What Knitting or Crocheting Can Teach Us


As a designer, I spend many hour escaping into the Ravelry world, an amazing knitting and crocheting community (website) where people come and stay. For hours sometimes.

I click through 10, 15, 100 versions of the same shawl pattern (or dishcloth, sock, scarf, hat pattern), looking intently at the yarns used, the projects created from it, the way it looks in a worsted weight yarn vs. a fingering weight yarn. Which then starts down another rabbit hole of the actual yarn and what people created with that yarn–hats, baby blankets, socks, to name a few.

It soothes my soul, relaxes my over-stimulated-creative mind. But, even as a designer I have to wonder why people would knit a lace shawl that takes months to create such a complicated pattern. I guess because there’s something for everyone.

Here’s the thing about our online knitting or crochet community: we compare our projects, shaking our heads sometimes as to why someone would use that yarn or needle size, when clearly, in my own mind, I wouldn’t.

But that’s not for me to judge. Or even mention.

There’s a clear understanding that when someone posts a photo of their finished object, a lot of love, care and time has gone into producing that completed project. We should cheer her or him on and not make comments as to the clashing colors or think, I wouldn’t have done it in that yarn.

I ran across this the other day and shuddered. I did. Because it made me feel angry that someone would be so unkind to comment like that. I’m sure they didn’t realize it actually came across the way it did. But…It did!

So, I guess the moral of this story is, be kind when commenting on others photos. If you already do, which I’m sure you all do, good on you!

One Kind Word can Change Someones Entire Day

I know I’m not going to please everyone, but I’m ok with that. We all have different tastes in yarns, patterns, the way we photograph our finished objects. That’s what makes each and every one of us knitters or crocheters unique!And, I love that! And YOU!

The shawl at the top of the page is in my favorites. On Raverly.  I plan to knit this. I love the texture, the worsted weight yarn. I’m going to find a soft cotton worsted and knit it for summer evenings. 

Feel free to visit my Ravelry store if you’re interested. 



How to be a more Productive knitter

Have you heard words like Area 51, UFOs and PHDs?

Are you tired of being stuck in Area 51 (your stash) with all your UFOs (unfinished objects) and PHDs (projects half done)?  I’ve put together a list of ways for you to be more productive and organized with your knitting.

Keep Your Stash Under Control

We are all guilty of having too much yarn. You know what I mean. We leave the house and find ourselves in the yarn aisle at Michaels or our favorite LYS, and we just buy. It’s pretty, it talks to you, the shop gal tells you it’s the perfect color for you. Guilty! Why not start buying for a particular project and keep your Area 51 from growing out of control. Whew…done!

sock yarn pile

Choose Projects that you are serious about

Ravelry is the perfect place to spend hours, literally hours, searching for that pattern. You all know what I’m saying, I’m sure. It’s down the rabbit hole you go. But again, it will keep you from having to add on to the house for additional yarn space. *smiling*

Have 2-3 projects going at all times

I know what you’re thinking, “but Deb, you said not to buy yarn just because and I might not have the yarn in Area 51.” I gotcha. Here’s what I propose…you search through Ravelry, find 3 patterns that you’d like to make. One that is super easy and can be done while knitting with friends, one that is a bit more complicated and will take a couple months to finish, and one that makes you excited every time you think about knitting on it. Maybe its a new stitch or some part of the pattern you can’t get enough of. If you have more than 3 projects going at any given time, it will cause you to put them away and forget.

Choose a podcast or listen to an audiobook

My favorite thing to do is to watch a knitting podcast or listen to an audiobook while I knit. Even if its a bit more complicated, I find myself able to concentrate on the pattern, yet listen at the same time. Weird, I know. But, it’s also a great use of your time. A couple of my favorites can be found on Youtube: Brooklyn Knitfolk, By the Lakeside, and Grocery Girls.

Take your knitting with you (always)

Remember the one project I mentioned that is super easy and can be done while knitting with friends? Yea, that one. That’s the one you grab on your way out the door in case you’re stuck waiting somewhere, or you are done running errands and just want to find a nice cup of coffee and sit. I do it all the time and love it. Make sure it’s in a cute project bag. Just ‘cuz.

me knitting

What’s your next project?

It’s ok to take breaks. Ravelry is a great place to go to. You can assign yarn and projects. You will find yourself back there, I’m sure, so why not have a list of yarn (in Area 51) that you’d like to knit with next. Assign that along with a pattern for future projects.

With these ideas, you will soon find yourself organized and productive; actually ticking things off that list and getting rid of UFOs and PHDs in your Area 51.

How exciting is that? Please share with me your plan, your new pattern finds, and of course your UFOs and PHDs. I have many myself.

(note to self, go through Area 51 and take your own advice.)

Knit On, friends!






Interview with Diane Serviss – Knitting Designer

One of the biggest mysteries in the knitting world is how to achieve success as a designer.
I’m excited to introduce to you Diane Serviss. She’s known in the Etsy world as Pixiebell. I’ve “stalked” her for quite sometime now, just popping in and out to admire her fun photography and whimsical designs.  

I was looking through the free hat patterns on Ravelry when I stumbled upon Jakes Cable Beanie.

What an impressive knit. Fun. Fast. Not to mention, Fabulous. You know me, that’s what I’m all about. I actually knitted it in a couple hours, using the recommend yarn, Lions Brand Wool Ease Chunky. The cables are beautiful. But the one thing that I found fun about this hat was, you use dpn’s to knit it, not a circular. I enjoyed that. Alot.

My Knitted Version

So, I dug a bit deeper on Ravelry and found her Elfinwear page. Her About Me section is so much fun to read. What an accomplished woman. Did you know that her Signature Pixie hat and her gnome style beanies were featured in the 2012 episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Ty Pennington can be seen wearing her pixie hat, in olive!

I think it’s time to chat with Diane…

Thanks for joining me, Diane. I’m curious, what inspired you to design this awesome Jakes Cable Beanie? 

My nephew, Jake, is an avid outdoorsman in Montana. I noticed every time I saw photos of him, he always wore a hood but no hat. He mentioned he always had a hard time finding one that fit snug without being too bulky. Aunt Diane to the rescue!

What a great aunt! Is there anything in particular that inspires you to design, in general?

I am really inspired by movies, new and old. I am always amazed by the gorgeous wardrobes and garments worn especially in period pieces. You can see influences of cartoons, Dr. Zhivago, even Bridgette Jones in my work.

Dr. Zhivago, nice! So, what advice do you have for a new knitter?

Practice and challenge yourself! Find a fibre that you really love working with. Start off with a pattern that you feel comfortable with, then try another pattern with a new technique in it. Continue learning and growing and trying new things.

Great advice! You obviously have been knitting for awhile, can you share with us about 
how long?

I taught myself to loom knit in 2005. Along the way I realized there were some restrictions to what I could do. In 2007, I finally taught myself to needle knit by watching videos on youtube. Three years ago, I taught myself to crochet the very same way.

I can relate to you when you say you taught yourself to knit in front of youtube videos. What exactly was your first knitting project?

I think, like most new knitters, it was a scarf! It was garter stitched and green and I held onto it for quite some time until I learned to knit in the round and made one of my first hats to match it. 

What is your favorite knitting project now?

Felted Wizard and Princess Hats

I guess it is no secret that I love hats. My favorites are always something childlike in a grownup size. I love pointy pixie hats and gnome hats and big puffy tassels. I love any excuse to play dress up. One of my favorite patterns is in the book, “New Knits on the Block.” I could make a million of these and give one to every princess I know. 

Diane, for many designers, knitting has become a way of life, rather than a hobby. How has knitting changed your life?

Knitting has changed my life in every way imaginable. Knitting was only going to be a hobby, but when I graduated college in 2008 and realized no one was hiring, I fell back on my hobby. Now, in 2012, that hobby is a thriving business that employs both myself and my husband full time…he is an amazing knitter. Our eldest daughter knits for us seasonally. I certainly never planned to head down this road, but what an amazing lifestyle we have been blessed with.

I love to hear happily-ever-after stories. One last question, what is your favorite type of yarn to work with?

The yarn I most often use and design for is Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick. I love instant gratification. Give me a fat yarn and a fat set of needles and in one hour I’ll hand you a finished hat, my friend.

This was fun! I also discovered Diane (Elfinwear) has a Flickr account. See more fun pics there. 

Dear Readers, I’d be honored (and I’m sure Diane would too), if you’d check out her designs. She’s an inspiration to all of us.

Many, many thanks to Diane for joining me today. Please tune in each Wednesday for a new knitting designer. You WON’T want to miss a single week. I promise!

So, as I always say, 

Knit On!





Interview with Stephen West — Knitting Designer

One of the biggest mysteries in the knitting world is how to achieve success as a designer.

I’m thrilled to introduce Stephen West of West Knits.  I happened upon his FREE pattern for Purl Ridge Scarf and fell in (headfirst).

My knitted version

I sat down, cast on my 200 stitches and began this fun, fast, and fabulous find. It’s the kind of pattern that requires no attention; you either knit the round or purl the round. That’s it. I kept track, but that’s just because I get distracted easily.This is my version on the right.

So, this drew me in further and I searched for other things on Ravelry that said West Knits or Stephen West. Bingo! He has a Fan club. Who wouldn’t love to have a fan club. *me…jumping up and down with my hand flagging back and forth* Well, yes, almost 7000 followers.

Well, what are we waiting for, Let’s chat with him:

Stephen, What inspired you to design such a fun, fast and fabulous Purl Ridge Scarf?

I said I would make a scarf for one of my friends with the beautiful Hedgehog Fibres Merino Silk yarn. I didn’t want anything too complicated, so I stuck with stockinette stitch and garter ridges. The combination of those two basic stitch patterns never cease to amaze me.

Stephen’s Scarf

I love that Stephen! that this design is not complicated. Okay, is there anything in particular that inspires you to design?

I get the most inspiration from yarns. I love all types of yarn from wool and alpaca to silk and linen. I am intrigued by fiber characteristics and their effects on various stitch patterns. I am inspired by playing with color combinations and mixing different yarn weights and textures.

I always get excited when someone wants to learn to knit. THIS would be a perfect pattern. What advice can you give to a new knitter?

Play with all kinds of yarns to see what you like best. My taste in yarn is always developing and changing. I recommend saving up to get a little bit of yarn that you absolutely love that is a higher quality rather than purchasing a lot of cheaper yarn. Knitting is a physical experience and emotional too. The materials you choose to work with directly affect how you feel and think. It’s fun to educate yourself about different fibers so you can make more informed choices at your local yarn shop.

I totally agree with you; knitting with higher quality yarn is a better overall experience. So, Stephen, how long have you been knitting?

7 years

Nice! What was your first knitting project as a new knitter?

I knit a chunky turquoise garter stitch scarf with acrylic yarn. I have no idea where it is now. It made me happy at the time, so I’m glad I made it…but I feel nauseous when I think about it.

Stephen, I’m sure you’re like every addicted knitter, and it HAS somehow changed a portion of your life? Can you tell us how?

I met some of my best friends through knitting. Wherever I travel I meet the most friendly and inspiration people. It makes me practice my math skills. I am always warm. I always have something to do and knitting entertains me. I have learned a bit about photography. Knitting challenges me by making me problem solve and make educated choices. Knitting is emotional and physical, but it’s also just knitting. I take it very seriously and devote my creative time and energy to it, but I constantly let go of that serious passion and use knitting as a playful medium to explore color, form, texture, and rhythm. It has taught me to share and make different choices.

Taught you to share, I love that, though I am still learning that myself. *smiling* So, let me ask you, what is your favorite knitting project and your favorite type of yarn?

I love shawls. I have more than enough, but I use them to explore different shaping techniques and yarn combinations. Fingering weight wools and wool blends are my favorite type of yarn to use.

This has been fun, Stephen. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I have several new patterns and books coming out this fall and winter, so you can look forward to new patterns including several garments. I am especially excited about the beautiful photography in all the collections, and a couple of the books are collaborative, which result in a more eclectic and playful presentation. 

Wow, how fun was this? He’s amazing. I realized he also tweets, you can follow him here. AND he has a Flickr page.

Dear Readers, I’d be honored (and I’m sure Stephen would too), if you checked out his designs. He’s an inspiration to all of us. 

Many, many thanks to Stephen for joining me today. Please tune in each Wednesday for a new knitting designer. You WON’T want to miss a single week. I promise!

So, as I always say, 

Knit On!



Lazy Labor Day

It’s one of those days that leads from one lazy event to another.

I love these kind of days…knit, check email, knit some more, go for a short stroll with my husband, and head out to sit and work at my favorite coffee shop.

I’m hard at work on my week of blog posts. New ideas. New interviews. New themes, and just plain new “stuff.”

I can’t wait for you to see.

So, as I say Knit On!

Oh, and have a safe holiday and oh by the way, hug someone today…