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Archive for September, 2013

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013


Sean Riley sent us this hat and we loved it. Called Tweet, it’s timeless, seasonless, genderless.


It’s knitted in Sparrow, our linen (all organic), a great choice for a drapey cap, and worked in a simple pattern of elongated cables and faggot panels. That’s it.

TweetmdetThe tubular cast on is tidy and elastic.


The crown comes together neatly.

Sparrow. Not just a summer yarn.

Thursday, September 19th, 2013


Running a business that requires making something here (in the US) is a challenge. And, like spotting a knitter in the airport, as soon as I learn that someone is making a product and selling it, I want to talk to them. Compare notes. Commiserate. Celebrate.

One such person/company is Portland (Maine) clothing designer Brook There whose shop you’ll find on Wharf Street.

brook store

In a world where short-term thinking too often rules, I appreciate Brook and her partner, Daniel Pepice’s, thoughtful approach to their businesses (his is Seawall), sourcing environmentally friendly materials, using hands-on production, building a company for the simple satisfaction of making it work . It takes creativity to develop a strong business, there’s no single way to make a company thrive, adapt, inspire. Granted, it’s not always as much fun as thinking about shape and color, but a good business is a lot more than numbers. Especially if you’re thinking about how it can contribute something good to the neighborhood (or world), not just how much it brings in at the end of the quarter. (Though that matters, too, of course.)

As fellow small business/artisans, we thought it would be fun to collaborate.

In keeping with a guiding principle for Brook’s Spring ’13 collection, transparency, Quince knitted the Truffle, a gausey shrug in Sparrow (color Truffle) to pair with Brook’s Cream and Melon sundress.  The Truffle Shrug’s shape, loose and flowing, is taken from another Brook piece. Love how it looks draped over the fitted dress.

brook dress pockets

brook back

More about Brook in the interview that follows:

When did you get interested in designing clothing? When/how did you learn to sew? What was your first project?

I started making clothes for myself when I was twelve.  My mom bought me vintage patterns from the 1950s and ‘60s and I made a series of dresses.  She taught me the basics, and then I learned techniques from books.  I started designing clothing when I was 15 or 16.  I was obsessed with fashion and sewing as a teenager and young woman, and that matured into a desire to run a business.

How do you think about clothing design?

Mostly, I’m inspired by what I want to wear, which is how I want to feel…do I want to feel feminine?  Secure?  Warm?  Free?  That feeling inspires a style or series of styles.

How do clothes relate to a person’s body, sense of well-being?

I think comfort, which is often related to good fit, is really, really important for a sense of well-being.  This is why we choose almost exclusively natural fibers grown using organic methods and focus on wearable styles.

How did you determine a niche for yourself?

It happened really slowly. I had been designing the Brook There collections for a couple years before we added undergarments and lingerie styles.  As ever, the choice to add intimates came from not being able to find something I liked in the market.  I wanted to be able to wear pretty, organic cotton, well-fitting, wireless undergarment styles- and couldn’t really find any to buy.  Developing the techniques we use to construct undergarments took several years.

You mention that you were working in your Spring ’13 collection with transparency, right? Where did that idea come from? Will it be part of your Fall collection?

Transparency seemed right for spring!  Lots of layers.  Like the natural world.  For fall, I started working more with wools, organic gingham wovens, and suiting.

What’s your working day like? What are your best working hours?

I’m usually at the workshop from 11am-7pm.  Unless we’re doing photography or website stuff, I don’t really use a computer at work.  I reserve mornings for intellectual pursuits, creative thinking alone, work that I need to do without interruption.

How much hands-on sewing do you do? Do you make your prototypes yourself?

I sew a lot of the prototypes and do the pattern-making for the brand.  Every season we repeat some of popular styles in new colorways, and usually someone who works with me helps with the cutting and sewing of samples.

Do you see hands-on making and designing as a single process, two halves of the same thing? Or would you be happy sketching and turning your sketch over to someone else to construct?

For me, sketching alone and passing it off wouldn’t be possible.  Designing/ pattern-making/ and construction choices are inherent to the process, i.e. a single process, and the creative, fun part!

What’s the most important skill a home sewer should master? What’s your favorite sewing tool?

That’s a tough question for me. Once you’ve sewn with industrial machines, it’s almost impossible to imagine going back to home machines.  One can’t really achieve the same look & feel on a home machine.  Our buttonhole machine has changed my life.  I used to design to avoid buttonholes, and now I can use them as much as I want!  It’s encouraged me to add more woven styles.

How does fabric relate to your design sense? Do you ever start with fabric and go to design? Or does silhouette and drape determine what fabrics you choose?

It’s a bi-directional process.  Since we’re mostly choosing organic cottons and wools, we’re really limited in what we can buy.  So I usually start with fabric and design from there.

Do you do your thinking and designing in your store space or do you work at home as well? What would the perfect design/sewing studio look like?  

I do the hands-on work at the workshop, but sometimes I sketch at home.  My sketching is very functional, just quick line drawings of the styles, usually flat, not on a figure.  There are both drawbacks and positives to having a combined workshop/ retail space, of course. It’s nice to have customer and public interactions, but it’s also easy to feel interrupted, if the day is too busy.

How do you stay inspired? Does living in Maine contribute to what you ‘see’ when you’re coming up with ideas?

The seasonality of Maine is a definite positive for design work.  Summer and winter are really different, so it’s easy to naturally differentiate between the seasons.  Additionally, I’m usually designing for the season exactly twelve months ahead, i.e. right now (September)  I’m designing fall 2014.

Portland isn’t the fashion hub of the world. What advantages are there in being in a small city, as opposed to NYC? 

Cheap rent.  Easy travel.  No lines.  I’m a small-city person. I don’t like driving or public transportation, so Portland is the perfect size.  We can walk or bike anywhere!




Tuesday, September 17th, 2013


Two great patterns up on Ravelry this week, both worked in Q yarns. Above,  designed by Dani Sunshine, is Brook, a round yoke pullover with a neck that’s subtly shaped with short rows. This is one of those designs that uses a simple technique, two-color garter-stitch segments, to  great affect. The sweater is knitted in Chickadee Gingerbread, with Honey accents (yum). I love that this girl pullover is worked in rich autumn-forest colors, perfect, I think, for a lively young lady.

brook detail

And more forest matters: Immie (below) explores the woodland in her Fawn hooded cardi and striped legwarmers. More pretty colors to blend with the September landscape: The hoodie is knitted in Puffin, colors Twig/Chanterelle/Clay, and the striped legwarmers are in Chickadee, same palette, plus Petal, for a feminine touch.


This top-and-bottom duo is the work of Carrie Hoge. As is often the case, Carrie makes good use, of simple stitches, stockinette plus garter. Check the cuff and border detail below.


Immie shows us her legwarmer.


Saturday, September 14th, 2013


So I’m a very lucky person. I live in the same town that Clara Parkes does, about four blocks away. For years now, (how many, Clara?) we’ve had a standing Thursday coffee date at the local place across from my office. Thursday because that’s the day after Clara’s Knitter’s Review is published and she’s free to leave her desk. Do we make it every week? No. Mostly? Yes. I’m here at my desk and the phone rings, “Hiya, Pammy!”

This past week, after the chaos of summer fun, we met for the first time in weeks. And look what Clara brought with her–for me! A copy of her latest book, The Yarn Whisperer. Only Clara could write a book with that title.

My shelves spill over with books on knitting and related matters. But there are three or four that sit four-square on the closest shelf, and I always know where they are and I frequently refer to them. Two of them were written by Clara, The  Knitters Book of Wool and The Knitters Book of Yarn. What I know about fiber and yarn, I learned from Clara.

The Whisperer, however, is at home on my couch. It’s that kind of read. A book about knitting–sort of, kinda, maybe. But, really, it’s more about a life (Clara’s) lived in and around a lot of yarn. About ‘a’ life, sure, and, as with any book that matters, it’s a book about Life. And there’s knitting in it. And I can’t put it down.



Friday, September 13th, 2013


Allagash proves, I think, that chunky yarns look great in fitted sweaters. I love this sweater by Kristen TenDyke. It’s name is Allagash, and it’s included in Kristen’s soon-to-be self-published Knitting Maine. (Kristen is also author of Finish Free Knits (Interweave Press). If you love to knit and hate to sew, this book for you.)

Allagash is worked in Puffin/Nasturtium from the bottom up, and, in Kristen fashion, there’s no seaming afterward. The pocket construction and set-in sleeves are worked along as you go. How nice is that?

It’s great to see this piece on Nyanen. She’s off to college and we miss her. She’s so good at smiling with her eyes, ‘sm’eyes,’ as she calls it.

Nyanen detail

Friday, September 6th, 2013

A Piece Apart

Saw this knitted piece this morning in a newsletter that comes my way. Wondering if anyone would be interested in something similar. A preview of the fall line from a Apiece Apart.

Looks like a great take-off idea for a mix of textures in Puffin. Love the pockets. And love the white–Egret would be pretty in this. (I’d make it for myself in black. Or gray.) Might even be good with sleeves? Shorter?


Thursday, September 5th, 2013

scarf call

And it’s (going to be) that time again–scarf time. Announcing our third Annual Call for Scarves (ACFS).

The past two years, we’ve asked you to submit ideas for the perfect scarf. Each time what you sent in was wonderful. The first year we published fourteen designs, and last year we had so many good ideas that we squeezed seventeen into the 2013 collection. So many we had to turn away that we’d love to have included. So bring them on again and make us weep. Tell us about your perfect scarf.

Is it a cowl? A simple skinny rectangle long enough to go around the neck three times? Is is a triangle to wrap the neck and shoulders in? Show us your idea, be it original and wacky, classic and comforting, sophisticated, cute, textured, colored, cowled, wrapped, shawled, short- or long-ended. What we want is the scarf you want to live in. And one that’s relatively easy to knit (we think scarves should be comfort knitting).

So, please–send us your design(s). We’d love to have your submission by September 26. If we accept your idea, we’ll get yarn to you pronto and hope to see your finished piece by November 8. You’ll get to keep your scarf when all is photographed and done, and we’ll pay you, too, for your design.

Please submit your ideas via email to Scan your swatch and sketch (rough drawing is fine) and put SCARF in the subject line. No need to use a Quince yarn in your swatch, we’ll get the idea and, if we accept it, we’ll send you a Quince equivalent. Questions? Email us at

Okay–come on! Let’s see those scarves!


Thursday, September 5th, 2013


It’s been a long time coming, but we’ve finally pulled it off. Eight new colors for our wool line. If you only count seven in the photo, that’s because today the dyehouse is dyeing color number 8, a bright poppy red. From the bottom left corner, roughly, the colors above are: Slate (a deep, warm gray), Wasabi (green with a bit of yellow), Camel (like the animal), Malbec (a deep winey red), Sedum (soft autumn peach, like the flower), Fiord (gray/blue), and Belize (pretty aqua).

We’ll add the colors to Chickadee first (coming soon), then phase them in in our other wool yarns: Finch, Lark, Osprey, and Puffin.

We’ll let you know when those birds fly in with new feathers.




Thursday, September 5th, 2013

framework frontjj

Framework is not just another triangular shawl. Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark‘s pretty wrap, part of Free-Spirit Shawls (Interweave Press, 2013), has a third panel for more wrappability. Here’s a bit of the intro:

Mercedes… wondered what could be added or taken away from the shape to create something new. In this shawl, the triangle is both reduced, by casting on for flat-topped panels of lace, and expanded, by bringing in a third panel to make a longer wrap.

The shawl is worked in Quince Tern/Kelp.

framework backj