Thursday, April 1, 2010

"It's not your average tweed"*

A fantastic evening** with Jared Flood, aka, Brooklyn Tweed. I couldn't have asked for a better injection of motivation to get my knitting, and surrounding life, into gear!

"What you see here are two very idyllic images."
Taking the stage at LBYS, Flood began the night by showing us pictures of where he grew up and went to school--the Pacific Northwest. Pictures filled with nature: flowers, trees and lakes. His goal was to demonstrate the differences between his influences from back home, and the very urban beauty he finds in New York City. His final photo of the Northwest was of a foggy road--the fog seemed to be easing in and dominating the road. This picture of light filled water particles set the tone of the evening for me.

"Artists' perception develops in the light where they grew up." I forget at times that Flood's training and background is that of a painter/draftsman. And as he continues to speak, Flood touches on the fact that when he designs his knitwear, it's images such as these that he goes to for inspiration. Not the patterns or pieces of other knitwear designers. As well, he explained that he uses mood boards when he works. A way to set the tone for the piece(s) that he is working on. I of course find this particularly interesting because his approach is incredibly artistic, but also how many fashion designers approach their work. 

In addition to explaining where his inspiration comes from, Flood shared that it is, as with many hand knitters, the texture of the pieces that so often catches his attention. "I think of light as physical." It is the textures that he saw when he was living in Rome and Dublin, the tangible light in the fog, that inspires him to create. A psuedo-hidden architecture fan, Flood showed us how the Seattle Public Library had a direct impact on his Koolhaas pattern. His approach seems both incredibly modest and direct. Quite humble in a way. How can someone not, in turn, want to go into the world and be inspired. To find their own avenue of creation.

Flood continued to fill us in on his adventures into knitting. Though he began to learn when he was about 5, it only lasted for a week or so before he left it behind. He started creating an online presence for himself because he had fallen into the 9-to-5 rut (something that I think we can call commiserate with) and wanted to have a way to hold himself accountable. "This is a good thing to do with my work computer" he said. And thus a sort of 'hobby' that he did, over the last 7 years, has become a career that he never expected. 

"You're designing a garment. But you're also designing an experience."
Flood's designs are keen on simplicity. "If you have the right materials in your hands, the simplest thing can be beautiful" noted Flood, as he showed us a lace shawl. "I just really love lace because it gives you an excuse to play with shape." Its no surprise then, that one of Flood's future projects is a book of lace patterns. The evening moved along very quickly, with Flood showing us his work and explaining what his future projects would be. Common through his pieces are miles of garter stitch with just a simple twist to add that elegance that has become so associated with Brooklyn Tweed. 

If any of you have been to Flood's blog, you will have seen the gorgeous photos he takes of his work. So it was no surprise that during the Q&A section, Flood was asked for some tips for those aspiring to take Brooklyn Tweed worthy pictures of their knitting:
  1. Always approach your piece from a perpendicular angle to where the light is coming from. Doing this is what allows your pictures to have depth and not become flat.
  2. Create a secondary light source. You can use a white pillow, a sheet of poster board, anything that will reflect light back onto the piece you are photographing.
  3. You are only responsible for what is in your field. Kick the dirty laundry out of the way, and you're picture will have the right focus, and compliment the rest of your space. Apparently he receives regular questions about how large his apartment must be, when in fact, it's just 650 squared-feet.
I'd like to end this by touching on how Flood chose to end his presentation. The final photo was of where he knits when he is home. A large, well-worn, brown leather chair is seated in the corner, next to a wooden table. On the table their are a couple skeins of yarn, and a large potted plant. Behind the table is a large window with an unbelievable amount of sun streaming in. He included this image because, though his online presence has given him so much, "If you never left the house it would all be in your head." I know I was glad to have left the house tonight.

Just make sure you bring your knitting along for the ride.

*Yes, he did say this at some point, and I was immensely amused by it. Though perhaps only I was.

** I would like to say that this evening was made possible by the kindness of a knitter that I had never met before. I'm not sure how she found out--I believe she saw my post on Ravelry lamenting that I was too late to RSVP--but she had a opening in her RSVP, and decided to reach out to me. I, of course, jumped at the opportunity to go see Jared Flood. So thank you so much, Kimberly, for inviting me out to what was such a great event.

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