As someone enamored with history and tradition, many of my designs bring the purposeful spirit and beautiful knitting techniques of bygone eras forward into lovely new applications. The importance of knitting to family and economy is also very interesting, and as you can imagine, important to me. The Commercialization of Hand Knitting is my livelihood, and thus looking back on techniques (like lever and speed knitting) is endlessly interesting. As this company grows with the commitment to always avoid Machine Knitting, I support and am supported by, a community of hand knitters. In order to make Leni Knits Limited a company that can continue to support these skilled artisans, I often look to the knitters of the Fair Isle, and other historic communities who relied on wool and knitting for economic sustenance.
Here is a bit of the information on the historical significance of knitting and classic fisherman's sweaters.
The Great Gansey: Inspired by the Dutch and British Fisherman's sweaters that were at the heart of coastal village culture for so long, this Gansey Collection features wool sweaters with simple details that are comfortable, warm and protective. Traditionally Gansey sweaters are knit at a very tight gauge (thick yarn on tiny needles) to keep out wind and rain, featuring simple details around the chest and side panels to add warmth and durability to areas of heavy use. Patterns were passed down through generations and specific stitches were associated with each family, becoming a touchstone of family and clan sometimes taking weeks to complete. Gansey's were knit by women to protect and identify their loved ones and were worn each day with pride and purpose. With this collection I have stayed in keeping with the main tenants of style and integrity associated with the Gansey Sweater but work in modern washable wool blends for easy care.
Traditional Aran Fisherman's and Celtic Cable Sweaters:These Beautiful complex Cable Knit sweaters stem from the Aran Islands off the West Coast of Ireland. This harsh environment allowed for little opportunity for inhabitants, thus the Knitting and Wool industry and Aran Cable Fishermans Sweater--similar to the Gansey (Guernsey) sweater-Provided a significant economic resource for families on the Harsh Islands. This style of Knitting has been widely adopted by the Fashion industry and proves to be one who's popularity carries through the centuries, even if often peddled using the Irish tradition of myth and half-truth. These sweaters arose in the early 20th century, and were not in fact thousand year old traditions handed down from the Celts as many vendors claim.