Over the last few years, we’ve had the absolute pleasure to stock yarns and patterns from Brooklyn Tweed (our current project is with their newest, Peerie!). Committed to sourcing and producing 100% American yarns, they’re passionate about the fiber industry and community – two of the many reasons why we’ve been longtime admirers of the brand. We’re delighted to welcome them to our blog.
The story behind BT is inspiring, can you share a bit about its history and where the company is today?
Brooklyn Tweed started in 2005 as a knitting blog penned by Jared Flood. As he immersed himself in the knitting community, he eventually began to research the ins and outs of yarn manufacturing. As a knitter and spinner, Jared was taken with the idea of creating a yarn with an elegant yet rustic hand and a transparent supply chain — something that he wasn’t able to readily find on the market at that time. With this in mind, Shelter, Brooklyn Tweed’s first yarn, was born in October 2010.
Since then, the company has evolved to produce six core yarns, 3 worsted-spun and 3 woolen-spun, each manufactured in the United States with domestically sourced, breed-specific wool. We also recently released Ranch 01, our first yarn in an on-going series of single-batch releases that feature fiber from a ranch-specific source. This project allows us to work with smaller operations than is possible for a core yarn line and gives us the opportunity to highlight what are known as reputation fleeces from ranches around the country that are doing truly inspiring and noteworthy work. (The Rambouillet fiber used for Ranch 01 was sourced from The Bare Ranch in Surprise Valley, CA, spun at Jagger Brothers mill in Springvale, ME, and naturally-dyed at Green Matters Natural Dye Company in Lancaster County, PA.)
Brooklyn Tweed also releases knitwear patterns that are designed with polished details and knitting techniques that will help you grow your skills as a knitter. It’s important to us that the patterns we release are wearable and timeless so that you can enjoy many years wearing your handknits. The seasonal collections we release in fall and winter are designed by the Brooklyn Tweed Design Team members. We also release an annual Wool People collection which showcases the work of guest designers worldwide.
Today, we have a small but dedicated staff based out of our HQ in Portland, OR. Our team has a passion for wool and reviving our domestic textile system, as well as their own individual motivations for knitting and participating in the slow fashion movement. We consider ourselves very lucky to be able to work as a close-knit team surrounded both internally and externally by unique, talented, and motivated makers.
As we continue our work, we look forward to overcoming the unique challenges that present themselves while working within the constraints of the American textile industry, and are nothing but optimistic about the possibilities that the future holds for the knitting industry as a whole.
Along with beautiful yarns, you also have an extensive pattern library. How do patterns come about?
Pattern collections usually stem from an idea or theme first conceptualized by Jared, which is then translated into a mood board that is shared with the designers. The Brooklyn Tweed Design Team meets together in person for a design retreat once a year where they contribute their knitterly interpretations of the mood board and discuss their designs for the upcoming collections. This process allows them to collaborate and receive feedback from their colleagues, as well as an opportunity to get excited about each other’s creative work. The inspiration at these retreats often fuels ideas for future collections.
The Wool People collection starts much the same way, with an idea and a mood board, and also a call for submissions that we send out to those who have signed up for our Wool People mailing list. The patterns submitted to us are then carefully combed through by Jared and our Creative Coordination team. These collections are especially invigorating because of the range of design perspectives that the selected group of designers brings to the table.
Your Foundation Series on your blog is so resourceful – we love sharing them! Are you planning to keep that going?
As lifelong learners, we are very enthusiastic about the Foundations Series and have plans to go beyond the basics as we add resources in the future. Continuing the tradition of knitting is a core value of ours and we hope to provide inspiration to learn new techniques or skills as you grow as a knitter. Most of the Brooklyn Tweed team members knit and we each have a wealth of knitting knowledge that we are eager to share. We feel it is important for us to be generous with what we’ve learned in our own knitting journeys and wish to share those things with our wonderful knitting community. The Foundations Series posts are a way for us to do just that!
The posts are released as a component of our monthly newsletter, Outpost, on the first Wednesday of every month. Be sure to keep an eye out for the next installment of Outpost if you, like us, find the technical aspects of knitting to be incredibly interesting. We love to “geek out” with other knitters about the nuances of technique.
You’ve been going to more events as well as hosting some. What’s in store for BT this year?
There have been many exciting developments in our outreach efforts this past year, and we’re so excited to be out in the world more and more.
This past January we founded a non-profit in an effort to further build connections within our local maker community. Though Portland, OR isn’t lacking in creativity, the geography of the city can make it challenging for makers and creatives to gather together in one location. It’s for this reason that we wanted to start initiatives outside of the business aspects of Brooklyn Tweed that would help bring together our creative community in a real and authentic way. Our non-profit, The Brooklyn Tweed Foundation, is dedicated to the promotion and preservation of visual, auditory, and tactile art forms and we’ve seen our first initiative, Knitting Culture, well underway with an exciting line up of speakers who are making our mission to weave together people and ideas come to life. The Knitting Culture series is hosted on a monthly basis and is an opportunity to hold space for people in our community to connect, regardless of creative practice, and encourage one another creative growth. So far we’ve had the pleasure, and privilege, of hearing from many interesting individuals including Rebecca Burgess of Fibershed and Clara Parkes.
It’s always such fun and so inspiring to follow along with you on social media + your blog. Where can our readers find you?
You can find us on both Instagram and Twitter at @brooklyntweed, as well as on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Brooklyn-Tweed-108685452500201/. The Brooklyn Tweed blog can be found on our website: https://www.brooklyntweed.com/news/.
Thank you for having us, Monarch Knitting!
Such an insightful interview! Many thanks to Brooklyn Tweed for taking the time. We’ve hoped you’ve enjoyed getting to know a little more about Brooklyn Tweed just as much as we have. We cannot wait for Wool People 12!