Archives for category: Cables

Today we continue our Design Team Conversations series with Julie Hoover. Julie joined our team in the Fall of 2012 and has been designing regularly for Brooklyn Tweed since. Today Julie and I talk a little bit about her design aesthetic and her new garment Jules from our Fall Collection.

JF: Good morning, Julie! Thanks for joining me in blog land. Ready to talk shop a bit?

JH: Good morning, Jared! I’m ready – fire away!

JF: You definitely bring a clean, sophisticated aesthetic to our team. When it comes to designing knitwear, how would you describe your style?

JH: While the answer is somewhat nuanced in my head, I would say my style is the intersection where modern meets classic.  To me, that translates to a style that feels very fresh and contemporary but will still remain at home in your closet over time.

A minimal aesthetic reads consistently throughout all my work – whether it’s putting together an interior space or designing print packaging – and clearly, this translates into my knitwear designs: simple, perfected details, nothing too fussy or overcomplicated.

JF: Jules is a fantastic shape and both comfortable and flattering when worn. What was your inspiration for this piece?

JH: I love how Jules came together.  My starting point for this piece was the cocoon shape.   I’ve been somewhat obsessed with non-traditional hemline treatments as a design feature, and I think the cocoon shape is one of the most flattering on most figures.  I’ll experiment more with this shape, for sure.

Even though I envisioned short sleeves, I also wanted to create a piece that could be worn from fall through winter, so I chose to go with Shelter instead of Loft to create a warmer fabric.  Even with the short sleeves, it’s still warm enough to be worn alone.

The cable detail was also part of my original plan, although it wasn’t until I started thinking in terms of construction that I decided to put some of the shaping inside (between) the cables to enhance the silhouette. Visually, it widens the cables from hemline to shoulders rather than having them travel straight up vertically.

JF: I love that detail. It works as a sort of slimming optical illustion too, which is great on a boxier shape like this. We all knew you loved this garment from the very beginning – you were psyched to get started on it in our initial concept meeting for the collection.

JH: Any garment I’m keen to give my own nickname has to be a personal favorite, right!?

JF: You like designs that feature a healthy amount of wearing ease, and often have an oversized fit or feel. Can you talk a little bit about that?

JH: Oh yes, guilty.

If you were to look in my closet, the majority of my wardrobe fits into two camps. I have dozens of tailored button-up shirts, men’s style slacks and skirts from my agency work days. I also have a large pile of casual linen tops and boyfriend jeans for my mom and work-from-home life.  When it comes to my collection of knitwear, those pieces create the perfect opportunity to bridge the gap between those two worlds – easily layered, stylish, comfortable, and appropriate either place.  An oversized fit just works for putting a tick in all of those checkboxes. It’s the fit I gravitate toward, almost every time.

JF: (You’re preaching to the choir here – you know I love a good oversized woolly sweater, too!)

Our collections often include subtle details that can sometimes be overlooked or missed when viewers are looking at the images alone. Are there special details about the Jules pullover that you’d like to highlight for our readers?

JH: I think the photos used for this collection capture the details of Jules very well.  Perhaps the only thing that doesn’t come across is the dolman sleeve shaping.  The same goes for Idlewild.  If the model had been captured in a pose with her arms outstretched, it would have given a better idea of the width and shaping through that area that doesn’t translate with her arms close to her body.  The ribbing bands with tubular bind-offs are a thing of beauty, too.  And of course, photos can never capture the awesome smell of the wool…

JF: If only!

This has been great – thanks so much for taking some time to share more about your process with our readers, Julie!

JH: My pleasure, Jared. Happy fall knitting to everyone!

 

 

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.

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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.