Archives for category: Cables

This week I’ll be conducting a few short Q&A sessions with our design team to allow them to talk candidly about some of their new pieces from the Fall collection. Today we start with Michele Wang who has been a member of our in-house design team since Fall 2011.

JF: Hi, Michele! Thanks for hopping on the blog today to share a bit about your work with us!

MW: Hello there! I love this opportunity to be able to talk about the work I’m able to contribute to our team. Very exciting!

JF: To me your knits are always recognizable. You definitely have a “signature” quality in your sweater designs, particularly in your use of texture and ornamentation. Can you talk a little bit about that?

MW:  Texture is something I’ve always tried to work into my art.  When I painted, I love to incorporate huge dollops of paint to add more life to the surface. When I would sketch on newsprint, I loved to crumple up the paper first, then draw on it using the hills, valleys and bends in the paper to lend some direction.  For me, texture not only adds interest visually, but also tactilely.   So when it comes to hand knitwear, I think building texture into a piece is especially exciting.  Not only do you get to appreciate it when it’s worn, but as the knitter, you can experience it as you’re creating, too.  I often find myself running my fingers over my fabric as it comes off of the needles every inch or so.

JF: We’ve been calling your Stonecutter pullover a “Symphony of Cables” around the studio. Can you share a bit about your inspiration for this piece and the process you underwent to execute the design?

MW:  I had started noticing elements of biasing in knitwear design.  I don’t know if this is something new, or just something I have been tuned into lately.  But, what was catching my eye was the creative use of biasing on one portion of a garment to exaggerate shaping, or to give a contrasting drape to a particular section of a design.  With cabling in mind, I wanted to use biased cables to change the shape of the pullover’s silhouette, instead of traditional increasing, decreasing or short rows.

I had a lot of false starts with Stonecutter.  The angle of the cable was either too steep or too flat, or the cable wasn’t beefy enough, or it was too thick and unflattering.  The biggest challenge was finding the right fabric for the areas below and above the biasing.  I knew I didn’t want anything overly flared at the sides like a traditional peplum silhouette, and my first attempts were just that.  So when I thought about which stitch patterns bring in and control fabric, I decided to simply carry up the 2×2 ribbing.  A classic example of overthinking a problem, only to arrive at the simplest solution.

As for the center panel, I initially wanted a cable motif that would fit between the start of the biased cables.  My main concern was the pattern writing.  After working out the angles and the sloping, however, I knew the center motif would have to grow out of the biasing in the same way the the side cables did.  This added a layer of complexity to the pattern writing, and how we were going to best express that.  In the end, I’m so happy that I didn’t let the challenge of the writing get in the way of the design.

Overall, what I really wanted was a symphony of cables.  A pullover that was completely adorned with twists and turns, keeping your eyes and hands busy while knitting, viewing or wearing. (Charting the design was obviously a huge help!)

JF: And at the risk of sounding like a complete nerd, the charts within the pattern are completely beautiful in and of themselves!

MW: OK, let’s nerd out. I love love love that chart. I love it almost as much as the sweater itself.

Usually, I do a lot of swatching, then I hit Illustrator and build out the charted fabric, and  finally knit it up. This sweater, however, required me to go back and forth quite a few times. When working on a chart, I (and I suspect most designers) am so focused on each stitch and row. Once I was able to sit back and look at the chart in its entirety, though, I honestly did a little jiggle in my chair out of sheer excitement. There is something so satisfying in seeing a technical rendition of the stitches in black and white. It’s second only to seeing the stitches come alive while you’re knitting.

JF: Stonecutter has already been a big hit with knitters on Ravelry. What design details do you think make this sweater special?

MW:  I do love the biased cable detail.  It gives just a touch of flair and waist shaping that I find so flattering.  I also love the rollneck.  It’s not very unique or different, but I had originally planned to do a simple 2×2 ribbed neckline.  Once I got to the top, though, I realized the simple tubular shape of the rollneck itself would mimic a cable and that was really the only way to go.

It’s also no secret that I like faux cables.  With increases and decreases you can easily imitate the shifting of stitches as if you were performing traveling cables.  But, how does one imitate a twist?  By using a smocking detail when two traveling cables meet, the illusion of a twist appears by wrapping the yarn around those stitches.  It’s only used once in the center panel, and I love it because it’s a little hidden gem the knitter will come across when they get to that row.

JF: Any tips to share with knitters who would like to undertake this project?

MW:  One tip, which would go for any project, is to read over the entire pattern and take a look at the charts.  The main chart is very large and can seem intimidating, but it’s really straightforward, and the knitting is quite easy.  The two sides of the chart are mirrored, which makes memorizing the chart much easier than you might think. If you’ve cabled before, you won’t have any problems.   (And if you’ve never cabled without a cable needle, this would be a good project to start!)

My other tip, which is also universal, is to swatch – and make a big swatch.  When fabricating a garment, there is nothing more important than making a swatch and accurately measuring gauge.  It would break my heart hear that someone had to frog this sweater because it came out too big or too small. Along those same lines, when determining which size to make, always err on the side of more positive ease, rather than less.  Cabling makes for a very thick and bulky fabric and you’ll also probably be wearing a layer underneath.

JF: Great advice, for everyone really. Thanks again Michele for joining me today!

MW: Thank you for having me! We should definitely do this more often.

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Stay tuned this week on the blog for more conversations with our in-house design team!

Have I had lace and cable combinations on the brain? Yes. Yes, I have.

When designing, I like thinking about macro versus micro: how the small details (which are often the original fodder for a concept) co-exist within a larger “environment”. In garment design this often involves thinking about how shape, silhouette and fit integrate with smaller details (be they technical or aesthetic) in order to achieve harmony across the whole. The process always feels like a negotiation to me: the further along a design gets, reigning in small details in service of the whole (or vice versa) is often a requisite process.

With Bray we have what I like to call a “three bears” situation: one large cable, one medium cable, and one small lace motif, combined in a single fabric and arranged in a way that applies to a broader “macro” application within a garment. The larger cables are placed along “suspender” lines and are the boldest vertical element, while the medium horseshoe and small lace insertions fill the remaining areas. I love how the heaviness of the cables is in contrast with the see-through eyelet columns, which contrast a feeling of lightness against the chiseled horseshoe cables.

The sleeves are worked in reverse stockinette to keep the focus on the body fabric (without overwhelming the wearer with texture overload). The yoke of the garment is a hybrid between a raglan and saddle shoulder: the first two-thirds of the sleeve cap is shaped as a true raglan until the width of the saddle is achieved. At that point the saddle is worked back and forth and shaped at the very top with a graduated bind off to give a more graceful curve to the finished neckline. The upper body pieces are also fashioned with two different sloping rates. This shaping keeps the shoulders from becoming too pointy or angular, as is sometimes the case with a saddle that does a 45° turn over the shoulder. (I’ve included the schematic below to show these different areas.)

On Wednesday I wrote about falling in love with a stitch pattern and not feeling “done” with it after finishing a single iteration of a design. This situation definitely applied to the Bray design as well. After wrapping up work on the pullover, my play with this fabric still felt incomplete, so I translated it into a hat design as well. Such fun!

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?

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.

The Hugo pullover is a modern take on the traditional fisherman’s gansey – with its low-relief allover cable motifs paired with handsome moss stitch. The traditional layout of cables contrasts more modern elements like the slashed ribbed turtleneck and updated silhouette.

Hugo‘s proportions sit closer to the body than a traditional pullover for a slimming effect; the long sleeves cover the full wrist while the body falls just below the belt line. This stylish silhouette creates an eye-catching update to the historic ganseys we all know and love.

Véronik chose to work up her design in Shelter‘s “Stormcloud” colorway – a rich, warm grey that features undertones of both brown and blue. A surprisingly versatile color, it pairs with both warm tones (as photographed), or cooler blue and grey shades (any shade of denim).

The slashed ribbed turtleneck has a garter stitch placket with snap closures, though it can be easily modified to feature traditional buttons/buttonholes, or knit circularly as a more traditional stand-up collar.

Today feels like a very “full-circle” experience for me as we release our very first collection of knitting patterns exclusively for men.

It doesn’t feel like so long ago that I was a new knitter, searching for male sweater patterns that suited my own tastes, needs, and abilities. Though the absence of such patterns was perhaps the single most influential factor in my path towards knitwear design, I’ve always remembered the frustration I felt as a result of my limited options.

Knitting has taken me on quite an unexpected and wonderful journey since then, and all along the way I’ve daydreamed about creating patterns for men that might help those knitters who find themselves in the same place that I was then – be you a male knitter yourself, or any knitter with a husband, brother, son, partner or friend who has at one time or another made that sacred request for a handknit sweater or accessory.

Last year, when I pitched the idea of a men’s collection to the design team, an immediate excitement engulfed. That fervor stayed strong all throughout the process – we’ve had a great time putting all the puzzle pieces of this collection together. In designing, we set out to create knits that were understated and easy to wear, but maintained details that made them special (and enjoyable to make by hand).

Selfishly, I loved having the excuse to design and create some of the pieces that I’ve been been wishing were in my own closet for quite some time!

The look book features the entire collection – 8 garments and 5 accessories – that cover a range of skill (and commitment) levels, from beginner to advanced.

 

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We hope you enjoy our first small contribution to the genre of men’s knits!

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Resources: The BT Men 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.

 

Hitch was designed by Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark in Alabama and has a great casual elegance about it. The dolman shape means that the garment is made with two pieces (front and back, with sleeves integrated). If you look closely at the direction of the garter stitch on the cuffs, you’ll see that the sleeves are worked sideways as a result.

While swatching at the beginning of the design process, Mercedes fell hard for this cable – which she said reminded her of thick links of chain (our inspiration for naming the design) – and built the rest of the sweater as a suitable “frame” for it.

I think the proportions are great – the deep garter hem, the front-only panel of chain cables, three-quarter sleeves and a wide boat neck. The fabric is lightweight – worked in Loft at a relaxed gauge – which means it has that “easy to throw on” thing going for it, too.

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Resources: Hitch is available as a PDF download at Brooklyn Tweed or Ravelry. The pattern is knit with Loft yarn, shown here in color Tent.

Is it May already? This time of year always seems to fly right by – before you know it winter has slipped through the cracks and summer is right around the corner. The past few weeks have been positively delightful weather-wise; a late spring, but one that was definitely worth the wait!

Today I’m happy to announce our newest collaborative effort – the fifth (!) installment in our ongoing Wool People series is all polished up and ready for spring and summer knitting!

Back in August when I began mapping out the concepts and art direction for this collection, I thought it would be fun to do a sort of “shawl challenge” – since spring always seems to be the time when my own lace bug reawakens, hungry for a new project. Lace is perfect for outdoor knitting and travel, two things that many of us will do often in the coming months. I love how something as lightweight and portable as an in-progress shawl packs so much value in terms of both knitting time and mental satisfaction.

Standing on this end of the collection timeline, it’s rewarding to see finished design work from the 7 “lace whisperers” featured in this spread. A nice variety of both lace & textured stitch patterns, simple to more involved techniques, and essential shapes to knit and wear – all worked in soft and airy Loft.

Of course at the core, we are sweater people – no matter what the season – and this collection has more than just lace to offer. I received some beautiful garment and accessory design submissions in this group: great looks for layering during the evenings in chillier summer climates (you lucky people) or in anticipation of next fall. Both the Reverb cardigan and the Bolt scarf (shown below) just scream for autumn, and there’s plenty of knitting time to get them done!

The look book introduces the collection in its entirety with full page photography spreads showcasing the new designs along with blueprints that are intended to introduce the architectural/technical elements of each pattern. When considering a new knitting project, I always like knowing what I’m getting into with a schematic “road map” and some notes on construction, shape and assembly.

Between the aesthetic and technical components of the look book, I hope you’ll enjoy getting to know this new collection of work. Happy spring to each of you!

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Resources: The Wool People 5 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 flagship retail locations.

2013 has been quite a hectic year around here so far! On top of the regular day-to-day operations that make BT tick, we spent January moving into a fresh new space – a much needed move, but definitely disruptive! – as well as putting the finishing touches on our design team’s new winter collection.

This release feels particularly timely today, as we endure another week of below-freezing temps here in the Northeast. An assortment of cozy wool knits sounds like just the ticket, to me!

The four of us (Véronik Avery, Julie Hoover, Michele Wang, and myself) had an absolute blast working on this collection. Probably no surprise there – winter is one season where our yarns feel right at home.

For this collection, we set out to tell three distinct stories. The first – my personal favorite – is a modern take on traditional colorwork. (My trip to Iceland last summer certainly influenced my own designs. I just couldn’t get those beautiful colorwork yokes out of my head until I tried creating one myself!) The second story features knitted loungewear in shades of grey and cream – a tonal, romantic story inspired by cozy afternoons at home. The final story – classic winterwear – is rife with cables, colors and textures that are perfect for snow days.

The full collection features 18 original knitting patterns – all of which are now available for instant download. The designs in this group truly cover a diverse range, from thoughtful accessories that can be knit over a casual weekend, to deeper, more significant undertakings that will keep you company through several long winter evenings.

You can view photographs of each new design, as well as pattern-specific information, schematic diagrams, and a photo essay about our shoot location (Hudson, NY) in the look book below (click “full screen” for enhanced viewing). Free copies of the look book PDF are also available for download here.

On behalf of the entire design team  – we hope you enjoy seeing what we’ve cooked up for snow season!

Stay warm, and be well.

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Resources: The Winter 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 flagship retail locations.

 

We’ve been dropping teasers for a few days over on our Facebook page, and this morning our newest creation is all ready to leave the nest! Today I’m very happy to introduce the fourth installment in our ongoing Wool People series! This issue features 15 new patterns from some of our favorite independent designers in the industry and offers a satisfying variety of sweaters, shawls and accessories.

Since the weeks and months leading up to the holidays tend to be consumed by (sometimes stressful) gift knitting, we thought launching in late December would offer some much needed incentive for getting those gifts finished. We all know the prospect of new patterns are often an essential component to finishing your WIPs, just in case the looming holidays weren’t enough!

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Each year when winter comes around, the urge for cable knits always wells up inside of me. It never fails. When I was organizing the mood boards and art direction for this collection I had that thought on my mind, so you’ll find several beautiful cable projects tucked into the pages of the Look Book.

We also love our shawls at Brooklyn Tweed – can’t get enough of ‘em – so we’ve got three new ones here. Its difficult to pick a favorite!

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We shot the collection earlier this month at the very inspirational Old American Can Factory on the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn. The maze-like industrial complex was constructed between the years of 1865 and 1901 and has recently been reclaimed/repurposed by artists and craftspeople as a studio community. What was once a 130,000 sq. foot industrial canning complex is now an inspiring enclave of creative minds who have breathed new life into this bewitching place.

A dear friend of mine has a studio there and on a recent visit I was completely besotted with the giant steel doorways, long brick corridors, cavernous elevator shafts, and texture-filled courtyard. It seemed like the perfect place to bring our woolens on photoshoot day!

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It’s such a rewarding moment when the finished samples start arriving into our offices, and even more-so when it comes time to photograph them all together. It’s one of those “whole is greater than the sum of its parts” kind of moments, and truly magical seeing each designer’s concepts spring off the page and come to life.

The new Look Book is filled with photo spreads of the each garment and accessory in the collection. We’ve also included schematic diagrams, design specs and pertinent pattern information in the “Pattern Blueprints” section, so you can get to know the designs from a technical standpoint as well. Feel free to view directly in your browser below, or download a PDF for viewing on your devices.

All 15 patterns from the collection are available today as instant PDF downloads both on Ravelry and brooklyntweed.net. We hope to offer some inspiration for the final days of 2012 – happy knitting to all!

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Resources: The 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. Brooklyn Tweed yarns used in the collection are available for purchase online or at one of our flagship retail locations.