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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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Sunbursts, trees and stars, reindeer and snowflakes, mutable landscapes of blended color. In vivid hues or in natural sheep shades, figural or geometric in design, the yoke sweaters of the North Atlantic are distinctive and enduring. The story of their creation in the 20th century is one of enterprise and canny marketing as knitters leveraged traditional skills to make ends meet in a rapidly changing and newly global economy.

The Icelandic lopapeysa, the Scandinavian and Shetland yokes, and the sweaters of the Bohus Stickning cooperative in Sweden may all have their roots in a Greenlandic ornamental accessory called the nuilarmiut that has nothing to do with knitting — it’s an element of traditional formalwear made of glass beads that cover the shoulders and bust in a large collar of brightly patterned geometric designs. The nuilarmiut’s appearance in a 1930 Danish film and, later, on members of the Danish royal family seems to have inspired several Scandinavian knitwear designers to imitate the effect in wool. Three of the earliest known circular yoke patterns bore the name “Eskimo,” suggesting their common inspiration. In the 1940s, the Bohus Stickning company in Sweden made the yoke sweater a mid-century status symbol. The designers’ innovative and masterful color play broke entirely with traditional motifs and methods to create subtly shifting forms and juxtaposed hues, all rendered at extremely fine gauge in luxurious angora-blend yarns. Bohus sweaters were worn by royalty and cultural icons — and commanded prices to match. The knitters’ earnings supported many families during an economically difficult time. Cottage industries in Shetland and Iceland were also quick to capitalize on the international taste for yokes, channeling their potent knitting histories to create garments that became lucrative exports more accessible to the average pocket book.

The strategic position of the patterning on a circular yoke serves two purposes. The designs ring the throat and shoulders like jewelry, drawing attention to the face. The plain body and sleeves heighten this effect while slyly achieving a second end: all that unadorned fabric is easy and relatively speedy knitting. In the case of the famous Shetland yokes, many of which featured tree and star designs borrowed from neighboring Norway, the jumper bodies and sleeves were knit by machine and then passed to the handknitters for the colorwork portion. The sweaters could then be completed at a cracking pace to achieve a successful commercial scale, and the knitters could develop one beautiful variation after another by skillfully shading both the background and foreground colors. The Bohus sweaters were always knit entirely by hand, but even at 8 or 9 stitches to the inch, the plain bodies allowed the most accomplished knitters to complete a couture garment in just a few weeks. Icelandic production knitters still work by hand, but take advantage of their native sheep’s long-stapled fleeces to work at a loose large gauge that supports strong geometric motifs and rapid sweater completion.

Yokes have climbed to the height of fashion, plunged into outmoded fustiness, and ascended once again in recent decades. Across the North Atlantic, a resurgence of admiration for these powerful symbols of national identity has led younger generations to embrace them. Knitters around the world have been quick to appreciate the joy of crafting yokes; a basic circular yoke is one of the most foolproof sweaters to knit, and the possibilities for elaboration are endless.

Brooklyn Tweed pays homage to the bold beauty and variety of yoke designs in five sweaters and two accessories that tip the cap to history, but hew to modern fit principles and allow each designer to explore original ideas. In these pages you’ll find seamless construction (both bottom up and top down), stranded colorwork, cabled texture, and even a wink at classic cartoons. Welcome to BT Yokes.

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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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Greetings from wintry Portland! As we get ready to leaf over to 2017, we’ve enjoyed looking back on our work from the past year and remembering our favorite BT knitwear. All of our office staff have weighed in with their picks of 2016, and a Top Ten have emerged.

 

The striking poncho shape of the women’s version captured our hearts in particular — not to mention those luscious cables.

Originally knit in Quarry as part of our Ganseys collection, this hat got a whole new look when we released our worsted-spun DK Arbor last fall. Those cables really pop in a yarn built for stitch definition.

Melissa Wehrle knocked it out of the park with her modern interpretation of the Aran pullover in Wool People 10. We love the traditional cables updated with the vented hem and slim sleeves.

We all agree: classic cabled shawl-collar cardigans forever. Especially when they’re warm but light in quick-knitting Quarry.

Oh, those elegant lines! This beautiful cardigan is flattering on everyone.

This quick and satisfying knit uses Arbor to render the Tree of Life — one of our favorite traditional motifs — in stunning high definition. If you can part with it, this cowl makes a great gift.

We love the tailored fit and the bold, simple patterning against a background of reverse stockinette.

This layering piece is perfect for three-season wear, and the shawl collar really sets it apart.

The intriguing fabric of this scarf is such a delightful opportunity to play with color and yarn weight combinations.

 

Maximum coziness, beautiful cables. We love the oversized fit cleverly adapted to eliminate bulk under the arms.

What were your favorite Brooklyn Tweed patterns this year? Let us know in the comments!

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The season of twinkly lights, eggnog, and snowball fights is the most wonderful time of the year — for woolens!  Some of us are trying to calculate how many hours of sleep we can exchange for crafting time to eke out a few more handmade gifts; others are blissfully escaping the chaos by casting on a long-term project that has nothing to do with the holidays and stresses of the wider world. If you’re in either of these camps, or simply dreaming of your next adventure in knitting, we have a surprise for you today: BT Winter 17, dropping early this year!

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Our house designers have decked the halls with twelve new garments and four accessories that use all four of Brooklyn Tweed’s core yarn lines. This collection includes our very first garment designs for Arbor, our worsted-spun DK Targhee wool. We’re so excited to show you what this new yarn can do on a larger canvas! Jared Flood’s masculine Svenson pullover, Norah Gaughan’s Shoji cocoon cardigan, and Véronik Avery’s Nila lap-front pullover were designed to make the most of Arbor’s vivid stitch definition and drape.

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If you need gift-knitting inspiration, Winter 17 offers up several unisex accessories. The Lancet hat can be worked in chunky Quarry for soft, tweedy, practically instant results or in Arbor for crisply defined chevrons and a full, nuanced palette. The Proof hat and Proof scarf can be paired for perfectly matched winter warmth.

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If your world needs a meditative still point, the soothing stockinette of Julie Hoover’s Rivage coat or the hypnotic shifting textures of Michele Wang’s Binary scarf may do the trick.

This collection is all about cozy comfort trimmed with distinctive details and innovative textures. We hope you’ll find something in the new lookbook to brighten the season for yourself and your loved ones. Happy knitting!

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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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Wool People 10 Cover

 

Welcome, Wool People! We’re thrilled to introduce a tenth collection of garments and accessories conceived by independent designers and curated by Brooklyn Tweed. This edition was the first opportunity for Wool People to make full use of our current stable of yarns, and we were particularly excited to see what the creative minds of the knitting world would imagine in Plains, our limited-edition laceweight Rambouillet.

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With half the collection being floaty lace accessories, it only seemed right to balance things out with the pleasing structure and heft of cables, so you’ll find chunky coats and mid-weight sweaters aplenty in this well-rounded collection. As the seasons are turning all around the globe, we love the thought of a knitter in New Zealand casting on a cozy cardi like Marylebone while another here in Portland is starting a lace crescent like Haro or Lunette to wear over tees and sundresses (or getting a jumpstart on a new cableknit wardrobe staple for next fall!).

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Our contributors are a wonderful mix of new and familiar faces from around the planet. One of our favorite aspects of Wool People is the open submission call that puts budding design talent on the same stage with established luminaries. Over the next few weeks we’ll be posting brief interviews with the designers whose work is appearing in Wool People for the first time, and we hope you’ll enjoy getting to know them.

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We also look forward to sharing some scenes from Saco River Dyehouse, one of our partners in producing Plains, to show you more about this yarn’s journey to your needles.

Enjoy the collection!

 


Quick Links:

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

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Ganseys. Guernseys. Jerseys. Whatever name they’re given, the seaman’s sweaters of the British Isles are iconic. Knit to wear like iron and to shield their wearers from bitter onslaughts of wind and seawater, cleverly engineered with innovative features that maximized their durability and comfort, and patterned to sing proudly of love and skill, these garments number among the great achievements of knitting history.

 

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Myths about ganseys abound — photographic evidence doesn’t support the romantic notion that towns and families had their own exclusive patterns, for instance. Fishermen were among the most mobile people in Europe, always in and out of ports all over the North Sea, which gave knitters plenty of opportunity to admire and copy distinctive patterns. And it wasn’t just men who followed the herring migrations. Girls who gutted and packed the fish wore ganseys, too, with short sleeves to bare their arms for the messy work. The lasses often skipped the familiar navy and black yarn in favor of macaron hues of peach, raspberry, lemon, and pistachio. Knitters didn’t just make ganseys for themselves or for family members, either. A cottage industry that endured until the 1930s sprang up, and women could earn much-needed supplemental income by hand-knitting ganseys for sale.

 

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Most ganseys shared a set of common features. They were knit in the round to the underarms, and then the squared-off fronts and backs were completed working flat to create a drop shoulder. They were made of sturdy 5-ply wool and knit at a gauge of 8 stitches per inch to achieve the densest possible fabric. Ganseys seem to have begun as plain warm underwear, but they were often exposed to view as hardworking wearers stripped off outergarments, and by the mid-19th century knitters were beginning to add texture and design by incorporating purl stitches. Diamonds, stars, welts, and other geometric forms often embellished the upper torso and sometimes the upper sleeves. Simple rope cables and pictorial anchors, hearts, crosses, and Tree of Life motifs imbued the ganseys with symbolism. The most beautiful sweaters were worn for Sunday best.

 

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Ganseys were also marked by novel construction that maximized their lifespan as working garments. Diamond-shaped underarm gussets allowed greater freedom of movement and reduced stress on the fabric. Many ganseys had shoulder straps worked in ribbing for further elasticity. A variety of inventive cast-ons reinforced wear-prone hems and cuffs. This attention to quality and lasting sturdiness has allowed a great many historical ganseys to survive in excellent condition. Although few knitters today are willing to invest the time and effort required to produce an authentic gansey, we are all fortunate to be able to learn from the innovations and high standards established in these garments.

Our recent collection — Brooklyn Tweed Ganseys — pays homage to the gansey tradition in five sweaters and three accessories that may not take you to sea, but will inject trim nautical style into your wardrobe. We took them to a lonely stretch of Oregon coast for a photoshoot to hark back to their origins, but their clean, contemporary shapes will make them equally at home in the city if your working environment is a desk rather than a dock. Like the originals, these new designs bespeak knitterly pride in a smart detail or a well-chosen technique. We hope you’ll enjoy the challenge of shaping an unusual neckline or trying a new cable as you make these garments your own.

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