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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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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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One of Jared’s intentions in creating his Woolens collection was to introduce a variety of knitting techniques in approachable projects. The book is meant to be accessible to new knitters, but also to coax veterans of the craft into expanding their skill sets. For today’s blog we’d like to highlight four projects that just might teach you something new.

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Seeds Hats

This basic stockinette cap was conceived as a gentle introduction to stranded colorwork. Only six rounds (eight, if you work the largest size) require both colors at once, and those rounds sport a pattern that alternates colors every stitch so you’ll never need to worry about tensioning longer floats. The pattern is written for tubular cast on, a beautiful technique that’s well worth learning, but a simpler method can be substituted if you’re just starting out or if you’re short on time. Seeds is also a great canvas for playing with color combinations — Jared has written blog posts about color theory that may help you pick the perfect trio, but there’s no better way to learn about hue and value than to pull some leftovers from your stash and audition them in a quick “swatch cap.”

 

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Byway

Ready to try cables? This wrap is worked end to end in easily memorized patterning; the simple six-stitch cables are mirrored, so you can practice crossing with stitches held to the front and to the back, and the blocks of garter stitch flanking the cables will help you keep track of your work and recognize when it’s time for another cabling row. You may even decide you’re ready to try cabling without a cable needle before the end — stitches in woolen-spun Shelter won’t easily run down and escape while they’re momentarily free. As a bonus, Byway will teach you a nifty flat-lying selvedge you’ll want to apply to other projects.

 

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Halo

Lace knitting can seem intimidating or too fussy for knitters who enjoy the meditative rhythm of just motoring through a basic stitch pattern. We encourage you to test the waters with Halo, a pi shawl with rings of eyelets that are easy to work and to memorize. There’s plain knitting aplenty in the sea of stockinette that flows out from the center cast-on, and a gentle step toward more difficulty in the edging chart. If charts make your knees knock, never fear: this one is small, clear, and simple — and the legend is printed right beneath it.

 

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Crosshatch

Brioche stitch is all the rage for good reasons: it’s addictively rhythmic to knit, delightfully squishy, and full of airy warmth. Working in two colors reveals its architecture and prints the fabric with a graphic herringbone pattern — and the two yarns are worked alternately, so it’s less difficult than it looks. Crosshatch exaggerates the brioche texture by combining yarns of different weights as well as different colors. And the pattern lets you dial in a comfortable level of challenge by choosing between a simple garter selvedge and a more complex edging that perfectly matches the fabric.

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We hope you’ll enjoy adding to your knitter’s toolkit with these projects and others from Woolens! Please share your projects with #BTWoolens so we can savor your interpretations of these accessories. And let us know in the comments what you’ve enjoyed learning lately or what skills you’re hoping to acquire next!

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Announcing Woolens, Jared’s first printed book and single-designer collection since Made In Brooklyn seven years ago! Most knitters cut their teeth on simple accessories like scarves and hats. And for most of us there’s comfort and satisfaction in returning to such projects even after we’ve expanded our skills to become garment knitters. Maybe we need something finite to whip up for a friend’s birthday, or maybe we just want an uncomplicated palate cleanser after a strenuous cabled coat or a colorwork sweater. In homage to soothing, approachable knits, Jared decided to design a whole collection of accessories in his thoughtful, timeless style.

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The eleven cowls, scarves, wraps and hats in Woolens introduce a variety of techniques and invite exploration of various design options, prompting choices that personalize the garments. Created with masculine and feminine wardrobes in mind, these pieces meld classic good looks and engaging knitting. Many are simple enough for the adventurous beginner; if you’re ready to expand your skill set, try a hat designed as the gentlest possible introduction to stranded colorwork. When you’re ready for another level of challenge, knit a striking bi-color shawl that’s worked in the round and opened with a steek. With a clear and thorough reference section that’s a valuable resource in itself, Woolens will teach you all the new techniques you need to knit these beautiful accessories.

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Throughout this 138-page book, Jared’s gorgeous photographs reveal every detail of the designs as well as glimpses of his creative process and inspiration from the natural beauty of Japan. We hope you’ll soak up of plenty of inspiration for your next project — accessories make great gifts, after all — and enjoy the tactile experience of a BT collection on paper!

Woolens is available as a printed book or as a print + e-book combo and can be purchased right here on our website or from Brooklyn Tweed stockists around the world. As a special treat, the first 250 copies of the book sold online will be signed by the author. We hope you enjoy this inspiring new publication!

 


Quick Links:

Purchase a Print Book   |   Purchase a Print+E-Book Combo  |  View Individual Pattern Information

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Wool People 10 Cover

 

Welcome, Wool People! We’re thrilled to introduce a tenth collection of garments and accessories conceived by independent designers and curated by Brooklyn Tweed. This edition was the first opportunity for Wool People to make full use of our current stable of yarns, and we were particularly excited to see what the creative minds of the knitting world would imagine in Plains, our limited-edition laceweight Rambouillet.

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With half the collection being floaty lace accessories, it only seemed right to balance things out with the pleasing structure and heft of cables, so you’ll find chunky coats and mid-weight sweaters aplenty in this well-rounded collection. As the seasons are turning all around the globe, we love the thought of a knitter in New Zealand casting on a cozy cardi like Marylebone while another here in Portland is starting a lace crescent like Haro or Lunette to wear over tees and sundresses (or getting a jumpstart on a new cableknit wardrobe staple for next fall!).

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Our contributors are a wonderful mix of new and familiar faces from around the planet. One of our favorite aspects of Wool People is the open submission call that puts budding design talent on the same stage with established luminaries. Over the next few weeks we’ll be posting brief interviews with the designers whose work is appearing in Wool People for the first time, and we hope you’ll enjoy getting to know them.

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We also look forward to sharing some scenes from Saco River Dyehouse, one of our partners in producing Plains, to show you more about this yarn’s journey to your needles.

Enjoy the collection!

 


Quick Links:

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

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Ganseys. Guernseys. Jerseys. Whatever name they’re given, the seaman’s sweaters of the British Isles are iconic. Knit to wear like iron and to shield their wearers from bitter onslaughts of wind and seawater, cleverly engineered with innovative features that maximized their durability and comfort, and patterned to sing proudly of love and skill, these garments number among the great achievements of knitting history.

 

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Myths about ganseys abound — photographic evidence doesn’t support the romantic notion that towns and families had their own exclusive patterns, for instance. Fishermen were among the most mobile people in Europe, always in and out of ports all over the North Sea, which gave knitters plenty of opportunity to admire and copy distinctive patterns. And it wasn’t just men who followed the herring migrations. Girls who gutted and packed the fish wore ganseys, too, with short sleeves to bare their arms for the messy work. The lasses often skipped the familiar navy and black yarn in favor of macaron hues of peach, raspberry, lemon, and pistachio. Knitters didn’t just make ganseys for themselves or for family members, either. A cottage industry that endured until the 1930s sprang up, and women could earn much-needed supplemental income by hand-knitting ganseys for sale.

 

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Most ganseys shared a set of common features. They were knit in the round to the underarms, and then the squared-off fronts and backs were completed working flat to create a drop shoulder. They were made of sturdy 5-ply wool and knit at a gauge of 8 stitches per inch to achieve the densest possible fabric. Ganseys seem to have begun as plain warm underwear, but they were often exposed to view as hardworking wearers stripped off outergarments, and by the mid-19th century knitters were beginning to add texture and design by incorporating purl stitches. Diamonds, stars, welts, and other geometric forms often embellished the upper torso and sometimes the upper sleeves. Simple rope cables and pictorial anchors, hearts, crosses, and Tree of Life motifs imbued the ganseys with symbolism. The most beautiful sweaters were worn for Sunday best.

 

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Ganseys were also marked by novel construction that maximized their lifespan as working garments. Diamond-shaped underarm gussets allowed greater freedom of movement and reduced stress on the fabric. Many ganseys had shoulder straps worked in ribbing for further elasticity. A variety of inventive cast-ons reinforced wear-prone hems and cuffs. This attention to quality and lasting sturdiness has allowed a great many historical ganseys to survive in excellent condition. Although few knitters today are willing to invest the time and effort required to produce an authentic gansey, we are all fortunate to be able to learn from the innovations and high standards established in these garments.

Our recent collection — Brooklyn Tweed Ganseys — pays homage to the gansey tradition in five sweaters and three accessories that may not take you to sea, but will inject trim nautical style into your wardrobe. We took them to a lonely stretch of Oregon coast for a photoshoot to hark back to their origins, but their clean, contemporary shapes will make them equally at home in the city if your working environment is a desk rather than a dock. Like the originals, these new designs bespeak knitterly pride in a smart detail or a well-chosen technique. We hope you’ll enjoy the challenge of shaping an unusual neckline or trying a new cable as you make these garments your own.

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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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