Jennifer Wood of Wood House Knits and I have worked together a few times on past book projects. I was excited to get a copy of her new book, Refined Knits (Interweave, 2016) and see more of her lovely designs that combine 2 of my favorite techniques - cables and lace. Not only are the garments in this book beautiful, but the photography and fiber color choices are wonderful. It's an aesthetic delight!
Jennifer was kind enough to sit down and answer a few questions about her new book for us, available now.
Tanis Gray (TG): Your new book is stunning! You pair two popular knitting techniques together - cables and lace. How did your book idea come about combining the two?
Jennifer Wood (JW): It came about naturally, it was the direction that my designing was moving into. While playing with different stitch patterns I would add a cable to lace pattern or lace stitches to cables just because I liked the way it looked. It was not something that I set out intentionally to do. I think that it is so fun to knit cables and lace together and I like the way the two techniques enrich each other. Like I said in the book it is like uniting strength and grace.
TG: I really enjoyed your intro and the story about how you began knitting with your daughter. Can you tell us more about how you got started? Does your daughter still knit at all?
JW: Yes, it seems rather crazy that I owe my introduction to this wonderful craft to my daughter and that it is what I do for my job now. I learned how to crochet and needlepoint as a child but my mother did not know how to knit so I was never taught. I was enthralled from the beginning, I do not know what it was about knitting that captured me so but it certainly did. I wanted try every technique I found. I would read books and ask questions at my local yarn store, for some reason the thought of taking classes never entered my mind. I pretty much learned by trial and error in my knitting and designing. I was terrible at lace when I first tried it and now it seems like second nature. I am so thankful that The Witch of Blackbird Pond was on my daughter’s reading list, I can not imagine not knitting! My daughter however was not so taken by it. She like it alright and will occasionally knit something in garter stitch. She is glad the learned though and enjoys crafting in general and really likes watercolors.
TG: Where did you draw your inspiration from?
JW: My inspiration comes from many different places. Sometimes I just have an idea pop into my head and then I find a stitch pattern to fit the idea. This was the case with Victoria and Brielle. Or I discover a stitch pattern that I really like build the design around it, this is how Corinne and Idril came to be. Other times I see a pattern in nature that I want to incorporate into a design like the pine cone shape in Camelia and the waves in Dwyn. Then there are times when my inspiration is from time old traditions like the Aran pullover for Keavy and the classic cabled cardigan for Willa.
TG: I love that your book covers a wide array of garments. From fingerless mitts to cowls to scarves and wraps to cardigans and pullovers - you’ve got it all! Do you have a favorite garment type to knit?
JW: I would have to say sweaters. And I go back and forth between cardigans and pullovers. I like that with pullovers there is very little finishing and you do not have to pick out buttons. I always have the hardest time picking out buttons. Cardigans are such a fun canvas to work with because there are so many different things you can do with the two front edges.
TG: I know it’s like choosing your favorite child, but do you have a favorite garment in the book and why? Mine is the Corinne Oval Pullover because of those gorgeous motifs running down the front and back!
JW: That is a hard choice! If I had to pick favorites for the garments I would say either Corinne or Camelia and for the accessories I would say Dwyn. I think Corinne is so lovely with the lace ovals accented by the cables. The pine cone shaped pattern around the yoke of Camelia makes me happy just to look at. And Dywn because it was one of those designs that surpassed my exceptions. I love the waves that are created by the stitch pattern and that it appears to be worked with cables when actually there are no cables in the stitch pattern.
TG: You’re working a very elegant color palette throughout the book (and the photos are gorgeous!). Tell us how you chose your colors and yarns?
JW: Earth tones are my favorite colors and left to my own devices I could end up with a pretty muted color palette. Kerry Bogart (from Interweave) helped my get out of my color box and we picked out some colors that added a pop of color to the rich earthy tones.
TG: Do you have a favorite color and fiber?
JW: As I said earth tones are what I naturally gravitate to and if I had a favorite it would probably be a mustard shade. As far as fibers I really like a wool blend. The wool to give good stitch definition which is crucial for my designs. And another fiber for example alpaca or silk to add some drape.
TG: What’s coming up next for you?
JW: As far as Refined Knits, I have several book signings coming up, mostly in the East Tennessee area. And I will be signing books at TNNA. Also I will be running lots of KAL’s for Refined Knits in the Wood House Knits group on Ravelry. These will be a lot of fun and a great place to get help. As far as Wood House Knits lots more designs! I will be publishing a pullover in March called Winterberry that I am very excited about. I have a shawl design that will be coming out in April with the Woolen Rabbit Yarn Club. And I have just started on another shawl and sweater design that I will be publishing late spring or early summer. Then in late summer or early fall I have design that will be in The Knitter magazine in the UK. Of course there are more ideas brewing!
Check out the other garments in the book here.