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Archive for August, 2013

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

cowl all

The light, the flora, the temperature, the breeze, the model (Ashley), the general mood that day–these all came together for our shoot last Saturday. The light was so soft and lovely as we headed for our cars, that we decided to shoot Quince-style the Cable-y Cowl, an Osprey piece featured in Ann Budd‘s latest book from Interweave Press, Scarf Style Two. The cowl is worked in color Lichen in a textural pattern that waves along in ribs and garter stitch on a background of reverse stockinette stitch.

cowl detail

cowlbook

Ann’s book gives patterns for 26 scarf/cowl/shawl patterns, including pieces by Jared Flood, Mags Kandis, Olga Buraya-Kefelian, Katherine Alexander, Nancy Marchant, and Courtney Kelly. The collection is eclectic and interesting. My favorites, if I had to choose, would be Duplex, a clever directional piece by Laura Nelkin, Tubular Fair Isle, a stunning color study by Deborah Newton, Ann’s own Two-Tone Brioche cowl, and a traditional shawl that I especially love, Ilme’s Autumn Triangle, designed by Nancy Bush.

Cowls. I thought they might be done. But I’ve changed my mind. Why not keep them going forever? So practical when you think about it. Wear them loose for a warm back neck, wrap them round the head for more warmth and a cozy spot to bury the nose when cold winds blow. Knit them in the round if you go edge to edge, or lengthwise, like Cable-y, and graft or sew the ends together. No ends to flop around and unravel from the neck. No ends to curl. And wrong sides become interesting textures when wrapped and juxtaposed with the reverse.

So, cowls forever, I say.

 

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Cherry

Next up–this week. Tomorrow.

We’re putting the finishing touches on Ann Budd’s cool collection of accessories. (Need page numbers and a title for the book.)

Each of Ann’s accessories (hat, mittens, gloves, scarf, and socks) is written up for five gauges, one each for Q’s basic wool yarns: Finch (fingering), Chickadee (sport), Lark (light worsted), Osprey (aran), and Puffin (chunky). Each piece is worked in a simple textured stitch that you can mix and match. So, doing the math, that’s five pieces in five gauges (= 25 patterns), then five stitch patterns interchangeable in five patterns in five gauges… How many choices does that make?

Try Ann’s booklet and cherry pick your yarn, gauge, stitch pattern, and color. Great way to warm up for fall knitting.

Knitting with wool again. Just. Can’t. Wait.

 

 

 

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

vfkw1

Kristine Vejar has a yarn shop in Oakland, California. And in that shop are yarns close to her heart. (I’m not just talking about Quince, though we’re on the shelf, and very proud to be.)

Kristine’s love of textiles–their craft, history, and beauty–began with her grandmother. And as so often happens, once bitten by fiber love, she wanted to start from scratch and do it all. She has. Kristine is a master dyer, creator of Pioneer, a yarn spun from California wool, and owner of the shop A Verb for Keeping Warm, a fiber enthusiast’s paradise.

Here’s how she says it all began:

As a kid growing up in the Midwest, yarn and fabric surrounded me. My grandmother and her friends loved to knit and sew—together—and they loved to bake and eat coffee cake, a huge draw in any crowd. They were some of my best friends.

Years later, I found myself in India studying art and architecture. Textiles were everywhere, people were weaving, dyeing, sewing, and knitting. It showed me how much there was to learn about making fabric. Textiles provided a solace within and a connection to the wild and wonderful country of India.  Because I could sew and knit, I could work alongside others, a practice which created bonds between us, even though my language skills were limited. Eventually, my interest in textiles led me to a group of nomadic herders who stitch exquisite embroidery on their clothing and apply detailed appliqué to their quilts and camel covers. I began to learn their techniques and to document the way in which they recorded their history in the surface of their textiles, through motifs, colors, and materials. This project evolved into a Fulbright grant. I spent another year and a half in India, documenting the nomads’ textiles and traveling to other parts of India to meet and learn from other textile makers.

When I returned to the US, I wanted to continue my connection to India. Naturally, embarking on a life in textiles seemed the most obvious and delightful way to do so. In India, I was captivated by the process of natural plant dyeing. I liked its long tradition, the connection to the earth, and the challenge of working with a material that has inherently limited capabilities: Supply, you need to grow the plant or find it, lightfastness, and color, it often takes multiple plants to give a seemingly common color, like green. Those that work with natural dyes are constantly coaxing them to perform in a multitude of ways.

I produced my first batch of naturally dyed yarn in 2007, in my kitchen. From there, the business grew and we built a small natural dyeing studio in Berkeley, then opened a tiny little store next to the dye studio. As people came and the community grew, we decided to embark on a much larger adventure, A Verb For Keeping Warm. We rented a space ten times larger, built in a new dye studio, and created a much larger shop with the hope of carrying raw materials in which to make textiles which are conscious, well thought out, and make people and animals feel good.

Thankfully, at this time, Quince launched their website and the company included all of the elements I honor and value: They source wool from the US and mill it here, creating jobs in textiles as well as beautiful, well-made yarns and patterns. While Quince wasn’t ready at that time to sell wholesale, the Quince model meant to me that the yarn industry and US textiles were moving in a positive direction.  Now that Quince has begun to wholesale their line, having Quince yarns and patterns in the store is really a dream come true. Quince helps to fulfill my vision for Verb, a place which supports and contributes to the US textile industry in a sustainable and ecological manner, a place that nods yes to tradition and applies the classics to fashion-forward aesthetics, a place where people can learn the craft of making fabric and garments through classes in everything from how to choose a perfect handspinning fleece to how to knit your next best-fitting sweater.

Since the inception of Verb, I’ve dreamed of making a line of yarn from California wool. Last winter, we had the opportunity to work with Sally Fox, a local hero of mine, who has worked for 30 years on the cultivation of naturally colored organic cotton. She added merino sheep to her textile farm about 10 years ago. They help fertilize the soil and provide fleece. We purchased organic merino wool from Sally to make our newest yarn, Pioneer. It turned out better than I could have imagined, woolly, warm, soft, and naturally dyed. I hope that people can come to Verb and experience the presence I experienced with my grandma, to get lost in the act of creating, to feel the stress of everyday life slide right off their shoulders, and to connect with others, as I did in India, through the act of creating.

Thanks Quince for being part of the Verb experience! And many thanks to our customers for supporting our endeavors.

 

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

DSC_9922sm

Knitbot Essentials / Mabel’s Closet

August 2013: Cream City Yarn, Brookfield, WI
September 2013: Hidden River Yarns, Philadelphia, PA
November 2013: Argyle Yarn Shop, Brooklyn, NY
December 2013: In the Making, Birmingham, AL

Prima

August 2013: Warm N Fuzzy, Cary, NC
September 2013: Looped Yarn Works, Washington DC
November 2013: In the Making, Birmingham, AL

Knitbot Linen

August 2013: Twisted, Portland, OR
September 2013: Twisted, Portland, OR
November 2013: In the Making, Birmingham, AL

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

owl all

Here’s Hypatia, a lovely cardigan to get you (me) ready for fall knitting. Love the shape, the color. Tell me this doesn’t get you digging for your needles.

Designer Dawn Catanzaro named her piece after an early mathematician–a woman. The sweater is worked side to side, all in one piece, from center front to center front, starting and ending with a simple garter stitch border. The seamless yoke shaping is accomplished with short rows. I love the smooth lines of the yoke, can’t get enough of them. So here’s a detail shot of how the rows and columns fall over the shoulder’s curve. Pretty.

owl detail

And the streamlined back.

owl back

Hypatia is worked in Owl/Tawney. Owl is our latest yarn, a blend of American alpaca and wool. Soft to the touch and sturdy. We love it for just about everything. Owl comes in several natural shades, Tawny being one of them. The color is a mix of white wool and brown and gray alpaca.

Monday, August 12th, 2013

Bristol Marella all

We might have to argue about this. I like cardigans better than pullovers. I should amend that statement. Much as I love pullovers, I prefer to wear cardigans. They’re practical. They’re on and off in a second. You get to show what you’re wearing underneath. And when you’re chilly, you can gather the center fronts together and fold your arms over your chest to snuggle in, moves that don’t work with a pullover.

A cardigan drawback: Those center front edges, which sometimes mean buttons and buttonholes, two things that aren’t the end of the world but add that extra step. Hence, the popularity of easy buttonless cardigans, like Mariella (above), designed by Bristol Ivy above. The sturdy uncurling edging is made by working cable crossings in a one-by-one rib pattern. It’s worked in Tern/Driftwood.

Bristol Mariella

Mariella is worked in reverse stockinette, but you could easily wear it the other side out, if you prefer stockinette smoothness, or knit Marlena, Bristol’s boyfriend-cardigan version of the sweater below.

Bristol Marlena

Like all good boyfriend sweaters, it has pockets. And it’s worked in tidy Finch/Chanterelle. The buttonband here is nothing to break a sweat over. After the sweater is finished, you pick up stitches around the center front and back neck edges, then work a few rows of a simple rib pattern.

Bristol Marlena pocket

Note that our penchant, and Bristol’s, too, in this case, is for those lovely neutrals. But if you prefer a good strong color over your shoulders, I think this pair would look lovely in Tern/Back Bay and Finch/Pomegranate, respectively. Or when the snow is flying and color has fled the world outdoors, how about Mariella in sunny Buoy? And/or Marlena in pretty Winesap red. Or vice versa?

 

 

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

Honey pompom cover

Looking around this week at patterns recently published in Q yarns, we came across three in color Honey. Tiz the season? This texturey scarf in Osprey/Honey, Pompom Quarterly’s cover project for  upcoming issue #6, makes me long for my couch and needles. I’m not really in a hurry to see the end of summer, BUT. There’s something about wooly textures that draw me, no matter what time of year. This long (long, long) scarf is a design from Wencke Lucas. Love the juxtaposition of the backdrop’s fuschia pinks and purples with Honey’s warm, September sunniness.

Honey pompom long

Just up the coast lives designer Elizabeth Smith who used Honey in Lark for another texture-y piece, her Pineland vest. Pretty and imminently practical in our world up here. Note the interesting use of garter and a faggot stitch variation on a simple silhouette. I love this kind of piece.

Honey Eliz

Finally, below is an idea I never would have thought of: Honey + Peak’s Ferry. This is Zahara, a cardigan by Thayer Preece-Parker and featured in the soon-to-be-released Fall 2013 Knitscene.

HoneyZ1

Love the styling with strong-turquoise jeans (and skateboard). The body section is striped and worked in a chevron stitch to create a zigzag pattern, thicker stripes tapering to thin. This one’s in Chickadee.

Honey Zahra close