Some classic black & white eye candy from Spring Thaw for you on this Thursday morning…
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Some classic black & white eye candy from Spring Thaw for you on this Thursday morning…
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Pardon our silence… we’ve been busy this Winter! Our design studio has been a flurry of activity in recent months and we are happy to finally bring you some proof of that this morning!
Today we’re happy to introduce Spring Thaw: a collection of 17 designs for knitting from Winter to Spring.
When the three of us first started knocking around ideas for this group of patterns, colorwork was a unanimous source of inspiration for all. This was also our first chance to create a collection while having access to the full BT yarn palette from day one. Our initial run of Loft was in production in Harrisville as we completed most of the work for The Loft Collection (November ’11), so our color choices were limited, particularly for any multiple-color designing.
This time, though, we were free to explore and combine colors at will. And so we did.
Colorwork knitters, you’ll find plenty of projects here – both small and large – to keep your stranding fingers busy. That being said, we’d be remiss if we didn’t include a decent dose of cables, lace and stockinette too…
It was quite a mild Winter, especially here in the city. I think most of us are giving up hope for any 11th hour snowfall, especially now that the Spring blooms are beginning to peak through the soil. We thought a collection for this transitional time of year would be a fun idea, and while that was certainly a factor in our design process, we think many of these designs are great for year-round knitting!
We’ve created another of our digital Look Books to indulge you with extended photography of the designs – we hope you’ll steal a couple of minutes today to give it a look! Click “Expand” below to view full-screen in your browser, or click here to view on our web site. (Or maybe a PDF file to take along with you? That’s here.)
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Though it’s warming outdoors a bit, we’re definitely still enjoying our evening knitting. A very happy Spring to everyone, with all our best!
Resources: All 17 patterns in the collection are available now as digital downloads on our web site here. Our Wyoming-grown wool yarns are available for purchase here. Download a free PDF version of the Look Book here.
The patterns in this collection were created by the members of our in-house Design Team: Jared Flood, Leila Raabe & Michele Wang.
We’re starting the new year off with a very special announcement: the second installment in our Wool People series is all polished up and ready to take flight from the BT Nest!
We were humbled by the response to our first issue’s release in August, and have had a blast putting together a sequel to that collection. The new issue features work from 14 diverse talents from our industry – all of whom have been an honor to collaborate with.
As with our first volume, we shot for a balance of project types and skill levels in hopes of curating a group of patterns that is accessible to a wide range of knitters. We’re also thrilled that our roster of designers spans such an inspiring range: from long-time industry celebs to exciting break-out talent.
It was our first really cold photoshoot of the year, but it’s always worth braving the chill in the name of the pearlescent light that only Winter can deliver. Having woolen knitwear as your subject matter is certainly helpful, and our models were glad for it!
We invite you to sit down with a mug of something warm and flip through the pages of the Look Book to get to know the new collection. You can view it from right within your browser by clicking “Expand” below, or download the PDF version for on-the-go viewing later.
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We thought this was a great way to kick off the beginning of a new year, and hope you find something to keep your fingers contented as we head deeper into Winter.
RESOURCES: Patterns from Wool People Volume 2 are available here. Yarns for each project are available here. View the Look Book on our website, or download the PDF version to your computer, tablet or mobile device.
November 1st has been marked with a giant red circle on our calendar at BT HQ for what seems like an eternity – we’ve just been dying for this day to finally come! Why? Because today we get to introduce you to our little darling: LOFT.
She is the newest member of our US-grown yarn family, and we simply love her.
From the very first time I laid my hands on Shelter, in early 2009 – months before its public debut – I couldn’t stop thinking about how perfect it would be to create a companion yarn in fingering weight. A light woolen-spun 2-ply is such a dreamy medium for lace and colorwork, especially for Wool Hounds like us (and likely, you too).
We weren’t surprised, either, to hear a steady stream of similar requests after Shelter’s official launch for that exact thing. We knew this yarn had potential to be a real stunner, so we took things slow, proceeding with caution and care (the way we like to do things around here). This one had to be just right.
Fast forward to today – 11 months since we began our first serious planning meeting with the mill in Harrisville – and it’s finally here. And what a journey it has been!
So what is Loft all about? From the outset we sought to design an ideal lightweight wool yarn for handknitters that looked and felt special. A yarn whose gently-spun nature mimicked the lightness and loft of handspun, and created stunning lace or stranded fabrics. We also dreamed of a substantial palette of stunning heathers worthy of serious Colorwork.
Our new color lineup boasts 32 carefully crafted dyed-in-the-wool shades – the original 17 from the Shelter palette, plus 15 newbies. The added colors were selected with our existing palette in mind; because each blend draws from the same 11 dyed solids, there is a cross-range coherence that makes the old colors pulse with new life.
Loft requires a slightly gentler touch than other yarns, but we think the results are so worth it. The lace fabrics it makes are so fluffy and light, they just beg to be cuddled, and the airy nature of the construction allows for a notable range of possible gauges. Loft can fluidly shift from dense fingering weight gauges like 9 spi in colorwork, on up to traditional sport weight gauges of 6 spi without losing fabric integrity – one of the hallmarks of true woolen-spun yarns, and as a design team, one of our favorite features (fabric variety!).
Each 50g hank packs a generous 275 yards, too – an added bonus for those of us who hate weaving in ends.
In celebration of Loft’s public release, our design team has put together an original collection to help introduce our shiny new treasures. We really indulged ourselves in lace (once you see the yarn, you’ll know why), but also threw in some colorwork and textured accessories, and even a pullover for good measure.
The best way to experience the collection and the new yarn is by viewing the Look Book – our biggest yet – which is bursting with lush, Autumn-flavored photos, and plenty of info about the new undertaking. Just click on the cover below to view it in your browser. The patterns themselves are all available now for download.
I’d like to also take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support – it is the single reason that we are able to continue developing yarns and projects that truly inspire us, and bring us such joy in sharing.
Jared and the BT Team
Resources: Loft yarn can be purchased online here. See The Loft Collection Look Book here. View all the designs from the collection on our website –including all pattern-specific information – here. See a list of our Flagship Retail Locations, each of which has the full palette of Loft in stock today.
Yesterday I walked out the front door of my apartment building and got about five steps before I stopped suddenly and realized…. I needed a scarf! For the first time since early Spring, I had an urge to don knits out of necessity. What a wonderful day it was! The second time I walked out the front door I savored the chill and ended up spending much more time out in the city than I have in quite some time.
The arrival of Fall this week (not on the calendar, but in feel) seemed like the perfect timing too, since we’ve been working hard behind the curtain to bring you a collection of designs inspired by this time of year. I’m happy to share with you BT FALL 11, a collection of 16 handknitting patterns.
This season I’m joined by designers Leila Raabe and Michele Wang (you’ve seen work from both of them in our first issue of Wool People). About 6 months ago, I approached each of these women to see if they’d be interested in coming together with me to form an official In-House Design Team at BT. To my great delight, they each accepted and the three of us have been happily collaborating on knitwear ever since!
Though we’ve been at it for a while now, we’re thrilled to be releasing our first group of designs as a team, just in time for the changing of the leaves. As with Wool People, we’ve put together a Look Book for the collection in hopes of giving you a pleasurable aesthetic introduction to the work. You can view it in the space below (click “expand” to view the full-screen version) or on our web site. If you’d like to download a free PDF copy to take along with you on your laptop, tablet, or device, you can get that here.
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We were wooed by all sorts of surface texture as we were designing these patterns. We also wanted to make use of Shelter’s rich palette of Autumn, and create projects of all sizes and time-commitments. We hope there’s something in it for everyone to enjoy – happy Fall!
It seems like Spring has been battling its way onto the scene in fits and starts for weeks. Despite a few bizarre instances of April snow recently, the warmer air seems to finally be sticking. It’s a perfect time to think about some serious lace knitting, and today’s pattern fits the bill nicely.
The Rock Island Shawl is a piece that I designed for a special collaborative project. Last year, the nice folks at Lorna’s Laces invited me to be a part of their ongoing Color Commentary Series, in which designers are given free reign to develop a new colorway for LL yarns.
At the time, I had a very specific deep black-violet on the brain and wanted to pursue that. The original color inspiration came from some wonderful graffiti that I saw on Grand Street in Brooklyn that used heavy swaths of rich indigo and black. We worked back-and-forth for weeks and finally ended up with the finished colorway (shown above), which I’m thrilled with. I’ve named the color Grand Street Ink, after its original inspiration, and it is now available in their wide range of yarns.
I chose to design for the color with Helen’s Lace, a fine laceweight 50/50 wool-silk blend. The silk took the dye beautifully and the finished fabric of the shawl is almost veil-like.
The piece contrasts simple garter stitch with intricate Shetland lace motifs which are worked on both RS and WS rows, also over Garter Stitch. As a result, the shawl is completely reversible – both sides look the same. The triangle is worked backwards from standard construction, beginning first with the knitted edging. After the lace edging is worked, stitches are picked up from a yarn-over-selvedge along the straight edge and the main portion of the triangle is worked directly from those stitches. This means the most labor-intensive elements of the shawl are completed first, and pattern rows get smaller as you go, which is always a nice psychological bonus.
I think the design would look wonderful in fingering weight yarn as well… I may have started one already.
One of the most rewarding parts about making it through the development process of SHELTER (which I will begin delving into more deeply tomorrow) was finally getting to knit and design with the wool when it arrived in its final state. On my original timeline, I had planned for the yarn to be design-ready by early May. Developing a yarn line, I soon found out, doesn’t always play by your rules, however. The actual delivery ended up being late June, which put a real crunch on the design period that I had been anticipating, but did remind me that flexibility is key when running a marathon.
I spent the summer working on a modest collection of designs to welcome Shelter onto the stage — 5 of these patterns are available as PDF downloads today while the others will be released in intervals over the next few weeks. Sprinkled amongst my posts about SHELTER’s story, I’ll also be popping in to introduce you to the new patterns. I think they’ll help in showing some of Shelter’s unique qualities and a bit about my own discovery process while working with this new yarn (which already feels like a dear friend).
We’ll start with Terra, which was my inaugural project when the first few colors of Shelter arrived on my doorstep (what a day that was!). One thing you’ll notice about SHELTER when you pick it up is the lightness. The woolen-spun process allows the majority of the yarn to simply be air, which creates fabrics that are both warm and light. You’ll see in the Fall designs that I was very inspired by the fabrics that could be created and favored designs with simple shapes to focus on that special drape and loft. Terra is worked on a US 9 (5.5mm), which will generally produce a gauge around 4.25 stitches/inch at a relaxed fabric. After blocking the project with lace blocking wires and T-pins to stretch it to full capacity, the finished gauge resembles something closer to 3.5 stitches/inch.
The triangular shape begins at the top center of a small number of stitches and shaped outwards towards the edge by way of standard triangular shaping of 4-increases-every-other-row. The first third of the triangle is worked in a simple Garter Stitch Ridge pattern and flows directly into the textured lace edging — an undulating cousin-stitch of Feather-and-Fan lace motifs. A stretchy bind-off is recommended to take advantage of the full dimensions of the fabric while blocking — within the pattern I suggest a sewn bind-off (instructions for which are provided).
It’s a fluffy and cozy accessory for the neck or shoulders (very Fall), worked in the lovely Homemade Jam, with its rich red flecks popping from the burgundy heathered base color. You can find it here (BT) or here (Ravelry).
To say that Shetland inspired me would be a total understatement. When I got back, I had visions of lace and colorwork swimming in my head, even more so than I usually do. For days afterwards I was engaged in swatching with endless color combinations from my wool closet and thinking about how I could translate just a bit of all that Beauty to a little piece of my own reality. While feeling desperate for some traditional lace work, I came across a design I had begun in the Spring but time constraints and other distractions had gotten in the way. It was like it had been waiting for me to come home for it.
Celes is my first attempt at bringing a little piece of Shetland home. The motifs for both the Center panel and knitted-on lace edging are traditional Shetland stitch patterns that I find both arrestingly beautiful. The center panel is a Tree & Diamond pattern, which is funny since trees are basically non-existent in Shetland. The construction, too, is a nod to tradition, although updated slightly for ease of knitting and proper mirroring of vertical motifs.
The design is worked in fingering weight yarn — last winter on a visit to Bainbridge Island I had fallen head over heels for this lot of Isager Alpaca 2 — a 50/50 wool alpaca blend with silvery heathers and incredibly drape (it’s color 2105). It was screaming to be made into lace fabric. I’m a huge fan of Marianne Isager‘s designs and yarns (her fingering weight Scottish wool is crisp, clean and wonderful) and knitting with this was a pleasure from start to finish.
The construction of the piece hinges around mirrored directional stitch patterns. In order to create a mirroring of vertical motifs in the center panel, each half is worked separately (starting with a Provisional Cast On at the outer edge) and grafted at the center line using Kitchener Stitch. To finish, a knitted-on lace edging is applied to the entire perimeter in place of any kind of bind off, framing the center panel. If you’ve never worked a knitted-on edging before, this is a great project for practice.
The stole is a rectangle with approximate blocked dimensions of 74″ x 17″ — a generous size for wearing as a luxurious scarf as shown and still wide enough to wear as a shoulder wrap. (Tessa wears it so beautifully, doesn’t she?) This type of project is great for seasonal transition from Summer into (and through) Fall. Worked in Alpaca 2, the thing is deceptively warm for its lightness and will definitely also serve as Winter wear! On the day of our photoshoot, we had also been shooting some pieces worked in heavier weight wool yarns. Tessa immediately reported this as being the warmest piece of the afternoon. Alpaca is warm like that — I personally prefer it diluted with a goodly amount of wool, as here.
The click from season-to-season is upon us, and nothing makes me happier than feeling that crispness in the air announcing Fall’s long-awaited arrival. This Fall will be a big one for me, so I hope you’ll stay tuned for more as we knit our way into the cooler months.
I’m so happy to share with you a new lace design that was published this week — I’ve been itching to show you photos ever since I finished it in January. I designed this lace triangle for Veronik’s second issue of St. Denis Magazine and got another chance to use her lovely wool Nordique.
Shortly after returning from vacation, I completed work on this simple handspun triangle. Since I was shooting to use up every last bit of this special yarn, I waited until I was home again and armed with my trusty kitchen scale to aid in calculations so that every last yard could be enjoyed, stress-free.
It’s probably no surprise to anyone, but a simple shape of fabric with a good wool and suitable texture is a recipe for success every single time in my book. Simple knitting allows for the enjoyment of the special characteristics of our materials and I think this might just be one of the things that keeps me devoted to my knitting. One of the many things.
This piece was worked in the standard method, starting with just 10 stitches at center-top and increased regular along both edges as well as the center ‘spine’ to create a simple triangle. I love working from the top down (from the top ‘out’ seems more appropriate in this case) when you know you have limited yardage and want to stay in control of your process. By working with with a scale and measuring the remaining grams of unworked yarn remaining, you have good solid numbers telling you when you need to start thinking about binding off. This scenario is almost always better to me than spending the last 20% of the project wondering if there will be enough yarn to get me across the finish line.
The simple stitch pattern is a subtle variation of garter stitch — knitting, knitting, knitting, and purling every 6th row (or every 3rd RS row) to create a ‘valley’ in place of every third Garter Stitch Ridge. I think this stitch pattern is beautiful in its simplicity and highlights the diagonal directional fabric in a sweet way. I kept the first and last 3 stitches of each row (the stitches running along the top, flat edge of the triangle) in pure Garter Stitch and ended with 3 consecutive ridges to give a touch of weight to the outer edge of the shape.
I estimate that I used approximately 275 yards of a very light, handspun 2-ply yarn, the weight of which danced around between a DK-weight and a light-worsted weight, as handspun yarns tend to do. I loved the lightness of this yarn and wanted to play that up by knitting it at a looser-than-average gauge and block the finished piece as for lace. The result is a feather-light fabric that is toasty-warm and wooly-soft. Surprisingly soft for a Romney, but that has a lot to do with the amount of air that is trapped in the finished yarn.
The finished dimensions of the piece came out to about 43 inches across the top, flat length of the triangle, and a 21 inch depth at the center ‘spine’. Perfect size for a wool-lovers alternative to a bandana, no?
I don’t know if I’ll ever stop singing the praises of blocking wires — their precision in making perfectly symmetrical shapes while blocking brings me an unlimited amount of satisfaction. They really play to my inner Geometer. To maximize the blocking potential, I worked a sewn bind-off for as much added elasticity as possible. Traditional bind-offs, when worked along the perimeter of larger pieces that will be blocked severely is a recipe for disaster. The sewn bind off, while taking a bit longer to execute is so absolutely worth the fuss.
Wool-wearing weather is beginning to slowly retreat, but at least this little triangle will provide a graceful (desperate) transition before the official hibernation of my cold-weather wardrobe.