If you have ever been anywhere near a writing group or book festival of any kind, you will know that writers come in all shapes and sizes, from big robust circles, to tiny stabby stars. They come in different flavours too, from cool, classic vanilla, to eyeball-exploding, triple-hot chilli sauce.
Thrillers With Attitude is on a mission to find out what makes these weirdly-shaped and strangely-flavoured writers tick.
My guest this week is Northern Lace knitwear designer and author, Liz Lovick.
Hi Liz, thank you for agreeing to take part in the Literary Smorgasbord. What were you like at school?
A jack-of-all-trades. I loved both the sciences and art, sport, drama and music. I was too ‘bright’ to be allowed to continue with art after 14 but continued with the rest.
How old were you when you learned how to knit? Who taught you?
I am told it was my grandmother on my father’s side. She was a great knitter, but not a patient woman. She got fed up with me hanging over the arm of the chair watching her knit, so gave me a ball of wool and a pair of needles and told me to do it myself. I did. I was 2 at the time, so I don’t remember ever not knitting.
When did you start creating your own patterns?
Before I went to school. My other grandmother, who lived with us part of the time, was very patient, and she helped me to work out the number of stitches etc, and also taught me to sew and make clothes for my dolls and myself.
Tell me something about the evolution of your books.
If we ignore research papers, my thesis and some Chemistry workbooks when I was teaching, the first ones started life as online workshops back in 2000 or so. Evolution is the right word! Then Quarto contacted me in 2011 about writing a book on Shetland lace, and that came out in 2013. Last year I was involved with costuming a film about WW1 and we decided to do a book of the patterns we had ‘translated’ from the time. That was in May, and we wanted the book for the premiere of the film in early November. Several publishers were very interested, but all said there was no way it could be done in less than 2 years. So I teamed up with a graphic designer who was also working on the film and a friend who does my technical editing, and we got the book – Centenary Stitches – out on time. My knitting ‘brand’ is Northern Lace, so the publishing bit became Northern Lace Press!
What are you working on at the moment?
I have another Shetland lace book for Quarto coming out any day now – I finished my bit for that back in March. Since then I have put out Exploring Shawl Shapes, a book of mini shawls. And now I am in the process of re-doing a book of patterns using my ‘local’ sheep breed, the North Ronaldsay. I am also working on a book about the Orcadian knitting traditions. And other patterns!
What has been your best moment so far?
Probably learning that Centenary Stitches was one of four nominated for Best British Knitting Book of 2014. That is a huge achievement for all the knitters on the project, and for a self-published book.
If there was one person – contemporary or historical – you could spend a day with, who would you choose and why? How would you spend the day?
Hmmm, Another difficult one. St Paul, I think. There are several bits of his letters I would like to quiz him about. And he also had eye problems, but didn’t let it stop him writing! We would spend the day talking, with him sewing sails and me sewing clothes.
Who would play Elizabeth Lovick in the movie of your life?
Probably Miriam Margoyles…! A bit older than me, but the same shape and a brilliant sense of humour!
A few quick questions to finish with. What is your favourite book?
Persuasion, Jane Austen.
Can I have three? Jane Austen, JK Rowling and DL Sayers.
Laphroig. But black coffee for breakfast.
Fresh berries with yoghurt. Or Harry Specter’s chocolates..
I can’t watch films or TV as it gives me migraine… (Can’t read books either, but devour audiobooks while I am knitting).
Evenings on Radio Scotland, and, from the past, The Navy Lark.
I have a pretty catholic taste – which is why I like 9pm – 1am on Radio Scotland. If I have to chose one type it would probably be Americana.
Thanks for coming on the Smorgasbord, Liz. It’s been a real pleasure.