Studio Tour: Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed


To those not familiar with the knitting world, the mention of the craft often conjures images of gray-haired, spindly-fingered grandmothers hunched over bulky skeins of dull, pastel-colored yarn. This stereotype, one certainly perpetuated by generations of crafty, knitting memaws, is charming but not entirely accurate. While the grandma-knitter is no doubt a prominent member of the knitting community, knitting is by no means an age or gender-exclusive craft. On the contrary, knitting has seen a huge resurgence recently, thanks in large part to a younger generation of crafters seeking a handcrafted escape from a tech-heavy world. Today’s interview comes from one such crafter, Jared Flood, the founder of the yarn and knitwear company Brooklyn Tweed.

Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Flood began knitting in earnest as an undergraduate student at the University of Puget Sound. Although he was formally trained in photography, painting and 2D design, knitting would prove to be an influential force in Jared’s life. In 2005, he moved to Brooklyn for work and to pursue an MFA from the New York Academy of Art. “I knew no one and had a lot of time on my hands,” he says. “I also had a good neighborhood yarn shop, so I spent a lot of time getting deep into knitting. At the time I had an office job working in admissions at Juilliard and I was really starved to meet some people in the knitting/creative community, so I started my blog — Brooklyn Tweed.”

Like so many creative success stories in the twenty-first century, it was Flood’s blog that launched his career in knitting. After a short time, Brooklyn Tweed had amassed a steady readership, and Jared began receiving requests for design work. It was after visiting an industry trade show that he developed an interest in yarn production. “It was the first time I saw the knitting industry from the inside,” he notes. “That was where the seed was planted about developing an American-sourced/produced yarn. The majority of the world’s yarn is made in China, Italy and South America. I wondered if it was possible to create something completely done here — especially since the US once had such a rich textile history in the industrial era.”

Soon after, a friend introduced him to a family-run textile mill in Harrisville, New Hampshire, a historic town notable for its centuries of textile production. “The chemistry was immediate,” Flood says. “We collaborated on this project and have been working together ever since.” Today, Jared’s Brooklyn Tweed has expanded from a blog to a full-sized yarn and textile design company specializing in beautiful fibers made in the United States. One look at Jared’s ridiculously beautiful and oh-so-current knitwear designs, and it’s plainly obvious — knitting isn’t just for grandmas anymore. Now let’s put that idea to rest. Check out my full interview with Jared after the jump! — Max

Portrait by Julie Hoover. All other photos by Jared Flood.

Above image: My wall of Loft yarn — a cone of each of the 32 colors in our palette. I use this as my “paintbox” when putting together color stories for collections or combining colors within a design.

What are your craft room essentials? What sort of creative objects can you not live without?

I split most of my creative time between photography and knitwear design — both of which I do for my brand, Brooklyn Tweed. Each of these pursuits requires a pretty specific set of tools. My ideal workspace has all the tools I need to do my work in an accessible and uncluttered manner. For knitwear design, that includes plenty of beautiful yarns (in several colors — very important) and a wide variety of needles, notions and other knitting tools. Because I travel a lot, I also have specific “travel” tools that I keep all ready to go. I’ve learned how beneficial it is to create a portable “workspace” for trips.

My computer is also an absolute essential for all my work. I do most of my designing, illustration and project mapping with Adobe Illustrator, which I would definitely put on my “can’t live without” list. Having a large, crisp monitor is also an essential for me. Whether for developing photographs or charting out intricate garment pieces, I like to be able to “spread out” digitally as I work, and screen real estate is key for that.

What do you do to make your workspace an enriching and inspiring place to be?

I work pretty hard to keep my workspace as essential as possible — only keeping what I need and processing/cleaning out things that I don’t as regularly as possible. In a creative space, things pile up pretty easily — unfinished work, inspiration piles, notes for future ideas, stacks of books. I find that as things get backed up, so does my creative energy. When I can focus on the task at hand, without a lot of additional visual clutter around, I work more efficiently and more happily.

I think of this as an ongoing process. While I can certainly be better about taking on less, I think it is a pretty natural part of the process. It becomes necessary, then, to continually organize the space, question whether something is absolutely necessary and reassess the way I organize and use space.

In terms of decor, I have a thing for succulents and grow them on just about every window sill in my space. Over the years, I have grown to really enjoy keeping an active array of house plants. I see them as an analogy to creative work — they need steady, regular care over long periods of time and slowly reward you as they grow and thrive. I love that reminder.

My two French Bulldogs, Dante and Luna, keep me company in my space on most days. They bring a wonderful energy to my work, remind me not to take things too seriously, and offer plenty of free entertainment (Frenchies are little clowns).


Above images: My worktable and dress forms. This is my largest work surface and the place that I usually spread out when working on story boarding, pattern drafting, sorting garments, doing tabletop photography, etc.


Above image: My most commonly used tools — I like to keep it simple. I am a big fan of the Addi Clicks interchangeable needle set. They are high quality and super versatile for travel or when using multiple needle sizes within one project. Also of utmost importance: sketchbook, measuring tape, tapestry needles, markers and removable pins.

What sorts of things are inspiring you right now? Where do you typically look for inspiration?

I’m extremely inspired by street fashion/style. My design interests are primarily in classic knits with a modern feel; styling is a pretty major part of how I visualize and ultimately communicate a design idea or sample with the public. I love observing the ways in which people style and use their clothing — particularly their knits. I try to take a morning or afternoon off from time to time just to walk the streets in Manhattan or Brooklyn. It’s a great way to get a broad sampling of personal style and design ideas and shake me out of a slump.

I generally get more ideas when I change up my environment. I can easily slip into hermit mode, happily isolated from the outside world, letting myself get deeply involved in my work. That has some benefits but can also make me a little stir-crazy and “idea anemic.” I try to remember that it is good to travel or just get out and experience the city regularly.

When do you feel the most creative?

I’m definitely most creative when my mind is free from distraction. Especially in the last year or two, as my time has become more and more crowded with projects and responsibilities, I’ve had to learn how to carve out space in my schedule that I know will be completely interruption-free. I’ve always done most of my creative work very late at night, when the rest of the world quiets down. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a night owl.

That said, since my schedule now requires me to be slightly more “traditional” (I have more of a 9-to-5 schedule than I used to), I have begun to appreciate the very early morning as a quiet time to get creative work done before the bustle of the work day begins. I’m definitely not a morning person, but I have been learning to appreciate this time of day and what it has to offer.


Above image: My desk. I try to keep it as clean and minimal as possible. Sometimes better said than done! iMac, Wacom tablet and pen (used when photo processing and illustrating); swatches (they are usually just about everywhere); and notebook. Also pictured is some of the wonderful (original) ironwork in my space. My studio/office is in an Art Deco bank building from 1929. The interior architecture is modern, but several details have been preserved, like the iron work and ceiling moldings. They’re fantastic!


Above image: My side table, where things that are “waiting in the wings” usually sit, along with some inspirational objects — a knitted vase from Milan that I received as a special gift, antique wooden bobbin from our yarn mill in Harrisville, New Hampshire, one of my very early black and white photographs (taken while I was studying abroad in Rome in 2003), colored pencils (in a porcelain vase by my dear friend Lois Aronow) and of course, more yarn.


Above image: Designs from our design team’s winter collection (releasing next week). Cardigan by Michele Wang and scarf by Julie Hoover.


Above image: A small sampling of my indoor succulent garden.


Above image: An in-progress swatch with our “Shelter” yarn — this is for a possible design for next fall.


Above image: One of my lace designs (this is an unfinished sample), sitting quietly in a basket.

What do you do to keep yourself, your space and your time organized?

I am a pretty organized guy by nature — my workspace is usually clean and orderly (with the exception the week or two of crunch time before a big deadline!). Organization is really a key ingredient for my creativity. I like to know where things are when I need them and easily be able to have a check on the status of various projects at any given time.

I spend time keeping things in order and cleaning up when I am finished working. It sounds so simple, but a clean, open surface (desk, work table, etc.) has a huge effect on my creative well-being!

How to you combat creative blocks?

Most of the time, when I’m feeling blocked, it’s because I have too many other tasks and responsibilities taking up my time. When that is the case, I feel unproductive and uninspired even when I force creative time into my schedule. There’s not an easy solution to this problem, aside from generally managing my time better — something I’m constantly working at. Blockage periods usually are the worst when we are working on a deadline for a big project; once that project is complete, fortunately my creative energy usually shows up again shortly thereafter.

We live in such a mass-produced, buy-it-now society where everything is either a click or a short drive away. Why should people continue to make things by hand?

There are so many reasons! The most important one, for me, is that you have a real, tactile connection to something that you are doing. We so rarely “get our hands dirty” anymore, with the computer and industrial technology we have available to us.

While I’m the first to embrace and praise modern technology (without it, I certainly wouldn’t be able to do my job), I also see how it is damaging our collective attention span. It seems that we become impatient with things so quickly. Things that take time are more easily frustrating, which I find alarming.

Making by hand forces you to slow down and quiet your brain, to think about what you are doing, who you are doing it for, or ways in which you can improve. I personally love the satisfaction that comes after the long process of designing and making a knitted garment by hand. When you take the time to craft something beautiful and well thought-out, that sense of satisfaction comes back to you every time you put the garment on, or see it on a loved one.

I think of my knitting archive like a museum of personal history. When I spend time creating something by hand, the object retains an impression of my life at that time. Some of my favorite sweaters remind me of places I’ve traveled, people I’ve met, or spaces I’ve lived and worked in. To me, that is one of the best reasons to do this.


Above images: Design swatches for past and upcoming work.


Above image: Part of my knitting/design/inspiration library.


Above image: Luna (front) and Dante (back) napping in the afternoon soon — this is what they do most of the day.


Above image: Just a few of Jared’s fabulous knitwear designs. More on Ravelry.com.

karen b

thanks so much for posting this. i’ve followed jared’s blog for years, and it’s great to get a behind the scenes view. i think of brooklyn tweed & design*sponge as being in a similar class – always super visually crisp and bright with lots of awesome detail, always an open, positive attitude.

Amalia

I love Brooklyn Tweed and Jared Flood! I’ve made those awesome Chinook fingerless gloves for my boyfriend’s birthday last year (in black, cream, gray, and red), and they receive endless compliments and requests to make more!

mademoisellealex

ohhhh Jared you are a genius, I’love your creativity and your studio , but …I’m in love with yours Frenchies, so cute !!! Do you knitting for them ?
I have a french bulldog and I’m knitting a little dog lopapeysa for she , and that is so cute
So , Thank you so much for all
Xoxo from Paris

Julie Hoover

Grace, it’s such a treat to see Jared spotlighted this way. He’s an amazing person to know and work with. So proud! x

Tori

What an amazing studio. Jared is definitely one of the most creative designers working now.

I am going to say, though, that the grandmother thing at the beginning of the article is a prettttttty tired cliche. Besides being inaccurate, it feels like lazy writing. There’s lots and lots and lots of knitters in lots and lots and lots of ages, sizes, family configurations, etc. one reason that folks think of grandmothers when they think of knitting is because authors use it as visual shorthand for setting a yarncraft scene.

Meg

I love everything Jared Flood does. It’s great to see his workspace – it’s so beautiful! This was really inspiring

Jess

I’m a fairly new Brooklyn Tweed fan, with a number of Jared’s designs on my project queue. I loved reading this inside look!

Nora

Lovely! I especially love the idea of knitting as archive – it works that way for me, too, but I love the way Jared phrases it. I’m a big fan of his yarns.

But can we please lay to rest the “knitting isn’t just for grandmas anymore” theme? Besides being ageist and sexist, it’s extremely played out.

Diane

Enjoyed this very much. Happy to know a little more about my favorite designer. I enjoy his patterns very much, some (Rick Island) I have knitted numerous times.

Grace Bonney

Tori

I don’t think it’s lazy writing, it’s an acknowledgment of an (inaccurate cliche) “to those not familiar with the knitting world” about knitting. We’ve devoted this entire month to showing people that knitting is much more than (and bears little to no resemblance) that cliche. That said, there IS a cultural cliche/perception about knitting, that’s what Max was acknowledging. But he used it as a jumping off point to continue the discussion about knitting being much much more than that and so much more diverse. I realize that cliche is a real trigger point for a lot of contemporary knitters, so I think we can agree as a team here that we’ve acknowledged the cliche and can move on from mentioning it as often ;)

Grace

melissab

nice interview!
oh man, that work table is gorgeous and so are the things made upon it!
i’ve previously been inspired to make the cobblestone (i believe he designed) though i haven’t made it yet. getting my skills up. and also i’ve admired the ez tomten hoodie he has made. beautiful stuff!

Emily

I would love to work in Jared’s studio! What a great tour showcasing inspiring and high-quality work.

John Stone

What a wonderfully inspiring young American designer…it makes you want to know all about yarn and knitting. Keep up the good work, Mr. Flood!

Susan Brunelle

Enjoyed this tour of one of my favorite designers. I’ve made a few of his designs and love both Shelter and Loft. Would love to visit the mill in N.H. this summer.

Tatiana

I love Brooklyn Tweed! Have been following his work for some time. So talented, and great to see his workspace. Keep up the great work!

Wanita

I’m such a big fan of Brooklyn Tweed! The patterns and charts are amazingly easy to follow and always accurate. I’ve made 2 wraps and I’m working on a shawl now. I’m SO happy to see Design*Sponge give Jared and Brooklyn Tweed some much deserved love. Great read :)

sillylittlelady

Fabulous interview with Jared Flood and tour of Brooklyn Tweed! I’ve been a fan for ages and it’s so inspiring to pursue my own dreams :)

Nomadic D.

Thanks so much for this inspiring interview and article! And those photos are so gorgeous, I just pinned about half of them! I am dying a wee bit of envy over his workspace, but for the most part I just feel enthused and energized. I didn’t know his work or his blog before, so I’m super glad to be introduced to it!

Rebecca

Worlds collide! Thanks for this. I’m a knitter who reads DS every day.

Cirilia

I’m so honored to call Jared a colleague and a friend. He is an example for the entire industry, and a genuine gem of a person. Whenever I get the chance to work with him or even chat for a few minutes I am inspired to improve, and dead impressed with what he achieves. Thanks for the studio tour!

Wanda

I love the light in the studio space. I was just in NYC and purchased several new Brooklyn Tweed patterns.

Vicky

Thank you for publishing this interview. The photographs really are beautiful, it’s inspired me to sort out my office this week so I can get some more design work done. I love Brooklyn Tweed’s designs, can’t wait to see the new collection!

Jenine

Good stuff! Thanks for running a piece on Jared Flood. He’s inspired me since his early days and it feels like a treat to get a peek into his process and space.

I know you already addressed this, Grace, but I wanted to add that I think part of the reason the “grandma” phrase felt a bit jarring to me was because of where it was coming from. I would expect it from a more mass market publication, whose audience would be prone to buying into the “grandma” cliche– but maybe not one whose focus is on design and makers. One of the things I love and appreciate about Design*sponge is your commitment to supporting the folks in the making community. So I guess “grandma” just surprised me a bit! (Not that there is anything wrong with grandmas– who are mainly, of course, the best.) Maybe I’m just naive, though, and this cliche is more prevalent than I realize.

Thanks so much for all the work you do.

Grace Bonney

jenine

no worries- i hear what you’re saying and we’ll definitely consider that cliche mentioned and done with for good ;)

grace

Kate Brennan Hall

We just received a large amount of snow and we’re headed into frigid windchills tonight out here in Flyover Land, so this post full of beautiful colors and lushly knitted items is my ticket to happiness today. Thanks for sharing the work of this very talented designer!

annemarie j

This is a beautiful post. Feels quite serene too. btw, I always think of grandmothers when I think of knitting since it was my late grandma who taught me how. Not sure why some are bothered by the association.

Thank you,

Marie H. Mains

Jared’s yarn and designs reflect a deep passion for both fiber and finished product. His workspace and his obvious love of order and serenity therein are a working meditation. Oh, and those French Bulldogs are cuties as well. Thank you for the article and the glimpse into his world.

Henriette

I loved this piece! How wonderful to see traditional creative arts like knitting championed by Design Sponge and Bright Young Things like Jared.

Roxanne

Jared Flood is just…wow. My all time favorite knit designer. It was a giant pleasure to read this. I love the comment above that says it felt serene…the knitting’ll do that to ya!

lori

what a lovely interview of a very favorite knitwear designer and photographer, thank you. jareds designs are stunning in style and grace and following his patterns are an exercise in pure joy. i appreciate the thoughtful care he puts into all he does. i especially love what he favorited about his studio, that’s what i love best about mine too.

p.s. i am a granma, i knit and i am happy to know that the cliche is fading…

Lysanne

Loved everything ! the designer, the dogs, the space,…
And I agree with him: we are becoming more and more impatient and frustrated by anything. Knitting, painting, crafting, jewellery making, we need to find a way to free our mind and get our hands dirty. So rewarding !
Thank you for this lovely interview !
Greetings from London !

Marie

That tour just soothed my soul, and helped me brace for the less-than-Zen mess I will find when I walk into my office this morning. Thank you for sharing.

F. Carvalho

I feel “mass oriented marketing” had a mission to descredit anything handmade from from food to clothing etc. through the 20th century, but thanks to the Arts and Crafts Movement and this new generation interest in the hand made process knitting, weaving, felting etc. are cool (at any age). It is not just about the end product but the personal experience through the process.

Nicole

I love seeing inside Jared’s beautiful, wooly world. Thank you for this gorgeous studio tour.

Concetta

Grace, I know you’ve kind of beaten the bush about the cliche…but I wanted to point out that you’ve kind of got the cliche off, too. Our grandmothers did not use bulky yarn of the size that we use now, they used very thin yarns in a lot of cases. The stuff my grandmother crocheted was thread, and her knit pieces are all of the fingering weight/baby weight yarns that are quite thin. I really respected her for working with such thin yarn – I often don’t!

That being said, I really love the idea of seeing Jared’s studio. Its clean, concise, and fits with exactly who he is as a person and the designer. Often times I think people envision knit studios as being massive messes with yarn everywhere – its nice to see that there are makers with the exact opposite kind, more like what I want when I get a studio of my very own.

Thank you very much for this gorgeous tour!

Molly

I want to be Jared Flood when I grow up. No joke, his creative genius, snazzy and classic designs, relaxed personal style, collaborative efforts, revitalization of the American wool industry and last but not least (and delightfully showcased here, might I add) quietly glorious studio, constantly push my to be A Better. A Better knitwear designer, A Better creator, and A Better force to be reckoned with as I begin to bring my own personal style and ideas into the world….

All that being said, I’m definitely not “grown up” yet – when I saw Jared was featured on D*S I couldn’t help but squeal out loud.

Laura

The grandma cliche–it’s not just tired, it’s insulting and ageist. I am old enough to be a grandma. I knit. It knit Brooklyn Tweed designs. If you are jumping off from the “granny” theme, then you are saying that knitting is “so much more,” “so much hipper,” “so much newer,” in other words, so much younger. You display your prejudices very, very clearly. Of course young people want to discover craft for themselves, but if they think they can do it without the work of women and men who came before them for the last 20,000 years, they will need to think again.

Anastasia W

Jared Flood is one of my favorite knit designers. I was so excited to read this interview! It’s great to get a look into his process.

Beverly

How refreshing to see plants being cared for correctly, according to their universal need for drainage. That photo speaks volumes about the character of the dweller, as does the collection of wonderful designs and lovely patterns. A happy person lives in that space.

Peg Mayor

I went to Puget Sound! Loved reading that. I was a student there in the 80’s when my grandma (yes, grandma) taught me to knit. I’m now 48, have learned every single wool-based craft out there (felting, rug hooking, applique, needle felting, etc) and knitting is the only one that has never bored me. Almost 30 years and I still learn with every project. Great job.

Maxwell Tielman

Laura— Thank you for your heartfelt comment. It was sincerely not my intention nor Design*Sponge’s to offend or exclude any one person or age group. As I stated in my write-up, the point I was trying to make was that knitting is most definitely not an age-exclusive craft. When I made reference to the “grandma-knitter” stereotype, I think I was referencing a more dated, archetypical image than any real-life grandmother one might find in today’s society. I think in general, contemporary knitters across the board (regardless of age) have been introducing newer, fresher designs, something that in itself is not a bad thing. Mostly, I wanted to point out that the pursuit and celebration of “the new” is one that permeates all art, craft, and design endeavors, even ones that have a more longstanding domestic history (like knitting).

That being said, I agree that I could have chosen my words better. The terms “grandma” and “new” are certainly not mutually exclusive. Although no malice was intended by my comments, I will definitely be more cognizant of these things in the future. Thanks again to all who have submitted comments about this issue.

Giusy

is there a more talented one??! I love ALL! his yarn, his designs, his photos! Thank you for this interview!

Rae

With all due acknowledgement to the tired knitting-granny cliche, we’re all going to be old someday (hopefully)!

Sarah

This is just great. I am such a big fan of Jared’s work. I am just in love with his aesthetic. Peeking into his studio is just such a treat! More knitting on Design Sponge, please! (I’ve noticed a lot more recently but don’t stop!)

Christine

LOVE this post and showed it to my 10 year-old son, who received his first knitting needles and wool yarn for Christmas. He’s a lefty and I’m not, so it’s been a little bit of a challenge for me to transpose my methods. It’s been magical watching him and remembering when I learned to knit as a child. btw, I found a 1961 article from the Guardian that said that 2/3 of British knitters were teenagers. Guess that’s why my mother knitted and my gramma did not :-)

Connie

Beautifully photographed, as would be expected for Jarod. The studio space is gorgeous.

Carol Morrison

Jared — Your space is so amazing and inspiring. Your admirers must all covet your incredible ability for organization which obviously allows your creativity to soar. So comforting to know there are still artists like you who are keeping the art of “hand made” alive and beautiful. Wishing you continued success!! Loved seeing Luna and Dante again!

Beverly J. Killick

An inspiration – knitting – designs – yarns – patterns – organization – neatness!
Thank goodness, there are good people like “Jared.”
Chalet Knitter

Scott Barnes

I love this! While it’s waaaaay far away from the world of music and theater that I inhabit, I was trained as a fine artist, and the tactile beauty and humanity joining (and not fighting with or bemoaning) technology is inspirational. Jared! Bravo. And every artistic venture is enriched by doggies…

Melissa Martinez

What an inspirational article! Jared’s studio is definitely something to aspire to. For now, my “studio” is in a noisy spot right out in the open on the living room couch surrounded by two rambunctious cats and a fiance. *sigh* Thanks so much for sharing this interview and a glimpse of Jared’s space with us!

Marty Jeiven

Dear Jared,

I’m so impressed by what you’ve accomplished! I sincerely hope that we have the opportunity to get closer in the months and years to come. Continued success!

Marty Jeiven

I’m so impressed by what you’ve accomplished! I wish you continued success!

Catherine

Thank you for your wonderful article and allowing us to look into Jared’s studio. I am such a fan of his work….photography as well as knitting. I love this story about my NON-knitting Grandma. My Grandmother brought up her daughter (my Mother) in World War 2 London. During the air raids, all the neighbours would descend into various shared air raid shelters. The woman would knit (socks for the soldiers) whilst the children slept. My Mother still recalls the embrassment of having her non-knitting Mother dancing up and down the shelter playing her castinettes! Ahh, those were the days………

Heather

Great article, I am a huge Jared Flood fan; for me he is a bit of a rock star!
As someone who enjoys good writing for the sake of the words themselves I’m sad that you feel the need to tailor your words to fit another’s ideal of what is correct. The perception is valid, the point of view is your own, if the reader does not share it c’est la vie, no need to censor, no need to explain.

Arina

Thanks so much for inspiring interview! There is a lot of fans of Jared in Russia, but many of them do not speak English. I would like to translate this interview into Russian and post it on my FB page about knitting, of course with reference to the source. Do you mind?

Brigid Kavanagh

I’m a big fan! Thanks for the article.

Michehe

Enjoyed the article giving insight into the work of jared flood as an artist, designer and business man. The inspiration and collaboration with harrisville textile mill and subsequent development of an all American yarn producing colour mixes that can be seen in Jareds beautiful photography.

LEAVE A COMMENT