We have been working with Bristol since our early days, when we shared a warehouse space with Brooklyn Tweed, for whom she was working at the time. We have loved watching her career grow and feel so lucky to enjoy a continued collaboration with this prolific and innovative designer. If you haven't seen her recently published books, Knitting Outside the Box (PomPom Press, 2017), and Knitting Outside the Box: Fold and Drape (PomPom Press, 2019), they are stunning and inspiring. You can find them at her website, bristolivy.com.
Influences in the designs Bristol has published with us have spanned technique (Brioche, Fisherman's Rib), various fashion eras of the 20th century, craft (quilting, metalwork), and much more. She is the featured designer for our Quince Quarterly: Spring Twenty Twenty edition, so we thought this would be a perfect opportunity to showcase her work and catch up with Bristol on some reflections of her experience in the knitting world.
Q&Co: Favorite Quince yarns?
BI: I fall hard for Piper and Sparrow every single time. They’re both such incredible and versatile yarns: Piper can bloom to an open and delicate fabric, or, knit up in a small gauge, it becomes almost windproof and unbelievably warm; and Sparrow creates the most crisp and beautiful stitch definition ever. They are totally perfect, in my opinion! And of course, I absolutely love ALL the Quince yarns! Each one was created to fulfill a specific purpose—springy, workhorse yarn for Lark, smoothy, fluffy, wintery fabric for Puffin, etc—and they do it better than pretty much any other yarn out there. Hooray for Quince!
Q&Co: How has your designing changed over the years?
BI: I think I’ve gotten more comfortable in my own skin and my own brain. I started designing knitting patterns at the wee young age of 25 (this year will be the 10th anniversary of my first pattern release!), and spent a few years trying to figure out how my voice fit into the larger picture of the knitting world. I love knitting history and traditional shapes, and it’s been fun to play with those over the years and see how to make them mine. And, also, how the knitting world fit my voice! I’ve always been a bit outside the norm, and the last ten years have been all about finding where the loopholes in knitting logic are and seeing what I can do with them. Knitting remains my favorite art form because, at the end of the day, if it doesn’t work out then you have the exact same materials you started with, and so much more information than you had before. So, I think my designs have gotten a bit more fearless, and a lot more true to who I am.
Q&Co: What are you up to/inspired by these days?
BI: I am running down two wildly different paths: I am on a serious circular yoke sweater kick on the one hand, and a “mess around with brioche” kick on the other. I think the former is a really amazing canvas for playing around with stitch patterns and shaping. Right now I’m thinking through one whose decreases are shaped within a traditional cable pattern, and another one based on a stitch pattern that increases and decreases dramatically. So much fun! With brioche, there are so many possibilities. What if it didn’t have to be 1x1? What if it didn’t have to be rib at all? I’m so itchy to try everything out!
Q&Co: What would you like to see more of in the knitting world?
BI: I am all in for hearing more from people with unique voices. I want to see how far I can push knitting as an art form while still maintaining the balance of wearability, and I love to see how others approach that as well. Let’s see where we can take this!
Thanks so much for chatting with us and happy 10th design-niversary! Here are some of our favorite Bristol designs:
Our Marsh collection, published in fall 2017, featured Burke, worked up in Lark and shown here in Aleutian. This sweet modified drop shoulder open cardigan is all about fluffy, irresistible brioche in the body, balanced out by slim stockinette stitch sleeves.
Bristol's Emmaline tee in Sparrow (shown in Blue Spruce) is a simple and stunning top-down, round-yoke piece with shoulder buttons, garter stripes throughout, with a pretty lace at the hem. We published this one in May 2014.
Lida was published in June 2011, back when Sans was the only shade we made, and this piece was inspired by early 20th century women's fashion. The eyelet and cable motifs in this shawl alternate to form a pleasing and understated allover lace fabric.
We published the Kit camisole in summer 2012, a simple tank with half-linen stitch at the hem and yoke, plus a panel that runs up the back. Also shown in Sans, this Sparrow piece has such beautiful drape to it.
unusual construction and fun techniques
When Belize was added to our core wool palette in 2013, it captured Bristol's imagination and inspired Bryony, which has a cool construction and bands of eye-catching eyelet ribbing at the fronts and waist. We published this piece, knitted in Chickadee, in late April 2014.
We went crazy over Jolene when it arrived at our office, this cozy, blanket-sized cardigan knitted up in our beloved Owl (shown in Cranberry). An enormous rectangle worked essentially like a shawl, with an eyelet spine up the back of the piece, this piece swings and wraps and is generally a thing of beauty and comfort.
Vienne, knitted in Chickadee and shown here in Peaks Ferry, Twig, and Chanterelle, uses Intarsia, a colorwork technique that had its heyday in the 80s and early 90s. Here, Bristol puts Intarsia in the service of cool color blocking that forms sort of like a stained glass or quilt motif, with soft browns peeking through a bold red frame.