BT News

Keep up with our current projects, collections, ideas and announcements here

Our recent Foundations installment on Reading Your Knitting has had us thinking about our own developments as knitters, the things we’ve learned, and the things we continue to learn as we progress in our craft. So, we asked members of the Brooklyn Tweed Team to look back and share the moments that helped expand their skills, what marked a significant development in their knitting careers, and what finally made them gasp and say, “Oh, now I’m a knitter!”

Read on, laugh, and feel empowered by stories of our aha! moments — and share your own in the comments below!

 

I still have revelatory moments even though I’ve been knitting for a few years. There is always something new to learn with knitting, but my first of these moments happened when I finally figured out how to count my stitches and distinguish between a knit and a purl. When I first started, I couldn’t figure out how to do seed stitch because it kept becoming 1×1 ribbing. I was so confused and frustrated but that’s really how I learned to understand and read knitting. — Sara Cade, Wholesale Specialist

What finally made me gasp and say, “Oh, now I’m a knitter!” was when I learned how to fix lace by trying to figure out what Laura Nelkin was doing with her pinned out dropped stitches! — Kel Moore, Wholesale Manager

One of the things I made in my first year of being a “real” knitter was a large lace shawl. At the time I was in between teaching jobs and had a lot of time on my hands, which fueled a desire to experiment with patterns well beyond my beginner skill set so that I could expedite my knitterly growth. I dove right into that lace shawl pattern knowing full and well that it was beyond my abilities — but from that one single project I learned so, so much! I learned how to read a chart and how to read my stitches; I learned how to fix a mistake in a working row and a few rows below; and perhaps, most importantly, I learned how to let go and move on when things weren’t coming out perfectly. With every stitch I thank past Jamie for taking that leap early on and trusting herself to undertake such an unfamiliar (and at times scary) project. I continue to reap the benefits of her bravery to this day! — Jamie Maccarthy, Customer & Community Relations Specialist

I’d say that a significant marker of development in my knitting career came upon reading Knitting Without Tears by Elizabeth Zimmermann. A good friend handed me a copy when she learned I was ready to move beyond hats and scarves toward knitting garments. EZ’s recipes were eye-opening in that they gave both instruction and permission to move beyond the printed pattern, allowing the knitter to create a knitted item of her own creation. My path toward knitting independence was furthered upon attending Schoolhouse Press’s Knitting Camps, originated by EZ and now led by her daughter Meg Swansen. Over the years I attended camp, I learned additional ways to make my knitting my own as well as methods and techniques that improved my knitting skills. Experiencing gauge or rowing out issues with stockinette stitch? Try knitting-back-backwards. Want a tidier-looking ribbing? Use the Norwegian purl. Learning how to manipulate my stitches forwards and backwards, regardless of which side of the work is facing me, has improved my ability to read my stitches in a way that makes for smoother and more confident knitting. — Jen Hurley, Office Manager

 

I learned how to knit from a friend in high school. We used a booklet that we bought at a craft store and I happened upon a plain text website that had some basic knitting instructions that helped me cobble together enough guidance to knit garter stitch scarves. I exclusively used the Backwards Loop Cast-On for about six years or so, diligently knitting my scarves and other basic projects. I wasn’t aware at the time that there are many, many ways to cast on. I would cast on my stitches very loosely and as I’d knit, my gauge would inevitably tighten, resulting in a bell-shaped fabric on the cast-on edge of my project. Eventually, I heard about the Long-Tail Cast-On method. By this time there were YouTube videos with instructional tutorials, so I watched a video of this technique over and over until I figured out how to do it — it took me a lot of time and patience to master. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the feeling that I had when it finally clicked. I remember thinking that I could now knit anything and it would actually look how I wanted it to. For me, it marked the transition from homemade to handmade in my knitting journey and it opened the world of knitting wide open. — Christina Rondepierre, Marketing Manager

 

When I learned how to knit four years ago (while stuck in the dorms during the Portland Snowpocalypse of 2014), YouTube was my best friend. As a (shy) full-time student, I didn’t quite have many opportunities to seek out knitting groups or sign up for knitting classes at local yarn stores, so many of the resources that helped me gain my skills I had to find online. Now that I think about it, I’m actually quite lucky to have picked up the craft at a time when so many resources are easily accessible from the comfort of my electronic devices!

More recently however, I’ve found myself in a space and occupation where I get to talk and write about knitting all the timewhether via e-correspondences or with a team member a mere couple feet away from my desk. It’s amazing how trying to put into words how to perform a complicated knitting technique, how to perform a simple knitting technique, or even just expressing wonder at a pattern design can encourage one to think more deeply about what happens when you pick up two sticks and a string. So, by making these connections — in the mind and with fellow makers — the current (less shy) me has become very emboldened and eager to keep growing in this making journey. — Korina Yoo, Marketing Coordinator

View Comments Leave a Comment
Share
Categories:

Last week, we delved into the story of one of the many remarkable teams who seamlessly came together to see to fruition the first iteration of our Ranch Project — Bare Ranch in Surprise Valley, California, whose devoted efforts at sustainably stewarding their land and animals resulted in the extraordinary Climate Beneficial American Rambouillet wool that we sourced and spun for Ranch 01. It was through our work with Bare Ranch that we connected with Fibershed and what would become another integral chapter in the Ranch 01 story, and hopefully in our collective fiber and making story as well.

[[Video 263077255]]

A fibershed is a concept referring to a strategic geography that defines a textile resource base, much like a watershed or a foodshed. In that sense, it means being connected to a place and a landscape, knowing what grows there, what options for production are possible there, and then supporting and relying on those resources to fulfill basic necessities such as water, food, shelter — and clothing. It is a step away from the human and environmental impacts of fast fashion and a return to tightly knit local communities founded on meaningful, necessity-based relationships. In many ways, it also points to a radical act of slowing down and of reinvesting attention and care into materials, whether inherited, made, or purchased.

As an organization, Fibershed is a 501(c)(3) non-profit founded by textile artist, author, and educator Rebecca Burgess. Their mission focuses on educating consumers and independent producers on strategic fiber systems and on connecting wearers to the soil in which their clothing was grown. Fibershed is also doing work in actualizing the concept of fibershed in regions such as Northern California and the Pacific Northwest, regenerating landscapes through carbon farm planning, rebuilding local manufacturing, and empowering regional communities. Fibershed envisions a soil-to-soil cycle of textile production, which decentralizes the conventional textile supply chain and ensures that textiles make their way back to the soil, ultimately for greater environmental, economic, and social benefit.

Climate Beneficial illustration by Fibershed

Fibershed is doing groundbreaking and awe-inspiring work in this regard through education efforts, research on fiber systems, and their Producer and Affiliate Programs. Their research on fiber systems is particularly fascinating in that they are aimed at bolstering fibersheds by developing land-based models and methods for reviving historically local fiber and dye plants and animals, and for creatively rethinking the ways in which local landscapes have been used in order to cultivate new textile resources (that might otherwise be imported). For example, through extensive research with Indiana University professor Rowland Ricketts (trained in indigo farming and dyeing in Japan), they were able to grow and process Japanese indigo in temperate northern California. Meanwhile, our very own Pacific Northwest Fibershed is working to revitalize the flax plant (which produces linen) in Oregon, which historically, up until the 1950s, supported the only flax industry in the United States.

Fibershed’s Producer and Affiliate Programs serve to inspire and continue these grassroots efforts at both developing and reviving regional fiber communities. The Producer Program (of which Bare Ranch is a member) connects farmers, ranchers, spinners, mill owners and textile artists working in northern and central California. The Affiliate Program is its global counterpart, which now has 35 national affiliates (or chapters) and 15 international affiliates. Those interested in participating in these affiliated fibersheds — whether they’re a producer, a scientist, a maker, or a consumer — can express and develop their skills while learning others in contribution to the “shed of their existence.”

Photo by Paige Green Photography

Re-imagining our involvement and investment in local communities is rooted in this: being connected to your materials and resources, knowing where they are from, keeping them in play for as long as possible, and then putting them to rest in the manner they are due. If it is say, a wool sweater, this can mean sourcing a yarn that was produced responsibly, taking the time to turn it into a garment, loving and wearing it to bits, and then composting it at the end of its life so it can regenerate the soil from which it came. In the words of Rebecca Burgess, “It’s healthy to find ourselves in a place where we feel like we need each other and the plants and animals, and to have respect for them. And it’s hard to have respect for things if you don’t know where they come from or if you don’t know who you owe your gratitude to.”

In that vein, next week we will visit the last chapter in our Ranch 01 story, Green Matters Natural Dye Company and the work they have done in imparting the earth’s colors to this beautiful Rambouillet wool.

View Comments Leave a Comment
Share
Categories:

Our journey to the Madrona Fiber Arts’s Winter Retreat began on a snowy Valentine’s Day morning here in Portland, OR. As we all gathered at the Brooklyn Tweed Headquarters before setting off, we double- and triple-checked our lists to be sure that things would go off without a hitch once we arrived in Tacoma, WA.

With Luigi driving a U-Haul full of precious yarn cargo and Christina as co-pilot and navigator, the rest of the crew — Lis, Korina, and Jamie — piled into a car with everyone’s luggage and WIPs and their compass pointed north.

After the normal bustle that happens when setting up a temporary home in a hotel room and many a “hello” exchanged with other vendors, the crew quickly got to work setting up the Brooklyn Tweed booth in the Madrona Marketplace. The space filled up quickly with each of our yarns represented in a beautiful gradient along the wall at the back of the booth. To the right we hung a carefully chosen selection of sample garments — some from our most recent Winter 18 collection and other BT classics that have stood the test of time. To the left was our yarn wrapping and general help station where we had on display a slideshow of photographs highlighting some of our most favorite BT patterns from over the years. In the midst of it all, our printed patterns and books were organized atop a wooden table covered by a lovely linen cloth, sewn by Lis only a few days before, and flanked by two dress forms sporting the day’s outfit of choice.

The Brooklyn Tweed booth was located at the Marketplace entrance, which meant that we had the good fortune to see the many smiling faces of excited retreat-goers as well as a gorgeous array of shawls, sweaters, socks, and skirts throughout the weekend. Ideas for projects soon-to-be-cast-on in workshops and hotel rooms flowed as easily as the tide at Point Defiance only a few miles away. A special joy was seeing many a lovely knitter leave the BT booth with purpose and an accompanying armful of woolly goodness. Thanks to Christina’s talent and knack for selecting complementary yet exciting colorways to grace a yoked sweater or two, by next year we’re sure to see more #BTintheWild garments when tending to our wares at the Marketplace.

The joy of knitting wasn’t the only thing that left its mark on our spirits during the weekend. Our feelings of team camaraderie grew as we worked together to lift boxes and keep each other spry with mid-day coffee runs; what a privilege it was to have an occasion like Madrona to be with one another to learn and grow together as the BT crewIt was also spirit stirring to be surrounded by a collective of passionate small business owners who share in our love of wool, design, and community.

Other more utilitarian lessons learned in our five days at Madrona were to be sure to leave extra room in our bags for the treasures that would make their way home to Portland with us, as well as how wonderful the steam setting on a hotel room iron can work when needing to block a just finished sweater in a pinch!

All in all, Madrona was an excellent chance to meet with knitters face to face and share in our collective joy for the wonders of wool and fiber arts. We’re already planning on where we’ll be off to next, and hope to have a chance to meet more of you in person soon!

If you’d like to know where BT will be next, visit our events page here.

View Comments Leave a Comment
Share
Categories:

In the latest installment of our Foundations series, we walk you through the fundamentals of reading knitting charts — deciphering chart symbols, determining the direction of reading, working simultaneously from charts and written instructions, and more. Today, we’re sharing our tips and tricks for keeping track while reading charts so you can have a more manageable, stress-free, and enjoyable experience while knitting.

Keeping Track of Rows or Rounds

Charts are read row by row or round by round, much like how you would work a knitted item. However, as you progress from the bottom to the top of the chart, it may become easier to lose track of which row or round you’re working on in between looking at your knitting and looking at your chart! If you’ve printed out your chart, an easy way to help keep your place is to line up a ruler or other straight-edge above the row or round you’re working (shown above), then moving it up as you progress. This way, you know that the row or round directly below your ruler or straight-edge is the one you’re working, while still being able to see how your stitches on that row or round are lining up with the stitches below it.

You can also use highlighter tape or decorative masking tape to keep your place in a chart (shown above). These tapes peel off easily without damaging paper, making them convenient for moving around as you progress through your rows and rounds. They’re also semi-translucent, which is handy because you’ll know that the row or round directly below the line of tape is the one you’re currently working, but you’ll still be able to see through the tape itself and anticipate what will be involved in the upcoming rows or rounds.

If you prefer to work from charts on a computer or other device (as opposed to on paper), you can use the menu bar on your PDF-viewing application (e.g. Preview or Adobe Acrobat) as a straight-edge. Simply scroll up across the pattern PDF until the rows or rounds above the one you’re working are hidden from view. For example, if you’re currently on Row 9 of a 20-row chart, you can scroll up the chart page of the pattern PDF until Rows 10-20 are hidden from view and you can only see Row 9 directly below the grey menu bar (shown above). Then, you can scroll down, revealing the rest of the chart row by row as you progress.

Some PDF-viewing applications also allow you to create a colored line that can be moved around on the page as needed.

Keeping Track of Different Types of Stitches

If you’re working from a chart involving many different types of stitches (e.g. directional cable crosses or twists), it may become difficult to distinguish their symbols from one another on the chart. Moreover, having to continuously refer back to the chart legend may hinder the flow of your work. One good way to easily separate multiple stitch symbols (that may look similar but involve different techniques) from one another is to code them by color. You can assign different colors to different stitch symbols on your chart legend, and then color them on the chart (either with colored pencils, highlighters, or highlighter tapes) according to the color code you’ve established.

For example, in the chart shown above, we assigned the color green to a 2/2 LC-purl and the color pink to a 2/2 RC-purl on the chart legend, and then applied those colors accordingly to the symbols on the chart itself. The contrast in color then quickly and easily shows us that on Round 3, the 2/2 LC-purl is worked before the 2/2 RC-purl.

Keeping Track of Multiple Charts at Once

If you’re working from a pattern involving multiple charts, it may become cumbersome to repeatedly flip through your pattern pages to switch from chart to chart. However, there are a number of ways you can make working from multiple charts more manageable!

If you’re working different charted motifs section by section up the garment (e.g. Byway, which alternates between a Moss & Garter Block Chart and a Cable Block Chart), you may simply rearrange the pages of your pattern such that the charts are closer to the written instructions in which they are mentioned. If you’re working from the pattern on a computer or other device, some PDF-viewing applications like Preview or GoodReader will allow you to move pages around in the document.

If you’re working multiple charted motifs across the same row (e.g. Ondawa, which involves working from a horizontal sequence of different cabled chart motifs on the body), we suggest printing out your charts, trimming the pages, then taping them together in the order that the pattern instructs you to work from them. Don’t forget to print your chart legends, too! Also keep in mind that the direction in which you should read your charts — not necessarily the order in which the charts are mentioned in the written instructions — will determine the order in which you tape them together.

For example, if the written instructions tell you to:

For circular knitting:

Round 1: Work Chart A over next 10 stitches, slip marker, work Chart B over 20 stitches to next marker, slip marker, work Chart C over 30 stitches to next marker, slip marker, work Chart D over 20 stitches to next marker, slip marker, work Chart E over last 10 stitches.

For flat knitting:

Row 1 (RS): Work Chart A over next 10 stitches, slip marker, work Chart B over 20 stitches to next marker, slip marker, work Chart C over 30 stitches to next marker, slip marker, work Chart D over 20 stitches to next marker, slip marker, work Chart E over last 10 stitches.

Row 2 (WS): Work Chart E over next 10 stitches, slip marker, work Chart D over 20 stitches to next marker, slip marker, work Chart C over 30 stitches to next marker, slip marker, work Chart B over 20 stitches to next marker, slip marker, work Chart A over last 10 stitches.

… you may not want to tape your printed charts together as Chart AChart BChart CChart DChart E, even though they are mentioned in the written instructions in that order. Here’s why:

Because charts illustrate the RS of the fabric and RS rows or rounds (flat or circular) are read and worked from Right to Left (←), you should tape your printed charts in that sequence as well, with the first chart (Chart A) starting on the right and the last chart (Chart E) ending on the left: Chart E + Chart D + Chart C + Chart B + Chart A. This way, the direction and flow of your reading won’t be interrupted as you move from chart to chart. If you’re working the charts circularly (i.e. you’re working every round on the RS), they’ll already be arranged in a Right to Left Sequence. If you’re working the charts flat, they’ll already be arranged in a Right to Left sequence for RS rows and a Left to Right sequence for WS rows.

The diagram above shows more clearly how you’ll read from chart to chart on RS rows in both flat and circular knitting (red arrows) and on WS rows in flat knitting (green arrows).

And there you have it — we hope these tips will be a helpful companion to you in your journey to charted knitting territory. Have tips to share from your own chart reading toolbox or have other chart-related questions you’d like us to tackle? Feel free to leave them in the comments or get in touch with us at support@brooklyntweed.com!

View Comments Leave a Comment
Share
Categories:

Patch, our third Outpost pattern, pays homage to many a knitter’s first project — the humble garter stitch scarf. Lisa Carney-Fenton elevates this tried-and-true formula with four striping options and a clever method for a polished edge: her Elegant I-Cord Edge technique, which involves concealing the non-working yarn inside the edging, keeping it tidy and eliminating the need to weave in multiple yarn tails during finishing. These thoughtfully-considered details make Patch a delightfully versatile pattern to knit and an effortlessly cool scarf to wear.

Handknitting kits — ready to cast on or gift — for the Broad Stripe version of Patch in Arbor are available now in our webstore through the end of December. We thought up eight playful color combinations to give you an idea of the myriad possibilities our Arbor palette provides!

If you’d like to try your hand at assembling your own unique color combinations for the multiple versions of Patch, why not try experimenting with the schematic provided in the pattern? We’ve found it to be quite a useful visual tool when planning our alternate color combinations. Plus, there are few things more fun than a knitterly coloring page (download here)!

View Comments Leave a Comment
Share
Categories:

In the second and third installments of our Foundations series, we covered the basics of swatching and seaming to aid you in tackling your knitting projects skillfully and confidently. Today, we’ll show you a quick and easy way to further practice these foundational techniques: by repurposing and seaming swatches to make lavender sachets!

These sachets are a delight to make for a number of reasons. First, they hit the sweet spot for both process knitters and project knitters — they’re truly approachable and suitable for practice because of their size and they make lovely, sweet-smelling finished objects that you can keep in a knitting bag or use in your knitwear care routine.

Second, they can be a great way to keep inspiration around you at all times. Perhaps you have a swatch for a visually-appealing intricate colorwork motif, or for a tactile-pleasing textured stitch pattern, or even for a simple stockinette fabric in a memorable yarn. Zip them up into a sachet that you can take with you for moments when you need a boost of creativity, or use to decorate your living or work space. (This project was inspired by the many development swatches we have strewn about the Brooklyn Tweed office!)

Third, they also make charming holiday gifts, either on their own or as a companion to another handknit.

What you’ll need

1) Two swatches of the same size

You can repurpose swatches that you already have or knit up two squares following our instructions in Swatching 101. Alternatively, you can use or knit up one large swatch that you can then fold in half to create your sachet (this method leaves fewer edges to seam).

2) A darning or tapestry needle

3) A few yards of firmly-spun seaming yarn in a matching color and of equal or lighter weight than your swatch yarn

4) Locking stitch markers or coilless safety pins

5) A sharp pair of thread/yarn snips

6) Loose lavender (cedar chips or shavings work well, too)

7) Fiberfill for stuffing (you can use wool roving or polyfill)

Zip it up!

Stack your two swatches with wrong sides facing each other, then seam the bottom and the two sides following our instructions in Seaming 101.  You can play around by mixing and matching the swatches that you choose! We made the sachet pictured above using two swatches for Galloway, with one side using the main colorwork motif and the other side using the lice motif on the body of the cardigan.

Once the bottom and sides are seamed, stuff your sachet with fiberfill and a couple scoops of loose lavender using the top opening. You can sandwich your loose lavender in between the fiberfill to prevent them from coming out of your fabric or bunching at the bottom of the sachet. Finally, seam the top closed. To hide the end of your seaming yarn, snip it leaving a tail of a few inches, then bury the darning needle in the sachet from a corner while scrunching the sachet. Push the needle back out, snip the end, then let the tail retract back inside as you coax the sachet into its original shape.

Alternatively, you can fold one large swatch in half; the fold will eliminate one seam. You can then seam two more sides before stuffing and seaming the sachet closed. You can also play with swatches knit in the round. We made the sachet below with a colorwork “tube” swatch by simply seaming the bottom, stuffing the pouch, then finishing off the top.

The rectangular shape makes this particular sachet work well as an eye pillow or as a wrist rest, so you can experiment with sizing too! For example, if you enjoy knitting large swatches, you can certainly repurpose them into a luxurious lavender-stuffed cushion.

However you choose to customize your sachets, we hope you’ll delight in the opportunity to practice foundational techniques on a small but gratifying project!

View Comments Leave a Comment
Share
Categories:

“There is more to life than simply increasing its speed.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

Knitting, like painting or sculpture, is a source of self-expression. What’s more, the fruits of knitting provide us beautiful and practical means to warm ourselves and those we love. It’s completely portable, ready to travel with us to our favorite solitary places in nature, and is just at home in social situations, being shared with those who understand the joy of it.

Knitting also supplies an antidote to the vexing velocity of our time. A few rows of friendly garter stitch can erase a day’s decision fatigue, calming our system and gently transitioning us into quiet time at home. The scent of wool, the bounce of each stitch as its woolen crimp responds to our touch, the sense of mastery as we make sense of new techniques and store them forever in our mental toolbox, are visceral satisfactions. Perhaps we are responding to something deep in our human wiring, a common memory for a different rhythm of life.

If thinking about all this makes your heart flutter a little, we’re right there with you. Our Outpost letter — traditionally an introduction to each of our collection lookbooks — is expanding into a monthly newsletter that allows us to share more stories and thoughts on knitting. Our journey in developing yarns from scratch has introduced us to unexpected and thought-provoking people, places and ideas — we want to share more of them with you.

We’ve also reimagined Outpost to serve as a resource for techniques we’ve learned along the way — details that elevate hand knit garments to timeless items you can fold into a classic, well-considered wardrobe. For this inaugural Outpost, we offer helpful advice on selecting a sweater size and calculating ease.

We support slow fashion and want to explore this inspiring movement with you in coming issues. We look forward to having an ongoing conversation about ideas of quality over quantity, of reclaiming calm from the sometimes frantic pace of daily life.

Select Outposts will include a new pattern that is designed for meditative, beginner-friendly knitting. The joy of knitting need not be complicated, and these patterns will allow for a reprieve from busy days and bigger projects throughout the month. (October’s Outpost will feature a new pattern from Emily Greene.)

We are excited to be kicking off our Outpost series — with every successive newsletter arriving the first Wednesday of each month (click here to sign-up if you’re not yet a subscriber) — and hope you’ll warm your favorite mug and sit with us a bit. We’re glad you’re here.

SaveSave

SaveSave

View Comments Leave a Comment
Share
Categories: