Yarn Story - Solitude and Friendship

“I might get a beehive,” I say out loud, to no one in particular. 
Joanna, who sits at the desk opposite, bellows a laugh and gestures over to my sorry potted plant. “Madness,” she says bluntly, and returns to her screen.
No one else says anything. I don’t say anything. And that, it seems, is the end of it. 

But I forget that words are important. Once you’ve gone and said a thing out loud, people start holding you to it. Once you begin describing something in your head, you are already setting it in motion. -Helen Jukes


I was wandering through one of our local libraries (Marion, to be precise) while we were still in deep midwinter. I am usually one with a long patience for the cold months, but this year I found myself impatient with the monotony of snow and wind and ice. I wondered if I had crossed a threshold myself. Is this getting older, I wondered? Worrying about falling down and not having that button thing to call for help. Wondering about my chintzy knees and how long they’d last. I was ready for spring, for once. I checked out books on gardens and trees. Books that took place in exotic and warm places- and then, at the last moment, picked up A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings by Helen Jukes, if only for the oddly specific title. 

This is the book I fell for, out of the enormous (I always overestimate my ability to get through stacks of books) pile I checked out that day.

The Guardian says, “The brilliance of Jukes’s memoir is the way that it uses the image of the hive as a metaphor for so much else going on in the book. It’s rare to find an author who demonstrates such respect for her readers’ intelligence - the parallels and affinities are allowed to accrete gradually, subliminally, so that it’s only at the end that we recognise that a book that seemed to be about beekeeping (and we certainly learn a lot about Apis mellifera over the course of it) is actually a meditation on solitude and friendship, on urban existence, on the condition of a generation.” 


“I sometimes think that life must be a bit like tessellation for some people. You take one shape and fit it to the next and they sit comfortably together – you don’t mind a bit of repetition because it’s what makes the pattern form. Life is not like tessellation for me. Sometimes the shapes don’t fit, or I don’t fit into them, or I’m looking at the patterns but they don’t feel real or right to me.”

While I was reading the book and thinking about featuring it for Yarn Story, I immediately knew the pattern and yarn that we would feature alongside. The pattern itself is connected to another book- All The Light We Cannot See, by the great Anthony Doerr. Designer Christina Hadderingh says, “The Hotel of Bees is mentioned more than once in the book… The hotel was once owned, five centuries ago, by a wealthy privateer who traded his pirate life to study bees. Because of this fascination you can see bees carved in the woodwork above doors. If you look up to the ceilings you can admire frescos of child-sized bees. Even the bathtubs have the shape of a hexagon and the courtyard is ornamented by a fountain in the shape of a hive.” 

The Hotel of Bees Shawl was designed with Scheepjes Stonewashed Yarn in 3 colors, although you could get creative and add as many, or as few as you’d like. Stonewashed has been one of our top sellers since we opened because it is an absolute delight to work with. It’s 78% cotton- 22% acrylic gives it a lightweight feel similar to wool. The two-tone color adds a twinkle you won’t see with one-color yarns.  It is a hardy, but beautiful product, and once you try it,  you'll be hooked! 

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