June 01, 2014

Yarn We Adore: Brooklyn Tweed

Yarn We Adore: Brooklyn Tweed

Interviewed by Meri
All photos courtesy of Brooklyn Tweed

amirisu featured @Brooklyn Tweed


Aesthetic.  When we see his work, it only takes us a fraction of a second to realize that God did not create us equal in terms of ability to make beautiful things.

Jared Flood, our guest in this issue, will talk about Brooklyn Tweed and a bit about himself.



amirisu: Thank you for taking part in this issue.  

I am extremely thrilled to have this conversation with you because your work had a huge impact on the way I perceive "knitting."  I think many people around the world would agree. 

How did knitting find you, and what has your relationship been since then?  Who influenced you to become the knitter you are?

Jared: Knitting found me twice. It wasn't until the second time that it really stuck.

I am the youngest of three boys and for about two years, before I was old enough for school, my mother and I spent our days at home together. My mom is an avid crafter – sewer, quilter, knitter, crocheter, etc. – and I showed interest in the "string arts" from the very beginning, asking her to teach me everything from macrame to knitting to cross stitch and hand sewing. I learned each new skill with excitement, but didn't stick with anything for too long. It was about 16 years later that I intersected connected with knitting again. 

My sophomore year in college, one of my friends/housemates returned from a holiday break with a single hand-knit scarf for each person in our house. I was touched by the gesture, and was also intrigued by the fact that my friend had created these cozy accessories by hand. I immediately asked her to teach me how to knit again – and she showed me the basics right away. 

I was quickly bored by the "obligatory" scarves that seemed standard for new knitters and wanted to try my hand at hats or sweaters, although I had no idea where to start. I went back to my mom for advice – who had since taken up quilting seriously and hadn't knit much for several years – and we both ended up getting completely hooked on knitting all over again. From that point on I was well on my way down the rabbit hole! 

Knitting found me twice. It wasn't until the second time that it really stuck.

amirisu featured @Brooklyn Tweed
amirisu featured @Brooklyn Tweed

amirisu: It's really sweet and precious to have a hobby in common with one's mother.  Beside knitting, there is also your photography. Before Brooklyn Tweed, knitting and photography were two completely different expressions of creativity. What drove you to combine them? 

Jared: Necessity I guess. I started my blog in 2005 because I was hoping to connect with people who had similar interests to me. I had just moved from Washington state to New York City and was working a full-time desk job. Having come fresh from Art School, getting into the Manhattan workday routine was exhausting and difficult for me. After a couple of months, I started feeling a little empty and really missed the creative community that I had become accustomed to in school. 

So I guess the combination of the two was very much out of necessity – it was the only way I could think of to engage with a new community and also a "carrot" for myself to push through the creative block that I was in.  It would give me an excuse to keep doing my own creative work with knitting, as well as give me some subject matter to continue practicing photography. 

Of course I never imagined that the blog would be the beginning of a completely new career path for me! Everything since has happened very gradually and organically. 

I had a very clear picture of the yarn that I wanted to produce in my head before I went searching for a mill.  

amirisu featured @Brooklyn Tweed


amirisu featured @Brooklyn Tweed
amirisu featured @Brooklyn Tweed

amirisu:  When people become obsessed with knitting, they tend to start dying yarns or spinning them. But how come you decided to manufacture the yarn itself? 

Jared: I did take up spinning after becoming obsessed with knitting. That was probably where the seed of the yarn manufacturing idea was planted. 

In 2008 I attended my first TNNA and was exposed to a whole new side of the industry that I had been unaware of. At that show I met people who ran or worked in mills around the world and with my newly formed knowledge of yarn spinning, I started realizing that making yarn by hand and making yarn with machines weren't too different. The concepts and "rules" are the same in many cases. 

The idea of producing a yarn with the thoughtfulness and care of a handspinner while being able to achieve consistency on a larger scale (allowing the yarn to be shared with a larger group of people) really appealed to me. That was when I started the process of researching what it would take to develop and create a line of yarn on my own.

amirisu: Was it by chance that you ended up producing tweed yarns when you happened to meet the mill owner, or did you have a clearer picture about what you wanted from the beginning?

Jared: I had a very clear picture of the yarn that I wanted to produce in my head before I went searching for a mill. It sounds selfish, but it was basically the exact woolspun yarn that I always wished I had, but never felt I could find. 

As you know, there are a ton of wools out there on the market, so to create something unique may have seemed foolish or impossible, but there were definitely qualities in wool yarns that I often found myself wishing for, so I trusted that intuition. 

When I learned how to do woolen spinning on a wheel, I was fascinated by the idea that the yarn trapped air within its fibers to make it both warmer and lighter. I thought that was really great. I was also amazed at how the same fiber could feel softer to the touch depending on how much twist was put into it. These were both strong factors when I began giving spinning specifications to the mill. 

After realizing that we were tapping into something that really resonated with knitters, I was inspired to take the project further.

amirisu:  It's one thing to design a knitwear.  It's completely another to run a company.  How would you describe the challenge you've taken up?

Jared: Each step has been very organic. In the beginning, I didn't set out to "start a yarn company.” Most of the steps I have taken on this journey have been project-driven: I had an idea of something that I wanted to attempt to achieve then took steps to do that. With the launch of Shelter, I didn't anticipate the amount of interest and enthusiasm that it would incite. I thought it would be a one-off project: a limited batch of home-grown yarn that would sell and then I would move on. 

After realizing that we were tapping into something that really resonated with knitters, I was inspired to take the project further. Having the two yarns also facilitated another interest of mine: becoming a producer/publisher of patterns to support those yarns. In the last year and a half we have really been focusing on the knitwear design side of the business and that has been very inspiring and enjoyable work. Now that I have more help than I did in the beginning, I'm getting to the point where I can step back and take some time to go back to the yarn development side, a prospect that has gotten me very excited (all over again) about this process. I look forward to bringing some new products into our yarn family in the future.


amirisu featured @Brooklyn Tweed
amirisu featured @Brooklyn Tweed


amirisu:  New yarn? Whoever reading this right now, their hearts must have started beating faster. 

So, you've just mentioned something you plan to do.What are your next steps, challenges, or dreams for the near future… if you don't  mind sharing?

Jared:  I would love to continue to grow our little yarn "family" to include more weights and construction composition styles. I feel strongly about using resources in the US – both sourced fiber as well as mill labor – which definitely requires some creativity! Our textile industry is in a dangerous place with very little demand for products to be manufactured here. This means that there are more limited options in terms of what can be done, and at what cost. 

However, I find that challenge energizing. It's the same way that I feel about knitwear design – real creativity can thrive under limitations. I like being forced to think outside of the box. 

amirisu:  Lastly, I am curious - what do you enjoy doing outside of work?  Do you still knit for fun?

Jared: I absolutely still knit for fun! There was a "dark" time for a few months where knitting had really become work and it wasn't giving me the same restoration and pleasure that it always had. 

After experiencing that, I knew that to preserve a regular, healthy relationship with knitting, I would need to always have projects that were in no way related to my work (not my yarns, not my designs, etc.), that could feel like a "vacation" from the constant stream of inner conversation about yarn and design that seems to be running in my head. 

That said, I do have other creative hobbies that I do regularly – cooking and gardening are both standbys in my free time. 

I love music – I am constantly listening to something, and love discovering new artists and albums.  I also enjoy taking long, solitary walks with my camera and doing personal photography work whenever I have the time. It doesn't matter if it's in the city or country – having "alone time" in the real world with my camera puts me in the really enjoyable mindset of observation and reflection.

Caring for my two French Bulldogs is also a favorite hobby!