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!

 

Our BT Summer of Lace Knitalong has been a great motivator for me to finish up a couple of lace projects that have been laying low in forgotten places for an embarrassing amount of time (cough — years). The brawniest offender was a worsted-weight Permafrost Shawl that I cast on nearly five years ago!

 

 

I’m very happy to say that she’s finally finished and — thank you, Wool — she looks just as good as she did when we began our journey together. She’s tagged along with me through multiple cities and on more moves than I care to mention, taking up final residence on my knitting chair here in Portland… the last place I’d have guessed she’d end up when I cast on that small circle of stitches so many years ago.

 

 

That’s one of the things I love most about knitting  — the layers of memory and meaning that get stitched in, especially on monumental projects that span so many months, years, faces, and phases.

 

 

Project Specs

Pattern: Permafrost shawl, originally designed and knit for the launch of Loft in 2012

Yarn: Shelter in color “Fossil” — the design took beautifully to a light and woolly worsted-weight

Needles: 5 mm (US 8)

Skeins Knit: 11; my finished shawl clocked in at about 515 total grams and measures 64″ in diameter after blocking

 

 

I’ve loved seeing all the lace that’s being knit this summer and am happy to be able to share some of my own knitting as well from the #BTLaceKAL17. Thanks to all of those who have participated!

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I did a double-take last month when someone on our team at BT Headquarters mentioned that we were coming up on the 10th anniversary of the Cobblestone Pullover, the first pattern I ever designed. Despite my initial feelings of surprise and disbelief, checking the calendar proved this fact to be true. It’s been a full decade since I cautiously put my toe in the water of pattern design, creating this comfortable sweater that now feels like an old friend and remains a staple in my closet.

With 3,084 knitted versions of the pattern on Ravelry today, I’ve had a great walk down memory lane checking out all the ways people have made this sweater!

To honor the day, we thought it would be fun to release a 10-year anniversary edition of the pattern featuring a fresh new version worked up in Shelter. It turned out to be quite a lovely marriage of pattern and yarn, so much so that I’m already thinking about how I can fold this cozy grey pullover into my wardrobe rotation when fall hits.

With our pattern update today, anyone who has already purchased a digital version of this pattern from Ravelry or BrooklynTweed.com will receive a free update in their downloads library.

I’m very humbled to take a moment today to think back on the earliest days of my design career and I’d like to take the opportunity to say thank you for your continued support for my work over the past 10 years. I hope I’ll be at it for another 10!

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It’s been a few years since I’ve done the holiday gift knitting thing. At some point it started to feel more like a burden than a joy, so I made the decision to take deadline pressure out of the equation, which helped me to enjoy the holidays much more in recent years. This year though, I had a strong urge to spend the month of December doing some “vacation” knitting (i.e. not writing a pattern, taking measurements, planning shaping details, or any of the other technicalities that so often accompany my knitting time) with a low-commitment, pre-existing design. Hats are one of my favorite things to knit, so I picked a pattern and started stitching. I figured I’d  see how many I could complete within the month of December without setting any sort of “achievement metric” — if it turned out I was only able to finish a single hat in the month, I’d still consider it a win.

 

 

The irony about time-pressure is that when you release yourself from it, you often produce more than you may have if kept on a strict output schedule. (This is at least true for the way my brain works.) In the end, I got so into the swing of hat knitting that I finished seven of them in four weeks. Definitely a personal record!

 

 

I chose to work with my Burnaby hat pattern, which coincidentally gave me the opportunity to knit with several shades of Arbor that I hadn’t yet gotten to try out (at least on anything more substantial than a swatch).

 

 

Repeating a project over and over again has a meditative appeal for me. Along with the satisfaction of committing a pattern to memory (a fun party trick…depending on the party), I also enjoyed making subtle tweaks to each version: varying hat length and adjusting fit and fabric density through the use of different needle sizes (sometimes 3-4 different sizes in a single hat). Small details, to be sure, but seriously satisfying.

 

 

Another thing I forgot: how rewarding it is to watch friends and family open up a wrapped handknit gift.

 

 

I’ve listed the colors of Arbor that I used for each hat above. Though I picked colors based on my best prediction for each recipient’s tastes, the hats actually came together to make a nice little color story of their own! I’ve included links to the pattern and yarn below in case you get the Burnaby bug too.

 

Wishing you all a very happy new year — I’m looking forward to what 2017 has in store!

 

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Next week I’ll be heading back East for a week-long book tour to celebrate the release of Woolens! If you’re located in any of the cities above and would like to purchase a copy (or get a pre-purchased copy signed), please stop by and say hello!

At the final stop on the tour — the SQUAM Art Fair in Holderness New Hampshire — I’ll be joined by my colleagues Olga Buraya-Kefelian and Norah Gaughan. The three of us will be meeting, greeting and signing books at the Brooklyn Tweed Authors table throughout the event, alongside several inspiring vendors who will be setting up shop at the Art Fair.

I look forward to meeting some of you on the tour!

 

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I’m excited to announce today’s release of a new book of my work that we’ve published here at Brooklyn Tweed! Woolens is a project that I’ve been knocking around in my head for quite a while, but it wasn’t until I visited Japan last year that I was inspired to get the project off the ground. Looking back now, I can definitely see the influence of that trip in both the projects and the imagery inside these pages!

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The book is dedicated to the humble knitted accessory – small, portable projects that are meditative to knit and accessible to adventurous beginners. Inside you’ll find a mix of all of my favorite knitting traditions: colorwork, cables, lace, and textured stitches.

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We’ve put together a book preview (see below) if you’d like a sneak peek at what you’ll find inside — and if you’d like to check out each individual project more in depth, you can find them all here. The book is available in print, as well as a print + e-book combo, and I’ve signed the first 250 copies that will be shipping from our Portland HQ today!

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 I look forward to seeing what unique creations you’ll make with these designs, and I hope you like the book!

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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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I’m super excited to be able to offer Oshima now as a pattern for both men and women. Of all my past designs, this is one that I’ve most often wished I could wear myself…

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I don’t think I’ll ever tire of playing with Brioche stitch—its beautiful definition and “squishiness” make it so fun to knit and to wear. Elizabeth Zimmermann lovingly referred to Brioche stitch as “Prime Rib”—I can’t think of a better nickname for such a juicy stitch pattern, can you?

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We’re in the throes of our big move(!), but today I was able to carve out a little time to sit and reflect a bit about one of my new sweater designs—the Rift pullover. This was a really fun piece to design (and had quite an entertaining evolution), so I thought I’d talk a little bit today about how it came to be.

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For some time I’ve been playing around with different ideas for shoulder epaulets—I think it started back when I was working on the Fort pullover for BT Men Volume 1 in late 2012. Originally that design had a single shaped shoulder patch on one side (see an old sketch below)—imagined as a little extra padding for a messenger bag (or any other type of shoulder strap) that might be worn regularly and protect that area of the garment from wear. After having added the garter patches to Fort’s elbows, however, I felt that another patch on the shoulder was overkill, so pulled that element from the design.

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Since I wasn’t able to get my epaulet fix then, I’ve been tossing various shoulder-detail ideas around in my sketchbook ever since. I liked the idea of an epaulet that was angled and followed the shape of the shoulder more anatomically, but didn’t love the extra bulk that resulted from affixing a separate knit piece as a patch. That made me start thinking about ways I could integrate the shoulder epaulet idea into the sweater fabric through a simple change in stitch patterning. This would also solve the excess bulk problem, especially when working on a design for worsted-weight yarn.

I burned through some of the more traditional ways of working a stitch-pattern epaulet pretty quickly (like horizontal welts seen on the shoulders of traditional ganseys—I love those details on classic fisherman sweaters) but still felt something was missing. I then began experimenting with getting more angled, shapely epaulets through a combination of short rows and welts, but it just felt too fussy. As I continued sketching one epaulet after another, they eventually began looking like raglan sleeve tops, as the slanting lines came down lower and lower on the yoke.

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My next thought was to work a traditional raglan and just change the stitch pattern to a rib or welt once I reached the sleeve cap. Before long though I realized I was sketching something very similar to one of Véronik’s pullovers (also from BT Men volume 1), Barrett. So again, the idea sailed onto the back burner to simmer some more.

Then one day I saw a woman on the subway wearing a sweater that looked like a raglan, but was actually a set-in sleeve with patterning that mimicked raglan shaping. The lightbulb moment I had been waiting for was here! I grabbed my sketchbook and made this sketch.

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The faux raglan allowed me to play with the depth of the raglan shape without actually affecting the neat fit of a set-in sleeve—something I hadn’t been willing to sacrifice. I started playing around with how deep the “raglan” lines would start, and how I could incorporate a full-fashioned rib pattern within the modified epaulet idea.

From that moment on my inspiration was really sparked. I made several charted variations, ultimately coming up with the version that you see in Rift. Once the shoulder detailing was decided, a nice opportunity for an integrated side detail to the body presented itself, too—a traveling rib that splits at the underarm and flows seamlessly into the detailing on the yoke. I love that a special detail like this brings something unexpected to what is otherwise a very classic silhouette. From a knitting perspective, I also felt like it arrived at that beautiful balance between lots of stockinette knitting and just enough stitch play to keep things fun and interesting throughout the process.

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Pattern writing and grading on this piece was definitely a hard nut to crack! Since the shoulder details would have specific idiosyncrasies based on the size of the finished garment, no specific set of rules or written instructions worked very well. So I opted for the more “bespoke” route of charting out the front and back yokes for each individual size. The end result included 6 total sizes with finished chest measurements ranging from 39.25” to 59.25”. (A big thanks to our tech editor Robin for being a great sport and indulging my charting neuroses!) The pattern is quite long as a result, but don’t be fooled—most of the pages are charts for additional sizes and you’ll only need to print the two that pertain to yours.

The treatment of the neckband was kept very minimal, letting a ridge of purl stitches set off a simple rolled stockinette edge with a sewn bind-off. This integrates well with the busier epaulet ribs.

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I love how this simple sweater turns out to be just enough of a head-turner to seem fresh but not showy, which is a balance I think a lot of guys like to strike in their attire. Something as comfortable and easy to wear as a sweatshirt but just fancy enough to work when dressed up for the office, too.

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Thank you for your kind words about my Agnes post last week! I thought I’d keep the design-inspiration train going today and share some backstory on my second Met-inspired garment from Winter 15, Carpeaux.

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I spent a lot of time photographing sculptures on our day at the Met—especially those located in the beautiful Petrie European Sculpture Court (pictured above). One piece that especially caught my eye was a bronze monument to the great 19th-century French sculptor Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux. Modeled by a younger sculptor named Émile-Antoine Bourdelle in 1908-09, Carpeaux is shown wearing a voluminous coat with dramatic drapes and folds. I loved how the sculpture had a feeling of being simultaneously very solid and very soft, with the rough-hewn garment frozen in motion. The combination of structure and drape got my gears turning. I particularly loved the idea of translating inspiration from fabric to metal and back to fabric again.

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After seeing the piece and doing some freeform sketching, an idea for a blanket-front cardigan began to emerge. I like a garment that has an element of drama but can still maintain a sense of shape and contour. The bronze coat got me thinking about both drape and structure, and ways in which I might be able to play with these two themes in the same garment. I liked the idea of pairing voluminous fronts with a more tailored back. When casting on the garment at the hem edge, the width of the “back” piece is quite narrow. As the body is knit, the back increases rapidly to its full width. Shaping the garment in this way results in a pair of graceful arches (illustrated in the right photo below) that angle the drape-fronts forward for a more flattering, figure-friendly line. Since the garment has such a generous amount of fabric in the front, trimming out some bulk in the back would keep the silhouette from becoming overwhelming.

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Brioche is one of my favorite stitch patterns, and I often turn to it when I want to accentuate the shaping elements of a piece. When working in brioche all your shaping is worked in pairs (double increases and decreases) to maintain the ribbed appearance of the fabric. Traveling lines are quite apparent when working larger shaped passages within the fabric (Oshima’s yoke explores this idea as well). In the case of Carpeaux, the stitch pattern highlights the unusual back shaping (as well as adding Brioche’s characteristic plushness and squish for coziness!)

I was also thinking about stitch patterns that could be reversible, since the fronts of this sweater hang open to reveal both sides of the fabric. Brioche already looks identical front and back, but I had hoped to add a decorative element to the cardigan front and landed on  a few simple (and reversible) cables worked in the brioche pattern that would be as attractive on the wrong side as they were on the right.

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The body of the garment is worked in a single piece from hem to shoulder—illustrated in the above diagram. Note that the schematic is shown in exploded view, with dashed lines representing “seamless” areas. In the end I opted to forego closures on a garment like this, allowing the fronts to be treated more like a blanket or shawl when worn. It would easily be suitable for a single pin closure—or even belting—to give additional styling options. The sleeves are worked in Stockinette to balance out the bulkier nature of the brioche body and to give a little visual contrast to the garment as a whole.

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In the end, the goal was for something of a statement piece that didn’t swallow up the wearer—a bit of drama without feeling too over the top. And as always… something fun to make.

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