Archives for category: Loft

It feels like spring has been such a long time coming here in the Northeast. Late April has finally begun rewarding us with warmer, lighter days as the long winter fades to memory. With a backdrop of blossoming trees and soft white flowers, we bring you the seventh volume in our ongoing Wool People guest designer series – a collection that was very much inspired by the color and light of spring.

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Wool People 7 lookbook

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My knitting friends know that I am somewhat of a hoarder of Japanese knitting books – I love their light, airy aesthetic and their precise visual approach to pattern writing. This clean, spare aesthetic has an essential quality to it that I love. My bookshelves are overrun with titles whose names I can’t even read – books I’ve collected over the years spent hidden among the quiet shelves at Kinokuniya.

These beautiful books from Japan served as the primary source of inspiration for Wool People 7  – with designers from 4 continents responding to our submission call for garments and accessories that are beautiful in their simplicity.

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This collection’s lookbook includes the addition of descriptive texts within the spreads that we hope share more about what lies “under the hood” of each pattern. We make an effort to pack as much value into your patterns as possible and know that sometimes not all of the details are apparent from photography alone. I hope that these additional descriptions will enhance your viewing experience and better inform you about which projects would give you the most satisfaction.

.Seacoast // Yane

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Over the coming weeks we’ll be introducing specific designs from the collection in more detail on our social media channels. I will also be conducting a series of interviews with seven of the collection’s contributing designers here on the blog (starting next week), which I’m very excited about.

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Vector // Merle

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For now, please enjoy paging through our newest lookbook – I hope you find something that you love!

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Resources: The Wool People 7 lookbook is now available for viewing on our website here, or download the free PDF for viewing on your tablet or device.

Each pattern in the collection is available for instant download here, or on Ravelry.com. Brooklyn Tweed yarns used in the collection are available for purchase online, or at one of our 16 flagship retail locations.

Amirisu released their fourth issue last week, which highlights Brooklyn Tweed as the magazine’s featured brand. We had a lot of fun working with Amirisu, contributing both design and written content throughout the issue. If you aren’t familiar with this online publication, it is the passion project of a Tokyo-based knitting/editing duo whose shared goal is furthering the online knitting culture in Japan. The magazine’s content is presented in both Japanese and English.

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Amirisu 4

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Last Fall, editor Meri Tanaka interviewed me about US-yarn production and my history as a designer. Within the article I talk a bit about how I got my start developing  and manufacturing yarns, as well as my start as a knitter. See pages 50-57 for the full article (excerpts shown below).

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I also contributed a short written piece for the magazine entitled “Elizabeth For Beginners”. Though Elizabeth Zimmermann is a national icon to us American knitters, Amirisu informed me that her work is not well-known in Japan and requested I contribute a piece that would act as a sort of gateway to EZ’s work. Within the article I give a very brief version of Elizabeth’s story and suggest some of her most beloved patterns for folks who are just discovering her work (pages 68-71).

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Last but not least – patterns and yarn! Brooklyn Tweed’s own Michele Wang and Leila Raabe contributed designs to the collection using BT yarns. Michele’s Tsubasa Top is a fun, spring-ready pullover worked in Shelter (color Blanket Fort) with arrowhead lace panels and dolman-style cap sleeves. Leila’s Preble Hat is worked in Shelter (color Snowbound) and features a woven texture pattern and twisted-stitch cable insertion. Both patterns can be downloaded directly from Amirisu (pattern info is also available on Ravelry).

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Tsubasa by Michele Wang | Preble by Leila Raabe.

A big thank you to the editors of Amirisu for featuring our work throughout the issue!

– Jared

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If you’re familiar with my past design work, you know that the Shetland Hap Shawl is a genre that I come back to time and again. I think this is because I am generally interested in the intersection between utility and beauty in design – and this traditional shawl style was born directly from that crossing. Worn by working women in the Shetland islands, the Hap Shawls’ primary function was to keep the wearer warm in the harsh conditions of the Northern Scottish Isles.

Over time, however, Shetland knitters developed a signature style for these shawls. They were generally square in shape and worked in garter stitch, with a plain central section worked in a solid color. The outer border almost always uses some variation of an Old Shale lace pattern and very often employs multicolored striping sequences, which were the perfect use for assorted oddments of shetland wool left over from former projects. (If you are interested in learning more about the history of Haps, Sharon Miller’s book “Shetland Hap Shawls” is the definitive source on the topic – I highly recommend it!)

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When we began concept sketches for the Winter 14 collection, the urge to design a new Hap Shawl was welling up inside me yet again. With this design, though, I wanted to think more about what types of shawls and construction methods appeal to the modern hand knitter, and apply those ideas to the traditional look of the Hap.

The first and most obvious choice was to create a triangular shawl, rather than the traditional square format. Triangles are faster to knit, easier to wear and more versatile as a styling item – so that decision seemed to make sense. After that, I needed to decide upon a construction sequence that would keep the knitting both interesting and efficient. I knew I wanted to keep the entire project seamless, so that goal was my starting point.

The diagram below maps out the knitting sequence, which begins at the base of the inverted central triangle. The entire project begins with just a single stitch cast onto your needle; the rest of the shawl grows out of that lone loop (I love that). The central triangle is worked back and forth, increasing one stitch per row by way of a yarn over at the beginning of the row. This type of shaping allows the garter stitch ridges to travel straight across the inverted triangle, which makes for an attractive contrast to the diagonal direction of the undulating border.

 

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Additionally, the yarn over selvedge conveniently provides open loops along the shaped sides of the central triangle, creating the perfect pick-up edge when you return to work the colorful lace edge.

You’ll see a dashed line at the top of the central triangle in the diagram above. When this point is reached, live stitches are placed onto waste yarn to be held until you work a contiguous top border that incorporates both the central triangle and the diagonal side edges of the Old Shale lace portion of the shawl.

After securing these live stitches with the waste yarn holder, stitches for the lace border are picked up along the diagonal edges of the central triangle (effortlessly, from those yarn overs along each edge). Upon completion of pick-up, the lace border is worked back and forth, with mitered increases at the triangle tip and side edges of the border (to maintain the overall triangular shape of the piece).

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I played around a bit with ways to modify the traditional Old Shale lace motif, and found that I liked working a row of elongated “drop” stitches between the colored eyelet rows. The photo above shows these rows clearly. These elongated stitches are created by double-wrapping the yarn as you knit across the row, then dropping one of the double wraps as you work into the stitch on the following row. The eyelet rows (worked in alternate colors) gently distort the fabric into wavy lines, which in turn effects the shape of the elongated rows nicely.

The project is also a fun excuse to play with color! In my version I used 5 different shades of Green from the Loft palette – but there are so many different ways you can use color in this border. It’s a perfect use for small amounts of leftover wool that you might have lying around. You can also keep it simple by working the shawl with only two colors (a main “shawl color” and a contrasting stripe color). The pattern includes yardage amounts for both a 2-color version and the 6-color version (shown) so you won’t need to do the extra math.

Traditional Hap Shawls usually employ a fancy knitted-on lace edging to finish the piece. While these edgings are beautiful, they can also be a bit fussy. In an effort to modernize and streamline the design, I liked the idea of keeping a clean bind-off edge – both from the perspective of finished appearance and convenience during fabrication. It is certainly a more concise finish than the traditional method – just remember to keep your bind-off row very relaxed so you don’t run into elasticity problems when blocking.

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After completion of the striped lace border, return to the top edge of the project, pick up stitches along the side edges of the lace border, and incorporate them into the same row as your held live stitches from the center triangle. Once united into a single row, work back and forth in garter stitch for a few ridges and bind off to complete the top border (a relaxed elastic bind off is advisable here as well).

All in all, it makes for quite a fun knit that looks complicated but is easier to create than you might think upon first glance. It’s also the type of project that you finish and immediately start thinking about what changes you’ll employ for your second one!

The best part for me, though, comes now – as I get to witness the creative variations you knitters will make! If you do choose to embark upon this shawl, I hope you’ll enjoy the process of not only knitting, but playing with color and striping ideas too. Have fun!

– Jared

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Resources:

The Kelpie pattern is available for download at Brooklyn Tweed or on Ravelry. The Loft yarn used in the photographed sample is available here.

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JF: Good morning, Grace! Thanks for agreeing to chat with me today about Trestle!  

GAF: Thank you for inviting me! And, as ever, thank you for photographing my work so beautifully.

JF: It’s really my pleasure! I first encountered your work when I saw your book “The Fine Line” in a yarn shop in Austin, TX, in 2009. The book is packed full of amazing, colorful, mitered creations and had me immediately marveling at how your brain works. Having been following you since, and getting to know you personally, you clearly have a flare for geometry and clever construction in all your work. Can you talk a little bit about what sparks your inspiration when you are designing? 

GAF: I love a puzzle. Always have. Starting with jigsaws and then Tetris (which I would obsessively play as a tween to the point of dreaming about it!) and now the apps Dots and Strata. Sequences and tessellations inhabit my happy place. I have an unhealthy love of graph paper.

JF: I think we would’ve gotten along well during our teenage years! I was a Tetris fiend, too… and in my present-day life have more stacks of graph paper (in several varying gauges) than I care to admit!

GAF: Oh yes – grids feed my love of right angles and integers, which tend to draw me towards chevrons. They just have a logic that aligns beautifully with the concept of the knitted stitch. So I sketch and sketch and sketch. Which leads to unconventional, but hopefully knitterly, constructions that exploit the fact that we knitters make the fabric as we shape the garment.

JF: To me that is always the true essence and magic of knitting – the simultaneous creation of fabric and shape. The possibilities are just endless…

GAF: Yes! I feel like I could spend a lifetime exploring that. I need to dedicate some serious study to the knitters who have already grappled with it. Elizabeth Zimmermann comes to mind, especially since Trestle is garter stitch, though I have yet to conceive of anything that rivals her genius. My first successful Baby Surprise Jacket was game changing – such a great puzzle.

JF: Speaking of puzzles, Trestle is a brilliant one. Can you give us a quick summary on what kind of adventure knitters are in for who take this sweater on? (I’ll include a diagram below to help everyone visualize this process!)

GAF: It is an all garter project (no purls!) but full to bursting with unusual elements. Because the entire sweater is knit on the bias (technically two biases that form the main chevron), you don’t shape the sweater in the usual way. The front and back begin in the same manner – casting on at the corners and making two separate triangles that are then joined once they are half the desired width. Then the garment is worked “straight” which is to say with an increase for every decrease until the desired length, and placed on holders. This was that part of the sample that was truly meditative to knit.  The bottom hem is picked up and worked down with decorative stripes.

The sleeves are also worked on the bias (though there is a bit more going on at the beginning in terms of “foundation triangles”– as you can see from the diagram). I reworked this section a few times both on the needles and off. In the end I went with making the main part of the sleeve first with unbalanced increases (increases with no corresponding decreases) to shape the sleeve within the bias pattern. The decorative element at the sleeve cuff is picked up and worked after in the stripe pattern, then the cuff is picked up and worked down.

The yoke is done in one piece maintaining the bias pattern as established on both Body and Sleeves. If you have worked a traditional raglan sweater you’ll recognize the decrease rate, though I have shifted their placement to be aligned with the pre-existing biases. The stripe pattern that is echoed on the sleeves and hem is clearest here on the yoke.

I’ll admit that this initially seems like a lot of acrobatic construction, but I assure you it is more straightforward when you are knitting it! You will be knitting plain every wrong-side row and only ever doing 4 things at the most on the right side rows. Trestle is great when you are in the mood for garter stitch but need a little more to keep it interesting.

JF: Those are often my favorite types of projects.

GAF: I must admit to feeling very satisfied seeing it come together. Some designs, no matter the preplanning, require a leap of faith between casting on and casting off. To be honest, those are the designs I am most drawn to and find myself returning to again and again, so it is always satisfying when they work out the way you intended.

As an aside, when my husband (who is extremely conservative in his taste in woolens) saw the sample blocking he said that it would make a good man’s sweater. Though that was his thinly veiled request for a sweater, he does have a point. Thankfully you have published sizes up to 49″ at the chest/bust, so I only have to lengthen the body and sleeves for his version.

JF: You live and work in Los Alamos, New Mexico, but are a Philadelphia native – that’s quite a change of scene! How has your change in environment changed your knitting or design work? 

GAF: Completely! My relationship to woolens had to change coming from PA to NM. I don’t think that I considered shawls much at all while in Philly, but the changeable nature of the weather here makes them much more necessary. I think that I also am drawn to fine gauge knitting, more so than before. In Philly the needles in my hands got larger the colder it got, but in Los Alamos I almost never venture thicker than DK. So I really had a chance to tighten my focus to fingering – lace weight yarns and how garments made with them fit onto my needles and into my wardrobe. I was also thinking about these more graphic designs that you can see in “The Fine Line” while being drawn to the regional weaving traditions. For such a small town, there is a high density of Techs, Engineers, and Scientists here in Los Alamos because of Los Alamos National Labs that I am being exposed to ideas and images that I never considered before, having pursued an art-focused education. All of these elements inform my current design process.

JF: Sounds like a pretty inspiring place to be! I remember New Mexico as having such a mystical quality about it. 

GAF: Mystical! That is a good word for it. I don’t think that I understood “purple mountains majesty”  as more than colorful language until I moved here. I think I might be spoiled now to expect to always see a mountain range on the horizon; without them it would seem lonely somehow.

 JF: And for a bit of fun, my last question for the day: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

GAF: Rainbow Brite. Though I think that if I had known that creative jobs like ours existed I might have set my sights on a more reasonable target.

JF: Grace, this has been excellent. Thanks for letting me pick your brain this morning – take care and keep up the inspiring work!

GAF: Thank you, Jared! Working with you, your team and your yarn is always a pleasure.

It’s hard for me to believe that the calendar is already declaring our arrival at mid-November(!), and even harder still to believe that today we release the 6th volume of patterns in our ongoing Wool People series. These collections are always wrapped in a refreshing spirit of collaboration and mutual excitement from day one, but the best part comes today as we get to watch the new patterns make their way out to all of you knitters.

Our team gets so deeply involved in the process of nurturing design collections onward from start to finish that by the time we launch publicly, it feels almost impossible to see the work with objective, fresh eyes. But watching our friends and followers experience a new collection for the first time always brings back that thrill and enthusiasm that sparked the collection in the first place.

Not only that – I love seeing which patterns people respond to, which details strike your fancy, and best of all, the creative variations on each design that soon start popping up on Ravelry and in the blogosphere.

Wool People 6 is a perfect collection for late fall that focuses on cozy, intuitive-to-work sweaters. This time around, I asked the designers to think especially about the knitting process as they were generating their ideas. I was delighted to see so many submissions that were worked circularly, seamlessly, or both – and the majority of the sweaters in the final collection fall into one of these categories. (For you finishing fiends, we have a couple “assembly required” pieces as well!)

You’ll see a few familiar faces on the designer roster as well as some wonderful new-to-us names, too.

To photograph the collection, the BT creative team and I traveled to the beautiful Shawangunk mountains for a weekend at Losee Cottage in Cragsmoor, New York. With the increased altitude, the colors of the leaves on the timeworn oaks and maples were much further along in their metamorphosis in mid-September than our low-lying city trees were.

The collection look book is now on view below (or page through it here and download a free copy of the hi-resolution PDF to take with you on your device). Be sure to check out our new “Shoot Notes” feature at the end of the book: a photo collage of behind-the-scenes photos that will give you a peek at what shoot days look like “behind the curtain”.

In the coming weeks we’ll have some exciting collection-related content coming your way. On the blog, I’ll be hosting a series of conversations with selected designers from the collection for a more in-depth look at their new work. We’ll also be featuring new photos and notes from the collection on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds, too.

There’s always so much packed into a collection, we continue to seek ways in which we can tastefully share as many facets with you as possible.

As always, we hope you enjoy!

All my best,

Jared

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Resources: The Wool People 6 look book is now available for viewing on our website here, or download the free PDF for viewing on your tablet or device.

Each pattern in the collection is available for instant download here, or on Ravelry.com. Brooklyn Tweed yarns used in the collection are available for purchase online, or at one of our 16 flagship retail locations.

Scarves can often seem like glorified swatches, and really that’s what they are in the beginning. You fall in love with a specific stitch pattern (in this case a beautiful combination of lace and cables) and want to let it shine on the blank canvas of a scarf or wrap. That being said, I don’t think scarves need to be relegated to the simple or boring category. To me, there are always subtle ways to elevate them beyond their “deluxe swatch” status: a thoughtful selvedge, a polished tubular cast-on, mirrored/symmetrical composition, and so on.

For Afton, each half of the scarf is worked from a ribbed hem towards the centerline of the piece, where it is grafted using Kitchener stitch. By creating the piece in this way, the pattern motifs (which have a clearly visible vertical orientation) are mirrored on either side when the scarf is worn. A tailor-made tubular cast on at the hem edges flows directly into a broken rib pattern as well as the corded selvedge, which continues throughout the remainder of the scarf creating a clean, flat finish at each side edge.

I also enjoy playing with arrangements of a stitch pattern to create multiple sizes for pieces like this. After all, each of us has our own opinion about how much fabric is too much or too little when draped around the neck and shoulders, and having options is great. Afton’s patterning lent itself beautifully to three sizes – an oversized scarf (at left, in “Fossil”), a standard scarf (at center, in “Homemade Jam”), and a more dramatic wrap (at right, in “Soot”) – all of which are included in the pattern.

Both scarves were knit with two strands of Loft held together. By working with doubled strands of a fingering weight yarn, stitch definition is more crisply pronounced and texture is highlighted beautifully; the slightly denser fabric is also a great at handling even the coldest days of winter. For the wrap version, however,  a single strand of Shelter was used for a softer, more gentle fabric that had drape and warmth, and kept the larger dimensions of the wrap from feeling heavy in any way.

To take it a bit further, why stop at only three versions? What about a shawl version worked in laceweight? Or a blanket worked in a bulky yarn? Theme and variation definitely keeps knitting interesting, doesn’t it?

Brioche stitch has to be one of my all-time favorite knitted fabrics. I love it for both its tactile qualities and its structural interest. When you look closely at Brioche fabric (also called “Fisherman’s Rib”, or “Cardigan” by machine knitters) you’ll notice that there are actually two interlocking layers of fabric. (Stretch a piece of it over an illuminated lampshade to get a great view of what I mean.)

Blocked Brioche fabric also has a pillowy “squish factor” that is unmatched by many other knitted fabrics; this is a result of the fabric’s mesh-like composition. The gauge of the stitch is quite different from stockinette or ribbed fabrics, with a much shallower row height and a broader stitch width. Knitters often need to use a needle two to three sizes smaller than they normally would when working with a given yarn weight to achieve the proper fabric density.

The Oshima design sprang out of my desire to use Brioche stitch to accentuate the beautiful shoulder details of a fully-fashioned pullover. The chiseled knit columns highlight the stitch pathways as they shape this part of the upper body.

The soft spongey nature of the stitch pattern also inspired me to think about design details that would amp up the comfort factor to achieve the perfect “knockaround” sweater for fall and winter. A tiny hint of waist shaping and a slim upper sleeve keep the slouchy fit from swallowing up the wearer. The brioche cowl neck – which is picked up and worked directly from the pullover’s crew neckline – along with the turned-back ribbed cuffs on the sleeves add both drama and a sense of coziness to the design.

Though some of these details create a more memorable silhouette, I know they may not be for everyone, so I liked the idea that customization would be easy. If you don’t like wearing cowl necks, try subbing a simple ribbed band when finishing the neckline. Or, work the sleeve cuffs to half the instructed length to achieve a standard (non-doubled) cuff. These types of modifications can produce a more classic, understated look while still featuring the strong graphic elements of the yoke shaping. It’s always nice to have options.

Yesterday was the first time in several months that I reached for a scarf on my way out the door. As I was walking down my city block I noticed that several long-buzzing air conditioners on a neighboring building lay silent, with apartment windows thrown open instead.

These subtle, almost imperceptible changes in my morning routine gave me a rush of deep satisfaction, knowing that the bewitching weather of autumn has finally begun creeping in. In just a few weeks, I’ll be deliberating between sweaters in my closet rather than the tired short-sleeve shirts I’ve been dutifully pulling from the shelves all summer.

At BT, the arrival of fall casts a spell over everyone in our office. It’s easy to observe a similar effect on the broader knitting community, too. It seems that a love of autumn is just in our blood.

Launching a new design collection to kick off the season is one of our very favorite tasks, and today we’re so glad to finally be able to share the BT Fall 13 collection with you, which features fourteen new knitting patterns from our in-house design team.

Last winter when I started putting together some rough ideas for this collection, imagery of the woods kept coming to mind. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, camping in the forest was always a favorite fall activity and that story seemed like the perfect inspiration for a new design challenge.

Within my vision of a woodland campsite I imagined a pile of wooly cable knits: classic, go-to garments and accessories that could be worn while cooking around a campfire or sloshing through the shallows in search of smooth river stones.

Later, I shared my idea of a fantasy camping trip with the design team, which seemed to almost instantly provoke a burst of ideas from each of us. After that, we were off and running.

The final collection has a sprinkling of everything (swingy, relaxed cardigans, a knockaround pullover with a cozy cowl neck, a dramatic and quick-to-knit cabled hat, an intricately textured wrap) and hopefully will get you into the spirit of autumn, if the weather preview hasn’t been enough already!

Our newest look book features colorful images of the collection alongside photos from our creative team’s woodland camping adventure in Saugerties, New York.  We really got into the spirit of the outdoors for this one…

 

Whether you’re a crazy fall fanatic like me or not, I hope you enjoy knitting your way through the season of changing leaves. – Jared

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Resources: The BT Fall 13 look book can be viewed on our website here, or download the free PDF for viewing on your tablet or device.

Each pattern is available for instant download here, or on Ravelry.com. Brooklyn Tweed yarns used in the collection are available for purchase online, or at one of our 16 flagship retail locations.

Like Timberline, Fort was another sweater design that I’d been thinking about for some time before I actually began working on the garment in any tangible way. I wanted to create a piece that was inspired by military clothing, but could be easily styled into an every day wardrobe. While I chose a pretty basic set-in pullover shape, the fit became a big focus for me, as well as finding a special detail or two to set this design apart. Combining a rich green and charcoal grey was also a nod to the military inspiration.

The sweater itself is worked in Shelter, a worsted weight wool, while the constrasting elbow patches are worked in a finer yarn (Loft). I  find that knitted elbow patches can often be too bulky in worsted weight and create a thick, awkward area on the sleeve, especially after the garment endures regular use. I liked the idea of using a lighter fabric, but knitting it at a dense gauge (get out your size 1 needles!) in garter stitch.

The garment is knit circularly with no seams from hem to underarm (on both body and sleeves), then split and worked flat for the remainder of the yoke. Finishing involves setting in the sleeves and sewing the shoulder seams. I like this construction method because it allows for both the ease and convenience of circular knitting as well as the structure of seams in areas where they are very much needed (shoulder tops and armholes; both regular stress points for the fabric).

Though not easily seen in the photo above, there is a ribbed side detail that flows directly from the hems/cuffs along the side “seams” of the body and sleeve. This adds a little elasticity to the overall fit and creates a sort of visual frame for the wide expanses of checkerboard stitch.

Finally, the wide crew neck is trimmed with a doubled 1×1 rib collar: stitches are picked up from the finished neckline and knit circularly to twice the height of the finished neckband, while being subtly shaped with changes in needle size. Live stitches are tacked down on the inside of the garment for a neckband that has a little extra thickness and character to it, but still remains elastic.

While obviously “a classic”, I can see this sweater equally at home in conservative or funky closets alike. I look forward to wearing mine this Fall!

 

Redford draws its inspiration from well-loved vintage tee shirts – the kind that get better with each wash and wear. Though the sweater doesn’t announce them loudly, it features some subtle details that elevate it above the average everyday pullover.

Side panels are worked in reverse stockinette stitch and assembled with exposed seam lines to highlight their slightly angled shape. The change in fabric offers a subtle yet graphic detail along the sides of the garment (see a detail photo here).

The stockinette portion of the sleeves are worked from the bottom up, beginning just above the cuff line. After completion, cuff stitches are picked up from the wrong side – creating another exposed seam detail – and worked down in a 1×1 rib, finishing with a clean tubular bind off.

Finally, an inverted triangle is worked in reverse stockinette and nestled just below the ribbed collar at center front, adding a finishing touch to that “favorite tee” vibe.

Worked in Loft, the sweater’s fabric is lightweight and easy to layer (it looks great whether worn with a denim jacket or a sport coat) and is particularly useful for hot-blooded men who overheat in heavier sweaters. The garment is worked flat in pieces and seamed together for added structure and strength.

The hardest decision of all: which color to choose?