Monday, January 12, 2015

Brooklyn Tweed obsession

I've been knitting for 30 years and have never tired of it.  I love the rhythm and the pace.  One time I tried out a knitting machine and HATED it.  Production is not the goal.

About 2 years ago, I started working with a group of friends to teach them to knit.  It re-kindled my own passion for the craft and, in the past 2 years, I have knit A LOT.  About that time, I discovered the design house of Brooklyn Tweed.  The founder, Jared Flood, is an alum of my college -- The University of Puget Sound in Washington, although much younger than me for sure.

Brooklyn Tweed is American wool start to finish.  The colors are vivid yet neutral and the flecks in the tweed make for a garment with depth of texture.  Sure winner -- and I'm addicted.

The first BT sweater I made did not use their yarn but it is their pattern.  This is Runa but knit in luscious cashmere.  I made a cashmere sweater years ago that just kept getting bigger and bigger.  I had used 2 strands of 100% cashmere and knit it on a size 9 needle.  I knew someday I would rip it out and knit something else (I've done this several times with cashmere.  Too precious to waste).  Pulling out both strands was a total nightmare but I did it and had plenty of yarn for this hooded cardigan, 2 cowls, and some gloves.  I love the hood on this sweater and it was the perfect sweater to use a natural horn button my mom had given me many years ago.

Now I set out to knit a BT design with BT yarn.  This is Tilda knit in their heavier gauge yarn, Shelter.  This is a very neutral shade called Foothills.  The edging is in Artifact.  I followed the pattern pretty closely but found I needed WAY less yarn than called for.  I still have 3 skeins left and the sweater is a little big on me.  My gauge is markedly different from what the pattern says so I had to convert stitches and rows.  No big deal.  I used horn buttons on this one also.  BT patterns have lots of little details.  Tilda has a nice eyelet detail running parallel to the raglan sleeve and also has a beautiful cable panel up the front.  I especially like the rolled edge on the button placket and the way the buttons create a little wave up the front.  Nice.

The thinner BT yarn is called Loft and I have used that exclusively for the last few sweaters.  I knit it on a size 4.  First was Hitch.  Yarns are Blanket Fort, Faded Quilt, and Almanac.  The pattern only calls for 1 color but I needed some thing to hold my interest for that wide garter panel at the bottom.  My gauge variation caused problems on this one.  The pattern is a dolman sleeve with a panel of 5 cables up the front.  My gauge was so much bigger that I had to re-do the entire front of the sweater and only use 3 panels.  5 panels was too wide for the neck given my gauge.  Total pain to rip all that out.  I also did not like the dolman shape on my body.  So, when I ripped out to re-do the cables, I re-did the pattern and made it a standard drop shoulder.  DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME.  Lots of effort and re-knitting.  But, the sweater now looks great and is flattering and I wear it a lot.

Lots of extra mauve yarn leftover after this one so I decided to do a little cardigan with some color work at the bottom to use things up.  The main color is Postcard which is a pale pink.  The bottom is a panel of linen stitch using the various colors.  I wish I'd made this one about 2 inches longer as it is a little cropped with the current state of my winter body.  But, with these spring colors and some winter workouts maybe I'll be less self-conscious in a few months!

Again, I ended up with tons of extra yarn even though I consciously ordered less than the pattern called for.  So, now I needed to use up some mauve, light blue, and dark blue.  Here is the current project on my needles.  It's my own pattern and design and uses a stitch pattern called Welting Fantastic.  I believe it's in Barbara Walker's First Treasury of Knitting Patterns, one of my most-used source books.  I've used this pattern on baby hats, scarves, and countless projects.  It makes it easy to add color or even novelty yarn to create interest.  I added 3 colors to the mix:  Snowbound (very pale grey), Button Jar (green), and Plume (purple).  I'm using the stitch pattern throughout the front and back.  I haven't figured out what I'm going to do for the sleeves.  I also made the bottom 5 inches a little wider by adding 2 stitches to each repeat of the pattern.  Then I decreased those stitches so the bottom flares just slightly.  This will be a pullover with rounded neck.

The yarns are beautifully spun and gorgeous.  I highly recommend the patterns as well.  Tons of detail and a modern twist on classic stitch patterns.  I really love the thinner Loft yarn.  Today's obsession with arm knitting and super chunky accessories appeals to me not at all.  I love a detailed cable or intricate lace done on needles so thin the develop a bend in the bamboo.  It might take longer, but I do believe I will wear these sweaters far longer than some crazy cowl that feels like a neck brace.  But that's just me, maybe.

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