The adorably clever and versatile Kittenish shawlette was designed by the talented Tina Tse for my Beatrix Box, and it is the 8th and last collaboration in a two-year long project for me involving six different knitwear artists.
Each box has contained a collaborative design (in the form of a PDF pattern), two skeins of my hand-dyed yarn, and a small item designed to enhance the recipient's knitting experience. Each box has been inspired by a different aspect of the Victorian artist Beatrix Potter but with a modern twist. The projects have been inspired by Beatrix's art, her interests, her boldness in becoming an entrepreneur, and her soft and feminine clothing silhouettes.
The project has been a meaningful one for me; one that has been inclusive, shared meaningful revenue, been deeply creative, and fully embraced the concept of home as sanctuary and joy as essential.
I am eager to tell you all about this last box, Kittenish, and how Tina and I have interpreted the work of Beatrix Potter, through a modern lens.
We begin in the spot where Tina found her inspiration: the playful kerchief worn by a kitten named Miss Moppet in Beatrix's 10th tiny tale, The Story of Miss Moppet. In Beatrix's story, Miss Moppet plays with and uses a gingham dusting cloth to try and trap a mouse, who ends up escaping through a hole.
In the Kittenish shawlette, Tina cleverly recreates Miss Moppet's kerchief and, in doing so, shares a quintessential message from Beatrix's art: the importance of whimsy and silliness and the playfulness that helps us feel alive.
1 coyly playful
2 like or in the manner of a kitten
For knitters, playfulness is often found in quiet places: a yarn shop, a project, the interplay of color and fiber. Quiet can nonetheless contain boundless joy. The Kittenish shawl brings all of this to your knitting needles. All you need is two skeins of yarn in coordinating colors and a playful spirit.
The pattern Tina has created is ingenious, using slipped stitches to create faux gingham textured and staccato stripes so that only one color is ever worked at a time. The V shape of the shawlette creatively makes the most of two skeins of sport weight yarn, so that you have both a traditional triangle and long tails to playfully dangle or wrap around your neck.
When I co-publish a pattern like Kittenish, it is more than just instructions to make a knitting project, though. It iincludes photographs and illustrations that also tell the story of the design. For Kittenish, you'll find tiny kitten doodles scampering across (or snoozing in) the pattern instructions. The photos were taken at my own local yarn shop in Pacifica, California (just south of my home city of San Francisco), the Royal Bee. It's a sweet little spot that reminds me of Beatrix with its cozy interior, twinkle lights and cubby holes full of yarn. It's a place where a knitter can relax and play.
One of the important ways I create space within my business for playfulness, support, and joy is with subscriptions. When you (the knitter) subscribe and order a box or a kit in advance, you're supporting my ability to sustainably create, in all senses of the word. I can pay colleagues a living wage for their work, I can order supplies in the exact quantities needed (without wastage) and importantly, I can burnish my own mental health knowing that my creativity is fully desired and financially compensated.
The downside is that I don't always have yarn in my shop for knitters who are just discovering me. So, if this is your first time learning about Kittenish, I encourage you to shop for yarn from my wonderful colleague, Eva, of Seismic Yarn. (Order her Butter Sport.) I also encourage you to sign up for my mailing list to learn about future subscriptions from me!
The yarn for Kittenish is my sport weight Harvest base, which is a tightly-spun domestic wool. The tight twist makes color look rich and lush, and because it's domestically-produced and non-superwash, the yarn is fully gentle on the earth. The wool is from Merino-Rambouillet sheep, and they are farmed on the west coast of the United States, where I now call home. The yarn is spun at a mill in North Carolina, the state where I was born, so this unique geographic combination makes then yarn feel like a special expression of me. Hand-dyeing adds to to the vibrancy and life of the yarn, and the result is something that can’t be mass-produced.
On Tina's Instagram, she often talks about mental health, living with depression, and the pain that our dominant white culture inflicts on people of the global majority: Black, Indigenous and People of Color.
Tina's words and images always resonate deeply, and for the inspirational item in Kittenish Beatrix Boxes, I did something different from the usual knitting notion that I commission. I created a piece of art, inspired by her writing, printed it on high-quality notecards, and made a meaningful donation for each box purchased to the Asian Mental Health Collective in honor of Tina's leadership and to support Asian emotional well-being. All together, we have donated $600 to the collective.
I hope that each subscriber will feel the gratitude inherent in this gift as well as the personal message that no matter how small you feel, you are enough, just as you are.
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