Interview with Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed

Photography by Jared Flood | Brooklyn Tweed 

Five years ago, Knit Purl had the privilege of becoming one of the flagship stores for Brooklyn Tweed’s first yarn, Shelter. A year later, in 2011, we added Brooklyn Tweed’s Loft yarn to our shelves. Today, we’re pleased to announce the newest yarn from Brooklyn Tweed called Quarry, a chunky-weight yarn. We admire Brooklyn Tweed’s dedication to creating beautiful domestically produced yarns. Wanting to know more about the history and process behind Brooklyn Tweed’s yarn, I interviewed Jared Flood, founder and creative director at Brooklyn Tweed, about the yarn we love so much.

Knit Purl: You are well-known in the knitting industry for doing many things—knitwear design, photography, blogging, and most recently, yarn production. How did you get interested in yarn production?

Jared Flood: The idea of producing yarn came about naturally once I got into designing and handspinning; as I worked with different fibers, I was excited by how yarn construction was such an important component in creating a specific finished fabric. After a few years getting more acquainted with the yarn industry, I started wondering why there was a “hole” when it came to yarns grown and produced in the USA, so I started doing research. Eventually this path led me to the creation of Shelter—which was released in the Fall of 2010.

KP: Domestic yarn production and knowing where your yarn comes from seems to be gaining importance in the knitting industry. Why is domestic yarn production important to you?

JF: I’ve been so excited to see the increase in awareness of fiber sourcing in the last few years. I think it signals a shift in our industry towards more mindful consumers and more refined technicians—the same way wine connoisseurs become more interested in vineyards and grapes as their palettes become more sophisticated and experienced. Domestic sourcing is also becoming increasingly important in our economy at large, and I’m grateful that the US textile industry, while a mere fraction of what it once was, still allows for the domestic manufacture of goods for those of us who want to support American-made products.

As knitters and makers, I think we have a special appreciation for our materials since we spend so much time working with them in our hands, and “communing” with our projects. It’s a different kind of appreciation than most people have with their clothing, and that makes the ethical production of our materials even more important.

KP: It's clear that wool is very important to you and your brand. What are some reasons why you like wool?

JF: Wool is such an amazing natural fiber, and well-suited to stand the test of time. I love the timeless quality that wool has with such a rich history of its own that is woven directly into the evolution of our civilization. Sweaters knit with quality wool can last multiple lifetimes and be passed down from one generation to another—I like the idea that what our customers make with our wool becomes part of their own story, that we are spinning beginnings of tales, continued by the knitters who work with the yarn.

Photography by Jared Flood | Brooklyn Tweed

KP: It's really refreshing to see yarn from sheep breeds other than Merino, and it's a trend I hope will continue. The different breeds are quite fascinating and have interesting qualities. How did you decide on your yarn blend, Targhee-Columbia? What are your favorite qualities about the two different breeds?

JF: The breed-specificity of our yarn gets down to the very core of my original idea for Shelter and Loft. When I first started investigating the possibilities within yarn production, it was because there seemed to be something missing in the fiber world. Something bouncy but not squishy, hardy but not scratchy, and in a color palette that was more than a range of flat hues. After researching what types of sheep are raised in America, I found the perfect balance I was looking for in a Targhee-Columbia cross that, when woolen spun, created a lofty yarn with a weathered, tweedy finish that lent a depth and richness to the colors and felt wonderful to knit with.

Photography by Jared Flood | Brooklyn Tweed

KP: One of the comments I get most about Shelter and Loft is the light, airy quality in the yarn and finished fabric. The yarn requires a lighter touch than some knitters are used to, due to the woolen-spun process. Can you explain how the spinning process differs from other spinning methods, and why you decided on woolen-spun yarn?

JF: Woolen spun yarns have that timeless look that I love—yarns have been spun this way for hundreds of years in places where staying warm and dry was a necessity for survival and everyday work. When preparing wool to be spun for a woolen process, the individual fibers are combed in such a way that they trap a lot of air between the fibers prior to adding any twist to create yarn. This differs from the more common Worsted Spinning process, where fibers are combed into a single direction to create a much smoother, denser end product. The air that is “trapped” inside a woolen-spun yarn is the key reason for both the loft/lightness as well as the warmth—it acts as a kind of insulation built into your finished fabric.

KP: The 37 colors in Shelter and Loft make a quite harmonious palette, and are also stunning colors on their own. How did you develop the color palette?

JF: The great thing about making a heathered yarn is the possibility to combine a wide range of colors into a single spun fiber. Developing the color palette tapped into my background as an oil painter and functions much the same way as mixing paint colors. Because you are working with the same “base colors” (solids)—we use 16 total in the creation of our current palette—there is a sort of built-in harmony across the palette since most colors are sharing at least one or two of the base solids in their recipes. I love the richness and complexity that the finished yarns have; the colors shift in different light and come alive when knitted into fabric, creating a depth that is best experienced in person. The hardest part about developing the palette is deciding where to stop, and which colors are the most necessary at a given time to create a thorough palette that covers the spectrum.


Photography by Jared Flood | Brooklyn Tweed

KP: The flecks of color in the Shelter and Loft achieved by the fleece-dyeing process make the yarn especially intriguing. What is the process like?

JF: Since our yarn is woolen-spun, the fleece is dyed before being spun into yarn. This allows us to combine different colors and creates the heather, tweedy look we love so much. It also lends great depth to the final fabric, which is inflected with many hues that meld together and play off of one another.

Photography by Jared Flood | Brooklyn Tweed

KP: Many of our customers were quite excited to hear about your move to Portland. Now that you have been here for a few months, can you tell us some things you find inspiring about Portland?

JF: Portland is such a creative city—it’s bursting with innovative ideas, and has definitely gotten my own creative juices flowing. I love the proximity to nature—in virtually every direction just outside of the city. I love urban living, but find that I really need to get away and experience the quiet beauty of nature regularly. I’m loving how easy that is here in Oregon, and even more how many of the city’s residents seem to share those same values.

KP: Brooklyn Tweed has evolved and grown quite a bit over the last decade. What are some of your goals for the future?

JF: We are so grateful and appreciative of the support and kindness that the fiber community has shown us over these past few years, and it inspires us to continue to grow. That being said, it is important to us that our expansion is a healthy and thoughtful one, and for that reason we’re taking things one step at a time. We are excited to be at a point where we can develop more yarns here in the US and hope to be sharing some of those with you in the coming year!


We can’t thank Jared Flood enough for taking the time to share his inspiring words and thoughts with us. We’re so excited about Quarry, and the new BT Fall 15 pattern collection! You can find the Quarry yarn here, the BT family of yarn here, and our Brooklyn Tweed patterns here.

Photography by Jared Flood | Brooklyn Tweed

September 16, 2015 by Oleya Pearsall
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