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Knits from Northern Lands is Jenny Fennell's first book with Search Press. Jenny is a knitwear designer from Nova Scotia, Canada, who sells her own bespoke heirloom knitwear designs and patterns through her brand, Lily Lakes Knits. We caught up with Jenny to find out a bit more about her new book, her inspiration, and her Search Press journey!

How are you Jenny?

I am very well, thank you!

How did your love for knitting begin?

It all began when I was travelling to visit family in Scotland and Ireland. I had visited a woollen mill and was absolutely fascinated by all of the different items which had such detailed stitches. Some cable pieces incorporated folklore stories from times past and some carried some significance to certain Celtic clans – and to think all of this was shorn from a sheep's back.
 



What do you love the most about knitting?

There are a few things I love about knitting; I love that we can create something with our hands that connects us to the past. Using traditional techniques and designs, natural fibre and the patience to create these pieces, we can imagine a time when things were slower and handmade was the only way. I also love that is it a great way to rest your mind and ease your body. Knitting is known to aid mental health as well as reduce chronic pain, which can be such a relief for some.

When you sit down to knit, you are forcing yourself to take a moment, slow down and work with your hands; which is so good for the soul!

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I get inspiration from so many different places! It could be a beautiful old poem or story, I would normally imagine what the character is wearing, or what their home looks like. It could be a clothing piece I saw in a magazine or in a movie that I like which would spark me to create a piece I love. Also, seeing the work of other knitters really sparks my imagination. This helps to introduce ideas that you would never have thought of, or fibres with new textures which I can use to create my own designs.

What are your favourite projects from your new book?

I truly love every single piece in the book. The patterns included have been living in my head for so many years and this book was the perfect opportunity and push to finally get them all out and see them come to life. If I had to choose, I think my favourite projects from the book would have to be the Mira Mhór Cowl, The White Heather Shawl and the Sheltered in Scandinavian Scarf.


The Mira Mhór Cowl is very special to me. My knitting brand, Lily Lake Knits, gets its name from a lake located in the middle of our land in Mira Mhór [Gaelic: Grand Mira], on Cape Breton Island. This land was lived on and farmed by our loved ones and is important for us to keep in our family. 



The White Heather Shawl is the perfect example of what I want to create when designing knit pieces. This piece is functional, and was an absolute joy to craft, as it carries symbolism of a Scottish folklore tale, which is about a tragic love story. This story is still one of my favourite old tales to read.

 

 
I chose to include the Sheltered in Scandinavia Scarf in the book, because it is such a feat to complete this piece. I consider myself a fast knitter and this piece took a good chunk of time to complete. The reward is unlike much else when you finally complete a piece of this calibre, you appreciate it more, and you tend to provide better care for such an item (this will most likely be passed down to future generations). This alone is so important because it is a way to connect with the past and feel close to loved ones that are no longer around – we can all agree that cuddling up in a blanket your grandmother had knitted is a special feeling and so appreciated.

What was the process like of writing the book?

The process for the book was first compiling all of these ideas I had in my head for so long and getting them all down on paper. Of course I had more than enough ideas so I really had to narrow down the pattern choices. I also had to keep in mind that I wanted to include traditional knitting techniques from various places and not focus on one area. I love cables and I am comfortable with cable knitting. I had little to no experience of working with colour work before this book. However, I knew I had to include it because it plays such an important part in knitting history. Jumping head first into colour work was a learning curve and exciting and really sparked my love for colourwork. I am truly infatuated with it now and can’t believe I waited this long to get into this technique.


I did research into the origins and the stories behind exact traditional techniques which added so much appreciation to my love for knitting; and I hope to share that feeling through this book. Once ideas were in place, next came the swatches and test knits. It's not everyone's favourite to swatch but it does make all the difference! Then the time came to craft the pieces – time consuming but so very rewarding and enjoyable. The photography of the book was shot all around the mainland of my province. The photographer Nicole LaPierre and I wanted to capture the slow, welcoming feeling that I feel when I am knitting and I think we did just that.

You also have your own knitting brand, Lily Lake Knits, can you tell us more about that.

Of course! Lily Lake is focused on producing custom handcrafted heirloom pieces using natural luxury fibres that have the quality to withstand time. I take such pride in handcrafting pieces that offer quality and functionality, all the while trying to carry a little tradition and story with each piece. I also offer accessories, home pieces as well as patterns ranging from beginner to advanced.

What are you currently working on at the moment?

Currently, I am working in collaboration with a beautiful locally-owned shop in my home province, Poppy & Olive. Together we have designed an exclusive luxury Mohair Cardigan available in many different colours. It is truly a spectacular piece that I am so grateful to be a part of. You can find these exclusive pieces in shop in Bedford, Nova Scotia or online at www.shoppoppyandolive.com

Where can our readers and followers keep up with everything you're up to?

The best way to follow along and keep in touch would be Instagram (@lilylakeknits)! Here I share my day-to-day process of design, swatching, knitting as well as little snippets into my life living in rural Nova Scotia with the wildlife and forest surrounding my family and I. My website is also a great way to keep up to date on everything happening www.lilylakeknits.com

  

Knits from Northern Lands is available from Search Press, RRP £12.99.


 

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