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Blog / Quince & Co.

  • Pam Allen - Quince and Co.


    The seedling idea for Quince & Co came from a random phone call. I was at my desk, working as creative director at Classic Elite Yarns, when the phone rang. The voice at the other end was unfamiliar and had a strong Texas twang. The caller was a rancher in Texas who raises angora goats (mohair) that boast extraordinarily fine hair.


    That phone call, well over a year before I launched Quince, was one of those turning points in life. Without that serendipitous ring, Quince & Co and all attached to it might never have happened.


    The rancher was calling because he was hoping to find a yarn company willing to buy his fiber of which he was deservedly proud. The possibility of building a yarn from scratch had never crossed my mind. From my experience in the knitting industry, as far as I knew, yarn was manufactured overseas or in South America and one shopped for it at trade shows in Europe or entertained mill reps in the office at home.


    In the course of our conversation, he mentioned that he was also talking to a guy who owned a mill in Maine, a mere 20 minutes from my office. This mill, he said, was spinning handknitting yarn. I could hardly stay seated. It was not unlike hearing you'd won the lottery, without having ever bought a ticket. How could anyone be spinning yarn within shouting distance and I not know about it?


    I immediately called the owner of the mill, and that conversation marked the beginning of a life-changing experience for me. At first, I tried to interest the company I worked for in this US-made yarn. But the numbers simply didn't work. There was no way to make a yarn in the US, with all the wage and environmental standards to meet (a good thing), and compete with the yarn coming in from overseas.


    And why was it important to me to make a yarn in the US? For several reasons:


    First, it's impossible to live in the northeast, without feeling at times that one is living in a mill graveyard. Every town near a river has a mill building alongside. And it's sad to see those giant spaces turned into call centers or expensive condominiums. These sturdy buildings once housed vigorous, productive activity. The people that worked in them made goods that sold the world over.


    Further, it may come as a surprise to many, as it did to me, that Texas was once the largest exporter of mohair fiber in the world. And this was true as recently as the 1980s. Not now, however. The ranches that used to spread far and wide in the Texas hill country with roaming angora goats are few at this point. And many have been converted to hunting playgrounds for wealthy gentlemen who bring their rifles to shoot exotic deer and boar from Africa.


    For me, sourcing wool and mohair fiber in the US is a way that I can help to keep animals on the land. And in so doing, in my very, very, very small way, I'm helping to conserve history and open space in this country. And these are things that excite me as much as knitting does.


    A few notes of clarification. Outside of Piper and Ibis, our mohair/wool bend that we source exclusively from Texas, Quince & Co doesn't make artisanal or boutique yarns. What I mean by this is that we don't source our wool from small farms or special breeds. Lovely as that idea is, my goal from the beginning has been to be a big company. Because as a big company, even if we're small relative to most industries, I like to think that we can have an impact, however small, on the things I value.


    As a strong supporter of land conservation and open space, I like to think that by buying wool from a large broker who sources wool from many parts of the country, we're helping to keep a rancher on his land and sheep in the landscape. And given the precariousness of spinning mills that have managed to hold on during the 1990s and early 2000s, I like knowing that small customer that we are, we still contribute to their well-being.


    A final word. I use the word "I" here a lot. But in truth, "we" is apt, as well. Without the help of others, including the talented Carrie Hoge who launched her own business in the past couple of years, and Ryan, my son, who has taken on all the nuts and bolts of operations and numbers, and now the business proper, Quince wouldn't be the company that it is. And I'd be remiss in not mentioning the other dedicated and talented people who contribute their skills and talents on a daily basis: Jerusha, Dawn, Leila, Whitney, Adi, Courtney, Kelly, Jenn, Hodan, and Karin.


    As they say, it takes a village. Even when you're raising a yarn company.



    Pam Allen

    We are so thrilled to have a guest blog post from Pam Allen! We have loved Quince & Co. since its inception and are honored to be a flagship store.

  • Why We Love Quince & Co.

    How do we love Quince & Co., let us count the ways...

    We love the American Wool collection from Quince & Co.! The collection features lovely (and economical!) American-made yarn that is wonderful to knit with and has beautiful stitch definition. Look for Finch, Chickadee, Lark, Osprey and Puffin in the American Wool collection. We love Owl and Owl Tweet, this soft heathered 50/50 wool with alpaca yarn is a big favorite at Tolt. Tern with its subtle sheen from Tussah silk. Piper and Ibis, made with Texas mohair. Sparrow and Kestrel, gorgeous organic linen. Willet, cleaner cotton and Pheobe, 100% US merino wool. 

    We love Quince & Co.'s story: that Pam Allen wanted to create yarns from the ground up. We love the careful sourcing of their fibers, how they source and promote domestic wool and other fibers, creating a smaller footprint. When domestic isn't available, sourcing thoughtfully from the most ethical producers; organic linen bases from Europe and cruelty free Tussah silk.

    We love the simple, wearable aesthetic of the patterns that Quince releases. 

     We love Quince's Books.

    And books inspired by Quince & Co.'s yarn… (Hannah Fettig's Knitbot books and Home and Away, Carrie Bostick Hoge's Madder Anthologies 1 & 2 and Swoon, Maine, Jane Richmond and Shannon Cook's Journey.)


    We will be highlighting Quince & Co. on our blog and in our shop for the whole month of June.  We are hosting a trunk show featuring a few Quince favorites, come by and see the projects in person, if you live near our brick and mortar store.

    Watch for further posts in the upcoming weeks.



  • Show and Tell - Beth's Nordic Wind

    Thanks to Woolful and her #woolfulnordicwindKAL there has been a lot of Nordic Winds being made at Tolt!  This simple and sweet shawl pattern was designed by Deneise of Cabinfour using 4 skeins of Lett Lopi.  Beth chose to make her shawl out of Quince & Co. Owl and we love how it turned out.  You can read more about Beth's shawl on her Ravelry page and stop in the shop or give us a call to get some Owl yarn to make your own Nordic Wind.

  • Tolt Folded Bag with Veronika

    One of my most favorite sources of eye candy when I need a creative burst of energy is Pinterest, as I'm sure it is for many. I love to take elements of garments and shapes that are not necessarily knit items and make them come alive in my projects. I've managed to stumble upon different varieties of a sewn and simple folded bag in recent months, and thought what a perfect shape for knitting in all of the beautiful cottons and linens we have at the shop. One of the first versions of this bag I found was this lovely blog post. Our friend Shannon Cook over at Very Shannon has a sweet tutorial for an Origami Bento Bag that is sewn out of 3 fat quarters. So cute! Also, Karen the blogging queen over at Fringe Association has these darling Bento Bags, if sewing is not your thing and you want to just grab one up. I just love the shape and ease of these bags that I had to make a knitted one! Here's a little recipe to make one of your own:



    Hoooked RibbonXL - 250 yd (garter version)

    US 15 needles & US 10 needles for optional extended handle

    Gauge: 12 sts / 24 rows in garter stitch on larger needles


    Quince & Co. Kestrel - 304 yd (stockinette version)

    US 8 needles

    Gauge: 20 sts / 28 rows in stockinette stitch



    Garter Version:

    Using US 15 needles, cast on 30 sts (approximately 10” width). Work in garter stitch (knit every row), using the following selvedge: with yarn in front, slip 1st stitch purl wise at the beginning of every row. Work in this manner until piece measures three times the width of your work. For example: if your gauge is the same as mine at 10”, you will work in pattern until piece measures 30”.


    Bind off.


    Fold bag as shown in pictures and sew up sides using mattress stitch.


    For the garter version, I chose to knit and add on an additional handle at the top to widen the opening. This is optional. If you like the length of the handle when held together at the top, sew the two tips together using whip stitch and you are done. If you would like to also extend your handle, follow these instructions:


    Using US 10 needles, cast on 6 sts. Leave a longer tail for sewing to bag at the end.


    Work in stockinette stitch (knit 1 row, purl 1 row), until piece measures 7” long. Bind off, leaving a longer tail for sewing to bag again.


    Using whipstitch and longer tails, sew ends of handle to top tips of bag.



    Stockinette Version:

    Using US 8 needles, cast on 60 sts (approximately 12” width). Work in stockinette stitch (knit 1 row, purl 1 row), using the following selvedge: on RS rows - slip 1st stitch and last stitch knit wise, on WS rows – purl across row. Work in this manner until piece measures three times the width of your work. For example: if your gauge is the same as mine at 12”, you will work in pattern until piece measures 36”.


    Bind off.


    Fold bag as shown in pictures and sew up sides using mattress stitch.


    Using whip stitch, sew the two tips together to create the handle. If you like the length and look of the handle, you are done.


    For the stockinette version, I chose to sew on some leather over the top of the handle after sewing the two tips together. I did this by cutting out a rectangle piece of leather approximately 5” X 2”, I then punched matching holes on the ends of the long sides of the leather and used a thick cotton button thread to sew the leather onto the handle with a criss-cross stitch pattern.  As I was sewing the leather into place, I would grab a stitch of the interior knit fabric to secure.



    Happy knitting!



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