Aug 22, 2015 :: by Leila Raabe
Every so often we like to take a look around to see what designers are up to with Quince yarns. Among them is Deb Hoss, from Brookline, Massachusetts (you may recognize her from Scarves, etc. 4, for which she contributed Linda). Our yarns are showcased quite nicely in her classic, elegant style. We thought it would be great to chat with Deb a little bit about her designs, so we asked her to join us on the blog today for a Q&A. Enjoy!
What brought you to designing knitwear?
I started making clothes as a teenager, both sewn and knitted – first from pre-made patterns and then later from my own. Designing for myself was a natural progression and I found knitting to be especially enjoyable because it was portable. It fit in easily among the busy-ness of school, work, and family life along the way. It was often all that I had energy for at the end of the day. My mother, Marlene, taught me the basics and my great, great aunt Hattie passed all of her knitting tools to me! I love that I have these and that she knew me and of my interest. It's a nice family connection.
How would you describe your particular style as a designer?
I like a simple silhouette. Most of my sweaters have waist shaping and not a lot of ease. Their fit is typically slim with emphasis on the neckline, such as a low scoop or v-neck. To this I add variety with texture or color pairings.
Any techniques or construction methods you personally favor over others, or that can be expected in most/all of your patterns?
I especially love the dense fabric and invisible shaping of the garter stitch that has spawned 4 cardigans and a vest, to date, with another vest on the way. I aim at seamless construction though that has not always been true. (Coming from a sewing background, you'll find side seams in my earlier patterns – these are easily converted.) And I like the structure of a set-in sleeve that I feel is most flattering to the body. I find Elizabeth Doherty's method for working the set-in sleeve to be excellent and look forward to incorporating that into my future designs.
A number of your patterns call for Quince yarn. What drives your decision-making process when choosing the yarn used in your patterns? Do you have a favorite yarn/weight?
I so love the stitch definition of Quince's wool, and selection of colors. Although I've used most of Quince's yarns I find myself returning to Chickadee and Lark often. Sport-weight Chickadee is perfect for a light sweater, as many of mine are – worn not so much to brave the elements as to slip on with a skirt for the office, or with jeans, even shorts, for casual wear. The latest yarn of choice for my previously mentioned garter stitch addiction is the worsted-weight Lark. I find its gauge, definition, and density just right for the sculptural shaping I'm drawn to.
Tell us about some of your most recent designs.
I embarked on Juliet's mitts as an interim project. Something small, I thought, that I could fit in between other more strenuous ones. I hadn't made or worn mitts before, though my daughter Juliet loved them. I started by educating myself on how they're made, then rediscovered a 1960s stitch dictionary on my shelf with several abbreviated lace stitch patterns that would work on the small mitt format. It's the fact that I couldn't decide on which lace to choose that accounts for, happily, the resulting series of four mitts – one uses Chickadee and 2 others are made using Finch.
Connie followed the mitts and is my latest garter stitch cardigan – the first using Lark (there will be more). I had a general sense of the design when I started but it changed as I went along (as often happens, and I know to let it when it does). The gentle fold of the collar and resulting zipper placement were happy surprises.
With the coming of spring I was thinking warmer weather as Dot Tee came into focus. Its lace is one that I had used on the mitts – as one design typically leads to the next. I liked that its airy lace wasn't so revealing as to require a lining in order to be worn. One of my testers asked that I include an option for a three-quarter length sleeve, so I did. I look forward to making that version for myself one day – if time permits.
What was your experience contributing Linda for our Scarves Etc. 4 collection?
Boy that was fun, and a delightful surprise to be selected! Knitting the Linda scarf was a labor of love and I found the process to be transformational, as I now use Quince formatting guidelines for of all my patterns, and include centimeters.
You've just released Button Box—can you share with us some of the details about this newest design?
This vest is one of the Lark garter designs mentioned above. Its style was inspired by a favorite fabric top I wore to the workplace some years ago in my past business life, and its name from the source of my extensive button stash. It's a cropped top with side shaping, slits at the hips, and buttons down the back. Short rows create a dip in its front and back hemlines. I love the way it finishes off a simple jersey and skirt (or slacks) combination. It works really well with jeans too. I recently brought it to the beach and slipped it over a tee when the sun went down. It's definitely a versatile, all-season piece.
Any upcoming designs or projects in the works for later this year?
I aim to publish a pattern each month. Currently a Chickadee lace pullover is being tested for publishing in September, and I usually plan a design around a holiday gift for my family, slated for October. Sister-in-law Pam received my Linda scarf last year! I think it was a hit.
Deb, thanks so much for spending some time with us here on the blog today! We hope our readers enjoyed reading about your work as much as we did!