JF's Notebook
Photo of Jared Flood

Notebook

Penned by Jared Flood

Hello and welcome! I'm a knitter, photographer, designer and the creative director at Brooklyn Tweed. I use this notebook as a space to record inspiration and write about my creative work both inside and outside of BT. Thanks for reading, and don't be a stranger—I love hearing from you!

I love books. I love the way they feel and smell. I love the tactile properties of different kinds of paper between my fingers. I’ve daydreamed about bringing printing into our offerings at BT for quite a long time, so I can’t tell you what a thrill it is to be holding a printed copy of Olga Buraya-Kefelian’s CAPSULE Collection for Brooklyn Tweed in my hands today.


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Working with designers has become one of my favorite parts of my job over the last few years, both with our Wool People collections, as well as our in-house design team. As we’ve continued to produce design collections, however, I’ve often found myself wishing we could provide a designer with a broader platform to share more than just a single design at a time. Within my own design process I know that a single idea never exists in a vaccuum — it’s almost always accompanied by related concepts and variations which are often left unexplored.

The CAPSULE idea was born from my desire to facilitate a deeper collaboration with a single designer and to see what one person might do when given an opportunity to realize their own vision for an 8-10 piece “wardrobe” of knits. The name CAPSULE, of course, references the idea of a capsule wardrobe, a small collection of essential, timeless pieces that are versatile and interchangeable, giving the wearer options to create several outfits from a modest, well-edited collection of garments. This idea has always resonated with me — doing more with less — especially in this unprecedented era of fast fashion.

 

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When I started thinking about designers who might be the perfect fit for the Capsule idea, Olga was the first to come to mind. To me, she is truly a unique voice in the world of knitting and someone whose dedication and creative conviction I deeply respect. I remember being very excited to see what kind of beautiful knitted objects she would create as the first designer to be featured in this new series, and she did not disappoint!

Collaborating with others and incorporating a dialog into the creative process has become one of my favorite ways of working. As much as I require and adore solitary creative work, I’ve learned that opening yourself up to different perspectives and ideas throughout your process can be equally important, and almost always helps you make that extra creative leap when you find yourself stuck in your own head.

 

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In 2012, Olga and I started our conversations about what this collection might look and feel like. The work evolved slowly and organically through creative dialogue and spanned a couple major geographical moves for both of us (Olga from Japan back to the states in mid-2013, me from East to West Coast this year), getting pushed down the calendar further and further as we figured out how to make this new print format come together. New ideas always take time, and we both agreed to give this one as much time as it needed until it was right.

 

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Olga and I both love street fashion and thought it would be fun to highlight the funky flair of her pieces in this type of setting for the collections photoshoot. We were still in Brooklyn at the time, so on shoot day we set up camp at a friend’s home in an historic architectural district of Cobble Hill (the same location we used to shoot our BT Kids collection), and rambled around the neighborhood using the beautiful pre-war architecture, brick facades, and ornate details of the neighborhood as a backdrop. My love of the iconic NYC stoop is very much in evidence, as you’ll notice!

 

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It’s been such a new and fun challenge to design a book for print, making a beautiful object that can function as a source of inspiration in its own right as well as displaying Olga’s beautiful work. I worked closely with book designer Jenny Trygg on the print edition and we spent many happy hours geeking out over paper and cover finishes, typefaces and layouts.

As for the garments themselves, I think they’re so clever and unique. Apex has really stolen my heart. It’s one of those perfect sweaters that will turn heads while remaining super wearable. Dress it up, dress it down, throw it on over just about anything and run out the door looking fabulous. (I think it’s the type of garment that will elicit many “Where did you buy that?!” comments from strangers.)

 

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I’m looking forward to seeing what you all think about our first experiment with print. Here at BT HQ we’re definitely excited to be working on this new publication. And as ever, I’m looking forward to seeing how some of you will make Olga’s garments and accessories your own.

A very special thanks to my talented friend and colleague Olga Buraya-Kefelian for making this experience so memorable and rewarding. I know I speak for both of us when I say that we really hope you enjoy it!

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If you’re familiar with my past design work, you know that the Shetland Hap Shawl is a genre that I come back to time and again. I think this is because I am generally interested in the intersection between utility and beauty in design – and this traditional shawl style was born directly from that crossing. Worn by working women in the Shetland islands, the Hap Shawls’ primary function was to keep the wearer warm in the harsh conditions of the Northern Scottish Isles.

Over time, however, Shetland knitters developed a signature style for these shawls. They were generally square in shape and worked in garter stitch, with a plain central section worked in a solid color. The outer border almost always uses some variation of an Old Shale lace pattern and very often employs multicolored striping sequences, which were the perfect use for assorted oddments of shetland wool left over from former projects. (If you are interested in learning more about the history of Haps, Sharon Miller’s book “Shetland Hap Shawls” is the definitive source on the topic – I highly recommend it!)

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When we began concept sketches for the Winter 14 collection, the urge to design a new Hap Shawl was welling up inside me yet again. With this design, though, I wanted to think more about what types of shawls and construction methods appeal to the modern hand knitter, and apply those ideas to the traditional look of the Hap.

The first and most obvious choice was to create a triangular shawl, rather than the traditional square format. Triangles are faster to knit, easier to wear and more versatile as a styling item – so that decision seemed to make sense. After that, I needed to decide upon a construction sequence that would keep the knitting both interesting and efficient. I knew I wanted to keep the entire project seamless, so that goal was my starting point.

The diagram below maps out the knitting sequence, which begins at the base of the inverted central triangle. The entire project begins with just a single stitch cast onto your needle; the rest of the shawl grows out of that lone loop (I love that). The central triangle is worked back and forth, increasing one stitch per row by way of a yarn over at the beginning of the row. This type of shaping allows the garter stitch ridges to travel straight across the inverted triangle, which makes for an attractive contrast to the diagonal direction of the undulating border.

 

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Additionally, the yarn over selvedge conveniently provides open loops along the shaped sides of the central triangle, creating the perfect pick-up edge when you return to work the colorful lace edge.

You’ll see a dashed line at the top of the central triangle in the diagram above. When this point is reached, live stitches are placed onto waste yarn to be held until you work a contiguous top border that incorporates both the central triangle and the diagonal side edges of the Old Shale lace portion of the shawl.

After securing these live stitches with the waste yarn holder, stitches for the lace border are picked up along the diagonal edges of the central triangle (effortlessly, from those yarn overs along each edge). Upon completion of pick-up, the lace border is worked back and forth, with mitered increases at the triangle tip and side edges of the border (to maintain the overall triangular shape of the piece).

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I played around a bit with ways to modify the traditional Old Shale lace motif, and found that I liked working a row of elongated “drop” stitches between the colored eyelet rows. The photo above shows these rows clearly. These elongated stitches are created by double-wrapping the yarn as you knit across the row, then dropping one of the double wraps as you work into the stitch on the following row. The eyelet rows (worked in alternate colors) gently distort the fabric into wavy lines, which in turn effects the shape of the elongated rows nicely.

The project is also a fun excuse to play with color! In my version I used 5 different shades of Green from the Loft palette – but there are so many different ways you can use color in this border. It’s a perfect use for small amounts of leftover wool that you might have lying around. You can also keep it simple by working the shawl with only two colors (a main “shawl color” and a contrasting stripe color). The pattern includes yardage amounts for both a 2-color version and the 6-color version (shown) so you won’t need to do the extra math.

Traditional Hap Shawls usually employ a fancy knitted-on lace edging to finish the piece. While these edgings are beautiful, they can also be a bit fussy. In an effort to modernize and streamline the design, I liked the idea of keeping a clean bind-off edge – both from the perspective of finished appearance and convenience during fabrication. It is certainly a more concise finish than the traditional method – just remember to keep your bind-off row very relaxed so you don’t run into elasticity problems when blocking.

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After completion of the striped lace border, return to the top edge of the project, pick up stitches along the side edges of the lace border, and incorporate them into the same row as your held live stitches from the center triangle. Once united into a single row, work back and forth in garter stitch for a few ridges and bind off to complete the top border (a relaxed elastic bind off is advisable here as well).

All in all, it makes for quite a fun knit that looks complicated but is easier to create than you might think upon first glance. It’s also the type of project that you finish and immediately start thinking about what changes you’ll employ for your second one!

The best part for me, though, comes now – as I get to witness the creative variations you knitters will make! If you do choose to embark upon this shawl, I hope you’ll enjoy the process of not only knitting, but playing with color and striping ideas too. Have fun!

– Jared

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Resources:

The Kelpie pattern is available for download at Brooklyn Tweed or on Ravelry. The Loft yarn used in the photographed sample is available here.

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Scarves can often seem like glorified swatches, and really that’s what they are in the beginning. You fall in love with a specific stitch pattern (in this case a beautiful combination of lace and cables) and want to let it shine on the blank canvas of a scarf or wrap. That being said, I don’t think scarves need to be relegated to the simple or boring category. To me, there are always subtle ways to elevate them beyond their “deluxe swatch” status: a thoughtful selvedge, a polished tubular cast-on, mirrored/symmetrical composition, and so on.

For Afton, each half of the scarf is worked from a ribbed hem towards the centerline of the piece, where it is grafted using Kitchener stitch. By creating the piece in this way, the pattern motifs (which have a clearly visible vertical orientation) are mirrored on either side when the scarf is worn. A tailor-made tubular cast on at the hem edges flows directly into a broken rib pattern as well as the corded selvedge, which continues throughout the remainder of the scarf creating a clean, flat finish at each side edge.

I also enjoy playing with arrangements of a stitch pattern to create multiple sizes for pieces like this. After all, each of us has our own opinion about how much fabric is too much or too little when draped around the neck and shoulders, and having options is great. Afton’s patterning lent itself beautifully to three sizes – an oversized scarf (at left, in “Fossil”), a standard scarf (at center, in “Homemade Jam”), and a more dramatic wrap (at right, in “Soot”) – all of which are included in the pattern.

Both scarves were knit with two strands of Loft held together. By working with doubled strands of a fingering weight yarn, stitch definition is more crisply pronounced and texture is highlighted beautifully; the slightly denser fabric is also a great at handling even the coldest days of winter. For the wrap version, however,  a single strand of Shelter was used for a softer, more gentle fabric that had drape and warmth, and kept the larger dimensions of the wrap from feeling heavy in any way.

To take it a bit further, why stop at only three versions? What about a shawl version worked in laceweight? Or a blanket worked in a bulky yarn? Theme and variation definitely keeps knitting interesting, doesn’t it?

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When I first began knitting sweater patterns, I never felt completely sure of myself when choosing which size to work. Quite a disconcerting feeling to experience at the very beginning of a marathon knitting project – when choosing the wrong size can mean the success or failure of all your hard work.

Over the years – mostly from trial and error – I learned about the importance of ease when making (and more importantly, wearing) garments. Ease refers to the difference between a given measurement on a finished garment and that same measurement on the wearer’s body. Most commonly ease is discussed in reference to the chest/bust, since this is the measurement that most patterns are built upon – at least for traditional shapes and construction types.

True, there are “rules” about how much ease is recommended for a given style and fabric weight (a very important factor to remember), but I’ve also found that individual ease preferences significantly vary from person to person, depending on their own personal style and what they are comfortable wearing.

In our garment patterns at BT, we like to list a recommended ease amount – given by the designer – but also share how much ease is shown on the model in the photograph as a reference point for knitters to consider when making the fateful decision about which size to knit.

This week on our Facebook page, we’ve been sharing side-by-side images of a selection of the garments from Wool People 3 photographed on both of our models. Aside from having very different personal styles, Tessa and Hannah have different body shapes and sizes as well, so I thought it might be fun (and instructive) to share these images with specific fitting information, to help give knitters a better idea of how these small changes in size and fit effect the overall look of a garment. Below is a recap of those posts with this information – I hope you find this helpful!

Reine Cardigan by Alexis Winslow: shown here dressed up on Hannah (left) with 1″ of negative ease, worn over a light, summery dress. Tessa (right) dresses it down with a sleeveless top and jeans, with 2″ of positive ease. Because the fabric is knit with Loft, a fingering weight yarn, designs with negative ease are more wearable than when worked with a heavier fabric/yarn (worsted weight, etc.) Cardigans are often easier to wear with negative ease as well, since the open front allows fluid movement and versatile styling.

Breckon Cardigan by Amy Christoffers: Tessa (left) wears it relaxed over a light shirt dress with 3″ of positive ease. This comfortable fit is casual but not messy. Hannah (right) wears a more fitted style with zero ease (wearer and garment bust measurement is the same) over a collared shirt and pencil skirt.

Boardwalk Shell by Heidi Kirrmaier: This cap-sleeve garment is a versatile wardrobe item. We styled Tessa (left) with a denim shirt and skinny jeans. Tessa’s bust measurement is 2½” smaller than the garment. Remember that the addition of the shirt effects the final ease amount slightly. Hannah (right) wears Boardwalk alone with ½” of negative ease (her bust measures just slightly larger than the blocked garment).

Öljett Hat by Jenny Gordy: Hats are generally worn with 1-2 inches of negative ease at the brim measurement. Tessa’s head circumference is 1½” smaller than Hannah’s, so the hat fits in a “slouchier” way. Hat sizing is less of a mystery than garment sizing, but I threw this one into the mix, just for fun.

I’m off to Iceland for 10 days – one of my knitting “bucket list” destinations – for a much needed vacation, and to give my camera a workout. The best part is that it’s definitely sweater weather up there, so I can rouse my wool garments from their summer hibernation. See you in a couple of weeks!  –Jared

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This early Spring has inspired many a new lace idea (and exploration of our more “flowery” colorways). One benefit from this unseasonable warmth? Swatches dry about twice as fast.

Loft in “Blanket Fort” 

Have a great weekend!

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It seems like Spring has been battling its way onto the scene in fits and starts for weeks. Despite a few bizarre instances of April snow recently, the warmer air seems to finally be sticking. It’s a perfect time to think about some serious lace knitting, and today’s pattern fits the bill nicely.

The Rock Island Shawl is a piece that I designed for a special collaborative project. Last year, the nice folks at Lorna’s Laces invited me to be a part of their ongoing Color Commentary Series, in which designers are given free reign to develop a new colorway for LL yarns.

At the time, I had a very specific deep black-violet on the brain and wanted to pursue that. The original color inspiration came from some wonderful graffiti that I saw on Grand Street in Brooklyn that used heavy swaths of rich indigo and black. We worked back-and-forth for weeks and finally ended up with the finished colorway (shown above), which I’m thrilled with.  I’ve named the color Grand Street Ink, after its original inspiration, and it is now available in their wide range of yarns.

I chose to design for the color with Helen’s Lace, a fine laceweight  50/50 wool-silk blend. The silk took the dye beautifully and the finished fabric of the shawl is almost veil-like.

The piece contrasts simple garter stitch with intricate Shetland lace motifs which are worked on both RS and WS rows, also over Garter Stitch. As a result, the shawl is completely reversible – both sides look the same. The triangle is worked backwards from standard construction, beginning first with the knitted edging. After the lace edging is worked, stitches are picked up from a yarn-over-selvedge along the straight edge and the main portion of the triangle is worked directly from those stitches. This means the most labor-intensive elements of the shawl are completed first, and pattern rows get smaller as you go, which is always a nice psychological bonus.

I think the design would look wonderful in fingering weight yarn as well… I may have started one already.

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Resources: The Rock Island pattern is available through Brooklyn Tweed or Ravelry. Brooklyn Tweed’s “Grand Street Ink” colorway is available at Lorna’s Laces.

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I just returned from a 10-day trip to the Pacific Northwest. It was great to be with my family and spend some time at Madrona and Churchmouse while there.  I’m thrilled to be home, too – I’m rather attached to my home/workspace. Whenever I return from being away, I’m always reminded of how much being here keeps me grounded and inspired.

This morning, I wanted to share with you a new twist on an old pattern. I’ve worked up another version of the Tweed Baby Blanket, expanding the pattern with an optional larger size, and blatantly used it as an excuse to dig into the Shelter Naturals… I just love these colors.

My nephew recently had a visit to the Big City and I thought it fitting to shoot him with the new blanket, since the original was conceived for his birth, more than 18 months ago. The original blanket has gotten some serious use during that time! I love seeing babies using, abusing, and loving wool. It fills me with such pride and hope for more wool-filled lives…

The pattern now includes two variations on the same theme – a smaller 2-color version (shown here in greys) and a larger 3-color version (browns). This design is an homage to traditional Shetland Hap Shawls.  I never tire of their simplicity, beauty, and utility.  In Shetland, this type of shawl was always used as workwear and never considered fancy. This is one of the reasons I’ve always felt drawn to them.

The smaller size uses 2 colors and blocks to approximately 41″ square, while the large uses 3 colors with a finished dimension of about 45″. An added bonus: the larger size can easily double as an adult shawl too. I love how Hap ‘waves’ provide a blank canvas for an endless number of color combinations (Sharon Miller’s book on Haps has countless examples of different ways colors were/can be used, with variations in both shade and width of stripes). My favorite Haps usually play with gradations of value, shifting from dark to light and back again, wether in neutral or colored palettes.

The pattern is available here at BT, or on Ravelry.

Speaking of home, I’m only here for a few days. I’m making a quick trip up to Harrisville to visit the mill and work a bit with the folks there on site. I really value the time that I get to spend there watching everhything happen, not to mention being in the peace and tranquility of this part of New Hampshire.

Have a wonderful weekend!

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On a snowy evening, there’s nothing quite like knitting through the long hours.  I’ve been sitting by my window marveling at just how quiet the city can be on the first calm day to follow a 30-hour blizzard. The timing seemed so perfect too — a blanket of silence to end a bustling week of holiday activity.

Behind the scenes here, we’ve been having some fun using Shelter to revive some old favorites in the BT design archive.  I love knitting old patterns in new yarns to see how they behave differently from a previous version.  Today I present you with A Winter Juneberry, worked in the Wool Socks colorway.

I originally published this pattern last Spring for Veronik Avery, using a firmly spun sport-weight wool.  It was fun seeing the triangle unfold this time with a woolen-spun yarn at a different gauge. The finished triangle blocked to a wingspan of 61″ across, with a height of 30″ at center back.  This upsized version is perfect for snowy afternoons!

Aside from being available through St. Denis magazine, the pattern is also available online as a PDF. For the digital version, I’ve added yarn requirements and gauge/dimension information for a worsted-weight version. This one took 4 skeins of Shelter.

I haven’t strayed far from my knitting spot by the window in the last two days, watching rather violent snow last night, and a whole lot of quiet today. I hope everyone is staying warm and safe, whether or not you find yourself stitching through The Thaw.

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I’ve been relishing the indoor lifestyle these past few days and finding some quality time for designing. As we start thinking about winter I’ve been inspired by pure, white wool knits for the home.  It’s an added bonus when the project you’re working on can keep you warm at the same time.

I never tire of bulking up my own personal stash of blankets and throws, especially with thick wool that features the architecture of your stitch patterns so beautifully.  It’s a pleasure to watch stitch columns move, shift and twist with a round, bulky wool for curling up under.

I’ve also begun work on another circular shawl.  Center-out lace circles are one of my favorite things to knit — they seem to grow effortlessly and offer the perfect balance between mindless, relaxing knitting and more engaging lace patterning (that is, when you have free rounds of stockinette to scatter about). Whenever I’m approaching critical mass with too many high-maintenance projects, I always feel the urge to lose myself in a big circle of lace.

I’m working with Shelter on size 9’s and giving my new set of Addi Clicks a test-drive. Pleasure overload! Fossil, shown here, is a heathered white that reminds me of rustic cream-colored aran cardigans and downy lace shawls.

This weekend I’m headed up to Harrisville for a few workshops and meetings at the mill.  I’m excited to enter the next phase with the mill and explore some new ideas.  I’m hoping to catch a decent dose of the waning Fall colors as they cling to their trees on the ride up.  If the winds continue to howl as fiercely as they have been here today in the city though, I doubt there will be any leaves left!

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