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’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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JOHNSTON_wp7_blog_conversation_01

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JF: Welcome back, Gudrun! Thanks for joining me again on the blog to talk shop! (I interviewed Gudrun in November about her “Little Wave” cardigan included in Wool People 6)

GJ: Hi Jared, great to be back!

JF: You have become somewhat of a Wool People regular and knitters respond so positively to your designs. I think they are such a great balance of design, process and wearability – a great combination for hand knitters! Aside from the overall appearance of the finished piece, what other things do you think about before you begin crafting a knitting pattern?

GJ: Well I often try to think of a way to include some of my Shetland background. More often than not this is a starting point. Sometimes it’s a particular colour that calls out to me too. In this case I may quite quickly know what I want it to become.

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JF: Your newest design for us is the Halligarth Shawl – and we can clearly see your signature Shetland-inspired style shining through. Where did the inspiration for this design begin?

GJ: As you know I like to use traditional Shetland Shawl constructions and also play around with them. For Halligarth I wanted to try the same method used at the initial shaping of the center triangle (with the yarn overs to increase sts) but instead of a plain center I chose to use a lace tree motif. I was drawn to this pattern for its nicely-defined lines and its ability to play nicely with my stitch counts!

JF: You often name your patterns after places in Shetland, or words from Shetland dialect. What is Halligarth’s namesake?

GJ: Halligarth is a woodland (and house) in Unst, Shetland that was planted by a naturalist, Dr Laurence Edmonston, in the early 1800’s. Due to using a tree motif in the design it seemed a good choice! My other connection to it is that my father wrote a book about the Edmonston family!

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JF: One of my favorite parts about this design is the construction method. I love the idea that the entire “field” of lace trees grows from a single stitch. Can you explain the overall architecture of the piece to our readers?

GJ: Indeed it begins with just one stitch! As with traditional Shetland Shawl constructions, the triangle shape grows by creating a yarnover at the beginning of every row and the lace pattern is incorporated as the stitch count grows. Once the center triangle is at its desired width you pick up the yarnovers down either side of the triangle, and in the case of Halligarth I chose to skip the border section and instead worked a knitted-on edging directly on to the center triangle. I also keep the top side of the triangle as live stitches that you return to once the edging is complete. These stitches, along with a few picked up stitches from the edging, are then worked for a few rows of garter stitch before binding off. The entire thing is completely seamless!

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JF: Projects like this really get me itching to cast on a new project. This seems like one of those projects that seems to knit itself, and leaves you wanting to try another in an alternate color or size. 

GJ: Well that’s definitely a good thing! I love seeing how different a piece can look in another color.

JF: I’m sure knitters will love knitting this – thanks again for another great design (and for sharing a bit more about the process today).

GJ: Always a pleasure!

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 JOHNSTON_wp7_blog_conversation_05

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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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I’m happy to get to share a new design with you that I created earlier this year for Tanis Fiber Arts – the Guernsey Triangle. This pattern is a special design for TFA’s Year In Color Club, and has now been released for that project.

Ever since designing the Guernsey Wrap in 2010, I’ve wanted to work up a triangular companion piece, so when Tanis and I first began discussing this project I thought it was the perfect opportunity.

The task was to create an enjoyable-to-knit and easy-to-wear handknitting design that was suitable for a single skein of yarn – in this case TFA’s Red Label Cashmere Silk Fingering (75 cashmere, 15 merino, 10 silk; 420 yards). Because club members would be getting a limited amount of hand-dyed yarn, I was sure to include detailed swatching instructions in the pattern and accounted for swatching yardage as well, so that no one is left hanging!

The triangular shawl is worked from the top down and features knit-purl patterning from traditional guernsey fisherman sweaters (I never tire of them). The pattern also gives instructions on blocking the finished piece with wires to get the clean, crisp edge that suits the geometric nature of the whole. The slanting ribs of patterning are mirrored over the center spine of the shawl.

Tanis and I collaborated on the development of the custom colorway “Smoke” – a beautiful silvery grey that features the subtlest of variegation in tone. Just enough to attest that the yarn has seen the careful hands of a talented dyer, but not enough to distract or mask the delicate patterning of the fabric. Just right.

Currently the pattern is only available as a club exclusive – click here if you are interested in joining or would like more details – and I will be making the pattern available as a Brooklyn Tweed PDF at the beginning of 2013. So if you’re not a club member but want to knit this, you’ll have access to the pattern at that time.

The wrap is pictured with our Bedford Pullover by Michele Wang – I thought the pieces looked great together. Then again, grey layers are my fashion “happy place”. For those of you wishing to queue the pattern on Ravelry for later, click here.

Hope you enjoy!

 

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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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One of the most rewarding parts about making it through the development process of SHELTER (which I will begin delving into more deeply tomorrow) was finally getting to knit and design with the wool when it arrived in its final state. On my original timeline, I had planned for the yarn to be design-ready by early May. Developing a yarn line, I soon found out, doesn’t always play by your rules, however. The actual delivery ended up being late June, which put a real crunch on the design period that I had been anticipating, but did remind me that flexibility is key when running a marathon.

I spent the summer working on a modest collection of designs to welcome Shelter onto the stage — 5 of these patterns are available as PDF downloads today while the others will be released in intervals over the next few weeks. Sprinkled amongst my posts about SHELTER’s story, I’ll also be popping in to introduce you to the new patterns. I think they’ll help in showing some of Shelter’s unique qualities and a bit about my own discovery process while working with this new yarn (which already feels like a dear friend).

We’ll start with Terra, which was my inaugural project when the first few colors of Shelter arrived on my doorstep (what a day that was!). One thing you’ll notice about SHELTER when you pick it up is the lightness. The woolen-spun process allows the majority of the yarn to simply be air, which creates fabrics that are both warm and light. You’ll see in the Fall designs that I was very inspired by the fabrics that could be created and favored designs with simple shapes to focus on that special drape and loft. Terra is worked on a US 9 (5.5mm), which will generally produce a gauge around 4.25 stitches/inch at a relaxed fabric. After blocking the project with lace blocking wires and T-pins to stretch it to full capacity, the finished gauge resembles something closer to 3.5 stitches/inch.

The triangular shape begins at the top center of a small number of stitches and shaped outwards towards the edge by way of standard triangular shaping of 4-increases-every-other-row. The first third of the triangle is worked in a simple Garter Stitch Ridge pattern and flows directly into the textured lace edging — an undulating cousin-stitch of Feather-and-Fan lace motifs. A stretchy bind-off is recommended to take advantage of the full dimensions of the fabric while blocking — within the pattern I suggest a sewn bind-off (instructions for which are provided).

It’s a fluffy and cozy accessory for the neck or shoulders (very Fall), worked in the lovely Homemade Jam, with its rich red flecks popping from the burgundy heathered base color. You can find it here (BT) or here (Ravelry).

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To say that Shetland inspired me would be a total understatement.  When I got back, I had visions of lace and colorwork swimming in my head, even more so than I usually do.  For days afterwards I was engaged in swatching with endless color combinations from my wool closet and thinking about how I could translate just a bit of all that Beauty to a little piece of my own reality.  While feeling desperate for some traditional lace work, I came across a design I had begun in the Spring but time constraints and other distractions had gotten in the way.  It was like it had been waiting for me to come home for it.

Celes is my first attempt at bringing a little piece of Shetland home.  The motifs for both the Center panel and knitted-on lace edging are traditional Shetland stitch patterns that I find both arrestingly beautiful.  The center panel is a Tree & Diamond pattern, which is funny since trees are basically non-existent in Shetland.  The construction, too, is a nod to tradition, although updated slightly for ease of knitting and proper mirroring of vertical motifs.

The design is worked in fingering weight yarn — last winter on a visit to Bainbridge Island I had fallen head over heels for this lot of Isager Alpaca 2 — a 50/50 wool alpaca blend with silvery heathers and incredibly drape (it’s color 2105). It was screaming to be made into lace fabric.  I’m a huge fan of Marianne Isager‘s designs and yarns (her fingering weight Scottish wool is crisp, clean and wonderful) and knitting with this was a pleasure from start to finish.

The construction of the piece hinges around mirrored directional stitch patterns.  In order to create a mirroring of vertical motifs in the center panel, each half is worked separately (starting with a Provisional Cast On at the outer edge) and grafted at the center line using Kitchener Stitch.  To finish, a knitted-on lace edging is applied to the entire perimeter in place of any kind of bind off, framing the center panel.  If you’ve never worked a knitted-on edging before, this is a great project for practice.

The stole is a rectangle with approximate blocked dimensions of 74″ x 17″ — a generous size for wearing as a luxurious scarf as shown and still wide enough to wear as a shoulder wrap. (Tessa wears it so beautifully, doesn’t she?)  This type of project is great for seasonal transition from Summer into (and through) Fall.  Worked in Alpaca 2, the thing is deceptively warm for its lightness and will definitely also serve as Winter wear! On the day of our photoshoot, we had also been shooting some pieces worked in heavier weight wool yarns.  Tessa immediately reported this as being the warmest piece of the afternoon.  Alpaca is warm like that — I personally prefer it diluted with a goodly amount of wool, as here.

The pattern is available now as a PDF download either through Brooklyn Tweed or over on Ravelry.

The click from season-to-season is upon us, and nothing makes me happier than feeling that crispness in the air announcing Fall’s long-awaited arrival.  This Fall will be a big one for me, so I hope you’ll stay tuned for more as we knit our way into the cooler months.

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I’m so happy to share with you a new lace design that was published this week — I’ve been itching to show you photos ever since I finished it in January. I designed this lace triangle for Veronik’s second issue of St. Denis Magazine and got another chance to use her lovely wool Nordique.

Juneberry Triangle
I love yarns that sport rich, full palettes and Nordique sure delivers where color is concerned. In the dead of winter, when nights seemed endless and I had woolly lace on the brain, this amazingly rich burgundy was the perfect inspiration and spurred many long winter evenings of lace knitting.
Juneberry Triangle
At the time, I was feeling particularly scrappy and wanted to design a lace project that would give me a good challenge to sink my teeth into. What resulted is a piece that is not for the faint of heart! The majority of the lace motifs are true knitted lace in the traditional sense, meaning that the patterning falls on every row (both RS and WS), with no free stockinette rows in between.
Juneberry Triangle
Because the triangle is knit flat (back and forth) and patterned on both sides, it requires a bit more concentration than your average lace project and does involve getting familiar with directional decreasing from the Wrong Side (Slip, Slip, Purl & Purl 2 Together), but if you’re up for a challenge this one is for you!
Juneberry Triangle
The magazine is a wonderful issue and full of designs from some of my favorite designers — be sure to check out some of the other patterns from this issue on Ravelry here. To look up project details just for the Juneberry Triangle, click here.
Juneberry Triangle
Veronik has also already knit a stunning version of the same pattern in her new, lighter-weight yarn Boreale that is fantastic! How wonderful it is to knit lace in a variety of different gauges and yarn constructions. The Nordique version is warm and woolly with a more substantial ‘fabric’ feel. From what I can tell of the ice blue Boreal version, it’s delicate, feather-light lace at its finest!
Juneberry Triangle
The triangle is finished with a wide, traditional knitted-on edging in place of a conventional bind-off to keep every part of the fabric equally elastic and to provide some directional contrast.
Juneberry Triangle
Juneberry continues my nostalgic fascination with bobbles… this was an experimentation in bobble-laden lace patterns and has a very berry-like texture as a result. I think it feels sophisticated while remaining fun and playful at the same time. I hope you enjoy it!
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