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.

We wrap up this week’s blog posts with our third and final interview with Design Team member Véronik Avery. Véronik joined our design team in the Fall of 2012 – this collection marks her first year of working with us at BT. We got together this morning to chat a little about her Coal Cardigan design.

JF: Happy Friday, Véronik! Thanks for joining me today.

VA: Hi, Jared! Thank you for inviting me to join you here. I’ve been looking forward to it.

JF: I have always loved the way you combine a sensibility for traditional, classic knitwear with a modern (sometimes unexpected) twist. How would you describe your aesthetic when designing sweaters?

VA: I think my aesthetic is always evolving, but certain elements do return time and time again. I like having a sense of history as well as a story, which probably stems from my past costume design aspirations. Because of it, I don’t dress myself as much as I dress characters – whether real or imagined.

JF: What was your inspiration for the Coal Cardigan design?

VA: With the Coal Cardigan, I began as I often do with sketches. Sometimes a garment is already in mind before I pick up a pencil, but other times I simply start by playing with silhouettes and filling them in in various ways before an idea starts to take shape. With Coal, the idea was quite abstract and as the sketch started to take shape, it began to look like a knitted motorcycle jacket. Since I am not a big fan of literal renditions – especially knitted ones – I continued to strip it down to the elements which interested me most, such as the asymmetrical closure.

JF: There is some shaping on the back panel as well that contributes to the overall fit, yes?

VA: Yes there is – because I wanted to simplify the front shaping, I opted to flare out the back side seams, borrowing from shoulder shaping that is worked with twice as much angling in back so as to keep the front shoulder straight.

JF: Can you tell our readers a little more about the knitted details featured in the design?

VA: The traveling cables on the fronts necessitated several rounds of swatching; I tried increasing and decreasing, but my fabric formed such a bias that I worried that only enthusiastic blocking could straighten it. I then tried a more richly cabled surface knit with traveling stitches as in the final version, but all drape was lost. In the end, I opted for a more minimal amount of cabling and diagonal lines of knitted stitches against a reverse stockinette background.

JF: Where and how do you envision this garment being worn “in the wild”?

VA: Oh, there are so many options! One could style it in a streetwise way, and pair it with a slim fitting skirt or pants – perhaps leather ones. I know my daughter will probably wear it with one of her several pair of brightly colored mens-style trousers once it returns home and perhaps a pair of white Doc Martens.

JF: And how about styling for yourself?

VA: Were it in my size, I’d probably opt for an interesting skirt and tall leather boots. 

JF: Versatility is such a great quality in knitwear – it’s one of the things I love about the genre.

The design is great – thanks again for chatting more about it with me today, V!

VA: Anytime, Jared. Have a great day!

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?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Slade is for the guy who appreciates the coziness and charm of a deep shawl collar. The set-in sleeve cardigan is worked in pieces with a stockinette body and deep 2×2 ribbing at the hem and cuffs. The wide shawl collar, which creates a double-breasted front when buttoned, means that the stockinette fronts of the garment are rather skinny and can be knit quickly.

After assembling the finished sweater pieces, the ribbed collar/fronts are picked up onto one long circular needle – beginning at the lower edge of right front, up one side of the cardigan opening, around the back neck and back down the other side.

The deep ribbed band is worked in one piece to completion. Three buttonholes are worked at the halfway point and correspond to sewn-on buttons on the other side. For a more casual, relaxed look, buttons/buttonholes can be omitted altogether if the wearer prefer the cardigan open.

A good wet-blocking upon finishing will allow the front band to be blocked flat to reduce some of the natural elasticity of the ribbing. 100% wool yarns work beautifully in this process and create the well-behaved ribbed front shown above.