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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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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’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 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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This week we’re looking back on some of BT’s greatest garments of the year, polling our staff on their most-loved designs. Narrowing down our favorite sweaters to a Top 5 was incredibly difficult. From instant classics like Michele Wang’s Cordova (Winter ’15) to the big drama of Jared Flood’s Carpeaux (Winter ’15) to sharp modern shapes like Melissa Wehrle’s Truss (Wool People 9), there were so many more great designs we wanted to include. But the votes were finally tallied and five intriguingly different garments emerged.

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Few knitters can resist a classic gansey, and Jared’s feminine version was just what many of us had been looking for. Alvy’s set-in sleeves and waist shaping keep the silhouette trim, while the graphic coin cables on a ground of double moss stitch and welt details at the hems, cuffs, and shoulders add nautical flair.

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A bomber jacket worked in soft, doughy brioche stitch? Yes, please! We fell hard for Shield’s handsome distinctive charm. The swirling faux cables and pockets are perfect details for menswear, subtle but intriguing. Brioche fabrics get their cozy double thickness from some knitting maneuvers that may be unfamiliar, but we find the rhythm quickly becomes natural.

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Marshal was one of Norah’s first designs for BT, and we adored her stylish, edgy take on the military cardigan. This piece is all about shifts in texture: the brioche accents are worked in Shelter for extra heft against a light, tailored body in Loft. The effect is tough, smart, and totally wearable.

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We’re so glad we pushed Julie to design a stranded colorwork sweater! Filtering Fair Isle through her minimalist aesthetic produced a refined pullover with graphic peerie bands. The simple palette of Fossil, Hayloft, and Truffle Hunt is unexpected and so effective, bringing out the heathered depth of the colors. We love Ashland as an introduction to steeks, which allow us to knit both the body and the set-in sleeves in the round.

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It’s not hard to see why Rift garnered the most votes in our poll. We can’t tear our eyes from those gorgeous ribbed epaulets, which give the appearance of raglan shaping to sleeves that are actually set in. This staple sweater gets everything right, and the big charts for the shoulders give us something to chew on during the knitting as well as creating a fetching masculine detail.

We want to thank all of you for your adventurousness in embracing such a wide variety of designs, allowing us to flex our creative muscles and to push ourselves to work outside our own comfort zones! Don’t forget to chime in with your own 2015 favorites in the comments or on social media by using #BTfaves15. We love hearing your opinions and spreading the love to all the hardworking designers who contributed to Brooklyn Tweed this year!

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Today we take a closer look at Jackdaw, Norah Gaughan’s shawl-collar pullover for BT Men 2. We asked her to talk about the genesis of Jackdaw’s original cable motif, which really sets this sweater apart. Here’s Norah:

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The cable pattern for Jackdaw is the result—or should I say, one of the results—of about two years’ worth of experimentation with cabling ribbed stitches. About 20 years ago I spent a good deal of my time and artistic energy developing pattern stitches, mostly cables. I had an agent who toted them around 7th Avenue in New York City, selling the large swatches to designers and manufacturers for commercial use. This was an amazingly productive time for me. I thought of an idea and, while knitting it, often came up with several variations. Every swatch was unique, but I definitely worked in series. I saved some of my favorites because I knew I would want to use them myself, and somehow this one had gone unused for all that time.

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While working on these innovative motifs, I found a few structures I favored. One of these is the idea of “stitch sharing.” In an ordinary cable lattice, all of the stitches that cross in one row of cables cross again on the following cable row, weaving in and out. In this variation I call the Jackdaw motif, the lattice overlays a twisted rib fabric. Some of the ribbed stitches take part in the next crossing while others are left to travel straight upward; it’s as if the background rib shares some of its stitches with the lattice and then takes them back again. Jackdaw has an additional complication: some of the ribbing is filled with garter stitch, which forms large X’s in the fabric.

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I had a hunch that this pattern would be really nice in Loft. I really like the look of half-twisted rib (where the knit stitches are worked through the back loop on both sides of the work but the purls are worked in the usual manner) in both Loft and Shelter, and the Jackdaw pattern is based in that rib. It also has a subtlety about it that seems to suit itself to menswear. I didn’t have to make any changes to the original stitch to employ it in this shawl-collar design. I used the half-twisted rib for the cuffs, hem, and collar to harmonize with the Jackdaw fabric, and the resulting sweater feels like just the right destiny for the stitch pattern I developed so long ago!

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For today’s Design Spotlight, we asked Véronik Avery to talk about her Carbon pullover. This arresting design uses traditional stranded colorwork techniques — including steeks! — to achieve a totally modern effect. This sweater holds secrets at every turn, from clever shaping updates for a better fit at the shoulders to a message of the knitter’s choice concealed inside the hem. Here’s Véronik:

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It’s no secret that I love stranded knitting; I find it almost as easy as plain stockinette but infinitely more interesting. And while I love traditional colorwork, I’m going through a phase where I’m trying to strip down extraneous details and approach designs in a more contemporary way. With Carbon, my explorations through sketches of traditional colorwork took me to its basic essence: the charts. I’ve always loved the graphic nature of printed charts, so I started playing with stretching vertical repeats and arranging very basic components to result in a simple but unusual sweater. The contrast color gradually shifts to become the background color through a series of small diamond, cross, and checker motifs.

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This design uses steeks to allow knitting to continue in the round during the colorwork section. If you’ve never tried a steek before, this is a good project to learn the technique. The steek forms a bridge of extra stitches at each armhole that are cut open and folded to the inside of the garment body after the knitting is complete. (Brooklyn Tweed patterns always include full instructions for stabilizing the fabric before cutting, so you needn’t fear taking scissors to your knitting!) And in this design the colorwork doesn’t extend to the top of the sleeve cap, so there’s no extra bulk at the point of the shoulder.

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I added little details to the construction that may not be evident at a glance, but create a tailored garment. The shoulder is an angle back, with no shaping done in front. Instead, I angled the back shoulder twice as deeply as usual — just because decreases are so pretty (which happens to be the main reason I prefer bottom-up to top-down knitting)! Also, the neckband is doubled, as a single layer didn’t feel substantial enough.

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I added a secret message in the hem, which is very traditional—knitters have been doing it for centuries, and it’s a personal touch I like to include any time I work a hem in stranded knitting. The sample garment reads “Brooklyn Tweed 2015” (seen above), but the pattern includes charts for a full alphabet and set of numerals so you can add any message you like—your name, the date you knit the sweater, a favorite quote, or maybe a special shared sentiment between knitter and recipient.

I also thought I’d share some alternate colorway options that I designed in Illustrator when working out my sample’s color scheme. (It’s always so hard to choose just one color combo when working with Loft!)

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I hope you enjoy knitting Carbon and look forward to seeing what color combinations you’ll try!

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Our design spotlight today is on Bradbury, Julie Hoover’s classic striped raglan with a contemporary twist. We’ll yield the floor to Julie to tell you all about the genesis and special details of this design. (She just might sell you on seaming a sweater if you’ve never tried this construction method before!)

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When it came time to begin concepts for our second men’s collection, I knew I wanted to design a striped pullover—an updated classic that would feel sexy and sophisticated but could still be versatile enough to dress up or down.

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I almost always start with the fabric for a design, but for Bradbury the sketch came first. I already had a strong mental image of thin stripes with a solid block of color at the top of the yoke. As you can see from my sketch above, originally I drew single-row stripes. It wasn’t until later, when I was making a gauge swatch, that I played around with pairs of single-row stripes, and that combination ended up being the winner. I’ll confess, another thing you can see from my sketch is that I always gravitate toward the neutral tones in my concepts (Fossil + Sweatshirt in this case). The sample ended up being worked with a bold contrast (FossilPumpernickel) in order to balance out the color choices for the entire collection. I love both versions equally well. The color options are really limitless according to individual tastes, and I’ve since worked up four different color options that I think would each make beautiful variations from the photographed sample:

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4 color variations from our Loft palette (color names listed below corresponding swatch)

One thing to keep in mind as you’re playing with color is that light areas will appear to come forward, while dark areas recede. I worked a block of the pale color at the top of the yoke because the appearance of extra breadth across the shoulders is flattering to most male bodies. If you want to reverse lights and darks, make sure you like the effect on your intended recipient before you commit to the knitting.

Next came the fun part: construction details. I absorb a lot of inspiration from sewn garments. Although I rarely have time for it now, sewing was my first skill (way before I learned to knit). Any time I come across an interesting piece, I will turn it inside out to look at shaping, construction, and finishing details. I do this out of curiosity about the design as well as for a quality check before I consider purchasing any ready-to-wear item. It’s those little details that make all the difference in determining how long the garment will last. In hand knitting, so many things are possible with a little extra time and attention to technique, so applying lessons from sewn-garment construction is an obvious path for me. My design aesthetic leans toward simplicity in patterning of the fabric, so structural details become really important.

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For Bradbury, sewn-garment influences are immediately apparent in the full-fashioned decreases, 2-stitch purl “ditches,” and exposed seams that really celebrate the raglan line. Why knit a raglan any way but seamless, you might be wondering? After all, it’s one of the easiest ways to make a sweater. The main reason Bradbury isn’t worked in the round is the stripes. The spiral architecture of circularly knitted fabric means you’re going to have a trouble spot at the beginning of the round where the stripes will “jog,” forming a small but visually prominent stairstep. There are many clever techniques for minimizing the effect, but minimizing is the best you can do. There’s no way to get perfectly even stripes without knitting flat pieces and seaming them. Bradbury’s seams are straight, so there’s no guesswork about how to ease together two curved pieces — if you haven’t ever tried sewn construction, this is a good first project. If details like this seem a chore to you, I would urge you to reconsider. It’s worth every minute in the end, and certainly takes less time the more familiar you are with doing it. Give it a try! Sewn seams add stability to the fabric, which is beneficial when you’ve got the weight of a whole sweater trying to stretch your yoke out of shape. But a bit of sewing also allows you to turn the seam itself into a design element that can’t be replicated with “fake seams.”

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Exposed seams are a favorite detail of mine. If you incorporate a precise selvedge stitch as you work, it keeps the edge stitches neatly finished and worthy of exposure to the public side of the garment. I typically use an exposed seam along only one or two areas as a design detail, which keeps it from looking like you simply turned your sweater inside out. Of course, if exposed seams aren’t to your taste, you could omit the purl stitches (working them as knit stitches) and seam to the inside.

On Bradbury, something that might not be apparent in the photos is the subtle difference in shaping of the back and front raglan lines. The back of the yoke is worked wider than the front, hugging the natural forward curve of the shoulders and creating a better overall fit. I might not have chosen to write the pattern this way had it been worked seamlessly, since it’s not a dramatic fit difference and would have been a technical nightmare for our pattern editor. But since the pieces are worked separately above the underarms, it became a perfect opportunity to tailor the garment more precisely.

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I hope you’ll love knitting and wearing Bradbury. I’m looking forward to seeing this one out in the wild!

—Julie


Quick Links:

View Bradbury Pattern Specs   |  View Loft Yarn & Color Palette

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The wait is over! Many of you have been hoping for new men’s patterns with every BT collection launch since we released BT Men back in July 2013. Today we’re delighted to share that we’ve been dreaming the same dream.

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When we think about knitwear for men, we think about fun, comfortable, easy-to-wear garments that integrate seamlessly with the tried-and-true favorites in their closets. We think about classic shapes, subtly updated with a few contemporary details. We’ve done our best to pull together a collection of ten fresh sweaters and three handsome accessories that will stand the test of time and suit all kinds of men.

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We asked five regular guys without any modeling experience to test-drive our new garments, using their own wardrobes and personal taste to show you a variety of looks. Our lookbook for this collection also shows several designs on more than one guy; we hope this will help you imagine these pieces on the knitworthy gents in your own life.

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We shot the collection in historic downtown Jersey City, home to Brooklyn Tweed Headquarters these past two years. We wanted to pay homage to our beloved neighborhood with one final photoshoot before we jet off to the West Coast in May.

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On location at Porta, a modern Italian restaurant just down the street, we tried to capture some of the creative energy of the neighborhood we’ve come to know and love. (Caution—these photos may make you hungry!)

And with that, enough chatter! Come on in and see the menswear in our lookbook or browse the patterns on Ravelry.

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Quick Links:

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

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