Editors’ Note: We asked Karin Strom, Interweave’s editorial director for the yarn group, to share her interview with book author Lene Holme Samsøe.
Every so often a knitting book comes along that is full of patterns so thoroughly knittable and wearable that it’s hard to choose a favorite design. When I looked through an advance copy of Lene Holme Samsøe’s new book, Essentially Feminine Knits: 25 Must-Have Chic Designs, I knew this was one of those.
Feminine without being too girly, the garments and accessories have timelessness to them. I wondered how Lene, who is Danish, was able to come up with so many projects with such a universal appeal.
The designs in your book are classic and fashionable. Do you get your inspiration from vintage knits or from the world of current fashion?
Both! I am very inspired by vintage sweaters and traditional knitting, such as Aran and Guernsey patterns, but I try to combine these classic knitwear elements with current fashion.
The photography and styling are lovely, and the book has a very Scandinavian feel to it but has a timeless quality. Were you involved with the photo shoot?
Yes, I was very much involved. The stylist suggested some clothes, and then we worked together to match outfits with projects. I wanted it to look fashionable but not trendy. We were shooting the photos in a Danish home on a cold December day with both sun and snow, so the light is very Scandinavian.
The book is divided up into sections based on technique—Garter Stitch Patterns, Leaf Patterns, Structure Patterns, Cable Patterns, and Lace Patterns. Most of these terms will be clear to knitters, but can you explain what “Structure Patterns” are?
In general, structure patterns for me are knit and purl patterns, as on the Gerdas Guernsey, but in this book, I’ve broadened the meaning to include all kinds of patterns that give structure to the knitted surface.
Do you have a favorite technique?
Not really—but if I had to choose, I guess it would be Aran and cable patterns. I really like to knit cables, and I love to make both nice small cables on a baby sweater and big bold Aran patterns in chunky yarn.
Do you have a favorite garment in the book? Or a sense of which projects will be most popular among knitters?
Lana, which is on the cover, is the garment from the book that I have been wearing most. It is very versatile and also quick to knit. Fiona, the garter-stitch coat with the tucks, is another garment that I have in my own wardrobe.
I enjoyed creating the patterns for Hella and Bella, with their large leaf patterns, and for Cecilia, and I think that knitters will have fun knitting them. I have been teaching some workshops in Denmark, where we knit Hella hats, and it only takes 2 to 3 hours to knit a hat! And I’ve noticed that a lot of people have been knitting Amanda, the Aran cardigan. This makes me happy because it is so classic and could have been designed many years ago. On the other hand, many people have been knitting Cecilia, which is completely different from Amanda.
I love that each piece has a woman’s name. Were you thinking of specific friends as you designed and named them?
Unfortunately not! I simply tried to find a name that matched the knitted piece. For example, Palma seemed to suit a leaf-patterned sweater.
You’ve included more accessories in this book than in your first Interweave book, Feminine Knits: 22 Timeless Designs. Why is that?
I have tried to mix large and small projects. Knitters often have a yarn stash, and accessories are a great way to work from your stash, and they have the advantage of being quick. Plus, they also make nice gifts!
Lene’s book would make a nice gift for a knitter, too. Oh, and my favorite pattern? I think it’s the Penelope moss-stitch jacket. But it could be the Palma. Or Amanda.