I began Brooklyn Tweed as a blog for knitters and wool-lovers after my relocation to New York City in 2005. I never dreamed it would grow into the company that it is today: a dedicated team of creatives committed to bringing hand knitters high-quality materials and knitwear design.
When I began exploring the possibility of producing a yarn line, I was determined that it would be American made. This commitment can often pose challenges: finding producers and manufacturers that still have the equipment and technical know-how can be difficult, but with a good dose of determination, we did it. Our passion for wool is only second to our conviction to produce American yarns that preserve, support and sustain the tradition of U.S. textile production.
The story of Brooklyn Tweed yarn begins in the shadow of the Bighorn Mountains of north central Wyoming, where ranchers have raised sheep for 150 years. The fleeces travel from Wyoming to the Bollman Company in San Angelo, Texas for scouring. Bollman is a proud old company with nearly 150 years’ experience in preparing wool for many purposes, including use in their signature Western hats. They handle our fleeces gently, cleaning them thoroughly but never subjecting them to the harsh chemical treatment called carbonization, which obliterates plant matter but can also damage the wool itself.
The clean wool is shipped to Pennsylvania, where G. J. Littlewood & Sons—now in their fifth generation and one of the last American survivors in the commercial dye business—create the sixteen solid colors that form the base of the Brooklyn Tweed heathered palette. Once dyed, the wool is baled in six-foot cubes and shipped north to Harrisville, New Hampshire. Harrisville Designs operates in a 200-year-old mill designated as an historic landmark. The design collective was established in 1971 as a bold move to preserve a dying American craft and educate the public about one of New England’s foundational industries. Here Brooklyn Tweed yarns are blended into their 32 custom heathered shades, carded, spun, plied, skeined, and finished.
I have found so much joy and inspiration in working with our supply chain partners to create Brooklyn Tweed products, and we’re proud to do business with venerable companies in an historic American industry. It gives us great pleasure to share the story and the experience of Brooklyn Tweed yarns with knitters around the world. Our in-house design team values clean, contemporary design with an eye for superior craftsmanship and knitterly detail. We strive to bring our customers original patterns that are both intuitive and enjoyable to work. Our mission is to integrate history and tradition with new trends and modern techniques.
Being in such great company here on Maker’s Row is truly inspiring, and opens up the possibility for productive dialogue not only with my fellow makers, but with everyone who is interested in learning more about the daily struggles and rewards of a young American company as well my personal creative adventure. I am thrilled to share a few insights on my professional journey with a community of people who believe in the importance of making things here in the USA.