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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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Michele Wang has gained a passionate following amongst knitters who love her comfortably stylish garments, opulent cables, and modern shapes. We are so proud to present a new single-designer collection from Michele as the second volume of our Capsule series. The eight patterns in this handsome printed book express her love of loungewear and bring true elegance to cozy living.

Michele’s signature cables leaven chunky knits like Hague and Bingham, create motion and energy in Celyn and Cleridae, build up bold structure in Ilia, and stop traffic with Aspen and Radmere. And when you need palette-cleansing minimalism, Palmer makes a soothing stockinette-based knit that’s bound to become a staple in your closet.

Shot on location in a beautifully renovated Portland apartment and on the streets of the Nob Hill neighborhood, the book is an invitation to relax and dream as you plan your next knitting journey. Photographer Jared Flood’s sensitive eye captures every detail of the garments and reveals the thoughtful design that makes them such a pleasure to knit and wear.

All patterns are worked in our woolen-spun Targhee-Columbia yarns —Shelter, Loft, and Quarry — and are presented in Brooklyn Tweed’s educational format with accurate schematics and thorough descriptions of special techniques. The 138-page softcover book is available at BT stockists around the world; it can also be bundled with an optional e-book if purchased through our web store. We’ve made this book as eco-friendly as possible, printing on Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper at a US facility powered by 100% renewable energy.

Michele hopes you’ll find garments in these pages that will become old and treasured friends. We hope you’ll agree with us that her new collection is hygge gold and give yourself permission to lounge in serious style! Pull on your shearling slippers and pour a mug of steaming cocoa to browse the book preview on our website today.

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We are so gratified by your warm response to Olga Buraya-Kefelian’s Capsule Collection for Brooklyn Tweed. Last week Jared shared the story of developing the Capsule idea and inviting Olga to participate; now it’s Olga’s turn to tell you about her journey into knitting design and her work on this special project.

 

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Your body of work speaks for itself, but can you tell us a bit about your background? How did you come to knitting design?

Growing up in Belarus, I learned a set of crafting skills — knitting among them — from my mother and grandmother. Those skills were necessities of our daily life during that period. During my teens my grandmother taught me how to crochet, and it seemed much easier than knitting at the time. My mother taught me some fundamentals about knitwear design, but mostly how to calculate knitwear based on gauge, as we didn’t have access to many knitting patterns. She is a professional seamstress, so you could say an interest in fashion was passed with the milk. I remember earning my pocket money by tracing patterns for her in different sizes, and that also helped develop my knowledge and understanding of basic clothing construction. But it wasn’t until my early twenties that I turned to knitting as a hobby and a distraction to cope with the hardships of military life. Living overseas and not having an opportunity to work can be quite challenging; knitting has really been therapeutic. As my nomadic lifestyle provided me with inspirations, knitwear design became a way to channel those artistic urges. During the past decade, my passion outgrew hobby status and became a full-time job, my profession.

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We’d love to know more about your time in Japan. How did the environment and culture influence your development as a designer?

We had a choice for my husband’s last tour overseas prior to returning to civilian life, and Japan was in the cards. We decided upon it with excitement — at that time I was working on a self-published title with my friend and co-author Vanessa Yap-Einbund featuring all Japanese yarns. I’d been dreaming of having a chance to live there and experience the unique culture. Japan seemed so different to my European/Westernized mind and mentality, but I credit those differences with helping me absorb and appreciate even more. Being naturally very curious and observant, I found myself elated that every mundane thing there was full of thought and detail. I filled my notebooks with ideas and numerous designs, which I love perusing now when I am working on something new. Inspiration is everywhere and to me Japan provided a lot of it; it also taught me to notice even the tiniest details now that I am back in the States. Our four-year post allowed me to concentrate on establishing my pattern brand olgajazzy, sold via my website and Ravelry. And now I have moved on to wholesaling my printed patterns directly to yarn stores worldwide.

You’re known for your ability to create fabric with sculptural qualities and to make unexpected shapes wearable. When you design a piece like the Tatara armwarmers, what’s your thought process? 

My design process may sound a bit backwards to many people, since I prefer to begin with designing or customizing a stitch pattern rather than setting out to create a new hat or a new sweater. Oftentimes, it’s a matter of desiring a certain movement of stitches and fabric and then testing the idea in a swatch. The natural next step is picking the right yarn to highlight the features of the stitch pattern, and that does take much longer than one might think. Swatching and blocking numerous choices allows me to anticipate the effect in a finished garment. Once I’m satisfied with this stage, I try to imagine the best possible way to display the stitch pattern — as a collar on a sweater or a hat or an all-over fabric on a cardigan. It’s a very long and tedious vetting process, but I’ve found this is what works best for me. The Tatara armwarmers were a marriage of technique and a goal for a finished look — I wanted a scrunched-up style that wouldn’t produce an awkward volume of fabric. And I personally love the geometric shape the Tataras acquired as a result. When laid out flat, they almost become objets d’art.

 

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Do you have a favorite garment from the Capsule collection? 

That is such a hard question; I love all of them! I have devoted a significant amount of time to develop each one with a lot of precision and attention to detail. But if I have to name one that I am most proud of, it would be Tetrapods — my first original lace stitch pattern. And the Nobu pullover has quite an elaborate construction that I admire; it’s just full of architectural texture.

 

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What’s inspiring you nowadays?

I’m always looking back through my notebooks. Throughout the years I have disciplined myself to record ideas and stitch patterns and even color pairings. And I tend to go back to my earlier work as well, trying to catch a train of thought that moved me toward a certain design and looking for other ideas I can attach to make something new.

Thanks so much for sitting down with us today Olga! We feel so grateful to have gotten the chance to collaborate with you on this project, and wish you all the best in your next design adventure(s). 

Thank you!

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Today we’re proud to raise the curtain on our very first printed knitting book — the first installment in a project we call CAPSULE. This new series gives a single designer the stage to present a whole fashion story told in Brooklyn Tweed wool. Our house team polishes the patterns and Jared photographs the garments, but the most exciting part of all is that each CAPSULE collection is offered as a high-quality bound book. (Each of the patterns is also available for individual download as usual, too!)

We couldn’t be more thrilled that Olga Buraya-Kefelian agreed to be our very first CAPSULE designer. Her garments and accessories are distinctive and architectural, avant-garde yet always wearable.

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Olga’s capsule collection for Brooklyn Tweed is inspired by the years she spent in Japan and reflects her interest in texture and geometry. From dense cables to airy open lace, she explores the full range of possible fabrics that our woolen-spun Shelter and Loft yarns can create. The eight designs she has created for her CAPSULE are inventive modern garments that will bring a jolt of energy to your wardrobe.

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We’ve spent time and care in bringing our first printed publication into the world and we are so excited to share it with you. The 128-page book includes 8 original knitwear patterns from Olga as well as a glossary of special techniques used in each design and lush photographic spreads of the collection. Printed in the USA at a press powered by 100% renewable energy, CAPSULE is an FSC-certified publication which ensures that all the paper fibers used in production are sourced from well-managed and responsibly harvested forests that meet strict environmental standards.

We’ve also created a digital lookbook as a way to introduce you to the designs in the collection. We hope you enjoy our first adventure in print, and can’t wait to hear your feedback. Happy knitting!

 

 


Quick Links:

 Shop the Printed Book   |   View the Individual Patterns   |   View the Digital Lookbook

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