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For the launch of Ranch 01, we decided to revisit a few of our favorite patterns from Jared’s Woolens collection. Pairing naturally dyed yarns with cozy accessory patterns was an instinctive choice — the tonal natural dyes used for Ranch 01 truly highlight the textures of the Far Hills Hat and Scarf set and the Furrow Cowl and Hat set.

We entrusted Winona and Tyler of Green Matters Natural Dye Company with our vision of a yarn that was minimally processed and reflected a closeness to the earth in its appearance. The breathtaking result is a yarn that exhibits a range of colorful variance within each colorway that captures the spirited nuance of the natural world. Each skein of Ranch 01 is as unique as it is beautiful.

If this is your first experience knitting with naturally dyed yarns, we would like to share with you what we’ve found as we’ve learned a lot about natural dyes along our journey of developing and knitting with Ranch 01. As you handle Ranch 01, it may decide to impart some of its earthy remnants onto your person, tools, and/or general surroundings. Some natural dyes, particularly indigo, continue to release particles of unbound color due to the friction of handling. This process is called crocking and it may stain your fingers temporarily or your needles. The act of knitting usually completes the removal of any excess dye matter, so you shouldn’t experience any color transfer in wearing your finished garment after wet blocking. You may rest assured that the color will wash off of hands with soap and warm water.

When caring for finished Ranch 01 pieces, soaking for several minutes with cool water and a pH neutral soap works best to avoid any color modification. Do also know that while the dyes used for Ranch 01 are considered “light-fast,” meaning that they don’t easily fade away with exposure to sunlight, keeping the yarn from direct sun exposure will prolong its beauty. With proper care, knits made with Ranch 01 will serve you well for years to come.

To learn more about the characteristics of and materials used for Ranch 01, feel free to download our handy “Tip Sheet” here.

The garments used in our Ranch 01 photoshoot were designed, handcrafted, and generously loaned to us by Aliya Wanek, a designer based in Oakland, California.

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Today we welcome Ranch 01, the first in an exciting series of small batch, limited edition, ranch- and breed-specific yarns. The creation of Ranch 01 has marked a special moment in our journey to highlight breed-specific wools, a moment that began with a beautiful clip of Climate Beneficial Wool from The Bare Ranch’s Rambouillet sheep. From the rangeland of Surprise Valley to Jagger Brothers’s bobbins and then to Green Matters’s natural dye pots, Ranch 01 has been a true labor of love.

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Each skein of Ranch 01 holds within it a hope for a re-imagined fiber landscape — one where sheep, people, and the land are treated with respect and care. We hope you enjoy knitting with Ranch 01, and can’t wait to see what you make!

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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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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.

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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.

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One of the most joyful aspects of our work at Brooklyn Tweed is connecting with remarkable individuals in the world of wool. Melding passions and expertise can create magic, and we couldn’t be more excited to offer Ranch 01, a new single-batch yarn that showcases extraordinary Rambouillet wool grown by the Estill family of Bare Ranch.

In addition to Rambouillet sheep, the Estills also raise Suffolk sheep, cattle, and hay, on a northern California ranch first established by Thomas Bare in 1888. Nestled in the Surprise Valley on the Nevada border, the Bare Ranch was built by pioneers and is now an early partner in efforts to rethink the ways ranchers use rangeland pasture. The Estills are working with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and Fibershed to adopt innovative Climate Beneficial farm practices that sequester carbon, repair damaged streams, and steward their land and animals. As part of the Fibershed movement, Bare Ranch is also connecting with regional artisans to keep their wool clip close to home. The Estills now send some fleeces to a local mill to produce woven wool fabric called Community Supported Cloth.

Lani Estill noticed the incredible quality of their purebred Rambouillet wool and wanted to find a buyer who would share in her appreciation of the fleece, as well as share in the vision of giving back to the land to make wool production truly sustainable. She sought to work with a buyer willing to pay a premium for her top-quality wool as a means of investing in Fibershed to support the ranch’s work of creating a regenerative landscape — for example, by adding compost to their soils, planting miles of trees in windbreaks, restoring stream ecosystems to health, developing rotational grazing practices, and increasing the use of no-till farming practices. Brooklyn Tweed was honored to answer that call, and we believed many of our customers would be as excited as we are to play a part in this worthy story.

It’s rare to find a supply chain that goes all the way back to an individual ranch, and rarer still to find a ranch working so hard to change both their practices and their business partnerships to create better models of fiber production, community, and environmental stewardship. When you purchase a skein of Ranch 01, you’re supporting Bare Ranch’s work towards sequestering the amount of carbon equal to what is produced by 865 passenger vehicles every year. (You can read Bare Ranch’s Carbon Plan here.)  You’re directly funding implementation of a Climate Beneficial farming plan that will let the ranch draw six to nine times more carbon out of the atmosphere than it emits in livestock production. And you’re contributing to improvements in forage, shelter, and health for Bare Ranch’s 4,000 sheep.

We also think you’ll thoroughly enjoy knitting with the buttery soft, bouncy, 3-ply worsted-weight yarn we created from Bare Ranch’s beautiful Rambouillet. As you select your favorite hues from the naturally dyed palette, we hope you’ll meditate on how this special wool plays a role in making your crafting more local and more environmentally sustainable. Our post next week will take you deeper into the idea of Fibershed, a movement and organization founded by Rebecca Burgess to connect local farmers, artisans, and consumers and to radically change our framework for textile production.

All of the photos in this post are courtesy of Paige Green Photography.

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Before the release of our first yarn, Shelter, we challenged ourselves to answer a few humble curiosities. With such a rich textile history and an exciting variety of wool resources amidst a booming U.S. community of knitters and makers, why was it challenging to source and develop traceable American yarns? Would it be possible to develop from scratch a 100% American-sourced, designed, and spun yarn in a way that reflects the values of an intentional maker? These questions, and our continued seeking for their answers, have come to shape the heart of our mission here at Brooklyn Tweed. We are proud to have grown our core yarn offerings over the years — five versatile, breed-specific yarns developed with an eye to traceability, reproducibility, supporting domestic mills, reinvesting in the textile industry, and more importantly, providing a meaningful experience to the handknitter.

Now, we are going a step further with our Ranch Project. In our desire to continue to explore the possibilities for domestic yarn production, for this series we are partnering with single ranches to source limited, single clips, quantities too limited to use in a core yarn line but for which we are able to highlight their unique and special qualities. Our aim is to also highlight the exceptional stories of these ranches and the noteworthy work they are doing in reimagining ranching practices in the U.S.

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For Ranch 01, our first offering in this ranch-specific, single-batch series, we sourced Climate Beneficial American Rambouillet wool from Bare Ranch in Surprise Valley, California. We are inspired by the work that Bare Ranch is doing, in partnership with Fibershed, to implement carbon farm planning to support hearty sheep, quality wool, and, ultimately, a healthier planet. To take the project a step further, we also worked with the Green Matters Natural Dye Company in Pennsylvania to achieve a naturally-dyed color palette that will further remind you of how close this yarn is to the earth.

Over the next few weeks leading up to launch day on April 20, we will dive deeper into the stories of the people whose dedicated work supported this very special yarn. We hope you will join us on the journey of Ranch 01’s story.

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