One of the benefits of PKG membership is the chance to interact with local makers. Our recent tour of Brooklyn Tweed’s headquarters in SE Portland was an incredible experience.
Customer Service Lead Jamie McCarthy and Office Manager Jen Hurley were our wonderful hosts, leading us through the gorgeous headquarters.
Luigi Boccia, co-owner of Brooklyn Tweed, told the story of how the brand started. Jared Flood, while an art student in New York, started a blog for knitters in 2005. Over the following decade, it grew into the exclusively US-sourced-and-spun wool yarn company.
Today, Luigi heads up Business Development and Jared is the Creative Director. Luigi stressed the business values of Brooklyn Tweed: respect for the wool, respect for the designers, respect for the team, respect for the producers, and respect for the customers.
Respect for the customers is demonstrated on the Brooklyn Tweed Resources page, which is packed full of information about knitting techniques, sweater size selection, and how to read charts and patterns. Their website isn't just a retail platform, it's a gift to their customers.
One highlight was Jared talking with Amy about her 5190 Miles shawl made from Loft. It’s not every day you get to share your finished project with a maker.
Our visit serendipitously occured on the launch of Ranch 01, Brooklyn Tweed’s first small-batch, breed-specific yarns. This limited edition collection is completely sourced and produced in the United States. Richly hued with natural dyes, the Rambouillet wool is a real treasure to fiber enthusiasts. We even got to do a little shopping of it ourselves.
It was an amazing day!
What is your favorite Brooklyn Tweed yarn or design?
Our second meeting at Fremont United Methodist Church was packed with inspiration.
First, Nele Redweik shared a tip for stranded knitting: working with three colors in one row.
Knitting thimbles are great notions that help keep strands from tangling and enable efficient stitching. Nele’s custom-made Norwegian thimble from Etsy helped her, but you can experiment with different brands and types to suit you.
Her finished Orkney cardigan by Marie Wallin shows the intricate colorwork. Check out Nele in her three-color stranded glory!
Next, Chelsea Fuller walked us through the Physics of Yarn.
If you want to pick the right yarn for your project, and ensure it will live a long time, an understanding of fiber characteristics will help.
From rustic wools to fuzzy angoras, the natural shape, crimp, texture, and behavior of the animal or plant fibers greatly influence your final project.
Chelsea, passed around samples of fleece from sheep like Merino and Shetland, as well as from the surprisingly, incredibly soft and lofty camel. While super luxurious cashmere is a favorite, it’s only beginning to be farmed sustainably. You can learn more about cashmere farming here.
A seasoned spinner, Chelsea explained twist, ply, and prep. These actions hold fibers together with varying results of strength and resilience. A key takeaway: high ply equals less pilling!
Choosing between worsted and woolen yarns can make a huge difference in your final project. In terms of how fibers are arranged, worsted yarns are fabulous for cables and lace for their stitch definition. For colorwork, the lofty, airy woolen yarns are ideal.
The Right Yarn for Your Project
Ask yourself lots of questions about what you want to make and how you will use it. Consider the friction between sweater sleeves and the body, if you’ll get caught in the rain with this garment, or if it matters whether or not the fabric will stretch over the course of the day.
And, though the many colorful singles options out there are irresistible, try to avoid knitting high-wear items out of these single ply yarns. Remember: pilling!
Chelsea’s knowledge and experience is valuable for any level of knitter. It complements Annette Caughman's January program on the sweater knitting process perfectly.
April Raffles and Door Prizes
We had some of the best door prizes and raffles yet. One lucky member took home a handspun skein by Chelsea herself. Another won a 3-month subscription to Knit Crate, the service that sends a different bundle of yarn to your door.
And, 16 super lucky people were picked to attend April 20th’s Brooklyn Tweed HQ Tour.
We hope you’ll join us next month, May 10th, for Dave Zandberg of ZZ Alpacas!
Missives from the fabulous women who got the ball (of yarn) rolling.