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Meet the Maker: Jared Flood

You may recognize Jared Flood from his extensive catalog of modern knitting patterns. He is the founder of Brooklyn Tweed and the driving force behind the 100% American-made yarn and design company. Brooklyn Tweed has grown in leaps and bounds since it first opened up shop in 2010, but at its heart there has always been a passion for preserving, supporting and sustaining the tradition of U.S. textile production.

Meet the Maker: Jared Flood

Your ‘flagship’ yarn Shelter, Loft and Quarry are all very uniquely rustic and loosely plied. What led you to this more homespun style instead of something more like the brightly colored, tightly spun, superwash yarns on the market now?

Shelter was born out of the need for a yarn that I felt I often wanted to knit with but couldn’t find readily available on the market. I’ve always really loved woolen-spun yarns — they’re soft and warm, lightweight, and visually appealing with nuanced, heathered shades. I am also drawn to yarns that in some way retain the feeling and hand of the original fiber as it came from the animal, in this case wool. Shelter was my first experiment developing yarns, and I was focusing on all of these things during that process. As Brooklyn Tweed grew, we developed Loft and Quarry to continue the exploration of the different types of yarn that can be produced using the woolen-spun technique. It’s important to me that the yarns we produce are timeless, and we put a significant amount of effort into developing each yarn line because we intend to continue producing a given yarn for years to come.

The 40-color palette for our woolen-spun yarn lines has been developed using a base of 17 solid shades (including undyed white). The use of this limited palette ensures that all of the colors in the lines are harmonious, since many of the blends incorporate the same colors, even in small amounts.

The additions of Arbor and Vale to our core yarn lines this past year have allowed us to expand upon our offerings and develop domestically produced, breed-specific wool options for knitters interested in working with worsted-spun yarns. These additions have also opened up more possibilities for our designers to work with, allowing for knitted fabrics that we were unable to create with the woolen-spun lines alone.

Brooklyn Tweed Quarry

Photo by Jared Flood

I think Brooklyn Tweed is known for great patterns almost as much as for yarn. Was it always part of the plan to build an arsenal of contemporary knitting patterns, or did it just start out as a handy way to promote your yarns?

Before Brooklyn Tweed was a yarn company, I was designing knitting patterns independently using my blog at the time to discuss knitting and designing. As my design aesthetic continued to evolve I became more and more interested in creating a yarn that would be a perfect fit for my work. It made a lot of sense to me to pursue that route and make the design process more of a complete circle — and this is how Shelter was born. As the company has grown and evolved, the two aspects of the business — the knitting patterns and yarn — now have a symbiotic relationship. My design process in general usually starts with materials. The yarns (or, more accurately the finished fabrics made with those yarns) almost always inspire the end result of a design. This concept is at the core of my process when developing new yarns as well. During the yarn development process, I am asking myself questions such as: what kinds of fabrics can this yarn make? How versatile can it be? Does it fill an existing hole in our current materials list? And so on.

Meet the Maker with Jared Flood

Photo by Jared Flood

What is the next horizon for Brooklyn Tweed? Do you have any dreams to expand into new or different markets?

Brooklyn Tweed feels like it is constantly evolving — this is one aspect of growing a business that I love. I’ve learned that it’s incredibly important to be open to the changes and fluidity that growth brings. We just released our new worsted-spun, laceweight yarn, Vale, and look forward to working with new partners around the country as we continue to expand into additional yarn lines. There are a few other projects in the early works as well, but it’s too early to tell where exactly they are headed!

Brooklyn Tweed Sheep

Photo by Jared Flood

In many industries, male run businesses are very much the norm, but that is not necessarily the case when it comes to the crafts. Do you find that brings any challenges or biases? Does it allow a unique perspective that has fostered success?

It’s not something that I tend to think about too much — I feel that I identify more as an artist in my approach to Brooklyn Tweed, more so than identifying with as a male working in a predominantly female industry.

Brooklyn Tweed Shelter

Photo by Jared Flood

You actually moved out of Brooklyn a few years ago. How did you pick Portland for your new headquarters? How has it affected your business?

I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, so for me it was a return to home. Portland is also an amazing fiber mecca and such a wonderful place to have a business in craft and textiles.

Our move to Portland allowed us to consolidate our operations — warehouse and office —  into one building, which hadn’t been the case on the East Coast. This alone has had such a huge effect on the way we collaborate at BT HQ and what we are able to accomplish.

Portland is such an inspiring city to have a creative business — not least of which because we are just one of so very many here. I look forward to continue Brooklyn Tweed’s journey in such a vibrant and receptive local community.

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