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!

This week we’re heading out west for Madrona Fiber Arts in Tacoma, Washington. Madrona is a special show that is well-loved by so many, and for good reason! Several aspects make this one of my own personal favorites among knitting events: the intimate and friendly vibe, the glass-art-filled hotel, a strong communal love of natural fibers, and a line-up of standout instructors and vendors to name a few. (Admittedly, I’m also biased by the fact that the event is held in my home town.)

We will be staked out in the marketplace all weekend – sharing a large booth with our friends at Churchmouse Yarns & Teas. We’ve got the booth packed to the gills with all 32 colors of both Shelter and Loft, so if you’re in the need of some quality US-grown wool, stop on by!

We’ll also be featuring the trunk show from our brand new BT Winter 13 collection throughout the weekend in the booth – all 24 samples that were featured in the look book will be available for visitors to try on.

Finally, I’ll be joined by three of our in-house designers (Julie Hoover, Leila Raabe, & Michele Wang) on Saturday from 10-2 for a meet-and-greet/pattern signing in the rotunda. We’ve prepared some visual displays that  illustrate our team’s design process so that knitters can get a taste of how things look behind the scenes when we’re putting together a new design collection.

It’s certainly shaping up to be a fun and busy weekend; for those attending, we hope to see you there!

One of my favorite designs from the new winter collection is Grettir – a unisex Icelandic yoked pullover that I designed late last summer, after returning from my first-ever trip to beautiful Iceland.

The Icelandic yoke is a celebrated regional aesthetic that has seen increased global popularity in recent years. And though I’ve seen several of them in the US (in the streets of NYC, in advertising, etc), it wasn’t until I went to Iceland and witnessed these beautiful garments in their “natural habitat” that they really cast their spell over me.

Icelanders are proud of their knitting heritage, and taking a walk down any street in Reykjavik you’re likely to encounter several different variations of their signature colorwork yoke. What appealed to me most was how universal and utilitarian these garments are treated there – you’ll see them on all kinds of folks, regardless of age or profession. Even better, they look so lived-in, well-worn and loved – it is such a satisfying sight!

When I returned to the states, I resolved to research this classic yoke formula (pretty straightforward, once you get the hang of it!) and give it a go with an original design; Grettir is the result.

Another thing that really appeals to me about these designs is their versatility and ease of sizing. As long as you end up at the base of the colorwork portion with a multiple of 8 stitches on your needle, the yoke will work. Of course, yoke depth is an area that needs to be heeded (in the pattern I’ve designed four different variations of the yoke – each one slightly deeper than the next – to take care of that area).

Perhaps the best part of all, though: these are so much fun to knit! They seem to fly off your needles (at least relative to most sweater projects). Each piece is worked circularly from hem/cuff to underarm (mindless, therapy knitting if you ask me). Just when you are ready for something a little more exciting, you join your pieces together for a feast of colorwork. As you work the yoke, your rounds get smaller and smaller (faster and faster) which is certainly a motivator for the final sprint to the finish line. After the knitting is done, a simple graft at the underarms is all that’s left! No seaming, no complicated construction, just beautiful, seamless knitting at its best. (And suddenly I’m feeling the urge to make yet another.)

Both the men’s and women’s version have waist shaping: a very subtle amount for the guys, just enough to bring the waist in a touch so that there isn’t a ton of extra fabric hanging loose at the back (imperceptible when worn), and a more pronounced waist in the women’s version. The men’s yoke is deeper than the women’s as well. The schematic diagrams below show the difference between the two silhouettes.

 

 

Finally, I included two options for the neckline. I’ve had turtlenecks on the brain (I often do when it’s cold outside) so added a nice cozy one to the women’s version. If you prefer a cleaner finish, though, a rolled crew neck will be a better choice (pictured on the men’s version).

The garment uses a total of 4 colors – the main sweater color, plus 3 additional shades for the yoke. The possibilities are endless for how to combine colors here, and I could be happy just designing new combinations again and again. I’m really excited to see what colors you knitters combine!

As for the name – why Grettir? While visiting the northern coast of the country, I met a storyteller who recounted the amazing saga of Grettir – the longest surviving outlaw in Icelandic history. (Interested? More here.) I was particularly intrigued by the final chapter in the story: Grettir’s demise on the rocky cliffs of Drangey, a fortress-like stone island off the coast; an monolithic sight, visible from the very shoreline where I sat when hearing this tale.

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The Grettir pullover pattern includes a range of sizes for both men and women – full specs for each version can be found here at Brooklyn Tweed or on Ravelry.com. The design uses four colors of Brooklyn Tweed Shelter.

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.

 

I recently had the honor of being interviewed by Design Sponge for a feature in their Studio Tours column. In the article I talk about my design process, inspiration, and  workspace (plenty of photos too!) – click here to read the full article. You’ll also get a sneak peak at a few new knits we will be releasing very soon… 

A big thanks to Design Sponge for having me!

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.

It’s time to announce another fun project that we’ve been cooking up behind the scenes – this one has been a lot of fun, and I’m so thrilled with the end result!

Today we unveil a set of limited edition Brooklyn Tweed Sweater Cards – the result of a collaboration between the BT Design Team and Vancouver-based watercolor artist Mark Hall-Patch. Each pack contains 15 blank gift cards (with envelopes) and features 5 different commissions artworks featuring garments from our collection archive. Read on for the full story!

One afternoon last winter, when I was surfing the internet on one of my regular inspiration binges, I stumbled across some beautiful, minimalist watercolors by Mark and was struck by their delicate, poetic style. I immediately purchased a small water color for my own studio – a well-loved and slightly tattered Cowichan sweater – and when it arrived in the mail I was delighted to see that the in-person experience of viewing the painting was even more enchanting than my virtual one (as all good art should be!).

For several months I’d been kicking around the idea of finding an artist – be it a painter, illustrator or photographer – to collaborate with on some kind of special project for BT. When Mark’s painting arrived on my doorstep, the idea for these cards hit me like a ton of bricks. I promptly contacted the artist to see if he’d be interested in exploring some ideas.

I was further delighted to learn that Mark – a sensitive & sweet guy, as it turns out – loves collaborating on projects of this nature. Before we even finished our first conversation, we were setting to work on the details. I began by photographing several garments and accessories from the BT Pattern Archive. We then assembled the finished photos and started discussing which designs seemed to group themselves together naturally. Before long, we had landed on five projects, all in varying shades of grey and cream. (Shocking!)

A few months later – after Mark had carefully created each piece – five beautiful watercolors arrived at BT Headquarters, looking even better than I had hoped for.

The paintings are small – worked with tiny brushes and a very delicate hand. My personal challenge was to get as much of the original detail into the reproductions as possible. I also wanted the art to be reproduced in its actual size on the finished cards, so your experience would be as close to holding an original as possible.

So enough story telling – onto the art work! I’ve photographed each of the five paintings below, placing them aside the photos of their inspiration garments (we threw a pair of mittens in  for fun, too).

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I always find it refreshing to shake things up a bit and play around with new ways of experiencing our yarns and pattern designs. This was such an enjoyable process, we’re already on the hunt for some new creative folks to team up with!

Sweater Cards are available today on our web site here (or click any of the images above); each pack contains 15 cards (3 copies each of 5 paintings) with envelopes. Card dimensions are 4½” wide by 6¼” tall (A6).

If you are interested in seeing more of Mark’s painting and illustration work, you can visit his web site here. If you’re interested in any of the patterns pictured, those can all be found on our web site or Ravelry.

At BT Headquarters we’ve been busy preparing some special woolly treats for the holiday season. When we started thinking about good gift ideas for knitters, handknitting kits seemed like a great option since they are so versatile! They of course make great gifts for knitters, but are equally useful as a way of treating yourself to something special, or even gifting the finished project on its own (two birds with one stone).

We’ve put together a selection of four handknitting kits from the BT pattern archive and assembled them in brown paper packages (tied up with string… we couldn’t resist) so they’re directly gift-able, with no additional wrapping or assembly required.

Each kit ships in our BT monogrammed brown bag tied with baker’s twine. Inside, you’ll find tissue-wrapped skeins of yarn nestled together with a beautifully printed pattern folio – everything your knitter needs for a lovely hand-making experience. Each of the four kits is shown below – just click the text links or kit images to be taken to the product pages for each individual kit.

 

The Habitat Kit is a perfect, low-commitment project for cable lovers – and is available in 6 different colors of Shelter. This design has become a BT classic, and is one of my own go-to designs when I’m in need of a quick gift for a friend or family member that still feels unique and special. It’s also a great design for knitters wanting to sharpen their skills at cabling-without-a-cable-needle (in my book, it’s one of the most essential tricks for cable knitters) or just cabling in general. This design has plenty of simple cable crosses, but doesn’t require the same daunting commitment as an allover cabled garment, tempting as they are.

 

The Rosebud Kit offers knitters a choice between a beanie or slouchy silhouette – either style can be made with this kit. The hat features an oversized braided cable (a real beauty) on a garter stitch background – a cozy thing that looks great on just about everyone. With each kit we tried to choose a good mix of colors from both our neutral palette as well as our brighter, more colorful lineup – click through to the kit pages to see which colors are offered for each.

 

If you’re on the hunt for some knitting you can really sink your teeth into, the Sempervivum Shawl Kit might be just the ticket, especially if lace is your passion. We had such fun choosing colors for this one – I  think the shawl would look amazing in any of the 7 shades available, choosing just one may be the biggest challenge of all. A triangular shawl wrapped up loosely around the neck is such a great way to get a little color pop into even the greyest of wardrobes… though we were sure to include a grey and brown option as well, naturally.

 

Finally – we kitted up one of our customer favorites from the pattern shop – the Guernsey Wrap. Though the shape couldn’t be simpler, it’s so easy to get lost in those hypnotic fisherman sweater textures, striping along as you go. This project is a great reminder that simple projects requiring only knits and purls don’t have to be boring. I remember knitting the very first sample during the summer of 2010 – it was such a comforting project to end up with at the end of the workday. The Guernsey Wrap Kit is stuffed with 5 skeins of Shelter for hours of wool love in every bag.

 

For those of you with knitters in your life, we hope these offer some good gift ideas (or something to add to your own wish list)! The kits are currently available in limited supply, but we’ll be doing our best to keep them stocked through the holidays, so enjoy and happy knitting/kitting!

What a wonderful holiday Thanksgiving is – one of my very favorites. Slowing down, enjoying the coziness of home with food and family (in the broadest sense of the word).

We wanted to say thank you to all of our readers and customers for your continued support and friendship.

Wishing you a special day, no matter where your table is.