Three cheers for Core Wool 2021! We hope you’ve enjoyed following us along on our pattern releases this past week. Make sure you take a look at this collection’s lookbook―it’s chock full of vibrant colors and textures, and is sure to get the creative juices flowing. We continue our annual woolly celebration with a Q&A with one of our test knitters for Core Wool 2021, Shauna Madden, who did a test knit for Hanna Maciejewska’s McKie pullover.
Scroll down to soak up all the knitterly details!
Tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been knitting? How did you start?
My family planted the seeds of a “maker” in me. My mother knit a blanket for my doll when I was about 4. A few years later, I decided to knit for myself. My mother set me up with needles, acrylic yarn and a pamphlet. Shortly afterward, my father taught me to crochet. I don’t remember much from the days of “everything is a scarf.” I do recall being out sick for a week from high school, and being proud to show off a newly crocheted afghan.
A few years ago, I invested in a series of courses: Make. Wear. Love. Retreat; Vogue Knitting Live; Madrona; Ann Budd’s Knit for Fun; Bazaar Girls Retreat. The year following, I set goals to integrate those learnings and create a daily knitting habit.
Professionally, I lead large teams to deliver new technology solutions to emerging global issues. The math behind the stitches, the physics of the fiber, the economics and societal aspect of sourcing each adds a layer of interest to the very tangible satisfaction of doing something productive with my hands. Yes, I am a process knitter. I will select a project and develop the skills to complete it, even if that means frogging and reknitting or creating a “muslin” as a proof of concept before casting on for my project.
Above: Shauna drew inspiration for knitting from countless publications, including Slow Knitting by Hannah Thiessen (left) and Coats & Clark’s ‘Learn to Knit’ (right).
With passions for sustainability, carbon reduction, racial equity, social and economic welfare of women globally, I find Makers―knitters, spinners, sewers, etc.―to be “my community.” I am fortunate to be in a position to support yarn brands, dyers, designers, podcasters and teachers aligned with my passions.
Although my library holds Pam Allen’s designs going back decades, and I had already been knitting with Quince & Co. yarns, I fell in love with the Quince & Co. mission as I read Slow Knitting by Hannah Thiessen. “Slow Knitting proposes an approach to knitting that is both minimalist and all-encompassing, and emphasizes what makes knitting a meditation, a passion, and a unique necessity.”
What are your favorite Quince yarns?
My favorite Quince & Co. yarn is usually the one in my hands. The latest project, McKie, was knit in Chickadee Organic Heathers. I found the subtle shift in colors mesmerizing and deeply pleasing as the stitches fell effortlessly from my needles into lush fabric.
Although I am still working on a lace shrug in Sparrow, the depth of color and elemental feel of the fabric is compelling. In linen, this garment will be a timeless piece crafted from exceptional fiber.
My pullover in Owl was one of the most addictive knits I can recall, due in large part to the quality, feel, and color sense of the yarn itself. Donning this sweater literally brings a smile to my face as I remember the joy I felt in the knitting.
How long have you been test knitting? How did you become a test knitter for Quince?
I cannot remember my first test knits―they may well have been for Quince & Co. I believe I saw a note in the email newsletter. My wardrobe is a guilty pleasure with Fflur in Owl, Indra Tee in Tern, Massaman Vest & Cowl in Lark, Seguin in Sparrow―WIPs include Milliken in Ibis (a discontinued Quince yarn) and an upcoming lace shrug in Sparrow.
Besides the projects I’ve test knit for Quince & Co., I’ve test knit for a few new designers; I enjoy opportunities to provide not only corrections but suggestions for usability.
Tell us a little about the Quince test knits you recently worked on. What did you like about the pattern(s)? Did you learn anything new? What did you think about the yarn you knitted with?
I received an email invitation to test knitters for volunteers. When I saw the photo and read the summary for McKie, a drop shouldered, cabled and moss stitch pullover, I was hooked. I love complex textures and the garment looked like it would flatter my shape. I’ve heard good reviews about Chickadee and my queue holds many Hanna Maciejewska designs.
I swatched and was delighted at how easy it was to hit the proper gauge AND how the fabric reacted to both wet blocking and carry-in-my-pocket test. Because I was concerned the armhole would not fit me comfortably, I wet-blocked the garment at the point I joined front to back under the arms. The fit was “purrfect.”
I cannot say enough about the project. The yarn was absolutely dreamy, every stitch had remarkable bounce and frequently the yarn carried wisps of complementary colors (yellow, red, and slate). The feel of the textured stitches is decadently deep, and the slightly fulled blocked fabric is delightfully light and seems to never be too warm.
I unintentionally finished the sleeves 3" too long―apparently I was just a bit past the correct pattern repeat when I switched to the chart for the sleeve hem. After trying to convince myself I wanted bracelet-length sleeves, I ripped back and LOVE the 13" sleeves!!
I am delighted to support Quince & Co.’s mission. For me, that is paramount. Contributing to the success of other knitters and of designs fulfills one of my own missions. The items I create as a result are physical manifestations of my joy at being part of this team.
A big thank you to Shauna for taking the time to test knit AND interview with us for Core Wool 2021. We hope you enjoyed reading along, and found a little inspiration along the way. Interested in test knitting (or crocheting!) for Quince? Sign up for our test knitter e-letter, sent out periodically with test calls for upcoming Quince & Co. patterns.
Looking for more knitterly inspo? Check out our previous blog post, 5 Woolly Wonders, for some more woolly goodness!
I love your yarns. I am also a process knitter. What I like about your company is that your models come in all shapes and ages. This allow us to see ourselves in your sweaters. I live in a very warm state so I look for yarns that can worn all year around. I love your cowls, shawls and some of your light sweaters. I always look for baby items that are easy and quick and most important machine washable for the mom. Thank you for sharing your story.