Hi Helen, please introduce yourself and your business in 2-3 sentences:
The Bessie May ethos is Live ~ Breathe ~ Knit. Supplying our own beautiful yarns and patterns, spun in the mountains of Italy, designed in the Bessie May Studio in the South Downs.
What treats can we look forward to seeing at your stand during Unwind?
Bessie May is all about fibre quality, fibre blends and colour ~ together with fun and perfect unique designs, all which will be on display on our stand.We love to talk knit, and are looking forward to meeting all those passionate about knitting, crochet, learners and beyond.
You describe yourself as ‘designing yarn’. What does that process look like?
All Bessie May yarns, are designed by us, as we only want to offer our own yarns, to our own specifications, that meet our standards, and we use to produce our own knitting and crochet patterns.All fibres are of the best quality, and the colours to our own Bessie May Colour Palette.
We work with hand selected mills in the mountains of Italy, to create our yarn blends, weights and colours, and only the ones that we love then go on to be produced.
We determine the yarn fibre, the yarn count/ply/weight and the colour shades, and work with our mill partners in Italy to produce samples, which we then test, and get feedback on. We usually then ensure all the colours for each yarn are exactly what we have designed, before the mill produces our yarns, which they do from raw product, through to final balling for us ~ therefore we can be sure of their Italian quality.
What is your favourite fibre to work with?
All Bessie May yarns are created to offer either pure merino, which is a passion, in 4ply, DK, Aran and Chunky weights, just because of the quality of the yarn, the softness, and the deep colour that is achieved only when using pure high quality fibres.
Other blends that are a real hit, are Bessie May Nettle, pictured below ~ nettle and organic wool fibre blend, as you get the most amazing stitch definition, and feel closer to our ancestors.
|(c) Bessie May|
Also, Bessie May Grace ~ Super Kid Mohair and Silk, so soft, and each ball is like a cloud burst of iridescent colour, which adds a special twist to any project.
What is your go to yarn weight when knitting? Why?
All yarn weights are loved at the Bessie May Studio, as blending weights, or whether doing lace design or textured and chunky, the right weight is so important, as it is the finished material that is the exciting bit. For example adding DK with Super Kid Mohair and Silk to frame a Super Kid Mohair and Silk garment, adds weight and shape, and improves the finished garment’s style and quality.
The mill that helps create your yarns is based in Italy, how good is your Italian?
We work currently with two small mills in Italy, and love working with them, because of their exceptional skill, with family trees full of fibre expertise. They are also very supportive of helping us reach our dreams, which is so valuable. Italian is important, and understanding culture and differences in business practices, which are all to be enjoyed along the way, including of course many wonderful coffee breaks.
Where do you find inspiration for new design ideas?
All designs usually commence with a theme ~ eg a current design is all about 80’s retro and the big boldness of peony flowers. From this the design springs to life, is knitted, re~knitted, then the final pattern written, edited, and then test knitted.Themes evolve along this process ~ and often one design can become the beginning of several more.
Do you usually design with one of your yarns in mind or do the yarns grow
from a need to create a certain fabric when designing? Which comes first- the yarn or the design?
Great question. A design often comes first, but is then so influenced by yarns/colours and weights so can go in many directions, at the point the yarns and colours are pulled together for a design. All designs are done in our own yarns, and we never run out of options, as there are always loads more in the pipe line, but never enough hours in the day!
Who are your design heroes?
There is no one design hero, but colour and nature has a large influence, as well as eras. When you combine all of these, then there is no end of inspiration. Vintage patterns, craft books and pictures are a big part of the shelves in the Bessie May Studio, as building craft skill, and tailoring experience is a life long learning journey.
How did you start your crafting journey?
Wool has always been the magnet ~ from as early as 5 years, and of course making and learning, everywhere and having something on the go all of the time. Nothing has every changed from that.
What are you working on right now?
Autumn/Winter designs ~ as mentioned 80 retro Peony Flower Chunky knits/crochet designs.
What are you looking forward to the most about Unwind?
Meeting those who visit our stand ~ we love to talk about Bessie May and getting input and feedback from those who come meet with us. Being a local business that makes it even more exciting, as Brighton is a perfect location for such a special event.
Thanks so much to Helen, for telling us a little more about Bessie May! We look forward to seeing you in July!