Designer Spotlight – An Interview with Jenny Gillard

As we continue our spotlight on Canadian designers, we are excited to introduce you to Jenny Gillard, the newest member of the Estelle Yarns design team. Some of you may already be familiar with Jenny’s patterns on Ravelry, her gorgeous patterns are tasteful and elegant and her keen eye for detail is evident in every design.

Jenny’s latest pattern release on Ravelry, Mill Lake Shawl knit with Cascade Yarns Hampton, was launched just one week ago and already has almost nine hundred hearts! Her Galiano Shawl and Discovery Shawl, also featured on Ravelry, are both in hundreds of queues as her legion of fans prepare to cast on. This budding designer is definitely one to keep an eye on!

Like Jenny herself, her patterns are fun, fierce and hard to forget! Her combinations of colour, texture and lace make her designs interesting and addictive. Jenny has designed three fast, functional and fashionable patterns for Estelle and we consider ourselves lucky to have Jenny on our team. We can’t wait to see what she has in store for us in the future!

Jenny’s Eventide Slouch Hat is one of the more popular patterns on our free pattern page, and it’s really no wonder. Bulky yarn and big needles make delving into lace less daunting and provide fast results, something you’ll never hear any knitter complain about!

Jenny took some time away from her needles to answer a few questions for us, read on to find out more about Jenny and when she learned to knit (this may surprise you), what inspires her designs and how design has had an impact on her life.

How long have you been knitting? 

Although I first learned how to knit when I was much younger, I would say that I’ve officially been knitting for just about three years now. In 2016 I made it my New Year’s Resolution to really learn how to knit!

We were certainly surprised to learn that this talented young lady has only been knitting for three years!

Who taught you to knit? 

A wonderful friend of mine, and local yarn shop owner, Suzanne Brand taught me just about everything I know now about knitting! I’m still learning and whenever I have questions about certain techniques, I can always count on Suzanne to help guide me through.

When did you start designing your own patterns? 

I started designing my own knit patterns in the later half of 2018.  

This was the most surprising thing of all to learn about Jenny – after just two and half years of knitting, she decided to try her hand at designing. Many knitters would feel like they were being bold by trying simple lace after two years of knitting, not Jenny! She confidently and fearlessly dove into the design world and has proven herself a force to be reckoned with!

Do you have a favourite designer? 

I have two favourite designers: Felicia Lo of Sweet Georgia and the Stitchin’ Sisters of Cozy Up Knits.

Is there a designer who has inspired your work? 

I was truly inspired by the four sisters of Cozy Up Knits, Sarah in particular – her incredible speed of pattern design inspired me to really try my hand at designing patterns myself.  

What inspires your work? 

A lot of inspiration for me comes from the yarn itself – whether it’s the colour, the texture or the weight of the yarn. Sometimes all it takes is one look at a skein of yarn and I know immediately what I want to turn it into. Other times, it’s a name or a place that inspires a pattern design.

What has your work as a designer changed in your life? 

I feel so much more connected to and involved in the knitting world now as a designer. I hope to continue creating new designs and meeting other designers and knitters through my work. It’s always so inspiring to see my designs being knit up by others and shared on social media.

What are your favourite types of items to knit? 

Shawls are my absolute favourite types of items to knit – triangle shawls, crescent shawls, all shapes and sizes. I also love to knit socks and hats too, and someday hope to add sweaters to my list of favourite items to knit! 

We absolutely love Jenny’s boho-chic Fletcher Fringe Cowl. Knit in Estelle Bulky on 6mm needles, this weekend knit is perfect to chase the chill on a cool summer night.

What’s your current favourite colour? 

While I usually gravitate towards a more neutral colour palette for my designs, I currently am in love with varieties of rose colours such as dusty rose and rose gold. 

Do you have a favourite weight of yarn to work with? 

DK and fingering weight are my favourites to work with.

What is your preferred fibre? 

Merino wool is my favourite fibre to work with, along with blends of alpaca, cashmere and silk. 

What other hobbies do you have? 

I also crochet and dabble a bit in sewing and beadwork. 

Do you have a favourite technique or tip you would like to share with us? 

The importance of blocking! Before I started knitting, I was a crocheter for years but never blocked any of my projects. When I started knitting, one of the first projects I finished was a lace shawl. I was shown how to properly block my shawl in order to help open up the stitches and create the overall desired look. Blocking makes such a huge difference that I cannot recommend it enough to others! 

We couldn’t agree with you more, Jenny! In fact, we’re working on a great blog post for next month all about the importance of blocking. Stay tuned!

How did you come to design knitting patterns for Estelle Yarns? 

I was at the right place at the right time – I had just launched my very first pattern on Ravelry and had my shawl on display at my local yarn shop. I happened to be in the shop on the day that Estelle Yarns Sales Rep Marsha was there to see the shop owner and she saw my design and loved it! From there she extended the offer to design for Estelle and of course I excitedly accepted. It was such a huge boost of confidence to really get started with such a huge leap into the designing world.

Our first contribution from Jenny was her Quick and Cozy Chunky Hat, and as soon as we saw it we knew it was a winner. An excellent pattern for those who wish to try their hand at cables but don’t want to spend a ton of time, this hat knits on 9mm needles for instant gratification!

How do you connect to or are involved with the knitting community​?

I currently use social media such as Instagram and Ravelry to connect with the knitting community. I’m a part of various groups on Ravelry and follow all sorts of knitting related accounts on Instagram – from designers to indie dyers to knitting enthusiasts. 

Check out Jenny’s website, Honeybird Studio, and be sure to follow her on Ravelry and Instagram to see all of her current and past projects, and to watch her take the design world by storm as we know she will.

Thanks so much Jenny, for taking the time to speak with us, and for all your incredible patterns. Now we just have to decide which pattern to start first!

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