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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.

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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.

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The designers we selected to contribute to Wool People 11 were among the first knitters to sample our new Rambouillet laceweight, Vale. Today we share their impressions of the yarn as we feature their beautiful stoles.

Natalie Servant contributed Prism to this collection. Printed with diamonds and rhombuses, this geometric design can be a lace stole or a cowl. The charted shapes are filled with shifting textures — knit, purl, garter — so there’s more solid fabric than in many lace accessories, which puts Vale’s smooth and balanced preparation on display.

Natalie wrote, “I really enjoyed knitting with Vale. I found it easy to produce even stockinette and reverse stockinette. The surprise for me was when I washed and blocked the swatch: the drape was fantastic. The hardest part about working with Vale was having to send back the unused skeins!”

Sandhya Shadangi’s Ravine is patterned with rivulets of branching, shifting, straightening eyelets. A good stretch on blocking wires evens the long sides and opens the organic motifs to stand out against the stockinette background. Despite Vale’s elasticity, it’s a biddable yarn that accepts blocking to become fluid and drapey.

Sandhya’s impression of Vale was that it’s crisp, soft, and springy. Her fabric blocked beautifully to yield clean and even stitches with good definition, and it retained the crisp softness that had first struck her when handling it in the skein. “Overall, I think it’s perfect for lace. And I can imagine it being great for super-light garments that would also hold their shape nicely,” she concluded.

Amy van de Laar had this to say after creating Leadlight, a stole with a pattern of geometric tracery radiating from a pinhole cast-on:

“Vale is springy, light and soft, but substantial and full of personality. It’s next-to-the-skin soft, and it blocks easily and drapes beautifully — just perfect for lace knitting. The colour Heron is a calm, neutral, mid-toned grey with a subtle sheen to it.”

Fans of Plains, a limited edition yarn that we produced in collaboration with Mountain Meadow Mill in Wyoming, have been asking how Vale compares. Our customer service specialist, Jamie Maccarthy, describes the distinction between them this way:

“In spite of their commonalities (Vale and Plains are both two-ply, worsted spun, breed-specific laceweight yarns made from Rambouillet fleece grown on the plains of Wyoming), they do differ. Plains is a slightly rustic yarn, spun a bit thick-and-thin with a lot of spring in its step. While Vale maintains some of the bounce that Plains has, it is a polished yarn with an even weight and twist, which would be lovely knit up into a light top or sweater.” Read more about the development and characteristics of both Vale and Plains here.

What are you making with Vale? We’d love to know your impressions of it! Don’t forget to tag your project photos with #ValeYarn so we can follow your progress. We’ll be reposting some of our favorites on our Instagram account in the coming weeks.

@jess_schreibstein, @looplondonloves, @softsweater, @knitgraffiti, @minib, @jen_beeman

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We’re celebrating independence and collaboration with the release of Wool People 11 today! We always enjoy the chance our Wool People project offers to work alongside independent designers, both new and established — there’s a sense of fresh energy and perspective in combing through the hundreds of submissions we receive for these collections and in bringing the selected designs to life.

This issue feels extra special because it incorporates our two newest yarns, Arbor and Vale. Next week we’ll do a feature on the Vale accessories and share the designers’ thoughts about working with our new laceweight. But before we delve into the wonderful world of lace and kick off our Summer of Lace KAL, we want to talk about the Wool People 11 garments. There are eight gorgeous sweaters in three different yarns, and what really stands out to us is the diversity of fabrics the designers have achieved in these wearable, flattering pieces.

For cozy bundling in the light but warm stockinette that Shelter creates, Ann Klimpert and Andrea Mowry present Rivet and Ronan. Both of these long-length cardigans rely on Shelter’s airy, woolen-spun nature to stay versatile and hold their shape despite their large swathes of fabric. Rivet has a vintage feel, while Ronan’s is a totally modern silhouette with a collar in fluffy brioche.

For those who like a trim and classic pullover, Mossbank and Bell give a twist to timeless layering pieces by using mostly reverse stockinette fabric. The pebbly texture of the purl side is a great way to set off softly rounded cables in a woolen-spun yarn, as Ann McCauley chose to do with Bell. Kerry Robb was inspired by the back side of her swatch in our Newsprint marl, realizing that the bumps blend the contrasting colors into an inviting heathery haze.

Loft in garter stitch is total comfort fabric, and triangular shawls like Nancy Whitman’s Level are comfort wear. For cool summer evenings when you want to linger outdoors, this graphic layer is the remedy. Level’s inventive construction and a dab of intarsia make the knitting sprightlier than usual for a garter triangle. If you’ve got a summer road trip planned, we think light and packable Loft shawls make good travel companions as knitting projects and as finished pieces.

One reason we’ve been so excited to add Arbor to our core yarn line is that it’s entirely different from our woolen-spun yarns. Besides being stronger, denser, and smoother, Arbor is rounder. Its third ply makes the yarn cylindrical rather than helical, and its tighter twist keeps those three plies completely engaged in a happy ménage. Arbor’s stitches don’t blend in amongst their neighbors; they stand proud and individual. And that means we can knit fabrics with more dimension and more vivid texture.

Four of our Wool People designers put Arbor through its paces with very different approaches. Melissa Wehrle uses a simple all-over texture of knits and purls to create a waffly fabric for Harlowe, and a relaxed gauge allows the sweater to drape beautifully. Yoko Hatta’s sculptural Akiko cardigan shows the yarn’s affinity for cables and contrasts moss stitch fronts with a clean plane of fluid stockinette on the back. Olga Buraya-Kefelian opts for a modern, high-impact ribbing treatment to elevate her Boundary mock turtleneck. And Emily Greene pulls out all the stops with panels of directional half-twisted rib in her Divide pullover.

Are you ready to swatch some new fabrics to add to your closet? We hope you find inspiration in the talent and vision of the Wool People designers. Take some time with the new lookbook and let us know what’s calling your name!

 

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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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Today we’re taking you behind the scenes to show you where Arbor gets its vibrant color: all aboard the bus for a field trip to Saco River Dyehouse!

When we set out to create a new palette of solid colors for Arbor, we felt Saco River Dyehouse in Biddeford, Maine would be the ideal partner for the job. We first worked with them on the colors for Plains, our single-batch Rambouillet laceweight, and the chance to collaborate on a fuller range of colors for Arbor was truly exciting. Apart from their skill at creating beautiful hues, Saco River stands apart in terms of environmental stewardship. This venerable company, which originally operated in Manhattan, changed ownership in 2012 and moved to an historic mill building on the banks of the Saco River in southern Maine. On a mission to bring their old-world craft into alignment with modern technologies and concerns, the dyehouse focused on making its processes organic and environmentally friendly. In 2013 it earned organic certification under the GOTS International Textile Standards, the only yarn-dyeing operation in the United States to have done so.

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Brooklyn Tweed’s woolen-spun heathered yarns are dyed in the fleece, but Arbor is different. It was spun in its natural sheep’s fleece white and then dyed in the skein. Skein-dyeing is a labor intensive and scientific process. It requires careful handling of the yarn and precise calibration of temperature and water flow to protect the lofty softness of the wool. The dyes must be mixed with perfect accuracy; it takes years of experience to master the chemical recipes that produce various colors and to achieve predictable and repeatable results—blue-greens are notoriously finicky, and even a single grain of pigment more or less can alter the final shade. The temperature must be adjusted over a process of several painstaking hours to develop certain colors or prevent a shift to unwanted overtones. Translating Jared’s vision for the Arbor palette into the final colors required many months of collaboration and test batches, but all that effort was well worth it. We love the depth and saturation the Saco River dyemasters were able to achieve.

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We’re excited about our partnership with Saco River Dyehouse and hope you’ll enjoy the many colors they’ve helped us create!

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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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One of our favorite aspects of curating Wool People collections is the chance to collaborate with designers we haven’t worked with before. Our submissions call is open to everyone and we love seeing fresh ideas. Stacey Gerbman, Nadia Crétin-Léchenne, Rebecca Blair, Christine de Castelbajac, and Kerry Robb contributed designs to Wool People 10 for the first time, and we were smitten by their beautiful work. We wanted to feature these newly minted Wool People on the blog today and hope you’ll enjoy following them as their design careers unfold.160604_NEWS__Header

What’s your favorite detail about your WP10 design contribution?

Stacey: I am attracted to patterns that can be easily memorized because it’s meditative for me to truly relax while my hands move through the process of creating a garment. I fell in love with the simplicity and rich texture of cables, knits, and purls from the moment I finished the first swatch for the Migration cardigan.

Nadia: The fabric. I’m very fond of garter stitch. Knitted with Plains, the Scalene shawl has such a nice drape. It’s soft and springy — all that I like in a spring garment.

Rebecca: Kierson’s braided cable panels come in mirror-image pairs for a subtle touch of symmetry.

Christine: My favorite detail of Loess is the different sizes of pattern strips. They create a modern effect so people will never be bored of knitting this elegant shawl.

Kerry: Aquinnah has many little details I love, though I’m partial to the long lines of twisted rib. I think they separate the cabled elements nicely and draw the eye along the length of each piece.

 

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Any interesting techniques in the design you’d like to tell knitters about?

Stacey: Migration was the first time I used a sloped bind-off, and I am so happy with the result. This technique gives a perfectly angled shoulder seam, avoiding the stair- step effect that can happen when binding off stitches traditionally at the shoulder and underarm.

Nadia: Scalene is “beginner friendly” — all the techniques I used are really simple.

Rebecca: Substituting garter stitch as the background for a cable design is a simple but effective way to change up the look — it lends a lightness to the finished appearance, as the cables appear to float above the furrows.

Christine: You will love Indian Cross Stitch. It’s an unusual technique, but you will have a lot of fun knitting it and the subtle effect of transparency is stunning.

Kerry: I’m especially happy with the selvedges that run along the long sizes of Aquinnah. I swatched (and swatched!) and eventually landed on a version of an I-cord selvedge that suits the design very well, and it’s also fun to knit.

 

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What’s your favorite place to knit?

Stacey: I wish I could say a special corner of my studio or on my porch swing. The honest truth is most of my knitting gets done on my couch in front of my TV after my 3-year-old son is in bed. Lots of late nights watching Netflix seems to be where the majority of the work gets done!

Nadia: I’m not a “knit everywhere” person. I like to knit on the couch, in the garden or even in my bed, but I don’t knit much outside my house. I’m a homebody.

Rebecca: At my kitchen table, in the morning, with a fresh pot of coffee to hand.

Christine: My favorite place to knit is in my living room near my fireplace when the leaves are red outside.

Kerry: I do most of my knitting at home after my kids go to bed in the evening. But I think my favorite place to knit is in my studio, curled up in a wrap, and sitting in front of my sturdy little space heater. I have some nice Christmas lights draped over my workspace, and it feels like winter even in the middle of summer, thanks to the building’s always being cold.

 

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Who inspired you to start designing knitwear?

Stacey: My mother taught me how to crochet at age 8 after much begging and pleading. Once she saw how much I enjoyed the craft she fully supported me — we went on many after-work shopping trips to the local craft store so I could buy yarn to make my dolls new clothes. That never-ending belief in my creativity led me pursue a career in textile and knitwear design.

Nadia: I could name many designers, but I have a sort of “golden triangle:” three ladies that I’m admiring for their work, their creativity, sensibility and experience: Veera Välimaki, Gudrun Johnston and Ysolda Teague. I wish to be as good as they are, one day.

Rebecca: It did not occur to me until I read Sharon Miller’s magnificent reference book Heirloom Knitting that it is totally possible to rearrange and recombine different stitch patterns into any configuration, to fit into a given space or create a particular effect.

Christine: My mother. She was a wonderful woman and taught me most of my knowledge. She disappeared too early and I miss her. She would be proud of me.

Kerry: Honestly, it was yarn that inspired me to start. I taught myself to knit a couple of years ago, and everyone was talking about how much they loved superwash, so that’s what I used. But as I learned more about fiber and different breeds, I began to appreciate wool and other fibers in a new way. I’m a very tactile person, and as I began to fall in love with certain fibers and yarns, I yearned to create something new in homage to the people and animals whose work had gone into each yarn. I’m particularly passionate about yarns produced in the US, and I’m so proud to have designed something for Brooklyn Tweed.

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