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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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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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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