Since the launch of BT Fall 14, we’ve been getting some great questions streaming in over e-mail and social media. We thought it would be great to present a short Q&A today to answer some of the more common queries we’ve heard so far.

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BT Fall 14 Q&A

 

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The fashion world loves oversized sweaters these days, and we at BT appreciate their coziness (and also the extra large canvas for beautiful handwork). That said, we also know that these garments can be tricky to wear/style for many – so we’re focusing on that topic today (as well as the big question we’ve been getting from our male knitters!)

Q: I like my sweaters to have just a few inches of positive ease, creating a more classic fit. Which of the designs in BT Fall 14 can I knit, and how should I make adjustments if I need to?

A: Spinnaker, Docklight, Backbay, and Crosby are all designed for a standard fit bust circumferences down to 32-35”, which should allow even petite women a slim silhouette. Wake is also intended for 2-4” of ease, though we chose to show it worn with 6” for a more casual effect.

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Classic Fits from BT Fall 14

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Bellows and Zenith are styled in our lookbook with a lot of positive ease—9 or 10”. But again, the smallest sizes given are 35-36”, so even very slender knitters should be able to work up a sweater with a more traditional 4-5” ease. Keep in mind that both designs are intended as outerwear, with room for other layers beneath. If you are knitting a smaller size than is usual for you, consult the schematic closely to determine if you’ll need to add length, particularly in the sleeves.

Only Rowe is really intended for pure oversized drama; the smallest size in the pattern is 40¼” with the fronts touching…but don’t forget to picture those fronts overlapped and snugly bundled around you before you start plotting to scale it down even farther.

Q: I’m curious about oversized sweaters, but I’m not sure they flatter my body. How can I wear them?

A: Whenever you are increasing the scale of one garment, it’s usually a good plan to keep the rest of the outfit slim: pair wide-leg trousers with a tailored sweater or a boxy pullover with skinny jeans. Likewise, choosing a garment with slim sleeves and shoulders that fit you well will help keep a wide silhouette from looking simply baggy. Hawser and Ondawa both use this principle.

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BT Fall Styling Tips

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If you’re petite and large clothes tend to swamp your frame, consider an open-front cardigan like Rowe that can swing to reveal your slender shape within.

A few pitfalls to avoid: A garment that ends at the widest point of your body usually won’t be flattering. If, like many women, your hips are your widest point, make sure the hem falls at your high hip or extends to mid-thigh. Split-hem styles like Crosby may be flattering for you, too.

Q: What, no garments for men in a collection inspired by fisherman sweaters?!

A: Stay tuned – BT Men Volume 2 is in the works! In the meantime, Bellows is handsome for either sex, as are the scarves and hats in the Fall collection. And a variation on Wake could integrate into a contemporary masculine wardrobe with ease.

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We hope you enjoyed today’s Q&A session – please feel free to keep the questions coming. We love hearing from you!

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Today we’re talking about Ondawa, Michele Wang’s architectural cropped pullover from BT Fall 14. This piece is a wonderful mix of modern and traditional – with luscious stitch motifs adorning a clean, contemporary silhouette. Michele adopted panels of travelling twisted stitches and strongly linear cables found in some Aran-style sweaters and applied them all over her design to create a fabric that wants to move and fold. Even though the garment is cropped, the thoughtful arrangement of motifs and all those slanting lines draw the eye vertically and create lengthening, flattering shapes on the body.

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Love the sweater but not the length? Here are some suggestions for making the garment work for you:

We know cropped sweaters aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. You may feel more comfortable in a garment that reaches your high hip or even hangs to tunic length. But because the shapes are so simple, it’s very easy to lengthen Ondawa for a more traditional silhouette. A wide Bateau type garment is a simple rectangle – one of the easiest shapes to modify.

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SCH_ondawa-02

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After the ribbing of the front and back are complete and the cables are established, you’d simply work from the charts to a few inches shorter than your ideal total length and then finish off the piece with 1×1 twisted rib (worked at the top of the Body pieces) as indicated by the pattern. Ondawa’s geometric composition of two rectangles and a pair of trapezoids means you have great latitude in customizing the fit to your own dimensions, too. Since the width of the boatneck is determined by your seaming, you can adjust the way the garment sits on your shoulders after the knitting is complete. You can also easily mix and match torso and sleeve sizes to get a comfortable fit everywhere. Measure your arm circumference at the biceps to determine which size sleeve will give you a slender fit that’s not too restricting.

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Ondawa

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A word of caution, though: twisted ribs, cable motifs and wide shapes consume more yarn than the average sweater, so if you’re planning to lengthen Ondawa, make sure to plan on having plenty of extra yardage on hand!

We can’t wait to see how you’ll fit Ondawa into your winter wardrobe. There are already some beautiful interpretations taking shape on Ravelry!

[Read more about all the specifics of this pattern on Ondawa's information page!]

I wanted to take some time today to share a bit about Hawser – one of my new designs in BT Fall 14. When I first started working on this garment, I hoped to adapt some of the qualities found in traditional fisherman sweaters into a more modern and flattering wardrobe item for women.

Sometimes design ideas behave really well – doing exactly what you think they’ll do from concept to execution – while other times, it’s more like a wrestling match. Hawser was one of those, and went through a few different iterations on its journey. Perhaps sharing some info about the design’s evolution will give you some modification ideas of your own!

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Hawser

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An A-line silhouette is one of my favorite sweater shapes, especially for cozy, knock-around, fall and winter garments, so that’s where I began. The super-sized rope cables are quite large (A “hawser” is a thick rope or cable used for mooring or towing a ship, and is derived from the French word haucier – “to hoist”) and needed to be handled carefully to avoid overwhelming the wearer. I started with 4 – which immediately looked like too much, so took one out and went for a 3-cable arrangement. I originally drafted the garment with a traditional set-in sleeve yoke placing the two outer cables flush against the armholes. It turned out to be an unflattering, bulky fit at the shoulder, and looked to me like an awkward meeting of sleeve and body. So that idea was out. I wasn’t necessarily feeling like a raglan or round yoke would work here either, so took some time to chew on other ideas for a few days (giving an idea time to marinate is essential for me to find solutions to design problems, I’ve learned).

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To leave some extra room for the allover double moss stitch at the shoulder (rather than having the cable fall right on the seam line) – a drop shoulder seemed like a viable option, though I wanted to avoid the bulk of extra fabric at the underarm that a traditional drop shoulder provides. To make the upper yoke more fitted, I gave the shoulder line a more dramatic slope and added an outward-leaning slope on the armhole edge; with this new shape, the sleeve would join the body well below the shoulder, all the while avoiding an excess fabric problem of a standard drop shoulder. Things started feeling better at this point!

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The change for a (modified) drop-shoulder combined with the A-line shape threatened to created an overly boxy garment, so adding a slim sleeve that fits directly into the armhole seemed like an appropriate final touch for the fit. A bonus of having a sloped armhole opening also meant that no sleeve cap shaping would be required – the sleeve couldn’t be simpler! The results still hint at that boxy look, but with a more anatomically friendly silhouette. The final shape also allows the double moss stitch to go over the shoulder (see the photo #2 above), which kept that area of the garment from becoming a visual eyesore like it was in the original. The schematic below shows the final shape (and knitting direction) of the garment – which is worked circularly from hem to underarm with the front and back of the yoke worked flat; sleeves are worked circularly in their entirety.

SCH_hawser-01

Aside from shape and fit (the foundation of every garment) – you know I love the subtle details! There are a few little things stashed away in this design that I thought I’d highlight, as they’re sometimes less apparent in photographs. There is continuation of the 1×1 hem ribbing running up along the sweater’s side “seams” in a band, creating a visual detail that also hide the garment’s A-Line shaping (double moss stitch can start looking a little messy when shaping is worked directly into the stitch pattern). You can get a little peek of that in photo #1 above – look just below the the lower portion of the left arm. The large cable crosses – occurring over a total of 17 stitches – utilize a special yarn over technique on crossing rounds to provide a little extra slack for the working yarn as it carries across the wide cable; this keeps the finished cable from distorting or buckling. Finally, a doubled collar (knit to twice the desired depth then folded in and tacked down to the inside of the garment) gives a sturdy finish to the wide crew neck and balances out some of the bolder effects of the deep hem and large vertical motifs.

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Hawser Design Swatch

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Here is a photo of one of my first swatches for the design, hanging out under another design swatch (this one didn’t make it into the final collection, but I have plans for her still!).

All in all, it was a fun process from start to finish. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about this sweater’s journey, and I can’t wait to see what sort of variations start popping up out in the world!

Thanks for reading and all my best,

Jared

 

Our shoot for BT Fall 14 took place in Red Hook, Brooklyn – the perfect backdrop for our fisherman-inspired knitwear. We wrote a bit about the neighborhood in our lookbook feature, and shot a companion video piece to go along with the article which we’re sharing today! The footage serves as a sort of visual journal of our own experience there – and sought to capture the character of Red Hook today. We’ve reposted the article below, too– hope you enjoy!

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Nineteenth-century engravings show Red Hook, Brooklyn as a blunt spade of land bristling with steeples and smokestacks, a lively, hardworking neighborhood south of the Brooklyn Bridge pulsing with human energy and industry. A hundred years ago, Red Hook was the busiest freight port in the world, handling all the goods being shipped down the Erie Canal and then beyond.

Today many of its handsome brick factory buildings and warehouses stand empty; the local shipping industry withered on the vine in the 1960s, bypassed by new patterns of global trade. The subway doesn’t run here, eighty percent of the residents don’t own cars, and the only ferry service to Manhattan belongs to the new and controversial IKEA. The point of land once prized for its strategic location at the gates of one of the world’s great cities became so isolated that few visitors or even residents of more affluent parts of Brooklyn ever set foot here. Underserved by city government, burdened with environmental waste from elsewhere, wracked by decades of poverty and its attendant scourges, half-drowned by Hurricane Sandy, Red Hook is now muscling back up toward the sun.

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Red Hook Circa 1875

 

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Wanting a nautical backdrop for this collection of fishermen’s sweaters, the Brooklyn Tweed team headed for Red Hook’s wharves and tiny beachfront. We couldn’t stop shooting photos of picturesque brickwork and peeling paint, faded advertisements and weatherworn doorways, maritime relics, fresh flowers pertly adorning a few windowboxes, street art and bright graffiti replacing decay. The mood of this place, its admixture of struggle and pride, hard times and hope, moved us deeply.

Lines that once secured great oceangoing ships lie rotting in the sun and salt air, neatly coiled by longshoremen who honored their work even on the last day of the job. That haunting sense of dignity pervades this corner of Brooklyn, and it spoke to our ideals as a company. America is full of Red Hooks. All across this land are towns that boomed on manufacturing, places where people invented and made useful things, forges of change that drew people from all over the world to work and live and invent anew.

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Brooklyn Docks 1916

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Too many of those towns have fallen into decline, their industries gutted by cheaper competition. Brooklyn Tweed went into the business of making 100% American yarn because we wanted to participate in the revitalization of proud manufacturing traditions as well as contribute to a crafting renaissance. Working alongside other young businesses and in partnership with a remaining few that have survived for centuries, we hope to lift and energize local industries. Small as our impact might be in the face of colossal challenges, we can be part of a rising tide to reinvest in local resources and skills. The grit and passion of Red Hook’s community leaders inspires us and reminds us what’s possible when we commit to doing business in a way that creates work and boosts artistry in our country.

Dear Knitters,

September! It’s always been one of my favorite months. While summer may be psychologically over when the school bells ring, the season just seems all the more golden as the fair weather lingers, mellows, and starts to offer that refreshing autumn crispness in the mornings. While the lazy liberty of vacation may be over, falling back into the year’s routine has its own productive pleasures, too. (There’s still the possibility of weekend camping trips, after all!)

Fisherman-inspired knits for Autumn

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Most importantly, as we well know, Knitting Season is officially open. It’s no longer too hot to contemplate taking up that big cardigan you didn’t finish last winter. Or even if it is, you start to think how good that pile of pieces in your workbasket is going to look at your favorite autumn wool festival (if you can just knit a second sleeve and a collar and sew them all together…). Motivation kicks in.

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BT Fall 14

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I can never resist the call to cast on new projects in September, and that’s why I’m excited to share our BT Fall 14 collection today: a whole fleet of garments and accessories inspired by the rich traditions of nautical knitwear. Our design team set out to reinterpret fishermen’s sweaters in ways we hope will surprise and delight you. From cables to geometric textural patterns to brioche, you’ll see classic elements enlivening completely modern shapes. Whether you like your sweaters generous or fitted, A-line or fashionably oversized, you’re likely to find something in the lookbook that will make your needles sing.

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BT Fall 14

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Construction details and design features for each garment are highlighted directly within the new lookbook and give a great at-a-glance summary of what kind of knitting is in store for any given pattern. We’ve also included a new kind of written feature in this lookbook. Shooting the collection in Red Hook, Brooklyn got me thinking about our roots and mission as a company. Rather than just using Red Hook as an evocative backdrop, we felt compelled to share with you something of its history and its present. Feeling the energy that’s being generated there as community leaders try creative solutions to put their town’s unique resources and people back to work inspired all of us. It affirmed my own resolve to grow Brooklyn Tweed in a way that fuels local industry and helps keep American manufacturing traditions alive. I hope you’ll enjoy thinking about that aspect of our craft as you read our Red Hook essay and share your own reactions and ideas with us!

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BT Fall 14

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I’m also looking forward to showing some of our Red Hook footage in a new BT Vignette video next week, and to turning the spotlight on some of the designs in BT Fall 14, so stay tuned for more to come. If there’s a garment you particularly want to see featured, please let us know!

For the moment, I hope you’ve got a few moments to settle in with the lookbook, enjoy the new collection, and dream up possibilities for your own wardrobe.

.Happy fall!

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The votes are in! Congratulations to the top three winners for our #Tweedback contest: @klmmm9, @dmwknits, and @pataunt!

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Tweedback Winners!

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We absolutely loved seeing all the humorous, inspiring and touching submissions shared here over the past few weeks. It’s been a great way to enjoy the last days of summer with a big smile.

Winners – we’ll be in touch with you tomorrow!

Tweedback Top 10

Our #tweedback Instagram Contest was a wonderful experience, and we were bowled over by more than 350 submissions! If you haven’t already, check out the hashtag #tweedback via Instagram for a nostalgic, wool-filled walk down memory lane!

Our in-house Design Team had a tough time choosing only 10 finalists from the entire pool, but were able to agree on the following images this morning after much hemming and hawing. The top three prizes in the competition will be awarded based on popular vote, so please cast your ballot in our poll below – voting closes on Sunday August 31st at 11:59pm, and we’ll announce our winners at the beginning of next week.


A big thank you to everyone who participated to make our first-ever Instagram contest a success! And though the contest is over, we hope the hashtag stays active as knitters continue to uncover vintage photographs of themselves or their loved ones in knits.

Happy voting!

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We’ve had a blast watching garments from our BT Kids collection being created throughout the summer. All the nostalgia of wool-clad children got us thinking about our own sweater-filled pasts. We asked our own BT team members to search their home archives for old photographs of themselves in knits and had a wonderful time looking at everyone’s images. Our inner-office image exchange inspired us to put together an Instagram Contest that would allow our friends and fans to join in the fun!

To celebrate the last month of summer, we’re kicking off our BT Tweedback Thursday Instagram contest.

Here’s how to play:

  1. Find photos of yourself or your family members in their childhood, clad in hand knits of any kind (hats, scarves, gloves, mittens, sweaters… the woolier the better!)
  2. Upload your photos to your Instagram feed before midnight on August 25, 2014, being sure to include the hashtag #tweedback in your caption.
  3. After the deadline, our in-house Design Team will choose 10 lucky finalists who will be entered into a poll for one of three yarn prizes.
  4. The top 3 prize winners will be chosen by popular vote from our friends and followers on social media!

Yarn Prizes (!):

  • Grand Prize: 10 skeins of BT yarn in color and yarn line of knitter’s choice
  • 2nd Prize: 2 skeins each of Shelter and Loft in colors of knitter’s choice
  • 3rd Prize: 2 skeins of BT yarn in color and yarn line of knitter’s choice
  • Finalists: Each of the 10 finalists will receive a free PDF copy of any pattern in our archive

Throughout the contest we’ll be posting our own photos (much to our parents’ delight) on Brooklyn Tweed’s Instagram feed, too. You didn’t think we’d ask for embarrassing pictures from your past without doing the same, did you? (Any guesses whose cheesy grin is pictured above?)

.We hope you’ll play along – we can’t wait to see your images!

 

Contest Rules:

  • Pictures must be of children (ages 12 or younger) wearing a hand knit item
  • Eligible Images must be hashtagged #tweedback on Instagram only to be considered valid submissions. Submissions with or without hashtags on other social media outlets will not be considered.

 Don’t have an Instagram account, but want to play along?

They’re free and easy to set up! Just download the free app on your smartphone and follow a few on-screen instructions to set up your account.

 

 

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01_cable_spotlight

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Today we’d like to give you a closer look at some of the cabled designs in BT Kids: Jared’s Spore, Julie’s Bairn, Michele’s Arlo, and Véronik’s Vika. Our design team loves playing with the endless possibilities for cabled shapes and we hope you’ll have a lot of fun knitting these projects.

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02_spore_diptych

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If you just like to motor away on a satisfying knit with predictable pattern repetitions, try Spore. Jared set out to design a charming, coordinated hat and scarf suitable for an idyllic hike on the moors. He wanted a traditional cable motif with chunky dimensionality for maximum coziness. He worked the scarf first, then planned a matching hat with a quirky shape to add a note of whimsy and personality to the set. The crown shaping is integrated into the cable pattern and the hat is offered in four graded sizes, toddler to adult. The shape is roomy enough that even the larger children’s sizes can easily fit most grownups, too – so choose your size based on a silhouette you like to wear.

The Spore scarf is written in a single size, but can be knit to any length. The 49” sample took 2.6 skeins of Shelter, so procuring four skeins would ensure enough yarn to knit a long adult scarf.

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Julie Hoover drew her inspiration for Bairn from her own family. Her three boys all loved their special blankets and would leave them lying all over the house, so she imagined a blanket handsome enough to fit into the décor of a stylish home—a kids’ item you wouldn’t need to sweep out of sight before company arrives. She knew cables and twisted stitches in the Bavarian tradition would provide that elegance. Julie saw Bairn as an exercise in balance and restraint, finding just the right measure of twisted and regular cabled stitches and resisting the urge to fill up all the space with cables. The ample reverse stockinette ground effectively draws the eye to the center motif and gives the blanket a modern and visually soothing quality. Julie heightened Bairn’s contemporary feel by eliminating the traditional border in favor of clean I-cord selvedges.

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04_arlo_diptych

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Michele wanted Arlo to be a truly unisex cardigan; the pattern gives instructions for gendered button placement if that matters to you, but the style suits boys and girls alike. She charted cables in X’s and O’s for a sweet touch, but by varying the number of stitches in the cables she achieved an organic and more sophisticated look. Arlo has stockinette panels along the sides to allow the knitter to adjust the width of the sweater as needed. This is also a great knit for fast-growing youngsters because the ribbed cuffs can easily be folded up for the first year and then down for the second.

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05_vika_diptych

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Vika lets a traditional Aran-style cable take center stage against a ground of textured stitches. On small garments, a single bold cable fills a lot of space—Vika looks intricate, but the knitting is simpler than it appears. And while many knitters prefer to work in the round to avoid seaming, there’s an advantage to flat pieces for cable work: you’re far less likely to cross your stitches a row too early or a row too late!

Check out some of the beautiful Vikas already finished on Ravelry:

And don’t miss kioto888’s handsome orange Arlo:

We can’t wait to see more of your interpretations of these garments!

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On Tuesday we talked about some of the fundamental “rules” of color theory as it pertains to knitting stranded fabric with multiple colors of yarn. Today I want to share some of my own design swatches for the Atlas pullover/cardigan that illustrate these concepts.

When I begin a new design, the first major block of time is spent making several swatches. This is never truer than when I am combining color (where swatching may comprise over 50% of the entire design process!). Knitting stranded colorwork is a very specific applied use of color, and it takes a lot of practice to begin understanding how colors work together in this format. More often than not, a color choice you were sure would be perfect doesn’t come together the way you thought it would, or better, a combo that you didn’t feel too terribly excited about ends up working beautifully. The only way to know for sure is to knit up your motif and see what happens! (Bonus: Knit your swatches on varying needle sizes to test what kind of fabric options you have; remember that stranded knitting is virtually twice as thick as single-color stockinette, so a more relaxed gauge is often preferable.)

For Atlas, a total of seven colorwork swatches were made (6 of which are shown in the following image; the 7th is used as an example below to illustrate what doesn’t work).

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Atlas’s yoke motif requires the use of 3 colors and is intended for use with three contrasting values of color: Light, Medium and Dark. For me, the choice of value is the first and most important step in choosing a trio of color, followed by the selection of hues. In this case I chose triads of color that live in similar color families (browns, blues, greys, etc.), but you can just as easily mix hues from all parts of the color wheel, as long as you keep the value relationship in place.

Swatches 04 and 06 were eventually chosen as final colorways for the knitted samples (click here to see the final result for each colorway), though most of these options would have made perfectly adorable finished garments for children.

Looking at the six swatches above – one of them jumps out at me as being slightly less successful than the others (at least relative to what my original goal was). Care to venture a guess? In my opinion, Swatch 05 is the least successful (though not a failure). Do the “squint test” at all 6 of the swatches above and see how the motif on Swatch 05 fades to darkness more readily than the others, particularly in the upper “elongated diamonds” section. This is because Colors 1 and 3 are closer in value to one another in Swatch 05 than they are in the others.

Another interesting item to note: in all six swatches, I prioritized the darkest value for Color 3, since it held the most “heft” in terms of defining the overall yoke motif. For Colors 1 (sweater color) and Color 2 (yoke contrast color), however, I played around with swapping the position of the Light and Medium values. For example, swatches 02 and 06 use the Light value as the sweater color, and the Medium and Dark values for the yoke motifs. The other swatches use the Medium value as the sweater color and have Light and Dark contrasting in the yoke. Both results are pleasing. The take-away: when your value structure is solid, you’ll find success in just about any configuration of Light, Medium and Dark (and! even more swatching possibilities)!

Below is an example of how quickly low-contrast color combos can turn muddy; I encountered this situation when I was swatching with shades of brown:

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hi_lo_contrast

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The upper swatch was my first attempt combining browns from our palette. Tuesday I mentioned that you’ll sometimes be surprised at how similar values can appear in the finished knitted fabric, even when they seemed sufficiently different “in the skein”. When you work two shades onto a “grid” of knitted fabric, mixing color stitch for stitch, the colorwork fabric puts the value relationship to the true test. In this case, “Nest” (color 1, which would be the body of the sweater) appeared plenty different from “Truffle Hunt” (Color 3, the darkest shade) when I held the skeins together, but looked much less so when knitted. (Try the Squint Test here too.) So, it was back to the drawing board.

The second brown swatch shows how dramatically different the motif is when just a single color was swapped out for a darker value. The High Contrast swatch subbed “Pumpernickel” for “Truffle Hunt”, a much darker shade of brown. The results speak for themselves!

I’d like to make one final comment about all of this before wrapping up today’s post. When it comes to design and color, I don’t mean to insinuate that there are hard and fast “rules” for success. As in any creative endeavor, that author/artist/designer’s vision and intention are what should guide the decision making process from start to finish. In some cases, a lower-contrast, tonal colorwork palette might be your goal and in that case, choosing colors with similar values can get the job done (in this case, I recommend choosing wildly different hues with similar values, which can result in some very interesting combinations). I’ve structured this post with a more traditional approach, assuming that the goal is to easily see and decipher the graphic motifs featured on Icelandic yokes – and with that goal in mind, a “light-medium-dark” approach will automatically give you a strong foundation to begin your color pairings.

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alt_atlas_colorways

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Though only two colorways made it into the final BT Kids collection, I wanted to post a few more options here for anyone who may have seen a combo featured today on the blog that they might want to run with – on Atlas, or any other 3-color stranded project you might be planning. We’ll also be posting these alternate colorways on Atlas’s pattern page for reference as well.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little soirée into color theory for knitters! It’s a subject I love talking about — many thanks for letting me indulge!

– Jared