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Archive for March, 2013

Monday, March 25th, 2013

One more quick post to show you the label. Carrie designed five or so, and this one won.

Monday, March 25th, 2013

So, here it is. Our little owl. We’re launching a small palette to begin with: Two naturals and five over-dyed shades. I love how the colored dye creates a tint through which the heathery gray fibers show through. We’ve picked the names: Cilantro, Cinnamon, Cerulean, Camomile and Rosebay (the last two pictured above), Tawney and Sokoke. We’ll be adding shades soon, both naturals and colors.

This yarn has been a pleasure and a challenge to make. It’s easy enough to source American wool. There are still a lot of sheep in the US. And there are brokers who buy it and sell it. But the majority of alpaca farms are relatively small. The average herd in New England is about 30 animals. And the average yield per alpaca is about 4 pounds. A very small number. There are no brokers who can take your order for specific grades and colors of fiber. But maybe, in time, the US alpaca industry will grow to be as large as our sheep industry. In the meantime, many alpaca farms work with mini-mills to spin their own very lovely yarns, limited edition artisan yarns. They’re expensive. And well worth the price, given what goes into them. I encourage you to seek them out.

As for Quince & Co’s alpaca yarn, tomorrow we introduce our version, blended with wool and spun with loft and bounce. We’ve spun a lot of our Owl it because our goal has always been to be a commercial mill. We want to compete with inexpensive imports and in doing so, we hope to create a demand (however small) for American fiber and spinning. We’re trying!

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

 

Where to start the story of Owl.

Our new yarn has been in the works for a while. We’d planned on a late-December launch, the perfect post-holiday lift. But, as these things go, the yarn was far from ready. First, the fiber took longer to scour and ship than expected, the mill went from slow to busy while we waited, and we lost our spinning window and had to get back in line. Next we had to take time to sample colors for overdyeing, and Don, our beloved dye master, took a well-earned week off.

Etc.

That said–Joy!–the yarn is ready to go: The colors are dyed, the skeins are twisted, the labels are here. (We’re waiting on label twine, but it’s due to arrive today.) Best of all, we’re swatching to our hearts content. Note the little angel shape on the chair above. How I love this yarn worked in garter stitch. In cables and openwork patterns. In simple stockinette stitch.

And why fall in love with this particular alpaca yarn, when there are so many others out there?

Well may you ask. And here’s the answer: Owl is different. Truly. In a very specific way.

Alpaca is a hollow fiber, meaning its core is filled with air. Most alpaca yarns are worsted spun, which means that the fibers are combed (aligned) before spinning. Think of your hair. After a ride in a convertible, the strands of your hair lie every which way. Some are straightish, others point left and right and lie at angles to each other. That’s the way that uncombed hair, and uncombed fiber, sits. If you align alpaca fibers all neat and tidy before spinning, as you do in the worsted system, the fibers make a smooth, polished, compact, and sometimes rather dense yarn.  Lovely as it is in the skein, some alpaca yarns can be  joyless to knit and all too drapey and heavy in the finished product.

The challenge: How to make an alpaca yarn with loft and bounce. Blending alpaca with wool helps. And we’ve done that. But spin the wool/alpaca blend on a woolen system and you have a bit of heaven. Unlike worsted spinning, fibers in the woolen system are left to lie like your hair after that convertible ride, willy, nilly with lots or air around them. Voila, you have an alpaca yarn that’s light, buoyant, warm. With a bit of a wash, it develops a pretty soft, halo.

We’re launching Owl in a small, initial palette: Two undyed colors, a fawn and medium gray, named after the Tawny and Sokoke owls, respectively. And we’ve overdyed the naturals in five cheerful late-winter colors, which we’ll show you soon.

On Tuesday.

 

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

A recent post described the Ricefield Collective in the Philippines. Thought you’d like to see the hats that the women in Ifugao are making for their kickstarter project. I love them.

Windschief (above) is Stephen West’s design–the ribs call to mind the terraced landscape in the Ifugao province. Colors on offer are Nasturtium, Honey, and Peacock.

Two colors in this one–and movement. Called Upward. Three colorways.

Swirling cables in the Spiral Slouchy.

Climbing Cables: A hat and a cowl. In Peacock. What is it about Peacock and cables–they go so well together.

All hats are limited editions, numbered and knitter-identified.

The Ricefield palette. So very inviting.

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

Projects from Gudrun Johnston’s Knit with Me collection are now available as individual patterns. Hooray! And the book is still available in print and e-book form, if you’d like to knit all of them.

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

With these little guys. Alpacas.

Coming next week. On Tuesday. A new yarn that we absolutely adore and can’t wait to show you.

Meanwhile, lots of skein schmoozing and swatching going on here in the office. Loving all the things we’re finding as we sample our latest little bird.

Yes, it has alpaca in it (domestic, of course). And, yes, it has wool in it from sheep raised on the plains. Soon, soon. And more tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Ifugao is a province in the Philippines where 2000 years ago the inhabitants created a terraced landscape to increase available terrain for rice farming. These terraces are now an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

As you might guess, rice farming by traditional means isn’t lucrative these days. Women who cultivate these terraces can barely raise enough rice to feed their families and often have to leave their homes to look for work in cities. Enter knitting.

The Ricefield Collective is a cooperative effort, launched by Meredith Ramirez Talusen, a graduate student at Cornell, to create self-sustaining (knitting) work, that will allow the Ifugao to continue to farm their ancestral lands, preserving their lifestyle and culture.

Meredith explains more about the collective and its goals in this charming video, made as part of the Collective’s Kickstarter project. The group is offering limited edition hats designed by friends of Ricefield (including a classic cap by Stephen West), knitted by Ifugao women, and made (tada!) out of Quince yarn. We’re honored that our yarn is knitted into, literally, the Ricefield project.

Ifugao women knitting hats (in Q yarn) with Meredith, third from the left. (In that fetching blouse.)

We’ll keep you updated on this knitting project in the Philippines. And we really, really hope you’ll visit the Ricefield Kickstarter page to learn more.

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Okay! Finally.

Last proofing, last tweaking. Done. Check. Finished. Scarves Etc 2013 is launched, as individual patterns AND as an e-book collection. (You asked for the entire collection in one, and we heard you.) To celebrate–and believe me, we’re celebrating over here–we have a special offer for you. The first 50 people to order Scarves Etc, the e-book, and three skeins of yarn will get a free Q tote with their order. Grand!

Friday, March 1st, 2013

Sniffing for another treat.

A peek at Lola, a striped and color-blocked cowl in a spirited combination of colors. Knitted in Lark. Barbara Collins’ design.

Caden, our first guy scarf. Well, unisex, really. Hard to see detail in this photo, but the stitch pattern has a lovely herringbone texture. Designed in Chickadee/Marsh by Kyle Kunnecke.

Some people can work and model at the same time.

A scarf wrapped around the neck (so soft and comfortable in Lark). Undulating is the name, designed and knitted by Natalie Servant.

These and 14 more (see previous posts) coming your way in Scarves Etc 2013 Tuesday, March 5.