Archives for category: Travel

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.

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

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!

This week we’re heading out west for Madrona Fiber Arts in Tacoma, Washington. Madrona is a special show that is well-loved by so many, and for good reason! Several aspects make this one of my own personal favorites among knitting events: the intimate and friendly vibe, the glass-art-filled hotel, a strong communal love of natural fibers, and a line-up of standout instructors and vendors to name a few. (Admittedly, I’m also biased by the fact that the event is held in my home town.)

We will be staked out in the marketplace all weekend – sharing a large booth with our friends at Churchmouse Yarns & Teas. We’ve got the booth packed to the gills with all 32 colors of both Shelter and Loft, so if you’re in the need of some quality US-grown wool, stop on by!

We’ll also be featuring the trunk show from our brand new BT Winter 13 collection throughout the weekend in the booth – all 24 samples that were featured in the look book will be available for visitors to try on.

Finally, I’ll be joined by three of our in-house designers (Julie Hoover, Leila Raabe, & Michele Wang) on Saturday from 10-2 for a meet-and-greet/pattern signing in the rotunda. We’ve prepared some visual displays that  illustrate our team’s design process so that knitters can get a taste of how things look behind the scenes when we’re putting together a new design collection.

It’s certainly shaping up to be a fun and busy weekend; for those attending, we hope to see you there!

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.

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!

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…