A Knitting Superstar

Categories: Behind the scenes, Crafts and hobbies, In the office

There’s a knitting maven in our midst.

Readers might not be surprised to learn that we’ve got our fair share of cooks, gardeners, animal lovers, and crafters around the Workman offices. But recently, an inter-office spy tipped us off to a superstar knitter so driven to purl and cable she refers to patterns as “porn for knitters.” She comes from a knitting family (her grandmother owned a yarn shop and her sisters are similarly inclined/obsessed); has around four projects going at any one time; tries to knit for at least a half-hour a day; prefers to watch movies at home because movie theater darkness cramps her knitting style; gives most of her projects away but keeps socks for herself; and owns around 50 pattern books that she uses mainly for inspiration (or, errr, titillation). In the rare event that she finds herself with a question, she always comes back to Stitch ‘N Bitch for, she says, the clarity of the instructions and illustrations. We give you… General Manager Jill Dülber!

Jill modeling her cape

A gift for a Workman baby


A sock is not a gift

Sheepy Time sweater from SNB Superstar, p. 220

The mothership

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Craft Books: The Gifts that Give Back!

Categories: Crafts and hobbies

There’s an old adage that I like to apply when shopping for friends: Give a lady a crocheted scarf, she has a functional accessory; teach her to crochet and she has a whole wardrobe… and maybe she’ll make a scarf for you one day, too.

I love to give crafty how-to books (for birthdays, holidays, just-because days) because I really believe in empowering people to do for themselves. Whether it’s crocheting, knitting, quilting, sewing, refashioning a T-shirt, baking, or hacking into a dead computer for parts, people like to get gifts that tell them how creative you think they are. And that makes me happy. But I gotta say, sometimes there’s an awesome bonus to giving DIY books! Example: Last year, I gave a copy of Debbie Stoller’s crochet book Stitch ‘N Bitch: The Happy Hooker to my friend Lauren. Several months later, a package arrived from Lauren–inside was a completed One-Skein Scarf (page 100) just for me!

PS: Happy National Crochet Week! What are you hookin’ up?

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Inside the Author’s Studio: Debbie Stoller

Categories: Behind the scenes, Crafts and hobbies, News

Welcome to Inside the Author’s Studio, where we give you a peek into the minds of your favorite Workman authors.

Today we bust right into BUST magazine headquarters, to step inside the mind and studio of Debbie Stoller, author of the Stitch ‘N Bitch knitting and crochet series (and publisher of  BUST magazine).

Recent book you loved/learned from

It was a book that isn’t published yet, about the history of a building in the East Village that the author lived in and was evacuated from. She traces the history of that plot of land from the early Native American days, through the colonialists, revolutions, wave after wave of immigrant, all while pursuing thought-provoking tangents about topics such as the nature and origins of home. The book is called The Archeology of Home and it’s by Katherine Grieder.

Favorite bookstore

St. Marks Bookshop in the East Village.

Hidden talent

I know how to write computer code and have been doing it for the past 30 years! In fact, my full-time role here at BUST is web developer.

Bookmark, dog-ear, or virtuality?

Dog-ear, although my boyfriend insists that that is wrong, wrong, wrong.

Book you are most ashamed never to have read

Oh my, just about every classic ever. But I’ll go with a Tale of Two Cities. Because I read the Cliffs notes instead, and that’s shameful.

Most frequent form of writerly procrastination


Favorite childhood book

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret

Alternate ambition (i.e. If you weren’t a writer/publisher, you’d be…)

Historian researching private life, in particular women’s domestic duties through the ages.

Your perfect meal

A bag of Doritos and a can of cream soda!

Big dream

Well, I just fulfilled one: I bought a house in Brooklyn. I have my own house, and it makes everything else better. So right now my big dream is to get a kitchen built in it!

Super power of choice

Being invisible, of course.

So which one is it, knit or crochet?

Both; I’m bi-craftual. Always have been, always will be.

What are you knitting/crocheting right now?

Actually hooking up some skull booties from a pattern from my own yarn line, using my own yarn. I know that’s corny, but it’s true.

What Workman book would you like to receive as compensation for your involvement?

The one about how to shoot video. I would really like to know some of the rules so we don’t have to keep re-inventing them.

Debbie is the author of, most recently, Stitch ‘N Bitch Superstar Knitting.

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Debbie Stoller makes a knitter out of Mo Rocca on CBS Sunday Morning

Categories: Crafts and hobbies, Video

Mo Rocca insulted knitters worldwide when he called homemade sweaters “itchy.” To make amends, he turned to Debbie Stoller, author of the Stitch ‘n Bitch series, to learn the joys of knitting on CBS Sunday Morning.

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Sit down with Stitch ‘N Bitch author Debbie Stoller

Categories: News

What are the latest trends in knitting? How can amateur knitters take it to the next level? And most importantly, what do you bitch about when you stitch? Stitch ‘N Bitch author Debbie Stoller answers all these burning questions, and more!

Q:  Your new book is titled STITCH ’N BITCH SUPERSTAR KNITTING: Go Beyond the Basics, and it features a variety of different techniques, from lace-making to intarsia to beading and embroidery. Is this just for advanced knitters? How did you go about choosing the techniques?

A: The book is not so much for people who are advanced knitters as it is for people who want to become advanced knitters—the book is intended to help any knitter become a knitting superstar. So many people have taken up knitting in the past ten years, and lots of them are ready to move way beyond the scarf. The fact is that once you become comfortable with the two basic knit stitches—knit and purl—knitting plain sweaters and hats becomes really boring. You want to liven things up a bit—and it’s probably for this same reason that knitters of long ago invented things such as adding cable to their knitting, or doing all kinds of amazing things with color work, or even figuring out how to knit super-intricate lace. In the book I teach all of these techniques so that anyone can kick their knitting up a notch, whether they decide to try to learn all of these new skills or just a few. I chose the techniques that I felt were the most central to expanding your knitting abilities, and also included instructions on how to design your own patterns.

Q:  What inspired you to take up knitting in the first place?

A: This is quite a long story, actually, but basically, my mother is from Holland, and I come from a long line of Dutch knitters and needle workers. I learned all sorts of needle skills as a child—sewing, embroidery, everything—but knitting was the one thing I hated. As I grew older I kept trying to pick up knitting and kept hating it, and then there was a long period where I kind of had to keep my crafting in the closet, as it just wasn’t considered very cool or even feminist to do so. But in the late ’90s, I realized it was time to give value to the skills of our mothers and grandmothers, and we began printing craft projects in the feminist magazine that I edit, BUST. Then, when I had to go cross country on a book tour for a book that we wrote that was based on the magazine, I decided to do it by train. Afraid that I’d be bored sitting on a train for three days straight, I decided to take a sweater with me that I’d been struggling with for . . . oh, about five years. It was a very easy sweater, but I hated knitting so much I could only work on it for about half an hour before I’d get so frustrated I’d put it away again for a year or so. Anyway, on the train ride I took out that sweater and picked up my knitting needles, looked over a knitting book for children I had taken with me, and suddenly, everything clicked. The rhythm of the train and the rhythm of my needles—everything just felt right. By the time I got to the West Coast the sweater was done, and I was hooked.

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

A: 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.

Q:  The thought of knitting anything beyond a scarf can be quite intimidating to some people. Can you offer some advice on how first-time knitters can get started and what beginners who have mastered the scarf can do to take the next step?

A: The main thing that any new knitter needs to know is that learning to knit takes time. You can’t expect to just learn the basic stitches and then finish up a scarf in an hour. It’s not just like gluing Popsicle sticks together. It’s a skill that takes time to learn—just like learning to play the guitar. You don’t go to your first guitar lesson and then cut a demo the next day. If you can have patience with yourself, and know that it is going to feel really awkward at first, but will eventually begin to feel more comfortable, that’s all you need. And as for taking your knitting to the next level, the same thing applies. Knitters who have felt completely comfortable with the yarn and needles in their hands may feel like they are back to square one when they try to knit with two colors of yarn at the same time. But that, too, becomes more comfortable with practice. Mostly, all knitters should know that there isn’t anything they can’t do if they are just patient enough with themselves to get through the awkwardness. It’s not like dancing, which maybe you have to have some sort of a talent for. It’s something that anyone can learn.

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

A: 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.

Q:  What do you bitch about when you stitch?

A: 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.

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Spotlight on: Author Debbie Stoller @ World Maker Faire 2010

Categories: Crafts and hobbies, How-to, News

Those who volunteered or attended the World Maker Faire in NYC last weekend are still recovering from the awesomeness of the experience — it was a mixture of energy, enthusiasm, and whimsy — plus a touch of zany. Giant vats of Gerard’s paella, various grub trucks, and other fair food options kept us well fed. The Bust Craftacular maker tables made sure we have everyone on our holiday gift list covered. And the mix of rides (Jet Ponies, anyone?) at the alternative midway kept our hearts pumping and our ears ringing!

Workman’s Camp Make booth, nestled among all those attractions was a bustling hit! One of our highlights was hosting Debbie Stoller, author of the bestselling Stitch ‘N Bitch series. She stopped by both Saturday and Sunday, clicked her sticks a bit (of course!), chatted with fans, and signed books! And she met up with our friendly neighbors right next door from Red Heart yarns, who just happen to be the kind folks who produce the Stitch Nation line of gorgeous colorful skeins.

The Faire was decidedly and inspiringly stitch-friendly: Beyond Red Heart’s knitting and crochet center, Bust Magazine hosted a stitch lounge, National Needle Arts Association taught people how to knit, and Lion Brand was there, too, with knit sculptures celebrating iconic New York: the Coney Island Cyclone, the Wonder Wheel, and the Empire State Building, complete with King Kong, of course. Panels of knitwork hung from the base of the Rocket next to the NY Hall of Science.

And back at the ranch (the Workman booth), we kept pace by quietly drawing two names to win the Stitch ‘N Bitch gift baskets of yarn, project cards, and a Stitch ‘N Bitch book of the winners’ choice. Congratulations, Alison and Yasmeen, and thanks to everyone who entered!

PS: Did I mention that Beth learned to knit at Maker Faire?

PPS: For all you star pupils, stay tuned for Stitch ‘N Bitch Superstar Knitting, out this November!

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Sneak peek from Stitch ‘N Bitch Superstar Knitting

Categories: Crafts and hobbies, Excerpts

Get a sneak peek at the table of contents and introduction of Debbie Stoller’s latest addition to the Stitch ‘N Bitch library, Stitch ‘N Bitch Superstar Knitting! This is the book that takes everything to the next level–it’s packed with the most advanced techniques and 41 gorgeous patterns to showcase your new skills!

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