You may remember Beth from our Beehive Yarns Sock Kits last December, they were such a hit that when we decided to run a little pop up to celebrate Yarn Store Day we just had to invite her back! For two weeks starting on Saturday 30th April for YSD we will have two of her bases in store – the classic Audrey Sock and the luxurious Pattie Kidsilk Mohair Lace! There’s no denying the gift that Beth has when it comes to creating dreamy colourways so we had to find out a little bit more about her process.
From learning how to knit to launching your own business, what was your creative journey like?
Like many people, I learned to knit with my gran and mum when I was around 7 or 8 but then promptly forgot all about it! I spent the next 20 years doing every other craft you can think of – embroidery, jewellery, candle making – before finally picking up the needles again.
I have always found craft necessary for my mental health, it is mindful and yet also produces something functional, which is important to me. When I started knitting and crochet in my 20s I was looking for something to do when I came home from a stressful job. I found knitting soothed my mind and kept my hands busy – a win-win! I discovered Ravelry and a local knitting group and made friends in this fabulous community. Somewhere along the way I was introduced to hand-dyed yarn and then there was no turning back. Even then, I spent my first couple of years knitting with only grey and navy yarn (hard to believe now)! When I became pregnant with my son I started knitting for him and became obsessed with colour – a whole new world opened up. How had I lived on neutrals alone for so long?! From there it was a short jump to tentatively purchasing my first bare yarn, dyes and stainless steel pot and having a go myself…
– What is the story behind Beehive Yarns? Discovering the pure joy of working with colour was the real backdrop to Beehive Yarns. Being able to create new and totally unique colourways myself was a joy and still is. I remember the first skein of yarn I dyed very vividly, I was amazed it worked out and was hooked. After a few months of dyeing for myself I started to think about opening an Etsy shop. The whole concept of Beehive Yarns – the name, yarn bases, branding etc – just popped into my head one day fully formed. It was a light-bulb moment and I knew I had hit on the business name that was just right for me. I have always been a vintage girl, and particularly love the 1960s. I wanted my brand to reflect the inspiration I found from the music, films and style from the mid-20th century. Having a name that also played on nature themes was perfect, as I am drawn to warm and earthy shades and wanted to include them in my palette.
It is hard to believe that Beehive Yarns will have its 5th birthday this summer! What started as a hobby grew into my full-time job (and took over the house, the extension, the garden shed…). I am so fortunate to be able to do this and grateful for my customers for their support and their endless inspiration.
Your brand is full of cinematographic and musical references, how do they inform your creative process? Can you describe the process behind creating new colourways ?
Music, books and film are so important to me, both as an outlet and as inspiration. I always listen to music whilst working but it’s often the time away from the dye-pots where an idea strikes. I used to drive a lot with my previous job and have lost count of the number of colourways that came to me whilst driving up and down the M1 blasting music! Not the most glamorous image perhaps, but getting ‘lost’ in music is a favourite pastime. Now I no longer drive so much I will go for a walk in the countryside with my headphones to scratch the same itch. Putting together colour palettes inspired by a film is something I did even before dyeing yarn, and creating a selection of colourways based on vintage film is an ongoing passion. I love ‘old Hollywood’ and collect biographies and photography books of the era. Recently I was drawn to a series of photos of Marilyn Monroe taken by Milton Greene in the 1950s. The delicate colours in the pictures and the summer vibe inspired my most recent tonal collection, Laurel Canyon. When planning a new collection I’ll often sketch out ideas or swatches with watercolours first – especially if it’s for a collaboration with a pattern designer or for a large project like an advent. At other times I simply dive right in; the trial and error of creating colourways is part of the process and sometimes what looks like a big mistake in the pan can turn out to be a favourite once washed and dried.
Do you have a favourite yarn base to work with? What do you love about it?
What an excellent question! Although choosing a favourite feels a little disloyal 😊
Having said that, I would say that my favourite yarn to dye would be a high-twist yarn, such as my Bardot twist or Barbarella sparkle sock bases. These are absolutely perfect for speckled colourways as the dye takes to them so well, making those crisp and clear speckles we all love!
I am also addicted to knitting with mohair – I love using it held double with either fingering weight or DK yarns to create a super-squishy garment. You can get some beautiful effects by combining a speckled mohair with tonal base yarn and vice-versa, and no two projects will look the same.
What’s on your needles at the moment?
I would consider myself a fairly monogamous knitter, though I do like to have a pair of socks or simple shawl on the go alongside something a bit more challenging like a jumper. At the moment I am knitting a colourwork sweater called ‘Chalet Days’ by Samantha Guerin. It is worsted weight and I am using a brand new yarn base that I’ve been working with, which is a blend of BFL and Masham. It is rustic and yet so, so soft! My sweater is shades of grey so to give me a bit of balance I’ve also cast on a pair simple vanilla socks in a bright speckled yarn called ‘Dreamscape’, for a pop of colour when I need it.
Are you planning to take part in any festivals/events this year where people would be able to meet you?
It’s so good to be able to attend festivals again! In 2022 I will be at Yorkshire Yarn Fest on 28th May in York, and at Yarndale in Skipton on 24th and 25th September. I live in North Yorkshire and have stayed quite close to home this year but will hopefully travel further afield in 2023!
A massive thank you to Beth for taking the time to answer our questions! Want to see her yarns in person? Head down to YAK on Saturday 30th April for Yarn Store Day, where you will get first pick of the new Beehive yarns stock, which will be in store until Sunday 15th May.
Until next time… Happy Knitting!