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Designer Spotlight - Leeni Hoimela

October 22, 2019 4 min read

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Let me introduce Leeni Hoimela, the designer behind the gorgeous Hali Sweater from Issue 2! We thought it would be fun to get to know a little more about Leeni and her knitting community in Helsinki.


Q & A With Leeni

1.   Tell us a little about yourself!

I'm a Helsinki based knitwear designer and a lifestyle journalist and photographer from nine to five. I have also dyed yarn with my brand Lystig Yarn. I have a six-year-old kid, a young Whippet and two Oriental cats who try to get my attention when I'm hiding behind my yarns for too long. The dog has lately been too keen on that. She tried to eat my latest sweater design, luckily she just tangled four skeins of mohair and merino. So that was a happy accident, haha.

 2.   How long have you been knitting and designing?

I've been knitting for more than 30 years and I made my first sweater when I was nine. It was a crazy pink mohair dream, too short and too wide as they were at the '80s and I didn't follow any pattern, so it's really fashionable now and could be the next hot pattern.

I've always been obsessed with the sweaters but I started my 'designing career' 3 years ago with stranded colorwork socks. I was a maniac and I still have brand new socks enough for a football team because I never released any of them. Then I wanted to design shawls, probably just because I couldn't grade and I thought it would be too difficult. When I realised I don't actually wear shawls that much it was time to follow my passion and jump to my uncomfortable zone, grading. 

Well, math is the one I love. I love the feeling when I can solve a problem and yes, feel clever. I also frog a lot when the math doesn't work in real life as planned. In designing the most interesting part is how to make something unique but simple at the same time. I'm aiming to make simple designs with a little twist and I feel they are much more difficult to design than wild 'all in' patterns. 

I have also learnt to trust my gut: if I have somehow a feeling that it might not work but I still make it, I know at the end it didn't. Well, it's a great lesson too. Somehow good things feel great immediately, like my Hali jumper in Making Stories Magazine Issue 2. It was pure love from the first stitches and I knew was going to be exactly what I wanted.

 3.   Tell us about your design for Issue 2. What inspired you?

I've always been interested in repeating motifs. I also want to make wearable contemporary clothes. Hali is an ode for both.  

I had a warm feeling about the submission call: it was about gathering and about the community. I wanted to use our cool brand Tukuwool from Finnish sheep that is local for us. I also like the stitches on the front kind of hug each other and are gathered. Hali means a hug in Finnish.

 4.   Do you have a favourite type of knitting project?

Well, sweaters! I also always have a sock project going on beside my main project (surprise, surprise: a sweater) but no more. They are a great place to test ideas for sweaters on a small scale. If I made more at the same time I wouldn't be as fast and effective with the process.

 5.   What is your knitting community like?

I'm in two knitting circles. In one of them we talk about knitting and also share our tricks and ideas with my designer friend. In the other one, we talk about everything else but knitting. It's more like 'wool and wine'. I need both of them.

The knitting community in Finland is really active. We have a knitting festival in Central Finland every summer, and most of us, active knitters, know each other. I have also made new friends through knitting. Knitters are really supportive here: I have asked help and guidelines from a couple of famous Finnish designers and they have always helped me unselfishly. So many have supported me that I try to be as helpful if someone asks any tips from me.

 6.   What is your favourite making tool?

 I love my basic, ugly looking, plastic (sorry!) yarn winder. Using it means I soon have a cast on party. I love new beginnings. They feel everything is possible and I can do whatever I want.

 7.   Anything else you want to share?

I know knitting and making is a true love for many of us (me too!), but I'd also ask how much do we actually need what we do. Yes, we knit for many needs: just to feel creative, just to see that we can, just to fill some void or just because we need a sweater, but I feel it's important to understand why we make. 

My motto has always been 'less is yes', but do I need dozens of sweaters? I wouldn't buy that many from a store so why do I make them? To be happy? Is that a reason good enough? To be honest, I feel it's quite controversial nowadays to not want unnecessary things and to want to save the planet by consuming less. 

I know we are in the slow business and I don't think there're are right or wrong answers but this would be a great topic to discuss more. 

8.   How can we find you? 

On Instagram: @leenihoi 

On Ravelry: https://www.ravelry.com/designers/leeni-hoi


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