Archives for category: Collaboration

Over the next two weeks, we’ll be presenting a series of designer interviews here on the blog that I have conducted with 6 selected designers from the Wool People 6 collection. I’ll chat with them a bit about their newest designs for BT, as well as what it is that gets their creative juices flowing. Today we start with long-time friend of BT, Gudrun Johnston. I hope you enjoy!  –Jared

JF: Good morning, Gudrun! I’m always glad to be able to chat with you about knitting – can you tell the readers where you are joining us from today?

GJ: Great to talk to you Jared! I am joining you from my home in the woods of Western Massachusetts!

JF: We’ve had the pleasure of working with you several times in the last two years that we’ve been publishing Wool People – you seem to have a knack for designing things with real wool that knitters love. Can you tell us a little bit about where you get your general design inspiration?

GJ: I find that ideas can strike from many directions but it is true that I often look to my Shetland roots first and foremost for inspiration.

JF: You live in Western Mass but are a native of the Shetland Islands in Scotland, one of the world’s great knitting “meccas”. How did your childhood in Shetland shape who you are as a designer?

GJ: Although I was born in Shetland I spent the majority of my childhood living elsewhere in Scotland. It has really been in the last decade that I have re-connected with Shetland, since my parents retired there. During that time I have had lots of opportunity to explore not only the physical beauty of Shetland but to also educate myself about the wooly traditions! As you already know my mother also designed knitwear in Shetland in the 1970′s. My siblings and I were clothed in her designs when we were very little. I even have a photo of myself as a baby in a traditional Shetland Hap (shawl)! So the connection to the rich knitting heritage was formed early on. My great grandfather was a Shetlander and I like to think some knitting mojo got passed on in the blood! It was only natural then for me to look to my Shetland background when I started to get into designing.

JF: When we first started talking about design ideas for Wool People 6, you had just finished knitting your son a beautiful prototype of Little Wave. How did the sweater come to be (before I begged for you to let us include it in the collection)?

GJ: Well it came to be because Sage (my son) was feeling a little put out that I hadn’t designed anything that he could wear! His sister ends up getting to wear a lot more of my work seeing as most of my designs are female oriented. So I promised him I would come up with something made especially for him! He LOVES it and looks very sophisticated when wearing it! [We've included photos below!] I ended up liking it a lot too so I’m glad that there will be another sample for me to wear. It also looks like I might have to knit one for David (my husband) too!

JF: David just might require one – I wore the men’s sample all throughout our September shoot (it was a foggy, chilly weekend – perfect for a shawl collar) and I have to say I got attached quite quickly! 

GJ: Well it’s true that David is also well overdue for a handknit garment from me, so yes, I think I will have to get one on the needles for him too! Although I have also been eyeing up your Timberline from the BT Men collection!

JF: You opted to design the sweater as a unisex garment, including graded sizes for both men and women. What kind of differences can knitters expect to find between the two?

GJ: The differences are fairly subtle to the overall design but I included a little waist shaping and adapted some of the measurements for a more feminine look.

JF: There are a lot of special details included in the sweater – it is one of those patterns that takes you on a bit of a journey. I know most knitters will learn at least 1 or 2 things as they are walked through. Can you elaborate on a couple of the details that might not be immediately apparent to people who have only seen a few images of the garment in the look book?

GJ: Well one of the first things knitters will encounter are the twisted stitches that are used to form that overall stitch pattern. I enjoy using textured stitch patterns that are worked a little differently from the norm but that aren’t necessarily complex to knit. The other detail that might not be obvious to many knitters is the construction of the yoke. I see it as part raglan, part set in sleeve and part saddle shoulder, but essentially it is Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Seamless Hybrid Method.  I think this was my favourite part to knit! Watching all the parts come together is truly like magic and extremely satisfying!

JF: I also have to interject that I love the knitted garter stitch “elbow patches”. They are a nice touch!

GJ: Thanks! Glad you like them! Of course they can easily be left out for those who prefer a simpler sleeve!

JF: What kind of design work are you plugging away on at the moment? Anything you can share that we can look forward to? 

GJ: Actually the current piece I’m working on will be for Wool People 7! After that the plan is to get going on a Shetland Trader Book 2 which I am very excited about!

JF: Great news for all of us – I look forward to seeing another self-produced book of knits by you! 

Well Gudrun, it’s been a pleasure – thanks for allowing me to bend your ear a bit this morning. Take care and thanks again for contributing this beautiful garment to our 6th installment of Wool People!

GJ: My pleasure! It was fun to chat!

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.

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!

I’m happy to get to share a new design with you that I created earlier this year for Tanis Fiber Arts – the Guernsey Triangle. This pattern is a special design for TFA’s Year In Color Club, and has now been released for that project.

Ever since designing the Guernsey Wrap in 2010, I’ve wanted to work up a triangular companion piece, so when Tanis and I first began discussing this project I thought it was the perfect opportunity.

The task was to create an enjoyable-to-knit and easy-to-wear handknitting design that was suitable for a single skein of yarn – in this case TFA’s Red Label Cashmere Silk Fingering (75 cashmere, 15 merino, 10 silk; 420 yards). Because club members would be getting a limited amount of hand-dyed yarn, I was sure to include detailed swatching instructions in the pattern and accounted for swatching yardage as well, so that no one is left hanging!

The triangular shawl is worked from the top down and features knit-purl patterning from traditional guernsey fisherman sweaters (I never tire of them). The pattern also gives instructions on blocking the finished piece with wires to get the clean, crisp edge that suits the geometric nature of the whole. The slanting ribs of patterning are mirrored over the center spine of the shawl.

Tanis and I collaborated on the development of the custom colorway “Smoke” – a beautiful silvery grey that features the subtlest of variegation in tone. Just enough to attest that the yarn has seen the careful hands of a talented dyer, but not enough to distract or mask the delicate patterning of the fabric. Just right.

Currently the pattern is only available as a club exclusive – click here if you are interested in joining or would like more details – and I will be making the pattern available as a Brooklyn Tweed PDF at the beginning of 2013. So if you’re not a club member but want to knit this, you’ll have access to the pattern at that time.

The wrap is pictured with our Bedford Pullover by Michele Wang – I thought the pieces looked great together. Then again, grey layers are my fashion “happy place”. For those of you wishing to queue the pattern on Ravelry for later, click here.

Hope you enjoy!

 

I’m excited to have been asked to be a part of Knit Red – a new book collaboration between Jimmy Beans Wool and Vogue Knitting.

For my contribution to the book, I thought a red reprise of the Druid Mittens (Remember these? They were featured on the cover of Vogue Knitting magazine in the Fall of 2008) would be beautiful. The submission timeline dovetailed with the launch of Loft last year, so I had to give these classics a whirl in our Long Johns colorway. I love how rich they are – a nice contrast to the apple green Shetland wool of the original pair.

The book is officially released in June and features patterns from a host of great folks – I’m looking forward to seeing it!

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.

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Resources: The Rock Island pattern is available through Brooklyn Tweed or Ravelry. Brooklyn Tweed’s “Grand Street Ink” colorway is available at Lorna’s Laces.

Back in September when I sent my first ever shop-bound shipment of Shelter, it was headed for Austin, TX. When I heard back from Suzanne, the owner of Hill Country Weavers, a few weeks later that she wanted to commission an Austin-inspired knitwear collection with the wool I was surprised and delighted, and more than thrilled to give them the green light.

I had the pleasure of making my first trip to Austin two years ago and was immediately charmed by the city and found an incredible amount of style inspiration there myself. I was excited to see what some Austin handknitters (and weavers!) would do when given the task of using their city as a muse.

On Christmas night, HCW debuted their collection to the world and I’m thrilled to be able to share some of the images with you here, all of which were shot on-site in Austin this winter by Meg Rice.

This hand woven blanket is a stunner!

This hat is knit in one piece, seamlessly — I love it.

You’ll find full details on the collection in its entirety on HCW’s web site — some of the designs are also available on Ravelry.

A big thank you to HCW and their design team for putting this all together!

One of the new knitting books to hit the shelves this month is Brave New Knits by Julie Turjoman.  In her book Julie profiles 26 knitting bloggers, each of whom have submitted a design of their own to create a collection of patterns that has a lot of wonderful variety.  I was honored to not only be asked to be a participating blogger for this project, but also to be hired as the book’s photographer.  It was so much fun seeing so many pieces designed by many of my friends and colleagues and putting it all together into one cohesive collection of images.

We shot the project on a steamy September day last year in one of my favorite natural-light studios here in New York.  I’ve put together a quick sampling of some of my favorite images from the shoot, as well as sharing my own personal pattern contribution at the bottom of the post.  I hope you enjoy!

Knitted flowers by Kat Coyle

Shrug by Melissa Wehrle

Cardigan by Mari Muinonen

Mitts by Clara Parkes

Pullover by Stefanie Japel

Hat by Woolly Wormhead

Cardigan by Hilary Smith Callis

Pullover by Connie Chang Chinchio

Cloche by Norah Gaughan

There’s many more patterns and interviews contained in the book than shown above, so please feel free to check it out if these images have sparked your interest!

In putting together the book, Julie also worked to include smaller yarn companies that sell online and have their own ‘following’ in the way bloggers do.  When Julie asked me to design an accessory pattern for the book, of course I asked her if I could call dibs on Beaverslide Dry Goods — one of my favorite small American wool suppliers.  Armed with fingering weight American Merino, the Woodsmoke Scarf was born.

The scarf is a very simple concept — central garter stitch rectangle is knit length-wise (using a provisional cast-on) knit in one color and not bound off. The second color is used to work a knitted-on lace edging, also in garter stitch to frame the whole piece.  I chose a long, skinny proportion for a lighter, spring scarf that could be wrapped a generous number of times around the neck, but the pattern can be very simply adapted to make proportions you might find more suitable for your wardrobe (wider, shorter, etc.)

I had a lot of fun working with Julie on this project, and I think it’s a unique addition to the Knitting Section at the bookstore/library and helps promote the lives that go on behind the curtain in knitwear design.  Happy reading!

Today’s sweater is a rare and special bird. Last Fall I was given the opportunity to produce an art-sweater for ESOPUS magazine — a very special publication that is produced by the ESOPUS foundation here in New York (read more about the ESOPUS Foundation here). I spun my wheels on this project for quite a while trying to think of a way of incorporating knitting into the publication in a fresh and interesting way. After enduring a long creative void, I found myself thinking about the Exquisite Corpse process-drawings that were done by Surrealists in the 1920′s.

The Exquisite Corpse Project

The Exquisite Corpse is a collaborative process in which multiple artists create a single image (typically the human figure) in sequence with one another. Each artist is permitted only a glimpse at the contribution of the previous artist without knowing its connection to the whole. The imaginative drawings that are created in this way are spontaneous, random, and very interesting.

The Exquisite Corpse Project

With this process in mind came the spark of an idea for a design experiment that resulted in the sweater you see photographed here.

The Exquisite Corpse Project

I got in contact with a few of my favorite indie-designers to see if they were up for a design challenge: to create a collaborative garment in random sequence working directly off of the piece or pieces that were presented to them from the previous designer. Starting with a general set of garment dimensions provided by me (so that the garment would fit the body at the conclusion of the process) each designer was given complete creative freedom for their portion of the sweater.

The Exquisite Corpse Project

I chose a bulky, rustic sheepswool in hopes that the materials would inspire textural experimentation and highlight the multi-directional quality of the fabrics. As you can see from the images, the garment is a veritable explosion of texture!

The Exquisite Corpse Project

The designers who collaborated on this project, each from a different location around the country, were: Connie Chang Chinchio, Tanis Gray, Carrie Hoge, Melissa LaBarre & Elli Stubenrauch.

The Exquisite Corpse Project

Below is a schematic of the finished garment, a Dolman cardigan, and how each designer’s contribution comes together to create the finished whole.

The Exquisite Corpse Project

It was a wonderful experiment and created a garment that I find interesting for so many reasons. The magazine is accompanied by a gallery show in which all pieces from the current issue are on view at the ESOPUS space in New York. For those readers who are local, click here for the show information if you’d like to see the physical garment on view at the gallery.

The Exquisite Corpse Project

I want to give a special thank you to all the designers who joined me to put this together as well as my lovely model (does she look familiar? Yes, that’s famed Cookie A. looking fierce).

The Exquisite Corpse Project

The garment is a true one-of-a-kind and the result of each designers immediate response to the garment pieces as they were presented to them. I hope you enjoy it!

Another hat with slouch, you say? Yeah, I was having a lot of fun playing around with that shape this season – it offered a fun variation on solving design problems for hats, so there it is!

Relm

Relm will be available next week in the upcoming Fall/Winter 08 issue of Knit.1 Magazine. [Ravel it!] The folks at Knit.1 are featuring a spread on designer-bloggers and each of us contributed a pattern of our own choosing, which I think makes for a great little line-up. Be sure to check out the other great bloggers’ designs in the issue too! The magazine’s whole look has been revamped and I think it looks like a great issue in general.

Relm

The yarn I chose for this is a new one and fantastic – “Aran” by Stacy Charles is a wonderful tweeded-out (tricked-out?) 100% cashmere that has awesome drape. The hat is as light as a feather and super warm, which was just the combo I was looking for on this one.

Relm

A quick word about the weight of the yarn: Aran is considered a worsted weight yarn because of it’s suggested gauge of 4.5 sts to the inch, but remember that cashmere yarns really sing when they’re knit up less densely than other fibers… hence, the yarn looks thinner than a worsted (it is) even though the gauge is the same. Does that make sense, or have I confused the issue further? Anyway, it’s really lovely stuff… and did I mention the drape??

Relm

The issue hits news stands in December – but they seem to always start popping up early. The specs of the whole issue will go live on Knit.1′s site on Monday, so be sure to check out what the other bloggers have served up.

Relm

I feel like I can’t shut up about the cold weather, but I really love it. Multiple layers of handknitting get to be worn daily – it’s what I spend most of the year waiting for! I hope you’re enjoying it too.

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And enjoy the issue!