsted spun, breed-specific laceweight yarns made from Rambouillet fleece grown on the plains of Wyoming. Soft and crimpy, Rambouillet is prized for its loft and bounce and creates accessories and garments that are both durable and springy. Patterns made from either Vale or Plains will be warm, light and airy.

Despite these similarities, Vale and Plains also have nuanced differences that make for unique knitting hand and finished fabric characteristics. While both yarns are spun worsted for strength, Plains is a slightly rustic yarn, intentionally spun a bit thick-and-thin which lends a lot of spring to its step. Scoured and combed into buttery smooth top before spinning, the more polished Vale is spun with an even twist and weight, lending a balance and evenness to it while still maintaining some of the bounce of Plains.

When it comes to the micron count of wool, the smaller the number, the softer the fiber. The fleece used for Plains has a micron count of 22. Vale’s micron count is 21.5, making it the softest fiber we’ve sourced to date. Even this small decrease in micron count makes a noticeable difference in terms of the softness of hand of the finished fiber.

The color palettes for both yarns were designed in-house by Jared Flood. The Plains palette offers an assortment of colors, many of which have a counterpart in our worsted-spun, DK-weight Arbor palette. While Vale’s palette incorporates a few favorites from the Arbor yarn line as well, it was uniquely curated to showcase the softer and more sophisticated tones within the color wheel, and in particular was inspired by Jared’s nature photographs taken during his travels (see more of those in our new lookbook).

Working with Mountain Meadow Mill in Wyoming, the same location as the source of the fleece, Plains was Brooklyn Tweed’s first foray into limited-edition yarns. Since Plains is a small-batch, special release, when it’s gone, it’s gone. Conversely, Vale marks an expansion of our permanent offerings of worsted-spun yarns. As an addition to our core yarn line, you can count on Vale being around for years to come (although we do hope that you give it a try sooner than later!).

We are eager to hear about your experience knitting with our newest core yarn Vale, and encourage you to knit with Plains while you still can!

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Today we’re excited to announce a new addition to Brooklyn Tweed’s permanent stable of yarns: an airy Rambouillet laceweight from the softest fleece we’ve ever offered. Vale has been in development since last year and it’s been hard to keep it under our hats! Like all its BT cousins, this breed-specific yarn is 100% American made, from sheep to dyepot. Vale will be available for purchase on May 17. Ready for a sneak peek?

The Fiber

Rambouillet sheep are also known as French Merinos; two hundred years of careful breeding developed a fleece with even more crimp and bounce than the merino that’s widely available today. In the United States, Rambouillets are a favorite finewool breed on the western plains. The growers we work with in Wyoming achieve wool with a micron count of 21.5, the softest fiber we’ve used to date.

The Process

The same partners who help us produce Arbor bring our Rambouillet bales from raw fleece to finished skein. Chargeurs, based in South Carolina, scours it clean and combs it into the smooth and consistent top that’s required for worsted spinning. The fiber is shipped on to Maine for worsted spinning at the Jagger Brothers mill, and then travels a short distance to the Saco River Dyehouse for eco-friendly skein dyeing.

The Colors

Vale’s 14 custom shades augment some touchstone colors from the Arbor line with sophisticated softer tones. Dusty rose shades, glacial blues, and lichen yellows form a focused palette that offers both neutrals and brights.

The Knitting

We’ve handpicked a selection of favorite lace pieces designed by Jared Flood from the BT archives to re-knit in Vale. (Any guesses which they are?) We love the polished, even spin of this yarn, which shows off stitch motifs to maximum effect.

Mull over the palette and the pattern options and get ready to join us for a summer of lace! We’ll be hosting our first-ever knitalong starting in early July and posting our favorite tips and tricks for lace success. If you’re lace-curious but haven’t tried this beautiful form of knitting yet, it will be the perfect opportunity to get your feet wet.

Join us this week while we discuss Vale and all of its project possibilities on the BT Ravelry forum.

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We’re thrilled to unveil an all-new 100% American yarn today! It’s long been our goal to expand the range of Brooklyn Tweed offerings, but a great deal of planning, care, and time are required to build lasting partnerships, source everything domestically, and make sure our supply chain is robust enough to meet customer demand. Arbor has been in the works for more than a year — it’s entirely different from our woolen-spun core lines and its journey from sheep to skein is wholly new.

The fiber

Arbor comes from purebred Targhee sheep grazing the rangelands of Montana and South Dakota. The Targhee is an American breed, based on Rambouillet stock but augmented with Corriedale and Lincoln longwool for strength. Targhee yarn knits up as supple, long-wearing fabric that’s luxuriously soft but everyday durable.

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The Milling Process

We send our Targhee clip to the historic Jagger Brothers Spinning Mill in southern Maine for worsted processing. This yarn is not the rustic jumble of lightly twisted fibers you’ve come to expect from Brooklyn Tweed. Worsted spinning involves combing all the fibers into smooth alignment before spinning to produce a perfectly even roving. Arbor is a bouncy, round 3-ply yarn with a tight twist for superior stitch definition and strength.

The Palette

We wanted Arbor to be a celebration of color with a deep, nuanced range of hues. From the velvety depths of Nightfall and Dorado to the blaze of Firebrush and the tang of Tincture, our custom-dyed solids span the spectrum. The neutrals offer unexpected twists — the faded black denim of Porter, the subtle warm tones of Humpback, the lichen green of Gale, the barely-there blush of pink in Degas. A few of our favorites from the Plains palette — Morandi, Rainier, and Treehouse — now have a permanent home in the Arbor line. These colors are created with minimal impact on the environment by the master dyers at Saco River Dyehouse, the country’s only organically certified yarn dyeing operation.

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The Collection

To introduce this new yarn, Jared Flood has created a tasting menu of accessories that will let you sample Arbor in bite-size projects or wrap yourself in rich color at a larger scale. Some of the patterns are familiar favorites from the Brooklyn Tweed archives reworked for Arbor’s gauge and unique characteristics; others are fresh offerings. The Arbor Collection includes nine patterns for hats, scarves, shawls, and cowls that sing the yarn’s praises in cables, twisted stitches, and textural motifs. With gift knitting season upon us, we hope you’ll find inspiration in our new lookbook for treating your knitworthy loved ones.

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We’re so excited about our new partnerships in the U.S. textile industry that have allowed us to bring you Arbor, and we hope it will find a home in your workbasket. We can’t wait to hear what you think and to see what you’ll make.

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Today we’re excited to introduce three marled colorways to our worsted-weight Shelter line! Marls are created by combining plies of different colors together in a single strand of yarn; we paired a ply of white wool with a ply of neutral brown, black and grey to create Caribou, Newsprint and Narwhal. These beautiful yarns give finished fabrics a mottled texture and depth that brings classic sophistication to simple fabrics like stockinette, garter stitch  and ribbing.

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We’re welcoming the Shelter Marls with a brand new hat pattern for both men and women, designed by Jared Flood. Mawson includes directions for a standard beanie (shown right in Newsprint) or a slouchy version (shown left in Narwhal) which can also be worn with a doubled brim as a classic watchcap. For a limited time, receive the digital pattern free with a purchase of one or more skeins of your favorite Shelter Marl (1 skein is required for the beanie version, 2 skeins for the slouchy version). Through August 22, 2016 a coupon for the free pattern will ship with your order, redeemable at brooklyntweed.com.

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Mawson has been designed with a few thoughtful details to make the knitting enjoyable — a Ribbed Cable Cast On gives the appearance of a tubular edge without the fussiness of working a full Tubular Cast On. The crown shaping incorporates a special ribbed double decrease that is completely reversible, so that hat looks just as good with RS or WS out. The slouchy version can be worn as a classic watchcap by doubling the brim as shown above.

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We hope you enjoy these new additions to our yarn family — we can’t wait to see what beautiful projects you create!

 

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Plains is our first foray into intensely local, limited-edition yarns. We teamed up with Mountain Meadow Wool Mill in Buffalo, Wyoming to develop a 2-ply laceweight yarn that celebrates the exceptional bounce and liveliness of the American Rambouillet fleece. This downy soft wool, perfect for next-to-skin wear, takes blocking beautifully despite its elasticity. Spun worsted for strength and stitch definition, Plains retains a hint of thick-and-thin rusticity that shows the breed’s particular character and reminds you that you’re knitting close to the source.

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Mountain Meadow is a woman-owned and family-operated spinning mill dedicated to supporting neighboring ranchers and raising awareness about ranching culture in the American West. Their commitment to eco-friendly operation and fair prices for farmers resonates strongly with our own desire to contribute to the revitalization of the American wool industry.

 

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Plains was organically skein-dyed in a focused palette of ten serene colors at Saco River Dyehouse in Biddeford, Maine. Saco River is a Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified dyeworks and operates with the keenest possible focus on ecological and sustainable practices.

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Because Plains represents a special collaboration on a limited batch, when it’s gone, it’s gone. Since there isn’t enough to supply all of our flagship retail stores, the yarn is available only on our website. Each skein contains a generous 440 yards, so you can knit a whole project with just one or two hanks.

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Our design team created three lace shawl patterns (shown above: Bauhin, Selune and Lucca) especially to put Plains through its paces; you can also use Plains in place of Loft for any of the lace accessories in our archive to achieve an even lighter effect.

We look forward to seeing what you’ll make with Plains!

 

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It’s an exciting day for our yarn palette! Today we introduce five new custom heathers to our Shelter and Loft lines, bringing our total color line up to 37 harmonious shades. Like the original colors, they’re all carefully blended from fleece-dyed solids at the mill in Harrisville to create our signature heathering. They harmonize wonderfully with our existing colors, expanding the possibilities for your colorwork knitting as well as comfortably standing alone.

Meet Flannel, Bale, Cinnabar, Tartan, and Tallow.

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This comfortable color is a mixture of denim blues distressed with white, black, and a touch of grey. Flecks of our brightest blue enliven this middle-value hue that perfectly bridges Faded Quilt to Almanac. Flannel is a natural choice for menswear used alone or in subtle stripes with any of our browns or greys.

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Bale is a gentle, pale, straw gold touched with brown and rust. This soothing hue is friendly with our range of greens and is a natural partner for Hayloft and Fauna. Bale makes either beautiful garments or sophisticated home accents—try knitting cushion covers or a throw blanket to drape over a chocolate or charcoal sofa.

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This fiery vermilion is lit with orange, rust, a touch of calmer camel, and just a few wisps of black. Cinnabar makes an infectious partner for Long Johns or the earthier Homemade Jam; try it with Thistle and Plume for a color-drenched shawl or as an eye-catching accent with our brown gradient. It also begs to come out and play in Fair Isle-inspired colorwork, where a startling hue can bring the whole design alive.

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This dashing peacock hue melds all our blues with teal and a shading of black. Tartan is the blue member of the family of cheerful brights in our palette. It hums in company with our purple gradient and sings aloud against our warm reds and oranges. Try it alone for children’s wear and as a sophisticated accent with warm or cool neutrals.

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This warm, light camel color gets a faint apricot blush from sparse flecks of rust. Tallow reads as a pleasing warm neutral with most of our stronger hues; we recommend trying it with Long Johns, Wool Socks, Artifact, and Almanac if you’re knitting stripes. It’s also a happy partner for Camper.

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We hope you enjoy these new colors! Do you have a personal favorite (either old, new)? What other colors would you love to see added to our lineup of heathers in the future? We always welcome your thoughts in the comments!

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November 1st has been marked with a giant red circle on our calendar at BT HQ for what seems like an eternity – we’ve just been dying for this day to finally come! Why? Because today we get to introduce you to our little darling: LOFT.

She is the newest member of our US-grown yarn family, and we simply love her.

From the very first time I laid my hands on Shelter, in early 2009 – months before its public debut – I couldn’t stop thinking about how perfect it would be to create a companion yarn in fingering weight. A light woolen-spun 2-ply is such a dreamy medium for lace and colorwork, especially for Wool Hounds like us (and likely, you too).

We weren’t surprised, either, to hear a steady stream of similar requests after Shelter’s official launch for that exact thing. We knew this yarn had potential to be a real stunner, so we took things slow, proceeding with caution and care (the way we like to do things around here). This one had to be just right.

Fast forward to today – 11 months since we began our first serious planning meeting with the mill in Harrisville – and it’s finally here. And what a journey it has been!

So what is Loft all about? From the outset we sought to design an ideal lightweight wool yarn for handknitters that looked and felt special. A yarn whose gently-spun nature mimicked the lightness and loft of handspun, and created stunning lace or stranded fabrics. We also dreamed of a substantial palette of stunning heathers worthy of serious Colorwork.

Our new color lineup boasts 32 carefully crafted dyed-in-the-wool shades – the original 17 from the Shelter palette, plus 15 newbies. The added colors were selected with our existing palette in mind; because each blend draws from the same 11 dyed solids, there is a cross-range coherence that makes the old colors pulse with new life.

Loft requires a slightly gentler touch than other yarns, but we think the results are so worth it. The lace fabrics it makes are so fluffy and light, they just beg to be cuddled, and the airy nature of the construction allows for a notable range of possible gauges. Loft can fluidly shift from dense fingering weight gauges like 9 spi in colorwork, on up to traditional sport weight gauges of 6 spi without losing fabric integrity – one of the hallmarks of true woolen-spun yarns, and as a design team, one of our favorite features (fabric variety!).

Each 50g hank packs a generous 275 yards, too – an added bonus for those of us who hate weaving in ends.

In celebration of Loft’s public release, our design team has put together an original collection to help introduce our shiny new treasures. We really indulged ourselves in lace (once you see the yarn, you’ll know why), but also threw in some colorwork and textured accessories, and even a pullover for good measure.

The best way to experience the collection and the new yarn is by viewing the Look Book – our biggest yet – which is bursting with  lush, Autumn-flavored photos, and plenty of info about the new undertaking. Just click on the cover below to view it in your browser. The patterns themselves are all available now for download.

I’d like to also take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support – it is the single reason that we are able to continue developing yarns and projects that truly inspire us, and bring us such joy in sharing.

Happy Lofting!

Very sincerely,
Jared and the BT Team

Resources: Loft yarn can be purchased online here. See The Loft Collection Look Book here. View all the designs from the collection on our website –including all pattern-specific information – here. See a list of our Flagship Retail Locations, each of which has the full palette of Loft in stock today.

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I’m happy to announce that we finally have shade cards available for Shelter! As of today, they are available to order through our website.

Ordering yarn online is fun – but we all know the feelings of deflation that occur when the color that arrives on your doorstep is slightly different from what you anticipated. Shade cards help ward off that experience by letting you see the full palette of a given yarn in person prior to purchase. Over the years I’ve collected quite an impressive library of them myself (sometimes I get them out for inspiration on dreary days). They’re such a luxury to have on hand, especially when planning for projects.

If you’ve wanted to order some Shelter, but were wary of trusting your monitor, these should help – and they always ship free. Enjoy!

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Our yarn has come a long way from its original state as scoured wool. The construction is now complete and only a few finishing touches remain. The yarn must now be removed from the bobbins in 50-gram (140 yard) increments to create individual skeins. The skeining machine (which unfortunately eluded my camera) is set for a certain number of rotations (pre-measured based on that specific yarn’s yards-per-gram ratio) which wind off consistent, exact amounts for each skein.

The 50-gram skeins are placed in a plastic lined box and sent along for a final wash. In order to remove residual spinning grease as well as ‘block’ the finished  yarn (e.g. brainwash the wool to its new identity), it is important that each skein is washed before it leaves the mill. Equipment-wise, the washing method is no different than running a load at your own home.  All finished yarns are gently washed in (packed-to-the-gills) regular-sized domestic washing machines. The difference between a washed and an unwashed skein of milled wool can be rather astounding. In the case of woolen yarns it seems to transform the weight significantly as the fibers relax and fully bloom.

After a trip through the washing machine, the skeins are hung evenly along a wall of drying racks. Here they they will sway in front of a brigade of rotating fans which speed drying-time remarkably (I use this same trick at home when wet-blocking garments).

The drying wall is enough to make most of us yarn-folk woozy with delight. All that lofty wool swaying gently in the breeze… to say nothing of the sweet, sweet wool fumes wafting through the air.

When the wool is completely dry, it is hand-twisted into hank form and whisked off towards the labeling station.

Lucy (The Saint) labels each and every skein by hand, making sure each one is properly placed and affixed with an adhesive tag that designates a specific skein’s color name and lot number.

When the yarn looks like this, it is ready for its entrance into the Wide World. Each labeled skein is bagged (10 skeins together, organized by color), loaded into freight boxes, and finally shipped to our warehouse in Portland, Maine. The warehouse is one of our team’s nerve-centers: from here we fulfill online orders and ship larger amounts to Flagship stores. Each yarn’s story beyond this point is different, and we hope they bring tactile pleasures to knitting hands wherever they end up.

I hope you’ve enjoyed getting a taste of what happens behind the scenes to create and spin Shelter.  As I mentioned in my first post, such a magical process deserves to be shared. This experience may even inspire you to seek out a mill and witness this magic in person. In my own experience with mills in both America and Europe, owners and employees are generally very proud of their work and love to share that joy, either through tours or a general eagerness to discuss yarn making. My wish is that we begin to see more US production being done in support of our own mills, before they’re gone. Thanks for joining me!

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