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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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It’s time to announce another fun project that we’ve been cooking up behind the scenes – this one has been a lot of fun, and I’m so thrilled with the end result!

Today we unveil a set of limited edition Brooklyn Tweed Sweater Cards – the result of a collaboration between the BT Design Team and Vancouver-based watercolor artist Mark Hall-Patch. Each pack contains 15 blank gift cards (with envelopes) and features 5 different commissions artworks featuring garments from our collection archive. Read on for the full story!

One afternoon last winter, when I was surfing the internet on one of my regular inspiration binges, I stumbled across some beautiful, minimalist watercolors by Mark and was struck by their delicate, poetic style. I immediately purchased a small water color for my own studio – a well-loved and slightly tattered Cowichan sweater – and when it arrived in the mail I was delighted to see that the in-person experience of viewing the painting was even more enchanting than my virtual one (as all good art should be!).

For several months I’d been kicking around the idea of finding an artist – be it a painter, illustrator or photographer – to collaborate with on some kind of special project for BT. When Mark’s painting arrived on my doorstep, the idea for these cards hit me like a ton of bricks. I promptly contacted the artist to see if he’d be interested in exploring some ideas.

I was further delighted to learn that Mark – a sensitive & sweet guy, as it turns out – loves collaborating on projects of this nature. Before we even finished our first conversation, we were setting to work on the details. I began by photographing several garments and accessories from the BT Pattern Archive. We then assembled the finished photos and started discussing which designs seemed to group themselves together naturally. Before long, we had landed on five projects, all in varying shades of grey and cream. (Shocking!)

A few months later – after Mark had carefully created each piece – five beautiful watercolors arrived at BT Headquarters, looking even better than I had hoped for.

The paintings are small – worked with tiny brushes and a very delicate hand. My personal challenge was to get as much of the original detail into the reproductions as possible. I also wanted the art to be reproduced in its actual size on the finished cards, so your experience would be as close to holding an original as possible.

So enough story telling – onto the art work! I’ve photographed each of the five paintings below, placing them aside the photos of their inspiration garments (we threw a pair of mittens in  for fun, too).

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I always find it refreshing to shake things up a bit and play around with new ways of experiencing our yarns and pattern designs. This was such an enjoyable process, we’re already on the hunt for some new creative folks to team up with!

Sweater Cards are available today on our web site here (or click any of the images above); each pack contains 15 cards (3 copies each of 5 paintings) with envelopes. Card dimensions are 4½” wide by 6¼” tall (A6).

If you are interested in seeing more of Mark’s painting and illustration work, you can visit his web site here. If you’re interested in any of the patterns pictured, those can all be found on our web site or Ravelry.

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At BT Headquarters we’ve been busy preparing some special woolly treats for the holiday season. When we started thinking about good gift ideas for knitters, handknitting kits seemed like a great option since they are so versatile! They of course make great gifts for knitters, but are equally useful as a way of treating yourself to something special, or even gifting the finished project on its own (two birds with one stone).

We’ve put together a selection of four handknitting kits from the BT pattern archive and assembled them in brown paper packages (tied up with string… we couldn’t resist) so they’re directly gift-able, with no additional wrapping or assembly required.

Each kit ships in our BT monogrammed brown bag tied with baker’s twine. Inside, you’ll find tissue-wrapped skeins of yarn nestled together with a beautifully printed pattern folio – everything your knitter needs for a lovely hand-making experience. Each of the four kits is shown below – just click the text links or kit images to be taken to the product pages for each individual kit.

 

The Habitat Kit is a perfect, low-commitment project for cable lovers – and is available in 6 different colors of Shelter. This design has become a BT classic, and is one of my own go-to designs when I’m in need of a quick gift for a friend or family member that still feels unique and special. It’s also a great design for knitters wanting to sharpen their skills at cabling-without-a-cable-needle (in my book, it’s one of the most essential tricks for cable knitters) or just cabling in general. This design has plenty of simple cable crosses, but doesn’t require the same daunting commitment as an allover cabled garment, tempting as they are.

 

The Rosebud Kit offers knitters a choice between a beanie or slouchy silhouette – either style can be made with this kit. The hat features an oversized braided cable (a real beauty) on a garter stitch background – a cozy thing that looks great on just about everyone. With each kit we tried to choose a good mix of colors from both our neutral palette as well as our brighter, more colorful lineup – click through to the kit pages to see which colors are offered for each.

 

If you’re on the hunt for some knitting you can really sink your teeth into, the Sempervivum Shawl Kit might be just the ticket, especially if lace is your passion. We had such fun choosing colors for this one – I  think the shawl would look amazing in any of the 7 shades available, choosing just one may be the biggest challenge of all. A triangular shawl wrapped up loosely around the neck is such a great way to get a little color pop into even the greyest of wardrobes… though we were sure to include a grey and brown option as well, naturally.

 

Finally – we kitted up one of our customer favorites from the pattern shop – the Guernsey Wrap. Though the shape couldn’t be simpler, it’s so easy to get lost in those hypnotic fisherman sweater textures, striping along as you go. This project is a great reminder that simple projects requiring only knits and purls don’t have to be boring. I remember knitting the very first sample during the summer of 2010 – it was such a comforting project to end up with at the end of the workday. The Guernsey Wrap Kit is stuffed with 5 skeins of Shelter for hours of wool love in every bag.

 

For those of you with knitters in your life, we hope these offer some good gift ideas (or something to add to your own wish list)! The kits are currently available in limited supply, but we’ll be doing our best to keep them stocked through the holidays, so enjoy and happy knitting/kitting!

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