Monday, July 30, 2012

These People Have My Number

Trust me, I had this awesome post, half done, and I just pressed some whack combo of buttons and the whole thing is gone.

Now you're stuck with this one.

The upshot is that blogs are dangerous because they lead you down the path of retail exploration, even when you're not expecting it. It's doubly dangerous when the source is (a comment on) your own blog?! Frances, I blame you! :-)

My latest vice: Brooklyn Tweed.

What else do I need? It's got:
  • Beautiful people wearing
  • Beautiful garments in 
  • Beautiful photos displayed with
  • Excellent graphics that underscore a
  • Terrific user interface which is home to
  • An online store with affordable shipping rates that also houses
  • A blog (a real one) that puts you in a really tweedy mood
Not to mention, the auteur is a guy (one of the 5 male knitters I've ever heard of), mastermind of a lifestyle, design collective and producer of sustainable materials. I found myself come up against some scary latent sexism when I discovered this. I was all: How is it that a man can turn a largely frumpy art into "concept"? Why didn't a woman do this? Um, hello, we run knitting. Whereupon I spoke with some friends at work and they suggested I was threatened, not unlike a corporate man in 1950. That's food for thought.

Point is, you shouldn't knock a great thing - a place where you can read about knitting, find numerous patterns (of a certain niche, some of which may very much appeal to you), excellent pattern instruction, and hand-crafted yarn.

Here's the pattern I recently bought because this post caught my eye:

Take heed marketers. This isn't even vaguely my style and I just couldn't resist. A two-way sweater. In "natural colours". It's so Iceland meets New Hampshire! Maybe, if I make this sweater my hair will get kind of red and curly and I'll get taller and younger!

I came SO close to spending 100 bucks plus on yarn (it looks so GOOD), when sense got the better of me. I ordered the swatch card instead (7 bucks, no shipping fee) and then I read some Ravelry reviews.

The more you read, the worse it gets. Apparently, the yarn frays, splits, breaks and contains a surplus "natural fibre" bits i.e. woody crap. You know, based on how gorgeous it looks in the Look Book, I'd try it nonetheless, if not for the numerous comments that indicate it isn't soft. I have a thing about soft. I hate "rustic yarn".

The point is, I had an option to order the swatch card because this company offers it in a lovely format at a reasonable price, sans shipping. I will feel (a swatchy version of) the product with my own hands and then decide if it is meant to be, for me, or if I should simply enjoy the many other elements of Brooklyn Tweed: patterns, blog and gorgeous photos. Either way, they win. And so do I.

Question: Have you tried this yarn? Does it live down to its Ravelry rep? Have you tried the patterns? What's your experience of Brooklyn Tweed? Do tell.


  1. I haven't used their yarn at all, but I've read that Shelter has a particular lightness to it, so that even a stranded colorwork sweater is as light as a fleece. (This is relevant to my interests because I'm planning to make this sweater for my bf:

    I don't know anything about Jared or the company, so this isn't anything against him. But ... whenever there are lots of glowing reviews and then lots of very negative reviews in connection to someone so popular, I can't help but wonder how many of the positive reviews are more about the person than the product. Maybe I'm just cynical.

    If you do order some, I'll be curious to hear how it goes! I probably won't bother, and my bf will just have to deal with a slightly heavier sweater.

    1. It's intriguing that you posit good reviews are often a sign of popularity, whereas Johanna (below) posits that bad reviews are common because people are more inclined to write a review when incensed (than when pleased). Interesting perspectives both!

      I am very intrigued by the lightness of the yarn (which everyone seems to mention) so I may end up buying some after all. I will definitely write about it if I do!

    2. Funny, I agree with Johanna too!

  2. I haven't tried the yarn but I have one of their patterns queued ("Peabody"). It might have to wait until next winter...
    The pattern seems to be very nicely written out though. :)

    Do keep in mind that people who have problems are always overrepresented online. It's much more motivating to write a bad review I think.
    But I think if you hate rustic yarn it sounds like it might not be for you?

    I might have to start following their blog now :)

    1. I'll have to go check out that pattern. And you should def follow the blog. It's so pretty! :-)

  3. I haven't tried Shelter, but I've tried Loft and I absolutely loved it! I didn't find it scratchy at all and the amount of vegetable matter was negligible. Any yarn will break if you pull on it hard enough! My yarn behaved very well and it was a pleasure to work with. Trust your eyes and senses - it's a lovely yarn, I think, and the colors are fantastic. Have fun!

    The patterns are excellent, too, and I love the photography, the styling, the designs. They are very well written, in my opinion.

    1. I'm so glad to hear this! Thanks for providing this perspective.

  4. Jared's patterns are laid out and written with an eye to simplicity, good design, and clarity. They are absolutely the best downloadable knitting patterns I've ever bought. Heartily recommend.

    Can't say I've experienced the yarn yet; but I want to!

    p.s. first time commenting; but I love your blog. cheers!

    1. Thanks Sara! And I'm so glad to hear that you have enjoyed the patterns. They seem very well written from the small amount I've seen.

  5. It's even worse when a blog you like reading sends you off on a retail bender! ;-)

    1. Something tells me I'm being implicated!! :-)

  6. a man that knits?! wow! imagine the comments and looks he gets all day long! oof!

    and your "rustic yarn" comment made me laugh! you are so funny!

    p.s. thank you so much for the birthday wishes. :)

    1. I was really affronted by this man-knitter's success! :-) I definitely have to get a grip.

  7. Hey K-Line! I've used Shelter and Loft. Shelter I used for two projects and Loft I used for 1/4 of a project that I had to start over. Yes, it's rough and prickly and sticks to itself. There were little twig-like bits or mossy bits stuck in the yarn.

    But, I kind of like it for these reasons. I like the rustic, real wooly feel of it and I liked how it stuck to itself, great if you drop a stitch. It does nice things when you block it and it softens and blooms when blocked. The colours are amazing and have so many hidden tones in them - the purple has blues, reds, all kinds of heathery shades. It's not next-to-the-skin soft, but it's that warm, wooly cabin sweater feel.

    Like you, I loooove Brooklyn Tweed patterns, they're modern and cool and easy to follow and smartly written, from what I can tell. And the photography and styling is so great!

    It sounds like you might not love the yarn if you love soft, but the patterns are awesome. Hope this helps!

    1. T: I have to check out your Ravelry to see which projects you've used it on. It doesn't feel rustic on the card, interestingly. (It just arrived.) It actually feels soft, which might be a result of the way they put the swatch yarn together. I'm really blown away by the patterns. The more I knit, the more I think I will design things eventually.