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We are so very proud to welcome Gudrun Johnston to our design team! Gudrun has been an inspiring presence in the independent knitwear design community for many years and we are thrilled to be collaborating with her.

Gudrun was born in Shetland, where her mother ran a successful knitwear design company called The Shetland Trader. Gudrun revived the name to publish two collections kindled by love of her homeland. She now lives in the United States with her family, but returns frequently to Shetland to visit and lead knitting tours.

Gudrun’s heritage is prominent in her design work, whether she is creating lace-edged haps or Fair Isle-inspired colorwork. Her contemporary aesthetic and love of experimenting with new techniques make her designs both modern and timeless. She loves seamless construction and yoke patterning, whether in textured stitches or colorwork, and her designs are always eminently wearable and enduring.

We celebrate Gudrun’s arrival at BT with a special pattern release to launch our Summer of Lace knitalong. Brora is a distinctive shawl, printed all over with triangles of garter stitch and rimmed in an arrowhead lace motif that combines garter  and eyelets to achieve a flintknapped texture. The pattern includes directions for two weights: a breezy complement to summer dresses in Vale or a slightly larger triangle with comforting weight and warmth in Arbor. Brora uses a traditional Shetland construction, beginning at the base point of the main fabric with a single stitch and growing by means of yarnovers at each edge. These linked loops simplify the task of picking up stitches to begin the lace edging. The pattern teaches the Icelandic Bind Off technique to yield an elastic edge that partners effectively with garter stitch.

 

Brora is available as a limited-edition kit in our webstore. Choose any color of Vale or Arbor and we’ll wind the yarn for you so you can cast on right away or be ready to gift the kit to your favorite knitter (we can even ship the kit directly to him or her). Your handsomely packaged kit will include a coupon code for digital download of the Brora pattern.

For domestic orders, place your kit order by Friday, June 30 in order to receive your yarn and pattern in time to cast on for our Summer of Lace KAL beginning July 7. Read more about the KAL here.

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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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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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We were so pleased to finally reveal the his and hers collection for Fall 16; the designs had been in development for almost a year and we eagerly anticipated their release into the wild. We love designing menswear and we’ve been gratified to hear your requests for more of it!

Producing a dual collection like this required some new thinking about how to offer the patterns for sale. We ultimately decided to bundle the patterns for which the two versions are similar enough not to require double effort on the part of the designer and editing team, but to sell the others separately. We’ve gotten some questions about why we didn’t bundle the two patterns for designs like Carver or Tamarack, which don’t differ markedly at first glance. We realize the details in the guts of a pattern that complicate the production effort may not be readily discernible when you’re viewing the modeled garment. So, since we love to geek out over construction and fit at any opportunity, we’ll turn the spotlight on Julie Hoover’s Cricket to talk about the planning that goes into ensuring a great fit and a longer garment life. (We’ll spare you the trigonometry. Promise.)

Cricket is a sporty crewneck with set-in sleeves and waist shaping for a tailored fit. Both versions have waist shaping — the women’s has the carefully weighted hourglass curve you’re used to seeing, while the men’s is narrower at the hips than at the chest to create a trim silhouette that’s more flattering on most gents. But even when you’re looking closely, the two Crickets look awfully similar. So why didn’t we package them together? The secret is in the shoulders.

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The human shoulder needs a lot of freedom to move, both up and down and fore and aft. When a sweater is designed to fit loosely, the shoulder doesn’t require any special treatment. You can knit a traditional drop shoulder with the sleeve projecting at a right angle, you can work a basic raglan with double decreases at each joining point every other round, you can decrease concentrically for a round yoke, and the ample ease will allow comfortable movement without distorting the sweater fabric. But a slimmer fit complicates the situation. You can’t join a narrow sleeve to a narrow body at 90 degrees, because when you lower your arm the fabric will bind over your shoulder and bunch at your underarm. You can get away with a basic raglan scheme to an extent, relying on the elasticity of knitted fabric to give you the extra ease when and where you need it, but it’s hard to achieve an anatomical fit and you put strain on the fabric. A round yoke worked with minimal ease will often look good across the back, but leave a pooch of extra fabric near each underarm in the front as the shoulders naturally round forward. So when designers who really understand human anatomy create a tailored sweater, they often choose to modify the raglan shape, changing the rate of decrease to make the lines more sinuous. They might hybridize a raglan style with a round yoke. But quite often they turn to the set-in sleeve.

The set-in sleeve, with its bell-shaped sleeve cap and armscye shaped like an exponential equation graph, gives the designer total control over the amount of fabric assigned to the body and to the sleeve. But deploying it correctly requires quite a bit of know-how. A slim-fitting garment needs a taller, narrower sleeve cap, while one with more ease should have a shorter, broader curve. For Cricket, Julie designed the women’s version for a small amount of ease — 2-4 inches — but gave the guys a more relaxed fit with 4-6 inches. Men typically have proportionally larger shoulders and more mass through the sleeve cap area, which also affects how much fabric Julie allows there.

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Grading the curves of the armscye and the sleeve cap for a full range of well-fitting sizes requires a lot of careful math on the part of our tech editors. When we double the number of sizes and change the geometry of those curves, we’re giving Robin and Sue the workload of two separate patterns — hence the decision to offer the two versions of Cricket separately.

Where there’s a salient detail that differs between the unbundled his and hers patterns, we’ve given you options to mix and match features. The women’s Tamarack includes directions for the shawl collar shown on the men’s sample, for instance. Both Carvers have instructions for the turtleneck option or the crew neck, and the yardage estimate includes the extra yarn you’ll need to extend the ribbing.

Wondering about further modifications to customize one of these patterns? Contribute to the collection thread in the Brooklyn Tweed Fan Club Ravelry group, where there’s an active community ready to discuss all kinds of pattern adaptations. And if you’re curious to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes at Brooklyn Tweed to bring these collections to life, watch this space for an interview with Robin Melanson about her work as a tech editor.

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The tailoring trade is a bottomless well of inspiration. Attention to detail, canny consideration of each fabric’s properties, pursuit of a perfect fit — at Brooklyn Tweed we hew to the same principles in our design work. Knowing we’d shoot this collection on the premises of Wildwood & Company, a bespoke tailoring studio in downtown Portland, we took our inspiration from fine examples of classic menswear.

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Our mission for Fall 2016 was to create pairs of designs — one for him and one for her — that spring from a single concept. In some instances, small adjustments to the fit distinguish the two versions; in other cases a shift in scale or a major alteration to the garment’s shape achieves distinct but related looks.

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Three of the collection’s patterns — SpearheadsPavo, and Vika — bundle both versions as they are variations on the same pattern model. Since each version of the remainder of the collection was written independently in order to account for the nuances of tailoring to fit bodies of differing proportions, each version of these patterns is sold separately. Whether you’re in the mood to knit an understated pullover or a chunky statement piece, we’ve put together a collection that suits a wide range of fit and styling preferences. Cables, texture, a splash of colorwork — it’s all here.

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All Fall 16 patterns are now available for download on our website and on Ravelry. You’ll notice we’ve updated our pattern layout, too — we hope you’ll find the new format clear and supportive as you knit your next BT garment.

 

We invite you to leaf through our new lookbook and stay awhile in the cool and tranquil atmosphere of Wildwood & Company. Welcome, all, and welcome, fall!

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Opener

 

Thank you all for your warm reception of our Ganseys collection last week. We’ve been so excited to launch our first batch of designs inspired by a specific knitting tradition, and today we’d like to share a little more about the gansey-style details our designers chose to incorporate in these garments.

When Jared proposed the gansey idea to our Design Team, he wasn’t necessarily looking for fully traditional construction. While BT’s aesthetic has deep roots into knitting history, we aim to create garments that feel totally contemporary. The goal, then, was to keep the characteristic features of historical ganseys in mind, but execute them playfully and in service of each designer’s own creative vision.

 

Fairweather

 

Véronik wanted to incorporate the triangular gusset shaping somehow, but not at the traditional place under the arms. Her choice to position gussets at the sides of the boat neckline creates a delightful visual detail that’s also completely functional, improving the fit of the garment and adding a bit of shoulder coverage that makes Fairweather easier to wear. She also wanted to knit in the traditional construction: a seamless body worked from the bottom up and divided at the armholes. She joined her shoulder seams with a visible 3-needle bind-off (which forms a tidy chain on the right side of the garment, another classic gansey detail) then picked up stitches for the sleeves around the armhole and worked circularly to the cuff. This directional shift in the knitting—upward on the body, downward on the sleeves—adds visual interest to the garment, as the lace and cable panels flow in opposing directions.

 

Larus

 

Norah also wanted to use the exposed 3-needle bind-off, but she chose to place hers at the back of the collar. Larus is perhaps the least traditional garment of the collection, but like the gansey it balances the proportions of patterned and plain fabric to beautiful effect. By putting the patterned section on the vertical instead of horizontally across the upper torso, Norah created a garment that’s more flattering to many body shapes without sacrificing roomy comfort. She also incorporated a unique knitterly detail by reversing the chevron cable motif along the wearer’s left neckline, as shown in the photo above left.

 

Vanora

 

Like Norah, Michele played with incorporating neckline shaping in an interesting way that maintains vertical patterns established in the lower portion of the body. She elaborated on a traditional flag motif of purl triangles on a stockinette ground to create parallelogram blocks that slant attractively to draw the eye across the fabric. She applied this subtle texture all over the body, punctuating it with delicate cables, but left her sleeves plain to let the eye rest. Vanora’s bracelet-length sleeves nod to the cropped sleeves on many historical feminine ganseys, which bared the wearers’ wrists and forearms for work.

 

Breslin

 

Both Julie and Jared opted for a more classic placement of textured stitches and cables on the upper yoke of the body. Despite the traditional positioning, each garment’s motifs are distinctly modern. Julie’s Breslin uses an original combination of purl stitches and cables to create an industrial effect. She chose to work the lower body and sleeves in reverse stockinette, dialing down the contrast between textured and plain fabric. Breslin’s tailored fit and set-in sleeves are non-traditional, but honor the gansey’s origins as good-looking workwear for those of us who aren’t employed in the fisheries.

 

Caspian

 

Jared liked the idea of using oversized chains, which seemed appropriate for a nautical garment. Caspian nods to several other historical gansey features as well. The ribbed saddle shoulders that extend vertically from the sleeve cap were meant to mimic the knit-and-purl welts that often adorn gansey shoulders. Another detail he incorporated from traditional ganseys is the seamless flow of the side seam details through the underarm gusset and down the sleeve. Since he wasn’t working gussets, he created a variation on that theme by working a side seam detail on the body that flows into the armhole selvedge of the yoke. He also cribbed a common split hem detail from the traditional gansey, beginning the seam at the stockinette portion of the torso to leave a small vent at each side.

The marriage of beauty and purpose that distinguishes gansey knitting is endlessly inspiring to all of us here. We hope you’ll enjoy exploring BT’s unique take on the gansey tradition, savoring these details as much as we have.

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Last year the Brooklyn Tweed design team hatched the idea of setting a regular design challenge for ourselves — a chance for all five of us to throw down our best ideas interpreting a particular historical genre in knitwear. First up? Ganseys!

 

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These historical seaman’s sweaters of the British Isles were not only practical garments, worked densely to guard the wearer against the North Sea elements; they also featured ingenious construction to improve comfort and durability. Frequently embellished with bold textural motifs, they were canvases for knitters’ skill and artistry, and as a whole gave rise to a cottage industry that helped to support families.

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In seeking inspiration from this rich tradition, we sought to incorporate the elements that most fascinate us—striking stitch motifs, the sense of balance between patterned and plain fabric, the innovative adjustments to fit—while updating garment shapes and bending to modern knitterly realities. (Few of us nowadays want to knit adult-size sweaters in black wool at 8 stitches to the inch!)

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Today we launch five new sweater patterns in Loft and Shelter, plus a quick-knitting cap in Quarry. Each design riffs on different points of gansey styling; we look forward to highlighting some of those special details when we blog about our approach to this collection next week. BT Ganseys offer a variety of silhouettes, so whether you prefer a trim fit, a cozy oversize shape, or a dash of funky flare, we hope you’ll find a sweater that appeals.

Hats

We also took the opportunity to restyle two hats from the BT archive to accompany this collection. We knit up Forge (shown above), a folded-brim watch cap marked by OXO cables and an elfin peak (shown above), in Fauna. Crag (shown in Artifact with the Vanora pullover), has been worked to a beanie length slightly shorter than the original, a modification that’s now been added to the pattern. (If you’ve previously purchased Crag electronically, you’ll receive a free update.)

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As always, we look forward to seeing how you’ll make these new designs your own! If you’re already a gansey connoisseur, maybe we’ll see you adding initials to the fabric of your sweater or deploying a Channel Island cast-on. If you’re new to the history of ganseys, we hope you’ll enjoy learning more about this rich knitting tradition. Happy knitting!

 

 


Quick Links:

View all the patterns   |   View the Lookbook  |  View Collection on Ravelry

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We’ve been looking forward to the clean slate of January, which brings with it a fresh year and a sense of calm after the hectic holidays. Our gift knitting is done and dusted and we can’t wait to cast on ambitious new projects for ourselves. So in the spirit of new beginnings, it’s with great excitement that we announce our Winter 16 collection.

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Whether you’re in the mood for a lace shawl or a long coat, a quick hat or a chunky pullover, you just might find your next project among these eleven garments and five accessories. Inspired by modern minimalism and everyday wearability, this collection celebrates the stark beauty of the season with clean lines and simple shapes.

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Winter 16 features all three of our core yarns — Shelter, Loft, and Quarry — and we’re also unveiling a very special surprise: a brand new, single-batch laceweight wool we call Plains. It’s our first foray into collaboration with new partners to offer intensely local, limited edition batches. We worked with the team at Mountain Meadow Wool Mill in Buffalo, Wyoming to develop this lively two-ply laceweight that celebrates the unique qualities of the American Rambouillet fleece. Worsted-spun for strength and stitch definition, this downy soft wool is perfect for next-to-skin wear and takes blocking beautifully despite its elasticity. (Read the full story on this exciting new project in the lookbook.)

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Plains is available for purchase on our website, along with all the new patterns. This small-batch yarn won’t be carried in stores and once it’s gone there won’t be anymore. Since the put-up is a generous 440 yards, you can knit a project in just one or two skeins. If you’d like to try this bouncy, slightly rustic yarn, it’s available online for as long as our supply lasts!

We hope the New Year brings you good knitting. We can’t wait to see what you’ll make of our new collection and with our newest yarn!

 

 


Quick Links:

View all the patterns   |   View the Lookbook  |  View Collection on Ravelry

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