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  • Brooklyn Tweed Month - Shannon Cook

    We are so happy to welcome the sweet and lovely Shannon Cook to our blog today.  Shannon is a passionate maker, designer, blogger and is always full of smiles and enthusiasm.  Thank you, Shannon, for participating in our Brooklyn Tweed Month!

    Is there a colorway you find yourself using over and over again? Or a particular color you are excited to knit with next?

    I find myself being drawn to Hayloft in Shelter quite often. I honestly have to force myself to "not" use it all the time. I also love and use Fossil and Woodsmoke a lot as well. I'm excited to use some of the new colors in Arbor and in Vale as well. The Arbor palette is just stunning and a lot of tones I wouldn't normally gravitate to call to to me when put on BT's gorgeous yarns! So many colorways to play with!

    What's your most recent Brooklyn Tweed knit?

    My most recent Brooklyn Tweed knit was a pattern I release in late spring called Atmen. I used their DK weight Arbor for this shawl and it was heavenly to design with and wear. I love it! 

    Atmen Shawl by Shannon Cook knit in Brooklyn Tweed Arbor

    What's the first thing you knit in Brooklyn Tweed?

    The first thing I knit in Brooklyn Tweed that I actually finished (there was a lot of swatching in between because I knew I wanted to design with it) was my pattern Bradway. I completely fell head over heels in love with Shelter. Like madly in love. The kind of love where I wanted to knit all the things with Shelter. I've been using it ever since and each time I do I fall more in love with it. Shelter just speaks to me. 

    I first bought Loft at Vogue Knitting Live in Seattle years ago and remember meeting Jared for the first time and just making a total dork out of myself and being quite honestly - speechless. Which if you know me is hard to do...haha. I asked him to sign my ball bands for me and they still, to this day, hang on my inspiration board in my office. I still have those skeins but Shelter quickly followed behind that purchase and I ended up knitting with them first and Bradway was born.  :)

    Bradway Shawl by Shannon Cook knit in Brooklyn Tweed Shelter

    Do you have a favorite base?

    Lol...Shelter. But Arbor is a very close second now. I literally need more hours in my days so I can just knit with them all...lol. Shelter and Arbor are different from each other but they both have qualities that just make my knitter soul so very happy. The texture, the loft, the feel....I just love using them. But then I've never met a Brooklyn Tweed yarn I didn't like...lol. And I don't anticipate that happening in the future either. 

    How do you think Brooklyn Tweed has made an impact on the hand-knitting industry?

    I think Brooklyn Tweed has made an impact on teaching us that where our yarn comes from and how it's made IS important. They care about their products and their practices and I look for that in the companies I work with and the products I use. I think they were able to reach a mainstream demographic of knitters and share why these practices are important and then make their product accessible to a wide range of customers at a fair price point. I also love their design sense and aesthetic and feel that having brands like BT is important in our industry as well. It's inspiring and always a breath of fresh air. 

    Timber by Shannon Cook knit in Brooklyn Tweed Shelter

  • Brooklyn Tweed Month at Tolt

    We are celebrating Brooklyn Tweed for the whole month of September here at Tolt!

    We are continually inspired by Brooklyn Tweed, we never tire of it. We love the original tweeds - Shelter, Loft and Quarry. And we love the new additions - Arbor with it's fantastic stitch definition, and Vale with it's delicate strength. We wait impatiently for the new design collections to be released, so we can pour over the designs, having trouble choosing between them, to pick our next projects. Our hearts continue to be warmed by the care put into sourcing and creating this yarn.

    We have three amazing trunk shows in the shop this month:


    Photos by Jared Flood

    Wool People 11 (9/2 - 9/10), Vale (9/16 - 9/24), and the upcoming BT Fall 17 collection, releasing September 13th (9/16 - 9/24).

    September 18th we are hosting a Brooklyn Tweed yarn tasting, facilitated by Jenny Blumenstein, to help you choose yarn for your Brooklyn Tweed projects. Just in time to kick off our next Knit a Brooklyn Tweed Sweater Class

    We'll be featuring guest blog posts throughout the month celebrating Brooklyn Tweed's yarn and designs.

  • Natural Dyeing With Kathy Hattori

    Each summer we are thrilled to host natural dyer Kathy Hattori for a series of classes at Jubilee Farm. Our next sessions will be Gathering Color August 26th, and Indigo Dyeing August 27th. Tolt Team member Rachel shares her experiences in these classes.


    I felt so lucky to spend the past weekend learning about natural dyeing from Kathy Hattori. We started off on Saturday prepping some of the dyes Kathy brought; Cochineal, Logwood, and Madder. Then we headed out to the field to gather natural dyestuffs. We found Marigolds, Sulfur Cosmos, and what was probably a variety of Calendula. Kathy guided us, letting us know what kind of colors we could expect to get from various materials, but the class as a group chose what we would dye.



    After gathering buckets full of our chosen blooms, we prepared our dye baths. Then pre-mordanted and soaked yarn was added to each pot. The class was divided into teams to tend each pot. We carefully monitored the temperature and rotated the yarn to insure it would dye as evenly as possible. During all of this Kathy answered our questions about the process.



    The next day, Sunday, was all about Indigo. Kathy had some vats already prepared, and taught us how to create our own 1-2-3 vat. We also gathered fresh indigo growing at the farm. I was so fascinated to learn that indigo is not one single plant but rather a whole family of plants containing the blue pigment. The fresh indigo we collected was blended up like a smoothie, which on wool and silk creates a robins egg shade of blue.



    Once all our vats were created, we began to dip our yarn and other items students had brought. Kathy had some extra skeins from the Gathering Color class which we could over dye, as well as some blank skeins. Everyone also brought a great variety of yarn, fabric, and clothing to dip. 


    It is so incredible to see the great variety of colors that can be coaxed from natural materials. From the yellow golds of Marigold and Cosmos, the vibrant pink and purple of Cochineal and Logwood, to the range of blues from Indigo, there is a beautiful natural rainbow available to us. I am so grateful to Kathy for sharing her knowledge and can't wait to dye more yarn!

  • Stock Your Sock Drawer - Dianna Walla

    We love Dianna Walla and are always so happy to have her on our blog!   Dianna is a knitwear designer who is currently living in Norway and who has designed patterns for us including Skógafjall Aspen Hollow socks, and the Hearth Slippers.   You can find Dianna on her website, Paper Tiger, and follow her on Instagram at @cakeandvikings .

    1.  Do you consider yourself a "sock knitter"?   Why do you like to knit socks?

    It seems funny to say it because I've actually designed a few pairs of socks, but I've always considered myself a rather casual sock knitter - I knit socks, but they've never been my first priority. Living in Seattle, I did like to wear them in the winter because they were good at keeping feet warm in a chilly, damp climate. But my relationship with handknit socks really changed when I moved to northern Norway almost two years ago, because here I can wear handknit socks year round. I found myself rotating through my small collection of handknit socks on a regular basis and suddenly knitting more socks felt like a priority. I've been very focused on socks recently because I find them very soothing to knit, and they can be as complex or as mindless as you want them to be, which is handy while I'm busy working on my master's thesis.

    2.  When did you knit your first pair of socks?   Was it harder or easier than you thought?

    I knit my very first pair of socks in the summer of 2009, and they were rather impractical - bulky weight ankle socks! But I had knit Owls by Kate Davies, and I had leftover wool, so when I found the pattern Chunky Ankle Socks by Tara Mercer it felt like a good opportunity to try sock knitting. The bulky weight and short leg meant they went much quicker than normal handknit socks do, so it was a quick way to learn about simple sock construction. In the end, it was easier than I expected! I knit my first "real" pair (with fingering weight) a few months later, and I've been knitting socks every since.

    3. Are you a DPN or Magic Loop knitter and why?   Has it always been that way? If not when and why did you make the switch?

    I'm very much a DPN knitter, and I always have been. Occasionally I now knit sweater sleeves on two circulars for gauge reasons (I knit tighter on DPNs than on circular needles) but I've never been a Magic Loop knitter. I don't knit on public transit in Tromsø so I'm not worried about losing needles that I've dropped or that kind of thing - and if I drop one on an airplane, there's plenty of time to find it. 

    4. Do you have a favorite pattern or heel and toe construction?

    For whatever reason, I like cuff down socks the most, and I do think it's hard to beat a traditional heel flap and gusset. That being said I do work afterthought heels as well, and I have tried (and designed with) toe-up construction. I've knit several pairs of Erica Leuder's Hermione's Everyday Socks, and with over 18,000 projects on Ravelry it feels like most sock knitters in the world can say the same. Otherwise I don't often repeat patterns, any sort of vanilla sock being an exception. But one of my all-time favorite pairs of socks is my Twisted Flower socks, from a pattern by Cookie A. It's full of beautiful twisted stitches and lace, and I think I will make another pair of those at some point. They feel like art on my feet.

    Aspen Hollow socks by Dianna Walla for our Farm to Needle book.   Photo by Kathy Cadigan.

    5.  Is there a favorite sock yarn at Tolt that you have worked with or want to work with?

    I quite like Madelinetosh Twist Light and Artisan Sock by Hazel Knits, and I think the Arne and Carlos line for Regia is my favorite self-patterning sock yarn of all time. I'd love to try Socks Yeah! by Rachel Coopey, but I haven't gotten my hands on any yet. I have been exploring some of the European handdyers since moving to Europe, though, and I'm really into what Phileas Yarns from York and La Bien Aimée in Paris are doing. We also have some wonderful hand dyers here in Norway, and right now I'm particularly digging a brand new company called Garnsurr, who work with women from minority backgrounds in rural areas of Norway, many of whom came here as refugees. Many of them have no formal education and limited Norwegian language skills, so Garnsurr's aim is to not only teach these women to dye yarn as a way to make money, but they also offer Norwegian language tuition and other integration services. I haven't tried their yarn yet but I'm eager to support their work!

    6.  Do you have any tips, tricks or advice you can give to other sock knitters new or experienced?

    I'd say don't give up when you're frustrated and don't be afraid to try new things! There are so many different techniques to knit socks or work heels, toes, and cuffs, and it's really easy to stop exploring when you find something that feels comfortable. Trying new patterns or construction methods may only make you realize how much you prefer what you were doing before, but you might find something cool and new that you love. And I'd also mention caring for your handknit socks - I almost always handwash mine (though my husband prefers to throw his in the washing machine), as I find that helps them last longer. And something that no one ever told me: socks worn around the house on hard floors will wear out faster than socks that you wear in shoes or boots. It seems counterintuitive, but I haven't had to darn any of my own handknit socks yet while my husband (who wears them as house socks exclusively) has worn through several pairs, even after mending them.
  • Knitting and the Outdoors by Anna Brones


    The outdoors is where I go to disconnect, to remove myself from the world of obligations and to-do lists. More importantly, there’s rarely cell service. Amongst the trees, in the mountains, along the coastline, there are no inner voices calling out to me telling me what I should and should not be doing. Instead, it is quiet, peaceful.


    Knitting is the same. The rhythm of the movement of my hands is calming, meditative. Being occupied, they also can’t pick up the phone to check the latest message or news item. It’s an activity that pushes me straight into the present moment and keeps me there. Distractions fall away, time passes without me noticing.


    Knitting outside means breaking everything down to the simplest moment. It is you, your work and the sound of the wilderness, the smell of a campfire. Perhaps there’s a mug of tea or cup of coffee next to you, maybe even a nightcap of whiskey as you knit through dusk.


    Knitting and camping; I find that the two go quite well together. Knitting is after all activity that’s both simple and complex. The end result - be it a hat, a sweater, a pair of socks - is a combination of small actions, all based on those two basic elements: knit, purl, knit, purl. While the end product might be a source of excitement - a new sweater! - it is the act of making, the entire process that gets us to that sweater, that is the most important, much like the end destination of a day on the trail might be a lake or a summit, but it is the journey created by every step along the way that brings that destination its true meaning.


    Sitting outside with a knitting project in hand, life feels like it scales back, reduced to the bare, essential elements. Ingredient lists for meals are shorter, but even the easiest of culinary combinations are the tastiest. A piece of grilled bread slathered in goat cheese and drizzled with honey. A morning cup of coffee. A bowl of oatmeal with freshly foraged blackberries strewn on top.


    I am reminded of a Terry Tempest Williams quote. “To be whole. To be complete. Wildness reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather than what we are separate from.”


    In the midst of a maddening world, I crave that connection; we all do. We need more wild. So here I am knitting a sweater with no real pattern, using up lovingly handspun wool gifted to me by my mother. I think of how it too was once wild, in the form of an animal. There’s still a hint of lanolin, to remind me that it came from a living thing, not a product extracted from the ground. The morning sunshine rises above the treeline, hitting my face. It’s quiet now that the campground elk have gone on their way. There’s no real goal to this project, or even the day, just being present in this time, the now.


    Here I am, whole, connected to the place around me and to the fibers that I hold in my hand.


    Anna Brones is an artist and writer and the author of several books including the forthcoming Best Served Wild: Real Food for Real Adventures.

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