Jan 05, 2016 :: by Leila Raabe
Happy New Year, everyone! We hope your 2016 is off to a good start, with an abundance of warmth, good company, and fresh goals for the year ahead. And, plenty of knitting (or crocheting) time.
Today we release our first design for the year: Marsellus, a lovely cabled pullover designed by Whitney Hayward. A timeless and versatile classic, this version gives the fisherman-style Aran an updated silhouette. The squishy, plump honeycomb and braid cables sing in our worsted weight wool, Lark, with simple moss stitch and ribbed trims completing the garment.
We've had our eye on Whitney's work from the moment we first spied her project photos. Originally hailing from Missouri, this up-and-coming designer currently lives and works in Portland, Maine. Lucky for us, she was able to drop by Quince HQ and we took a minute to talk with her about her knitting and design work.
On how long she's been knitting: Whitney started out with crochet first at the age of 5 or 6, taught by her grandmother and working up a number of washcloth projects. It wasn't until she studied abroad in Japan that she picked up knitting needles. Her house-mother taught her the basics, despite the language barrier—Whitney hadn't yet learned to speak Japanese, and her house-mother wasn't fluent in English—and she knit her first project, a hat.
(sidenote: Whitney went on to learn Japanese, and she recently wrote a 2-part series on how to read Japanese knitting patterns—a priceless resource to have if, like me, you have a high number of Japanese patterns in your pattern library and not much knowledge of what to do besides gaze longingly and daydream about knitting them. You'll find those posts here and here.)
On Whitney's foray into knitwear design: We're always curious to hear what brings someone to designing, and Whitney mentioned something we can all relate to: what it takes to feed the yarn budget. Working as a photojournalist for the local paper wasn't adequately covering a voracious yarn appetite, so it made perfect sense to get into design work to help support her habit. Whitney first dipped her toe into the designing waters in October 2014 and has been enthusiastically designing ever since.
On the elements about Marsellus that she particularly favors: Coming to embrace the set-in sleeve. They used to scare her, but Whitney noticed that set-in sleeves wore better than raglans at the shoulder and arm and realized that proper fit in that area was key. Seams and structure are important—if this sweater was worked in cotton, it would eventually sag under its own weight, with the fabric pulling unbecomingly out of shape. Made in a sturdy and lightweight wool like Lark, this is less of a factor, but still something knitters would always do well to keep in mind.
Lastly, that turned-in collar—knitted twice its height, then turned in and whip-stitched to the inside, the collar is flexible, with plenty of stretch to get the sweater on and off easily. Anyone who's knitted a too-tight sweater collar can appreciate this!
What makes an essential knit: Whitney swears by a versatile, transitional wardrobe. Being able to style one piece many different ways and achieve different looks easily is essential. Color is also a factor—in a neutral heathered gray like Iceland (pictured) this sweater looks fantastic with pretty much anything. As for fit—slimmer, fitted sleeves with less ease is the key to making a sweater look current and avoid some of the outdated, unflattering proportions of older trends.
What's next in the works: We hear there are socks (in Tern—wool/silk socks? Yes, please) on Whitney's design calendar. And there will be another exciting collab with Quince for a cardigan next fall...stay tuned for more on that when the time comes, but in the meantime, keep up with Whitney on her blog, on Ravelry, and on Instagram.
We hope you enjoyed reading today's post, and we wish you the best for a fruitful year ahead. One of our 2016 goals here at Quince is to continue to bring you new and exciting yarns, colors, and designs, all the while keeping a mindful approach to what we're about, what we do, and what we offer—what matters. The importance of this cannot be stressed enough, and it is heartening to see so many of you understand that. Thank you.