Fiber Thursday: Interview with Debbie Stoller

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Debbie Stoller, author of the new advanced knitting book, Stitch 'n Bitch Superstar Knitting.

We recently had the opportunity to talk with our favorite fiber hero, Debbie Stoller.  She answered a bunch of questions from Craftster community members and also chatted about her new book, Stitch ‘n Bitch Superstar Knitting: Go Beyond the Basics.

Debbie even hooked us up with project photos from her new book. We especially love the Saxon the City and Gretel Tam designs (check them out below)!

If you have any of Debbie’s books, visit the Craftster Stitch ‘n Bitch knitting forum and the Stitch ‘n Bitch crochet forum to share your projects and see others.

Now, we highly recommend you make yourself a cup of tea, and get to reading the awesome interview below. Debbie answers questions about her books, shares her creative inspiration, tell us about her crafty business Stitch Nation and gets in depth about her craft. Happy reading craftsters!

Her books…

In your new book, what technique did you find the most challenging to learn? (Syntaniel)

DS: Every technique is challenging when you start. Knitting lace was difficult for me at first, but once I picked it up, it no longer became a challenge.

Stitch 'n Bitch Superstar Knitting by Debbie Stoller. Gretel Tam pattern, Page 243.

A diverse pool of talented people from all over the world contributed patterns to the new book. How did you find them? Are there any states or countries that you have noticed knit more than others?

DS: Well, obviously, in the states where it’s colder people tend to knit a bit more than in places where it’s warmer, simply because we have more opportunities to wear what we’ve created. And as for countries, right now there isn’t any country where knitting is as popular as it is in the United States. It’s been picking up over the years in the UK and Australia, there are lots of Stitch ’n Bitch groups in both of those places, and in Holland as well, but in other European countries it’s still seen as something that only grandmothers ought to do, and I don’t really know what it’s like in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, or in South America, although I do know that each of those regions also have a few active Stitch ’n Bitch groups going. There’s even an active Stitch ’n Bitch group in Dubai.

Are you planning a Happy Hooker 2? Is there an advanced crochet techniques book in the works? (empressloopy, Alliecat30, fantasticmio)

DS: As of right now I have no plans for any additional books. But, a Happy Hooker 2 is a GREAT idea.

Her inspiration…

Where do you get your inspiration for such fun and funky projects?(SewIn2Disney)

DS: Working at BUST magazine headquarters everyday and being around creative young ladies gives me inspiration.  Street fashion gets my creative juices flowing too.

Stitch 'n Bitch Superstar Knitting by Debbie Stoller. Saxon the City pattern, page 269.

What knitters, artists or books inspire you? (Wendie)

DS: Madonna, Martha Stewart, Courtney Love and Simone de Beauvoir, to name a few.

Who is your favorite (knit or crochet) designer? (cmouse01)

DS: All the designers I include in my books are favorites of mine. I am constantly finding new designers and artists that inspire me. Just the other day I landed on a random blog and fell in love with the author’s felt projects.

Her business…

How involved are you in choosing the fiber content, colors, etc. for your new line of yarn? I would be interested in how and why you made those choices? (Arrakis)

DS: I am very involved. I select the colors, fibers and names. I work with Red Heart on the projects to feature. And, at photo shoots I select the models. I am limited when it comes to fiber selection because I request that all my yarns be made with natural fibers. Since we want the Stitch Nation line to be affordable, it limits us to certain natural fibers. After all, you can’t really have a ball of silk yarn at a low price point.

Where do you even begin when coming up with a color palette for a new line? (SoCraftyTal)

DS: My new upcoming line actually came from an idea in my head of a 1930’s children’s illustration of a farm. This concept is apparent in my color selection and I’ve even named all the colors after things you can find on a farm.

Stitch 'n Bitch Superstar Knitting, Crush pattern, page 285.

Her craft…

When did you fall in love with knitting, is it something you’ve been doing forever or did you discover it later in your life? Do you have a memory of a special project that gave you confidence and cemented your love of knitting for all time? (j_en and Rousseline)

DS: I had been at war with a sweater for years. In 1999, I took the sweater on a 3-day cross country train ride. During the ride, the stitches came together and I finally finished the sweater. I instantly became addicted to that feeling of satisfaction when you complete a project. I guess you could say I fell in love with knitting on that train ride.

What type of needles do you prefer? (writer1311 and llisaredd)

DS: I’m a straight shootin’ Bamboo long 14” die hard. Bamboo needles feel great and look beautiful. I knit with my yarn in the right hand in the Dutch way, with the needle under my armpit, so the long needles are great for that. I also love straight needles because, well, it’s hard to put a circular needle under your armpit.

Stitch 'n Bitch Superstar Knitting, Nip/Tuck pattern, page 298.

What is your favorite fiber to knit with and why? Is there a particular fiber you loathe and why? (KnitChaos)

DS: My favorite fiber is Wool. It’s magical. You can smell the farm, the sheep and the outdoors in it. It’s water resistant and keeps you so warm for being so light. My least favorite fiber is squeaky vinyl.

Are you interested in any other fiber arts? (krafty_kelly)

DS: Yes, absolutely. You know I’ve never considered myself a knitter. I learned a lot of needlecraft as a kid and I’m still discovering and learning new techniques. I love spinning and cross stitch and I’ve just recently taught myself bobbin lace.

How do you combat the overwhelming nature of having so many creative ideas, when you want to start a new project? How do you decide what to put on the needles next? (creativestrawberry)

DS: I don’t have that many creative ideas [Interviewer interjects: “I doubt that”]. I put on next, whatever I have around that my hands will find delicious. It’s like cooking. You have a cook book filled with all the recipes in the world, but what you end up cooking for dinner is what you have in your pantry.

Stitch 'n Bitch Superstar Knitting, Coco pattern, page 333.

If you were any tool of the trade of knitting, what would you be? (writer1311)

DS: Straight Bamboo long needles. Simple, sturdy and reliable.

What’s the most challenging thing you’ve ever taken on in your knitting adventures? (madannevain17)

DS: I find sweaters challenging. Sometimes I’m challenged by boredom with a project. I just want it to be over and done with so I can move on to the next one.

Which of the two main yarn crafts (knitting and crocheting) do you find easier?(Distant_Twilight)

DS: Crochet is the easiest. With crochet you have two items, yarn and a hook, and two hands so it makes it easier. With knitting you have three items, yarn and two needles, and just two hands – so knitting can be more challenging just on that difference alone.

Stitch 'n Bitch Superstar Knitting. Tulip Top pattern, page 179.

Do you have any thoughts on ways to make knitting and other fiber arts more environmentally friendly? (Knotmad)

DS: I think that fiber arts in general are already so environmentally friendly. It’s something you do with your hands and it’s a process that doesn’t include waste. You knit a sweater within minimal materials and wear it for 100 years. What is more environmentally friendly than that?

Where do you see knitting going from here? Are there any new trends that we should look out for?

DS: Right now lace knitting seems to be super-hot among knitters, and that comes on the heels, literally, of the previous trend, which was sock knitting. What will be the next trend among knitters? I don’t know. I’d like to see folks beginning to make nicely fitted sweaters in finer yarns, like they did in the old days. In fact, every new trend in knitting is really just a new generation discovering centuries-old techniques. I’m not sure there will ever be anything that’s truly new in knitting.

What do you bitch about when you stitch?

DS: Well, it could be anything, really, from the latest celebrity gossip to current events to politics. But really, if there’s bitching going on, it’s most often about the stitching itself. For instance, if someone realizes they made a mistake a long time ago in their knitting and have to rip out an hour’s worth of work—there will be some bitching, I’ll tell you.

About Debbie Stoller

Debbie Stoller is the New York Times bestselling author of Stitch ‘N Bitch: The Knitter’s Handbook, as well as, Stitch ‘N Bitch Nation, Stitch ‘N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker, and Son of Stitch ‘N Bitch. She comes from a long line of Dutch knitters, has a PhD from Yale University in the psychology of women, and is the co-publisher and editor in chief of BUST magazine. The founder of the first NYC Stitch ’n Bitch group, she lives in Brooklyn with a closet full of yarn

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One Comment

  1. Lorri says:

    I really liked your interview with Debbie but was wondering what advise would Debbie give to someone who wants to design knitting patterns. Where & how do they began and who do they then send them too? Would she be interested in them?????

    Thank you