Quince & Co.
Pam Allen has worn many hats in the knitting world. She was a knitwear designer, she wrote Knitting for Dummies, she edited Interweave Knits magazine, and she was the creative director for Classic Elite Yarns. Then, in January of this year, she appeared to have vanished from the knitting scene.
She hadn't disappeared, she was hard at work on a new dream: starting her own yarn company. This week, she quietly flipped the switch on Quince & Co.
Pam's goal is to offer good, basic yarns in a ton of colors, sourced and spun in the U.S., priced reasonably, and backed with excellent pattern support. Those yarns requiring imported fibers (say, silk or cashmere) would be sourced as responsibly as possible.
As anybody who has followed Pam's work with Interweave and Classic Elite already knows, she has a gift for curating stylish and attractive pattern collections (and nurturing up-and-coming designers in the process). Patterns will be a significant part of the Quince & Co. offering. The initial patterns show a continuation of Pam's clean, "Zen" aesthetic, with an emphasis on easy projects that require just one or two skeins to complete. Patterns are available as PDF downloads, and some of the easier patterns are free.
Pam made the slightly nontraditional decision to sell her yarns directly to the public. Recognizing the importance of a healthy LYS ecosystem, she will also offer her yarns to a few, select yarn stores under special terms. But otherwise, these yarns are only available from Quince & Co. Fittingly, the first LYS to showcase Quince is Knit Wit, located just down the road from Quince & Co. headquarters on Congress Street in Portland, Maine.
The Quince Quartet
The initial launch consists of four yarns, all of which are 100% wool, spun in the U.S., and available in 37 solid colors. The color card—an adorable little trifold booklet—is shown at left.
All four initial yarns are simple, unadorned manifestations of wool's potential—no sparkle, no fancy ply wizardry, just simple, usable materials. In a way, it's fitting that the author of Knitting for Dummies would go on to sell yarns that are accessible to beginners. And yet these yarns are also quite well-suited to more complicated knitting.
Here's a closer look at the Quince & Co. starting line-up.
Chickadee is a cheerful, sport-weight three-ply yarn with the well-rounded liveliness of a fresh bowl of cappellini. The three plies are twisted together at a medium angle, allowing for generous bounce without too much firmness. This makes the yarn equally well suited for cables, textured stitches, and even colorwork, with just a hint of halo to pull the fabric together.
Next, the plies are bulked up and the twist loosened just a tad to achieve the worsted-weight Lark. It has a decidedly woolier, more "farmy" aesthetic to it, although without any vegetable matter or lanolin fragrance and definitely more refined than what you'd usually get from a non-Merino farm yarn.
Lark gets additional bulk from the presence of a fourth ply, which also rounds out the yarn—consider it the heartier spaghetti cousin to Chickadee's cappellini. Such a well-rounded yarn is ideal for cables and textured stitches, with the blurrier yarn giving the fabric a gently subdued, low-relief effect.Osprey
170 yards [155m]/100g
3.5 stitches per inch on US 11 needles; 4 stitches per inch on US 9 needles
Spun in Maine
Cranking up the bulky setting even more is Osprey. Three plump plies of finer wool fiber have been plied together at a more relaxed angle to produce a poofy yarn whose ply shadows give a candycane-stripe effect.
Osprey's thicker, loftier composition renders stitches with great clarity, producing an even stockinette while giving bold, high relief to ribbing and cables.Puffin
100% American wool
112 yards [102m]/100g
2.5 stitches per inch on US 13 needles; 3 stitches per inch on US 10.5 needles
Spun in Maine
And finally, with the bulky setting on "high" you'll find the aptly named Puffin. It's a faux singles composed of two barely twisted strands of fiber that have been plied together into what appears to be a singles. This kind of construction benefits us because it creates a stronger, more balanced yarn. It's a dream for felting.
In terms of touch, Puffin may well be the heartiest grade of wool in the Quince & Co. collection. This is a good thing in terms of wearability, but if you're extremely sensitive to everything but the finest Merino, you'll probably want to try something else. Otherwise, enjoy Puffin as a quick-knitting yarn for bulky accessories and outerwear.
The summer Quince & Co. line-up is a fitting beginning for a small company with lofty goals and a lot of promise. Join me in welcoming Quince to the neighborhood.
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