The lovely Mer took a trip back East and stopped by one of our favorite vendors. She’s sharing her tour of Quince & Co. with us. Thanks to her fantastic partner-in-crime, Jesse, who snapped photo after photo while Mer lived the dream!
While I was visiting my family in Maine I had the incredible opportunity to tour Quince and Co.’s Warehouse and Saco River Dyehouse in Biddeford, Maine. I was absolutely thrilled with the experience. I learned a lot about one of my favorite yarns and I believe I may have fallen even harder for the stuff.
The Laconia Mill, which is home to the dye house, was built in 1848 during the boom of textile production in the Northeast. The Laconia and neighboring Pepperall mill were, at the time, the largest cotton production center in the country and employed 9,000 people. Quince is now one of several commercial tenants (and they no longer run on the power of the Saco River!) and it’s exciting to me to see the textile tradition alive in this beautiful old mill.
Our guide Jake was very kind to take a moment from his many tasks to share the journey our yarn takes through the dye process.
It arrives in boxes from the mill that spins it. It’s on huge cones. Here I am eyeball-deep in Lark. Who could ask for more?
Out of the box, the first step is to take the white yarn off of the cone and make hanks. Here’s Jake demonstrating that process:
These partial cones are stand-ins for full cones, Jake was very careful to say, because their quality standards demand one knot of fewer per hank. That knot comes from tying one cone to the next, which is rare since the cones themselves hold so much yarn. Here’s the machine that they’re spun onto:
It’s like a swift for eight skeins at a time.
Once the yarn has been skeined up it’s transferred to wooden rods so it can hang until it’s go-time in the dye bath.
Several hundred pounds of Quince (best words ever) are loaded on metal bars that hold them in place on the top and bottom to prevent tangles. Those bars fit into this rack:
Notice that there’s no bottom. Jake is explaining that this Tern (in the color Oyster) is about to take another trip to the dyebath.
Here’s John keeping an eye on the dyebaths. Those square vats have the racks (with doors closed, of course) fitted into them. The yellow cranes on the ceiling let John pick them up and set them on that black cart once they’re ready to come out. Here’s the inside of the smallest dyebath:
This little guy (that I could comfortably take a paddle in) works the same way as the big ones: it keeps things circulating, it maintains a consistent temperature, and its where the magic happens. White yarn in, colorful yarn out.
Draining onto the floor:
More water comes out with spinning:
Then it all gets hung to dry. Check out that fluffy Puffin!
Adi demonstrates the hanking machine that they built from bike parts:
Once its hanked and tagged it gets bagged and comes to these shelves to await shipment. My sweater has been in this exact spot before.
And in case you needed any more inspiration, here’s Adi and heaps of beautiful Quince & Co. patterns.
I feel so unbelievably lucky to have been able to see all of this yarn making in action. It was such an amazing process. Each step demands attention to detail and skill. The yarns we cherish on the needles are the result of a lot of loving labor and expertise. I think the craftsmanship really shows in the end product. I adore Quince and Co. yarns and it’s been a fun experience at Twisted to share them with knitters and crocheters. Quince and co. yarns are designed to work just as hard as the people who make them. They’re also bouncy and soft and they arrive to us in the most modern of palettes with the most adorable patterns. I can’t wait to share these yarns with more of the fiber lovers who come by Twisted every day.