July 14, 2019
Quince is nine! And who doesn't love telling a birth story over and over again, year after year? In July of 2010, our little website first popped up on the internet, with four yarns—Chickadee, Lark, Osprey, and Puffin—each in 37 colors; and 15 patterns, designed by Quince founders, Pam Allen and Carrie Bostick Hoge, plus Melissa LaBarre and Cecily Glowik MacDonald.
The initial color range for sampling was very limited: Frost, Crow, River, Apricot, and Nasturtium. As you can see in our Prima collection, many of these patterns are in these colors: Aynia, Annabel, Cullin, and Isla in pale Frost; Moira, Kilkenny, and Puck's scarf in creamy Apricot; Fiona in cheery Nasturtium; Marian in bright River.
It's well known around here that Pam's vision for the designs was to start with simple stitches and techniques—knit and purl, cast on and bind off, minimal shaping and seaming—to grow the population of fiber enthusiasts everywhere, and to build from there. The yarns, sturdy and pretty, each with their own personality, speak for themselves in stockinette, garter, ribbing.
Puck's scarf by Pam Allen in Osprey Apricot is the classic first project for knitters. Cast on, knit, bind off. Weave in ends (or not, as shown!). In fact, this scarf made it into our knitting primer Knit: First stitch/First scarf, published in 2016.
Moira mitts (knitted in Lark and shown in Apricot) bring in the element of knitting small circumferences in the round—knit them on double-pointed needles, or on long circular needles using the magic loop, or on two short circular needles. Picking up stitches and picking out a waste yarn cast on are two more new techniques for the beginning knitter.
Pam's Fiona in Puffin Nasturtium is considered a good candidate for a first sweater: No seams, an introduction to many essential increases and decreases, and knitted from the top down (for fitting along the way). Raw edges keep the fabric itself simple while mastering new techniques.
The Effie beret, by Melissa LaBarre, features a simple ribbing pattern, increasing, decreasing, and working the round. Ribbing is a key stitch pattern to master after stockinette and garter stitch. Aran weight Osprey Peacock, is a nice cushy yarn with which to work this sweet hat.
Carrie Bostick Hoge's Isla scarf offers a grid pattern with needle size changes, in our workhorse light worsted weight Lark (shown in Frost). This photo also shows Carrie's classic raglan, Annabel, in Osprey Frost, another great first sweater choice!
Cables-and-lace: The Kilkenny cowl (designed by Pam) is a sweet stitch sampler, for practicing reading charts, making small cables, eyelets, bigger cables, and directional shaping. Worked up in Chickadee and shown in Apricot.
By the end of 2010, we had nearly tripled our pattern offerings, adding several designs by Ann Budd, and had also added two new yarns: Silky Tern, first conceived of as a sock yarn (the silk a natural alternative to nylon); and our little linen Sparrow, just in undyed Sans! Many folks probably remember that we sold out of our first crop of Sparrow faster than we ever imagined and waited (sort of) patiently along with our customers for the next shipment from Italy. It wasn't until the fall of 2011 that we introduced our fifth core wool, fingering weight Finch.
For me personally, having come onto the Quince staff a year and a half after its launch, seeing these patterns from the early days still fills me with nostalgia. I remember reading the first blog posts, being so impressed by the photography and the yarns and patterns, and being so excited that there was a yarn company right here in Portland where I lived, founded by two greats in the fiber industry. I aspired to be a part of that, and I'm extremely lucky to have had the chance to work with Pam and Carrie, Cecily and Melissa, and all the staff, past and current. These four core wool yarns remain my favorites, though I certainly love working with all of our yarns.
If you are a Quince knitter, new or seasoned, we hope that these first patterns still inspire you to pick up needles and yarn, and do the thing we love to do: To create fabric, stitch after stitch, with our own hands, and make something beautiful and cherished.
Thanks for reading, and for all your support—whether for the last nine years, or for the last nine hours.Jerusha