why wool?


September 27, 2018

As part of our month-long celebration of our Core Wool yarns, we asked Quince & Co's founder, Pam Allen, to talk a little bit about the overall idea of knitting—why it's attractive, why we keep picking up needles and yarn time and time again. Here's what she had to say:

Why do we knit? Hope it’s okay to use the royal We, for surely each of us have our own reasons for picking up needles and yarn. Yet, when I catch sight of someone in an airport or waiting for a play to start or seated on a park bench with knitting in the lap, I smile to myself and feel a kinship. We knitters may not have a secret handshake, but we know we have something in common.

Not long ago, our lovely editorial staff took on an assignment: Ponder this question: What makes you want to knit? Homework: Find images that make you want to jump up and grab your needles.

We brought our favorite photos to the table and spent a few hours going over each person’s collection, lovely images of models in romantic settings, soft light hitting the shoulder, models outside demonstrating the rugged wearability and warmth of their pullovers, sweaters with piled on cables, or texture patterns, or colorwork. We saw photos of knitters knitting, teacup at elbow, curled in a chair, and smiling contentedly.

These sweater pictures varied from person to person. But what was consistent in each person’s pile were pictures of just plain knitting, and by that I mean that sweaters gave way to close ups of sweaters, to details, or the photos showed swatches, piles of folded sweaters, a work in progress filling a basket—in short, pictures which brought forward the knitting, the textures and softness of stitches.

Seems that what we love over yokes and sleeves and other sweater structures are stitches. Recognizing those little V-shapes is a bit like coming home, they make us want to reach out and touch, make us want to run for our needles.

We may go to knitting for different reasons, but we all make stitches because there’s something about yarn twining loops on needles that’s restoratively simple, this kind of making is wholesome, lovely, and makes us feel that all is right with the world—at least for this moment.

Picking up on what we all gravitated toward as we gathered our visual representations of what makes the folks here in the editorial department want to knit (and we still do want to knit in our spare time after all these years!!), we've chosen a few pieces for each of the things Pam mentions above:

warmth

When we saw Whitney's Watkins on her blog, we so hoped she would publish the pattern with us, and luckily, she did—and a nearly company-wide knit-along for this sweater ensued. In fact, we documented the process (see here and here). Published at the tail end of 2016, and shown here in Puffin Audouin (MC), Sabine, Clay, and Apricot. It's roomy and lovely to wrap up in.

Cecily's Katrine, also in Puffin, was also a big hit when it was published in fall 2011. Shown here in Storm, its button-able cowl neck and thick seed stitch panel is great for layering.

Caarin's Ginkgo wrap in Osprey, designed for Scarves, etc 6, is a gigantic wrap that is a must-have for staying toasty. And, the leaf motif is so gorgeous. Shown in Carrie's Yellow.

left to right: Watkins by Whitney Hayward, Katrine by Cecily Glowik MacDonald, Ginkgo by Caarin Fleischmann

wearability

Carrie Bostick Hoge's classic garter stitch cardigan, Annabel, seems like a staple in the closets of many knitters, judging from what we've seen over the years. Knitted in Osprey, shown here in Chanterelle, (and worn with the Serafina cowl in Lark), this top-down cardi is soothing to knit and easy to throw on, all the time.

From Gudrun Johnston's book Knit with Me, Braeburn (shown in Iceland) is a top down pullover in Lark, with a wide cable panel, short rows shaping the back bottom hem, and a cozy cowl, picked up and worked from the neckline up. A fun piece to knit and so comforting to wear.

Another sweater that folks want to pull on again and again, Hannah Fettig's Lightweight pullover from Knitbot Essentials, knit in Chickadee and shown here in Bird's Egg, is a classic. Also top down and starting with the cowl neck, this sweater showcases Chickadee's slightly textural nature in smooth stockinette.

left to right: Annabel cardigan by Carrie Bostick Hoge, Braeburn by Gudrun Johnston, Lightweight by Hannah Fettig

textures

From our very first Wool book published in 2011, Melissa LaBarre's Avery is one of our all-time, best-loved cowls. The reversible texture motif on this cowl is so compelling: Wide knit/purl diamonds with an interrupted rib column in the center of each one. Shown here in Osprey Honey, one of our most popular colors.

Leila's Lex shawl from Shawl week 2016, shown in Finch Damson, offers up a cool combination of welts and a brick-like motif dotted with eyelets. This is the kind of tactile texture that you just want to have the feel of in your hands while working row after row.

In March 2012, we published this stunning pullover by Michele Wang, Wickerwork, which features an allover cable motif on the front and back. Shown in Osprey Honey, the tiny baskets are just so pleasing to look at.

left to right: Avery by Melissa LaBarre, Lex by Leila Raabe, Wickerwork by Michele Wang

color

From Sea Smoke, one of our fall collections published in 2016, Dianna Walla's Dalis pullover showcases a Scandinavian-inspired palette in a motif echoing woven ribbons. The patterning in the yoke, cuffs, and gives it a satisfying balance. Shown in Lark Audouin (background), Delft, Fjord, Carrie's Yellow, and Kumlien's Gull.

The simplest of patterns can yield the most impactful of results. Barb Collins designed the Lola cowl for our second Scarves, etc collection in 2013. Shown in Chickadee Split Pea, Carrie's Yellow, Kittywake, Nasturtium, Frank's Plum, and Kumlien's Gull, this cowl rolls in on itself from the unfinished stockinette stitch edges, creating a softness that blends so well with the bold stripes.

Elizabeth Doherty's Serif was initially published in her book Top Down: Reimagining Set-in Sleeve Design in summer 2015. Worked in Lark (shown in Sedum) and Chickadee (shown in Twig), color blocking is the easiest way to introduce color into a garment.

left to right: Dalis by Dianna Walla, Lola by Barb Collins, Serif by Elizabeth Doherty

Pam's above question addresses why we knit, and in the video we made with her just before we launched this month-long celebration, she also talks about why we choose wool, and to sum up, here were some of her (very good) reasons:

  • It's elastic and has a memory. It desires to snap back to its original fabric, and molds to the body.
  • It's absorbent (it can absorb up to 30% of its weight before it starts to feel wet!)
  • It's insulating—air is already in the fibers, and it allows the fabric to breathe, to let air in and out.

 

 

We hope you've enjoyed this journey through our Core wools, and all of the designs we've chosen to highlight our favorite qualities of each one. Stay tuned for a post this weekend highlighting our largest bird, Puffin!

Related posts in: Chickadee | Core wool | Finch | Knitting | Lark | Osprey | Pam allen | Puffin | Wool
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