Archives for category: Photography

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!

Some classic black & white eye candy from Spring Thaw for you on this Thursday morning…

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A parcel of beautiful yarns from Habu Textiles has brought some wonderful inspiration into our studio.

Yarns made from paper, stainless steel, silk, wool and copper – in a gorgeous tonal palette. Inspirational, indeed!

We’ve received tons of inquiries regarding the images of the abandoned railroad station in our Wool People 2 look book, so I thought I’d share some location information here for all of you texture lovers and history buffs.

These images feature the overgrown railways of Communipaw Station, which is nestled on the edge of the Hudson and overlooks Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty and downtown Manhattan, from the Jersey side.

The historic station building is a gorgeous brick structure that was built in 1889. The tracks you see in these photos were in regular service until April of 1967, at which time their use was suspended.

The station is now part of Liberty State Park, which opened in the mid 70′s and encircles the riverside station with 1200 acres of park land. Today, the station functions as a Ferry Terminal for tourists to Ellis and Liberty Islands – the nearby tracks remain a mere vestige of the past. I think they are incredibly beautiful and a great hidden treasure of the city.

I’ve just returned from our Alaskan knitting cruise – my winter sweaters happily emerged from hibernation for the trip. As for the scenery and the light…

You may have noticed a cloak of silence shrouding BT in the last month. Summer is funny like that. For knitters it’s a hard time that we ride out with hope for chillier temperatures, but behind the scenes it always becomes the most chaotic time of the year as we busy ourselves with big Fall surprises. This year we’ve got a lot of things up our sleeve; a few large-scale projects that have swirled us into their summer vortex.Thankfully, today we  are finally ready to release the first of our Fall concepts.

It’s been almost a year since the launch of SHELTER. I remember well all the planning, waiting, nerves, & excitement that accompanied the months leading up to that release – but probably most of all, how I couldn’t wait to get to designing with a yarn that really spoke to me. And as I began (and continue) my own creative work with the yarn, I found myself beginning to wonder what this wool might inspire in the hands of other Creatives whose work I have admired from afar.

This simple curiousity became the basis for WOOL PEOPLE: a semi-annual design series curated by Brooklyn Tweed, the first installment of which we are happy to release just in time for high knitting season.

For this first collection of patterns, I sought out designers both near and far whose work – which comprises its own wonderful variety – I have long watched and admired. My plan: arm them with a healthy dose of wool and see what happens.

The process was so rewarding. We were able to work directly with each designer, discussing their ideas and sketches to construct a collection that we think will appeal to the sensibilities of our readers, and will welcome Fall in the best way knitters know how. The creative dialogue that is at the heart of this series has been invigorating – a welcome contrast to the virtual solitude I was in just a year ago!

Our first group of Wool People has been a joy to work with. Some of their names you may recognize, others you may not, but in all cases I hope there will be something for everyone to enjoy.

We’ve put together a beautiful Look Book for this collection, highlighting all the designs with full color photographs, as well as providing readers with information about our Guest Designer Team. To get the best feel of the whole collection, we encourage you to take a look!

Each design in the collection is available now as a PDF download at Brooklyn Tweed or on Ravelry.

As the publishing world continues to change rapidly, designers are working differently. Having designed independently for some time now, I see the problems that designers face in this industry every day. We’ve worked hard to put together a model that compensates designers fairly (and gratefully!) for their work. Starting today, a portion of all proceeds from digital pattern sales will always go directly to the individual designer for the life of the pattern. In the spirit of collaboration, each designer also retains the rights to their own work. We plan to continue developing this model in future WP collections to best serve those people who have made this project possible.

It’s been a hot summer and we here at Brooklyn Tweed HQ are certainly daydreaming of Fall’s arrival. I hope some of the designs and photographs featured today inspire you to do the same (if you weren’t already!).

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Resources // The Wool People Volume 1 Look Book is viewable here. Pattern collection is available on BT here and also available on Ravelry here. All designs in this collection are knit with Brooklyn Tweed SHELTER, available here

The knitting world has been all abuzz with the long-awaited release of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s posthumous Knit One, Knit All – and with good reason. I received my copy two weeks ago and have been savoring the freshness of each page. The book is very inspiring and I feel particularly touched by the ‘evidence’ of Elizabeth’s process that is included – scraps of paper with scribbled notes and half-drawn sketches, alongside landscape watercolors from her home or abroad. To me, this window into her thought process and inspirations is especially exciting.

Today, in celebration of her new publication, I have something very special for you. I’ve been sitting on some notable photographs for quite a while, waiting for the right time to share them with you, and this week the timing feels perfect.

Back in September of 2009 when I had the wonderful opportunity to photograph EZ’s newly discovered Green Sweater, there were a few other EZ artifacts that came along for the ride. Joan Morhard Smith, who as a child called “Betty” (EZ) the Crazy Knitting Neighbor Lady, had  been the recipient of plenty of EZ’s wool creations when growing up in New York City, and brought the Green Sweater to the public eye two years ago. As she was readying the Green Sweater for its trip to Brooklyn for our photoshoot, Joan found two wool hats tucked away with it. Both had been conceived and knitted by Elizabeth, and were brought along because Joan thought I “might be interested.”

The funniest part is that she pulled them out just as she was leaving, almost as an afterthought. “Would you like to see two hats Elizabeth knit for me?”

With a conscious effort towards self-control, I respectfully said yes (with minimal limb-flailing). She then pulled out two colorwork hats, worked in natural wools. In the waning afternoon light I asked Joan to hug the window so I could get a few quick photos of her wearing the hats before she left.

The first was a ‘pillbox’ style with a turned picot hem and simple, rhythmic motifs worked in cream and heathered grey. Just before beginning her crown shaping, Elizabeth worked a purl row to create an angled turn and flat top. The turned hem at the base of the hat was folded and joined with a three-needle bind-off, but purling the stitches together rather than knitting them. This created a simple ridge at the top of the doubled-hem which I loved.

The second hat is fantastic. A small hat with a tam-like shape, worked in cream, brown and grey.

The pattern alternates between grey stripes and brown floating ‘lice’ stitches, worked on a background of cream wool. The crown shaping is the most exciting part: a combination of round ‘yoke’ shaping  that transitions to a small 7-wedge decrease which incorporates colorwork for the brown star-like design. The beret ‘nub’ at the top of the crown is simply a loose piece of brown wool, or perhaps two strands felted together to create a slightly thicker piece of yarn that would stand up on its own.

Both hats are simple ideas, but have the imprint of a great mind. They were both so charming in design – utilitarian in purpose but with details that kept the knitting (which was most likely improvisational) interesting. I felt so fortunate to have gotten to inspect them closely, and now, to share them with you.

I’m grateful that we’ve been given more EZ to celebrate with Knit One, Knit All. If you’d like to grab a copy of your own, head on over to Schoolhouse Press, where I imagine they are going like hotcakes.

Our yarn has come a long way from its original state as scoured wool. The construction is now complete and only a few finishing touches remain. The yarn must now be removed from the bobbins in 50-gram (140 yard) increments to create individual skeins. The skeining machine (which unfortunately eluded my camera) is set for a certain number of rotations (pre-measured based on that specific yarn’s yards-per-gram ratio) which wind off consistent, exact amounts for each skein.

The 50-gram skeins are placed in a plastic lined box and sent along for a final wash. In order to remove residual spinning grease as well as ‘block’ the finished  yarn (e.g. brainwash the wool to its new identity), it is important that each skein is washed before it leaves the mill. Equipment-wise, the washing method is no different than running a load at your own home.  All finished yarns are gently washed in (packed-to-the-gills) regular-sized domestic washing machines. The difference between a washed and an unwashed skein of milled wool can be rather astounding. In the case of woolen yarns it seems to transform the weight significantly as the fibers relax and fully bloom.

After a trip through the washing machine, the skeins are hung evenly along a wall of drying racks. Here they they will sway in front of a brigade of rotating fans which speed drying-time remarkably (I use this same trick at home when wet-blocking garments).

The drying wall is enough to make most of us yarn-folk woozy with delight. All that lofty wool swaying gently in the breeze… to say nothing of the sweet, sweet wool fumes wafting through the air.

When the wool is completely dry, it is hand-twisted into hank form and whisked off towards the labeling station.

Lucy (The Saint) labels each and every skein by hand, making sure each one is properly placed and affixed with an adhesive tag that designates a specific skein’s color name and lot number.

When the yarn looks like this, it is ready for its entrance into the Wide World. Each labeled skein is bagged (10 skeins together, organized by color), loaded into freight boxes, and finally shipped to our warehouse in Portland, Maine. The warehouse is one of our team’s nerve-centers: from here we fulfill online orders and ship larger amounts to Flagship stores. Each yarn’s story beyond this point is different, and we hope they bring tactile pleasures to knitting hands wherever they end up.

I hope you’ve enjoyed getting a taste of what happens behind the scenes to create and spin Shelter.  As I mentioned in my first post, such a magical process deserves to be shared. This experience may even inspire you to seek out a mill and witness this magic in person. In my own experience with mills in both America and Europe, owners and employees are generally very proud of their work and love to share that joy, either through tours or a general eagerness to discuss yarn making. My wish is that we begin to see more US production being done in support of our own mills, before they’re gone. Thanks for joining me!

Yesterday we ended with a fresh batch of singles loaded up onto bobbins.  Because Shelter is a 2-ply yarn, the next step obviously involves plying, but before that can happen these babies get a trip to the Wool Sauna.

A proper steaming of the yarn in its current form is necessary before plying begins. Steaming saturates the fibers with moisture, causing them to relax and accept their new identity as twisted plies. Before steaming, the (newly given) tension in each ply is fighting to unravel.  Much in the same way a good blocking makes everyone’s knitting look better *cough*, the same principle applies here.  Wool always behaves better after a bit of moisture sets it straight.

The bobbins are placed in a metal rolling cart that is covered with small holes.  These holes are necessary to allow steam to pass through the cart and effectively reach all the bobbins inside.  Above you can see one of these “sauna” carts full of finished yarn.  While the ‘Fossil’ yarn shown here is a few steps ahead of us at our current stage of the tour, I wanted to give you a good shot of the carts used for steaming.

After the wool’s trip through the sauna, the bobbins are ready to be loaded onto the twisting frame (more simply referred to as “the twister” at the mill) and plied into a final 2-ply yarn. The twister functions much in the same way as the spinning frame in that a flyer adds twist (in the opposite direction this time, to balance the direction of twist added by the spinning frame), moving the singles off of their current bobbins, plying them, and winding them onto new ones.

Pictured above on the left are all the bobbins with single plies being shuttled up and over the ‘tunnel’ and back down onto the twister (right).  While this machine is running, it requires at least one worker to constantly monitor all the bobbins concurrently, passing up and down the tunnel between bobbin racks and twister. This is a nerve-wracking job that takes precision and timing when loading on empty bobbins or fixing an occasional break in a given ply. This part of the mill is Sarah’s domain, and watching her work is fascinating. The thought of keeping that many things under control while the machinery is running makes my blood pressure rise. The mill workers are a really talented and wonderful bunch of people! (A funny side note: the metal structures running overhead and shuttling the plies to the twister are adjusted based on the height of the worker running the machine.)

When the bobbins on this frame are filled, the yarn has completed the milling process and moves onto the finishing stages — it is now very close to the form you’ll see on your doorstep, or in a yarn shop, but a few more things need to happen to get it ready for the spotlight.  It is with these finishing stages that we will conclude our tour tomorrow morning!

*The title of this post is a pun on New Hampshire’s state motto “Live Free or Die”, which I read and appreciate every time I cross the border on my way to the mill.