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!

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SCHED_book_tour_web

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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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It’s been such an exciting week here at BT—we’ve introduced our Fall ’15 collection as well as the newest member of our American-sourced and spun yarn family: Quarry. This yarn has been in the works for quite some time; yesterday I checked back over my notes to see just how long we’ve been kicking the idea around behind the scenes: my  first discussions with the mill in Harrisville about developing a chunky weight date all the way back to late 2013!

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I’ve always loved working with “unspun” yarns (the most well-known unspun yarn in the industry is probably Plötulopi in Iceland) for their unique lightness and spongy hand. When I first started working with the Wyoming-grown Targhee-Columbia wool that we use in our Shelter and Loft lines, I loved the character of the fleece and thought that it would be fun experimenting with an unspun version that would allow the intrinsic qualities of the wool to shine. Since the staple length of Targhee is on the shorter side (especially when compared with longer, coarser wools that are traditionally used for unspun yarn construction), I knew we’d probably need to come up with something more creative to give the look and feel of a roving yarn without sacrificing structural integrity.

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In the end, we landed on what’s called a “mock twist” in the spinning industry—a type of yarn construction that creates a faux single-ply look by way of combining separate plies of sliver (a single ply of unspun wool fiber with no twist whatsoever) together with a gentle ply twist. When I learned about this type of spinning, it really got my gears turning (no pun intended).

After some trial and error with ply count, twist strength, and so on, we ended up putting together a chunky mock-twist yarn composed of three individual (unspun) plies. The result is a yarn that looks like a roving-style “singles” but maintains some desirable qualities from a 3-ply yarn construction: a round structure (great for stitch definition—Quarry really loves cables and brioche) as well as more tensile strength than a single-ply roving yarn. It’s still quite softly spun of course, but has a built-in structure that makes it behave more interestingly on the needles than other non-plied prototypes we tested.

And what about the name? Quarry?

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When the first tests of the final prototype were happening at the mill last summer, I happened to be on a trip to Arizona visiting the Grand Canyon (oh the beauty of that place!—that’s a subject for another post entirely) and was experiencing color inspiration overload (I’ve included a few of my photos from that trip here). One of the unexpected surprises in developing Quarry was the way that the the mock-twist construction affected the appearance of the blended colors. The heathering that comes from mixing pre-dyed wool before spinning appears differently in Quarry than it does in Shelter and Loft. Rather than creating traditional tweedy flecks, the colors mix in a more painterly, striated fashion (see the first photo in this post for a good example). This beautiful texture really reminded me of the tonal colors and layered patterns that abound in the canyon—and the concept for a palette inspired by geology was born.

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I’m excited to finally be able to share this new yarn with you, and introduce it to you with some of my current knitting projects. This week I’m starting in on a Cowichan-inspired colorwork “camping vest” for my first rainy season back here in the PNW using three colors of Quarry. If you’re curious to see how the yarn knits up, I’ll be sharing my progress here on the blog and on my shiny new Instagram feed (@jared_flood) as well.

I hope you enjoy this new yarn we’ve created—I look forward to seeing what you’re knitting with Quarry, too!

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My post last Wednesday sent me spiraling back into the archived photos from my Iceland trip – and my mind has been there ever since. I shared a few landscape and travel images last summer, but there were several more that never made it out for viewing. Today seems like a good day for some digital transportation to the north country, doesn’t it?

A red country road

Pastel ocean landscapes

An icelandic sheep with big personality

A cemetery full of trees

Blue coasts

Distant lighthouses under painterly clouds

Fiery lichens

A surreal herd of Icelandic Horses running through the hills

Surreal indeed

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One of my favorite parts about developing yarns is seeing how they inspire other designers – what textures and color combinations other people are inspired by always gets me thinking about the yarns that I use every day in new and different ways. Last year, Stephen West approached me to say he was interested in doing a full design collection using Shelter and Loft – I was flattered, and very excited by the idea of seeing what he would cook up. As we further discussed the project,  we decided we’d also collaborate on a special photoshoot of the finished work the following summer.

Last July, after Stephen had finished designing and knitting his pieces, we met in Iceland for the shoot. It was my first time visiting this beautiful country, and I was completely intoxicated by the dramatic, natural beauty that the country is literally bursting at the seams with. Surrounded by such a visual feast of nature, I barely made it through the exit doors of the airport before my camera was out and firing away.

Stephen has been releasing his designs from this collection over the past few weeks on Ravelry, and I wanted to take a moment to share some of the images from the shoot that I particularly like. Summer light in Iceland (as was the case in Shetland, the year before) is almost too good to be true. Soft, ambient, sometimes dramatic, other times ethereal. Suitable shooting conditions also last about 20 hours a day! It was such a joy to explore and work in this place.

It was amazing to see how the colors of the yarns melded so well with the surrounding colors in the landscape – like the blue-green waves of the ocean on a black sand beach (pictured above). In my mind, mother nature is the very best inspiration for color!

We had fun styling and shooting several of the samples on both the male and female model.

The Hófsos Pullover (also showed at the top of the post on our male model, Diddi) combines large stripes and marl effects in some of my favorite colors of Loft.

Stephen has a great color sense – I loved some of his playful, unexpected combinations, like Nest, Sap, Button Jar and Woodsmoke (in the Kex Scarf, seen below in Shelter).

Looking over these images again has been really enjoyable and reminds me of what a great experience we had there. I often daydream about a return to the Icelandic countryside for future photography work. I’d love to go at a totally different time of year to do some night photography during the “dark season” as well…

All the patterns pictured above are available for purchase here on Ravelry. Each pattern’s page includes extended yardage and color information. Stephen also did a great write-up about our shoot, with several behind-the-scenes pictures that give readers a glimpse of what a shoot looks like on the other side of the camera!

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One of my favorite designs from the new winter collection is Grettir – a unisex Icelandic yoked pullover that I designed late last summer, after returning from my first-ever trip to beautiful Iceland.

The Icelandic yoke is a celebrated regional aesthetic that has seen increased global popularity in recent years. And though I’ve seen several of them in the US (in the streets of NYC, in advertising, etc), it wasn’t until I went to Iceland and witnessed these beautiful garments in their “natural habitat” that they really cast their spell over me.

Icelanders are proud of their knitting heritage, and taking a walk down any street in Reykjavik you’re likely to encounter several different variations of their signature colorwork yoke. What appealed to me most was how universal and utilitarian these garments are treated there – you’ll see them on all kinds of folks, regardless of age or profession. Even better, they look so lived-in, well-worn and loved – it is such a satisfying sight!

When I returned to the states, I resolved to research this classic yoke formula (pretty straightforward, once you get the hang of it!) and give it a go with an original design; Grettir is the result.

Another thing that really appeals to me about these designs is their versatility and ease of sizing. As long as you end up at the base of the colorwork portion with a multiple of 8 stitches on your needle, the yoke will work. Of course, yoke depth is an area that needs to be heeded (in the pattern I’ve designed four different variations of the yoke – each one slightly deeper than the next – to take care of that area).

Perhaps the best part of all, though: these are so much fun to knit! They seem to fly off your needles (at least relative to most sweater projects). Each piece is worked circularly from hem/cuff to underarm (mindless, therapy knitting if you ask me). Just when you are ready for something a little more exciting, you join your pieces together for a feast of colorwork. As you work the yoke, your rounds get smaller and smaller (faster and faster) which is certainly a motivator for the final sprint to the finish line. After the knitting is done, a simple graft at the underarms is all that’s left! No seaming, no complicated construction, just beautiful, seamless knitting at its best. (And suddenly I’m feeling the urge to make yet another.)

Both the men’s and women’s version have waist shaping: a very subtle amount for the guys, just enough to bring the waist in a touch so that there isn’t a ton of extra fabric hanging loose at the back (imperceptible when worn), and a more pronounced waist in the women’s version. The men’s yoke is deeper than the women’s as well. The schematic diagrams below show the difference between the two silhouettes.

 

 

Finally, I included two options for the neckline. I’ve had turtlenecks on the brain (I often do when it’s cold outside) so added a nice cozy one to the women’s version. If you prefer a cleaner finish, though, a rolled crew neck will be a better choice (pictured on the men’s version).

The garment uses a total of 4 colors – the main sweater color, plus 3 additional shades for the yoke. The possibilities are endless for how to combine colors here, and I could be happy just designing new combinations again and again. I’m really excited to see what colors you knitters combine!

As for the name – why Grettir? While visiting the northern coast of the country, I met a storyteller who recounted the amazing saga of Grettir – the longest surviving outlaw in Icelandic history. (Interested? More here.) I was particularly intrigued by the final chapter in the story: Grettir’s demise on the rocky cliffs of Drangey, a fortress-like stone island off the coast; an monolithic sight, visible from the very shoreline where I sat when hearing this tale.

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The Grettir pullover pattern includes a range of sizes for both men and women – full specs for each version can be found here at Brooklyn Tweed or on Ravelry.com. The design uses four colors of Brooklyn Tweed Shelter.

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Resuming this morning with more imagery from October in Harrsiville and the surrounding landscape.

You’ll notice a reflection theme running through these images. The nearby lakes and ponds were all so glassy and still – they look like mirrors in the early morning light. Beautiful.

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Just before the big crazy storm weather started, I spent the week in Harrisville at the spinning mill. The village is stunningly beautiful in all seasons, but nestling into the heart of New England in late October is particularly special. When in need of color inspiration, there aren’t too many things that can beat the myriad shades of fiery foliage that abound in this part of the country.

When in Harrisville, my shutter finger really starts twitching – so I thought I’d share some photographs from my trip with you this morning.

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On my trip to Iceland I had the pleasure of visiting Heimilisiðnaðarsafnið (try saying that three times fast) – the Icelandic Textile Museum in Blönduós.

In a country where knitting is such an integral part of cultural history, I knew I was in for a treat. Below are some images of work from the museum’s collection – I remember being struck by how smart a lot of the knitting here is. I particularly love the use of tone and color throughout; the lace work was especially exciting…

 

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A selection of images from my travels in Iceland – this country is truly beautiful!

Columnar basalt formations on the northern coast

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Fishing boats lit by all-night sunsets

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Abandoned coastal fishing structures

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Marshlands in the North

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A puffin colony off the coast of Reykjavik (click image to view larger)

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Icelandic Sheep – one of Iceland’s most valued resources

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Black sand beaches covered in golden grasses

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Lichen on an abandoned stone fishing hut in Hofsós

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Hólavallagarður Cemetary, Reykjavik

 More to come… my camera has gotten a serious workout here!

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