Discover the fascinating fibre journey of Australia-based knitwear designer, Bea Naretto!
Bea Naretto is a knitwear designer and tech editor based in Australia. We were very pleased to have her contribute to The Almanac Series II collection and we were thrilled when her gorgeous sample for the Milky Way Cowl arrived here at headquarters—it looks beautiful in the photos, but in real life it is truly stunning! We caught up with Bea to chat about her fascinating fibre journey and what inspires her.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself: how did you get into knitting and designing knitwear?
I was born in Brazil, and after a debilitating accident, where a tsunami wave washed me off a cliff, knitting helped me to recover my hands movement and treat my PTSD. It was love at first stitch!
Also because of the accident, my husband proposed we immigrate to Australia, a dream I had since I had come in here for the first time, when I was 14 years old. We started our immigration process on the next day and one year later, we were travelling with one-way-ticket and what we could fit in six bags!
I left behind my law career and through knitting, I have discovered my better self. I believe when things are supposed to be, life gives you little “crumbles”, pointing you in the right direction. It is up to us to take this leap of faith and follow it. My “crumbles” are people: they feel comfortable approaching me when I am knitting, and many of these interactions resulted in business opportunities, which I almost always accepted, regardless of how challenging it would be.
This was a great way to get out of my comfort zone, experiment with colours and techniques I wouldn’t personally use, to learn new interesting and innovative ways of constructing a garment, write a pattern, and most of all, to meet and connect with incredible people along the way. It has been an amazing journey so far!
What do you focus on with your designs?
I am a big fan of geometry and calculus, and I have found a way to translate all these numbers into something tangible and functional in knitting. My newest designs focus not only on the final knitted piece, but most importantly, on the way it is constructed and how the pattern is written: I believe that even the most difficult of patterns, if well written, can be followed by a beginner knitter. I also like finding innovative and inventive ways to knit the garments and write patterns full of ‘Aha!’ moments. My plan for the future is to take this concept one step further, with the help of vectorizing technology.
Tell us about the inspiration for Milky Way.
Sue, the owner of Yarn Glorious Yarn Australia, needed a design for her store 10th Anniversary. She gave me a myriad of colourful yarns to work with and asked me to come up with a beginner-friendly piece using all of them. This definitely took me out of my comfort zone!
The first challenge was to be able to work with all those colours I was not fond of and create something that I would also be happy with. The second challenge was delivering a beginner-friendly colorwork pattern. I spent days experimenting with innovative and easy slip-stitch techniques, and I came up with at least four stitch patterns I’d never seen before.
As soon as I finished one swatch in particular, I had an inspiration and immediately, I could see a cowl with I-Cord edges knitted with a very soft and luxurious yarn, in shades of blues and greens and a white-contrasting colour in the foreground. Life started working its magic again and one week later, I received a submission call for The Almanac Series. When I read it, I knew right away this partnership was written in the stars!
Bea’s Milky Way Cowl is a deep cone-shaped cowl with I-cord trim and a gradient of rich, jewel tones behind the bright points of the light main colour, created with stranded colour work.
The sumptuous fibres in Road to China Light make this the softest yarn to wear against delicate neck skin, and the depth of the cowl allows you to really nestle into and feel surrounded by the luxurious softness.
About The Almanac Series
The Almanac Series is based on the original farmer’s Almanac guide to the seasons, this collection acts as a seasonal guide to knitting with The Fibre Co. and celebrates each month of the year with an ascribed Yarn of the Month, paired with a new design launch in that yarn. For this year’s series, we looked to the heavens for inspiration, letting the beauty and grandeur of the night sky guide us. In the first half of this year’s series, we cover the Autumn Winter season, where each month’s yarn has been specifically chosen for its qualities to compliment colder conditions in the northern hemisphere. Erika Knight’s Zodiac Sweater was the first design in The Almanac Series II collection, in which you can read our interview with Erika here.
What inspires and influences your designs?
People are my driving force. Talking to people, sharing my thoughts, and hearing back their stories, gives me inspiration. I think that is why I don’t have a consistent design style, my work is always adapting and evolving depending on the connections I make and experiences I am having now.
Could you share your design process with us.
I am constantly getting inspired and whenever it happens, I draft or write it down on my iPad, leaving it there for a while. When I am ready to work on a new design, I like to get cosy on my favourite armchair with Princess, my little purl machine, and a cup of tea, where I revisit the drafts and notes I previously made. After that, I move the work to my desk, where I start the process by vectorizing the schematics and creating a spreadsheet with all measurements and calculations needed. With all this information in hands, I write down the pattern and get back to my armchair to test knit it.
How does the yarn you use influence your design?
Interestingly, so far most of my designs have been created specifically for the yarn I was working with, not the other way around. The yarn sets the direction, mood, and intention of my work. For example, if I am working with mohair, I will probably design something more romantic and delicate, but if I am working with a chunky colourful yarn, I will consider simple modern garments, with a younger audience in mind.
What is your favourite knitting technique?
There are so many of them I still want to explore in more depth! Right now, I am in a stable relationship with slip-stitch techniques. I love the way we can create texture and add colours in an uncomplicated and flattering way.
What is your desert island knitting project?
I am drawn to projects with interesting shapes, techniques, and construction style. I also enjoy knitting with very small needles. If I had to take just one project to a desert island, it would be a cardigan I am designing using my 1.5mm circular needles. It has everything I love: Aha! moments, clever seamless constructions, and long hours of pure knitting enjoyment!
What’s your first knitting memory?
That would be when I was around seven years old. I was sitting next to grandma, holding a pair of straight plastic needles and some acrylic yarn, while she was trying to teach me how to knit. I must admit I wasn’t impressed by it: the straight needles felt uncomfortable, and the materials were unpleasant to work with, so I didn’t picked up knitting needles again up until my twenties. Looking back, I think if she had introduced me to knitting using circular needles and some wool yarn, my future would have been very different!
Knitting the Milky Way Cowl?
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