The Occitan Kits have proved incredibly popular and have generated lots of interest in both Beth and TUT yarns. It is the first in a series of collaborartions that I am very excited about. Beth is a wonderful designer whose accessories are stylish and a joy to knit. I invited Beth to answer some questions for the blog so that you can get to know her a little better. Here's what she had to say:
The stage is yours, tell us a little about yourself!
I grew up in a suburb of Chicago and from early on, developed an abiding love for reading, writing and dance, which led to my getting my BA with a double major in English with a Creative Writing Focus and Dance Choreography/Performance.
Neither of these particularly helped me in my first real job out of college: Assistant Production Manager of the local newspaper’s advertising department, which required me to do graphic design and ad layout. I’m still not sure what made them think I was a good candidate for the job, but I’m grateful that they did, because I loved that job, and now I can’t imagine not knowing about and paying attention to good graphic design. Ever since, all of my jobs have involved graphic design to varying degrees, though most have also had a liberal dose of writing thrown in for good measure. However, I make a lousy office drone. Corporate America is not for me. Fluorescent lights and corp-speak buzzwords (synergy, anyone?) make me twitchy. Which could explain why I now work from home…for a yarn company.
Next month (July) I will have been married for 12 years. I met my husband when we worked in the same coffee shop over the summer after my junior year of college. The story goes that I won him over by asking him if he’d like to split a piece of chocolate cake with me after our shift.
Also, I have an unreasonable affection for garlic.
I also have an unreasonable affection for red wine, and for finding good ones that taste like they ought to cost more than they do.
I think my affection for our two retired racing greyhounds Ronan and Quinn is perfectly reasonable.
Oh and also, my name is Beth, and I’m a yarn-a-holic (see comments about Ravelry and Etsy, below).
What’s your knitting journey so far?
My mom tried to teach me knit when I was about 7, and I recall I produced some pretty unwearable, 3-foot-long, “sampler” style scarves, but knitting didn’t really stick until much later, because 7 year olds are not particularly good at sitting still. I picked it back up again after college, when I was looking for gifts to give that were inexpensive (little did I know), but still handmade.
I discovered Knitty and then I discovered Ravelry..... Ravelry led me to Etsy and indie yarn dyers. And lo, an addiction was born.
How did you start designing and what is your favourite part of the process?
My first official design was for Dream in Color’s February 2011 Dream Club – that was the Pleiades Shawlette, and I did it because they asked. But, I’d say I was already leaning in that direction, because for years, I’d been modifying existing patterns and designs to adjust them to my personal style and aesthetic.
Was there a particular inspiration for Occitan?
Ce and I knew we wanted something that would be both appealing from a design perspective, and approachable from a knitting perspective. A shawl with a stockinette body and lace edging seemed to fit the bill. I wanted to play with increase methods that were a bit unusual (for a shawl, anyhow), which led to the swirly increases in the body of the shawl and working to find a way to make those increases flow organically into the lace.
What drew you to working with TUT yarns and a collaboration?
TUT was one of the first indie dyers I knew of to start using what I’ve been referring to as “the new luxury bases.” MCN blends had been around for a while, and don’t get me wrong, I still use a lot of MCN blend yarns, but Ce was (and still is) dyeing up these stunning, subtly-variegated colors on other bases too. Bases that had blends like alpaca-silk-cashmere. Divine. Truly. So, in short: beautiful, useable, wearable colors on unique bases is what sold me on the yarn. And Ce is such a warm, genuine, easy-to-work with person, that the whole collaboration was just a natural fit [edit: thanks Beth].
What else can we look forward to from you in the future?
I have a couple of hat patterns waiting in the wings that should be published sometime late this month, or early next month, and another shawl design on the needles as well. But what I’d really like to do sometime in the next year is venture onto sweater design. It feels very big and scary to me right now, but I have too many ideas brewing for sweaters not to give it a go.
A huge thank you to Beth for supplying such great answers, so full of her character. If you would like to purchase your own Occitan Kits, you will find them listed on my Etsy shop or check out the Ravelry Group News thread for regular update news.