I’m so excited to introduce you to a woman who designed the most amazing asymmetrically shaped triangle Hitchhiker Shawlette, Martina Behm. I fell in love with the way this pattern worked. The saw-tooth border evolves throughout the pattern giving it an unnatural shaping. I attend a lot of knitting groups, and I found I could carry on a conversation while knitting this brilliant piece.
She used a fingering-weight yarn called, Wollmeise Pure 100% Merino Superwash. I’ve not tried that yarn, but it receives great reviews. I definitely will, though.
I personally used Liberty Wool Light, a fingering-weight yarn as well. I think what I love most is when you follow her directions exactly, it turns out the exact length she said it would. Gauge was right on. This is my Hitchhiker Shawlette below. I. Love. This. Will definitely make another…and perhaps another.
So, as always, I dug a bit deeper into her designs, and discovered ALL the lovely designs Ms. Martina had. You may want to jump over to her website and see what else she’s been up to. She’s an accomplished designer from Hamburg, Germany, with an original idea.
Let’s chat with her…
Thanks for joining me, Martina. How long have you been knitting?
Since I have been about 8 years old. That’s 30 years ago!
8 years old? That makes you…well, we won’t go there. *smiling* Moving right along…What inspired you to design the ever-so-popular Hitchhiker?
I was very fond of the long and narrow triangular shape that my free design 22.5 Degrees featured (to the right). I was just playing around with a little drawing and a ruler trying to find other ways to knit such a triangle, and found the “Hitchhiker way.” And then, just to add a little spice, I thought, well, I could do the decreases like little teeth.
And little teeth they are. And “22.5 Degrees” is in my que next, by the way. When did you become a designer, Martina?
I think it was just a couple of months ago. I used to work as a freelance jounalist and designed a bit on the side, but now designing, answering knitters’ questions and handling my pattern business is taking up all of my workday. So now, I consider myself lucky enough to call myself a part-time knitwear designer (the other part of the day, I take care of my two kids.)
I’m interested in knowing what got you started?
Since I learned how to knit, I modified designs and made up my own patterns. At some point I thought, well, I should try to write that down. I published a couple of free patterns which was a great way to learn (because people will forgive your mistakes more easily if the pattern is free). A very useful resource for aspiring designers is Shannon Okey’s book, “The Knitgrrl Guide to Professional Knitwear Design.”
It’s funny you mention Shannon, she’s my publisher. An amazing artist herself. So, do you draw out your design first or does your yarn lead you?
I usually make drawings for my shawlettes, because they are easy to do and they give me an idea of what I want to achieve. I also do calculations before I knit the sample. Usually, I have to knit several samples and start over multiple times before something works out as I planned. Currently, I am trying to learn how to make fashion sketches for sweaters, which is hard.
Designing is a very strategic thing, I do know. Martina, who are some of your favorite knitting designers?
Ysolda Teague, Nora Gaughan, Fiona Ellis. They design great, inspired garments, and I admire that.
I, too, have always admired garment designers. Something I have yet to try. When you’re not knitting, what else do you like to fill your time with?
I love to play the piano and I asked Santa to bring me a guitar this year. It is my favorite thing to play music and sing with my children.
Oh, I love that! I hope Santa is good to you this year. What advice do you have for a new knitter?
Use all the cool knitting innovations like Magic Loop, Judy’s magic cast-on, knitting sweaters seamlessly top-down in the round and toe-up socks. Don’t be afraid, they really make life so much easier than the classic, old-fashioned style of knitting that your grandma taught you. Also, be on Ravelry. But that’s obvious, isn’t it?
You know, Martina, that is good stuff! Great advice. Do you have a favorite type of yarn you like to use?
Fingering-weight yarn in bright and variegated colors. But, I am learning to appreciate thicker yarn as well.
Nice! Bright and variegated, my favorite too. One last question, Has knitting changed your life in any way?
Yes! No matter what is going on in my life, knitting always provides comfort. It is challenging and rewarding when everything else is boring and dull, and it can be soothing when the rest of my life is stressful. Also, being a knitwear designer means I can work from home and have no deadlines such that any kind of child-related emergency is manageable. I am really grateful for that opportunity, and I know I owe it all to you wonderful knitters out there – and the guys at Ravelry. Thank you so much!
This was an amazing interview with Martina Behm. Seriously, she is an inspiration to all of us designers, as well as a go-to for us knitters. Her patterns are a delight to knit.
Dear Readers, I’d be honored (and I’m sure she would too), if you’d check out her other patterns.
Many, many thanks to Martina for joining us today. Please join me here monthly to find out my next greatest designer/have-to-knit. Or if you find a pattern that you have fallen head-over-heals in love with, please write me, or comment below. I’d love to hear about it (and maybe even blog about it).
So, as I always say,