Quince Quarterly Fall 2020

In the past few years, subscription boxes have become popular for all kinds of products. I regularly get a couple different food boxes, and in the past I’ve tried the Birchbox beauty supply box and personal styling from Stitch Fix. I recently learned about Quince and Co.’s subscription program Quince Quarterly, which provides a brand new knitting pattern and corresponding yarn, four times a year. I heard about Quince and Co. years ago, but somehow have never gotten around to trying any of their yarns. As soon as I learned about Quince Quarterly, I had to sign up — it’s the perfect way to experience new yarns. Plus it’s so fun to get a mystery box in the mail every few months!

Quince Quarterly has two options: Level 1 for $45 and Level 2 for $90. I got the Level 1 box this time, though I’m tempted to upgrade to Level 2 in the future. Look at all the fun stuff that came in this box! There are three skeins of Quince Owl yarn (50% wool, 50% alpaca) in yellow, blue, and oatmeal; a brand new pattern for mittens and a hat; and two rolls of washi tape. I have never used washi tape before, so I am open to any advice on what to do with it! The pattern is called Albizia, written by Pam Allen, and it is printed beautifully on high quality card stock and paper with full-color photos and charts. One cool thing about the Quince Quarterly program is the patterns are exclusive to subscribers for the first six months, so this one won’t be available for purchase until April 2021.

I was anxious to get knitting, so I got the yarns wound up right away. I could tell that it was going to be a delight to work with this Owl yarn; it is rustic and squishy, and the colors look great together. I started out by making a stockinette swatch in a single color. My gauge looked good, so I began the hat. After a few rounds of the stranded color pattern, I realized my mistake: stranded colorwork gauge is not the same as gauge for a single color! There was no way the hat was going to fit my head, so I ripped it out and started over with a swatch in the color pattern. I had to go up one needle size from the recommended US8 to US9.

Both the hat and the mittens start with a simple rolled edge. The colorwork starts after just a few rounds and continues throughout, aside from a few sections where just one color is worked for a few rounds. I haven’t done colorwork in years, so I am happy that this pattern pushed me to do it again.

The pattern emphasizes the rustic feel of the Owl yarn. It is primarily knit in stockinette, with enough color changes to keep the work interesting. One detail I love is the well-placed purl stitches occurring just after color changes; they really make the previous color pop.

The mittens have a different but complementary pattern. I knitted mine with a US8 needle, one size down from what I used for the hat. The thumb is constructed from a simple waste yarn section with no gusset. I typically prefer patterns with a thumb gusset, but in this case the waste yarn approach really works, especially as it doesn’t require increases to be worked in conjunction with the colorwork pattern.

As recommended by the designer, I minimized blocking to preserve the stitch texture. The only thing I did was apply a little bit of steam at the cast-on edges to flatten them out a bit. From start to finish, this project only took a little over a week. That is the nice thing about knitting accessories with worsted weight yarn! It helps to have such an engaging pattern, too.

Overall, I’m really happy with my first Quince Quarterly box. I can’t wait for the next one! Oh, and I was planning to give this project as a gift, but the more I look at it the more I think maybe I’ll keep it for myself…

Some Not-So-Recent Cross-Stitch Projects

When I was a kid, my mom made several beautiful, complex cross-stitch projects. I saw her working on these, and eventually I wanted to try. I don’t remember what I started with, but I got into making very small projects, like candy cane Christmas ornaments and tiny wall decorations. These were fast to make and fun to give as gifts. It had been years, though, since I did any cross-stitch projects at all.

Then a few years ago (maybe 2016?) I got the cross-stitch bug again. I saw a cute owl cross-stitch kit at a craft store and decided to pick it up. It was during a Christmas vacation when I had plenty of time to work on crafts, so I finished it pretty quickly. It helped that the design was simple, with contiguous blocks of color and no backstitching, and only 4″x6″ overall dimensions.

The owl picture lives in my closet on the dresser, where it brightens my day whenever I see it. I love bright colors, and this has plenty of them. I also like the rustic look of the canvas background. In the past I had typically done projects that used white canvas, so this was a fun change.

Right away, I bought another kit, this time a Halloween design. I worked on it for a week or two, and then just stashed it away for a couple years. I finally picked it back up last fall, determined to have it completed by Halloween. I just barely made it in time! I think I completed it with about a week to spare, so it wasn’t part of my decorations for long. But this year, it has been on display since October 1, so we’ll get to enjoy it all month!

Like the owl, this design has big blocks of color that worked up relatively quickly. However, it took a surprisingly long time to fill in the whole black background. I like the way the backstitch orange stars break up the background with pops of color. The finished dimensions are about 5″x7″.

After completing the Halloween picture, I had good momentum for cross-stitching, so I started working on yet another kit. During the month of November 2019, I made a whole Christmas picture, which was more complex than my other recent projects. Each of the ornaments required several color changes. It may be hard to tell from the picture, but the center of each ornament is in lighter colors, while the edges are darker colors.

This kit is from thestitchery.com, a great resource for cross-stitch and related needle arts. (They have some really lovely kits for table runners that I aspire to make in the future.) The finished dimensions are 12″x5″, which is not a standard frame size. I ended up buying a custom frame and mat from https://www.matboardandmore.com/. They have many colors and options to choose from, and I am really happy with the result.

I have really enjoyed getting back into cross-stitch. It is definitely a tedious hobby, with some bigger projects taking several months to complete even when I’m making daily progress. When they are done, it really boosts my happiness to have cute decorations that I made myself, especially when they are holiday-themed and part of my annual decorating process. I intend to make more for other holidays (Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, etc.) Stay tuned for more completed cross-stitch projects in future posts!

Crochet Baby Doll Blankets

Baby doll blanket

My favorite crafting modality is knitting, but I’ve been branching out during the past few years into crochet and cross-stitch, both of which I first learned as a child, before I got into knitting. A couple months ago, I was looking at my yarn stash and noticed some large skeins of acrylic yarn that I’ve had for a while. It dawned on me that they could make cute blankets for my daughter’s baby dolls and stuffed animals, so I got to looking for patterns.

I ended up using the V-Stitch Blanket Pattern from Daisy Cottage Designs. The example in the pattern post is exactly what I had envisioned, with alternating stripes of different colors and a finished edge. I modified the pattern slightly, starting with a ch 48 for a slightly smaller blanket. I wanted pink to be the primary color, with white and grey contrasting colors, so I alternated pink-white-pink-grey for a total of 31 stripes. For the border, I did 3 rounds of sc, one in each color. The final size is 14.5″x18″. Ravelry link

The baby dolls loving their new blankets

The baby dolls have their own bunk bed with a trundle bed underneath for a friend to visit, so I made 3 identical blankets. I think they turned out pretty cute! Total cost was $0, since I was using yarn from my stash, and all 3 blankets were pretty fast to make, just a couple weeks from start to finish, in bursts of time here and there.

Baby dolls taking a nap in my bed

Crochet is a great modality for projects like this. V-stitch in particular is nice because it takes up a fair bit of space and works up fast. It is an easy stitch to learn and doesn’t require a lot of focus once you have it memorized. The only part of this project I didn’t enjoy was weaving in all the ends, but that is a consequence of choosing to do stripes!