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.

Entwined Blanket Pattern
vanilla socks1
Free Vanilla Sock Pattern

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!






Fun and Crazy Summer Socks

Summer is upon us. You wouldn’t guess it based on the weather we are having. I think our highs have topped in the mid 80’s. I’m not complaining, because this is our fire season; the one part of the year we all cringe when it appears.

I’ve been working on socks. Crazy Summer Socks. (psst…there are more fun socks coming soon.)

I’m in love with them. Colorful, easy to memorize, you make them as long or short as you like, and colorful. Oh, I said that, I know, but really, they are. I think the colors are what make this sock. You can see the basketweave effect in the leg. The cuff is a twisted rib. So perfectly matched with this design.

The yarn is from Mountain Colors, Crazyfoot, Summertime colorway. So, you can clearly see how I came up with the name. 🙂

I have them listed in my Etsy shop, and Ravelry Shop,

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do, and did, knitting them.

So, as I always say,
Knit On!

Book Review: Scarf Style 2 by Ann Budd

I often run across some pretty cool books. Scarf Style 2 is one of them.

Paperback: 26 Fresh Designs
Publisher: Interweave (2013)
Language: English 
Author: Ann Budd

It sells for $24.95 US

This book has nothing but scarves, hence the title. Who doesn’t love a scarf?  *raising hand* 

They appear as elegant and sophisticated, a fashion accessory that we all need in our closet, and can be knit in every direction imaginable. 

The patterns are well-written. Some contain charts due to the complexity, and some patterns are written as row-by-row instructions. The illustrations are spot on. Clear and concise. If you know me at all, this is very important to me as a photographer/designer. I appreciate a well thought out photo. The models show off these beautiful designs. 

I was able to ask Ann a few questions:

Deb: Your book, Scarf Style 2 seems to be a big hit my LYS. I was instantly intrigued with the cover photo. In fact, I’ve just bought the yarn for the project. It consists of 26 designs (1 of which is yours), to knit by different designers. What inspired you to write a book in this manner?

Ann: The original Scarf Style remains popular, yet neckwear has evolved in the past 10 years so it made sense to do a sequel. The whole premise of the Style-series books is to gather different designers for a common theme. The result is much more varied projects and approaches than a single designer could come up with. 

Deb: I’m also curious how the collaboration of the designers came about?

Ann: Again, because it was to be in the Style series, I knew that it would include multiple designers. I first contacted those that I knew would come up with innovative and interesting designs. Then the editorial director and I surfed Ravelry to identify other designers who could fill in gaps.

Deb: Scarf Style 2 is a fantastic book. Who was your target audience when putting this book together?

Ann: I wanted to reach a wide range of knitters, from relatively beginning to advanced, which explains the variety of simple to involved patterns.

As I paged through this beautiful book, I quickly marked the pages I would return to. There were, well…Lots!

I love the design on the front cover, Eufaula by Alexis Winslow, and the one I intend to cast on (tonight).

I highly recommend this book, Scarf Style 2. If you’re a scarf knitter of any kind, please do yourself (and Ann & myself) a favor by clicking on any of the highlighted links and checking it out!

You won’t be disappointed. I promise!

So, as I always say,

Knit On!


Interview with Martina Behm – Knitting Designer

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,

Knit On!


Cyber Monday is Where it’s At

“Cyber Monday is a marketing term for the Monday after Black Friday, the Friday following Thanksgiving in the United States, created by companies to persuade people to shop online. The term made its debut on November 28, 2005 in a press release entitled ‘Cyber Monday’ Quickly Becoming One of the Biggest Online Shopping Days of the Year. ~Wikipedia        

So, what does that mean for you? Head to your favorite (.com) store and do some shopping: (these are mine)

Perhaps, Knitpicks, where you can pick up anything and everything fiber related. They even have kits, so you don’t have to think about what yarn is going to work best.

You know, the yarn shop that I’ve recently discovered and always a go to for me, is Loopy Ewe. Great customer service, Great selection, and the shipping is so quick you don’t have time to forget you purchased it. 

You know what I’m talking about. 

 Or my publisher, Cooperative Press, has a wide variety of fun books for you to get your hands on. They ship quick. I do have to mention, you can pick up a copy of Dishcloth Diva there too…just sayin’.

And last but not least, The Artful Yarn, where I have what you need in some fun, modern patterns. In fact, you can purchase 3 of my most popular patterns for ONLY $.99 cents each. A steal. Bridgette, Mom and Apple Pie, and Playing with Rope, all labeled Cyber Monday, and all line the top of the page.  Go grab one or all 3 for that price. Today Through Monday. And I now accept Etsy Gift Cards.

Mom and Apple Pie
Playing with Rope

Holiday shopping is here. Hence, Cyber Monday. We just got through Black Friday, well, minimally anyway. The lines, the parking lots, the PEOPLE. I’m not into the crowds, but we decided to brave the big box stores and snag a couple deals. And we did!

You know, I’ve never been one for Black Friday, however, I am a fan of Cyber Monday. There is always something I can grab on a .com deal. 

I’m sure you can too.

And yes…I will be knitting as I peruse the sites to see what I can’t live without.

So, as I always say,

Knit On!



Interview with Robin Sample – Knitting Designer

One of the biggest mysteries in the knitting world is how to achieve success as a designer.
Please meet my feature designer, Robin Sample. When I discovered her pattern for Sojourn Mitts, I was deeply in awe of this designer. I clicked around her blog and discovered she was overly fond of wool. Score! So am I.

Robin says, “A few things that make me happy are autumn, home baked bread, vanilla anything, a cup of hot tea, Poirot, mason jars, the wind in the trees, hollyhocks and daisies, fancy schmancy grocery stores, 70’s soft rock, real maple syrup, hobnail milk glass, anything lemon, a good laugh, real butter and sweet puppies.”

Gotta love a woman like that.

My knitted pair

I was so gaga over her FREE pattern Sojourn Mitts, I shared it with everyone: bitch ‘n knit girls, neighbors, friends, family, just anyone who would take a look at my perfectly finished fingerless mitts. I did great, no doubt, but it was her detailed pattern that made me look SO good.

Let’s talk with her:

Robin, What inspired you to design these fabulous Sojourn Mitts?

These mitts came about because I have cold hands! I needed a pair of mitts that I could easily slip on and off, and I’d been playing around with the broken rib stitch pattern in a swatch. It was sort of like the old Reese’s peanut butter cup ads – they were made for each other.

Is there anything in particular that inspires you to design?

Everything inspires me (I know, everyone says that). I don’t know if it’s true for most designers, but coming up with ideas is the never-ending part. I’m always jotting down notes, making sketches, earmarking a stitch pattern…something. It’s taking all those ideas and filtering them into something unique, usable and repeatable, that is the challenge. I love nature, fall, hiking in the woods. Being outside always gets my creative juices flowing. I love to knit socks and mitts, so naturally gravitate towards those types of designs.

What advice do you have for a new knitter?

(A) Don’t be afraid…it is only yarn. Dive in and try something that inspires you! What’s the worst thing that could happen…it’ll have mistakes in it? So what!?

(B) If you knit things you love and are excited to knit, you’ll learn and grow so much faster. If you’re knitting a scarf because someone told you that was a beginner level project, but you hate it, you’ll never finish it. Cast on something you’re PASSIONATE about finishing.  

How long have you been knitting, Robin?

I learned to knit (but not purl) about 20 years ago. About 12 years ago, I picked it up again and fell all the way in. 

What was the first knitting project as a new knitter?

I knit a huge (HUGE) garter stitch blanket out of dark green cotton yarn. It weighed about 20 pounds, I think. I didn’t know how to purl, so I just kept knitting…and knitting. My second go-round, I knitted a small pouch in stockinette with a seed stitch top band. I still have the pouch. I don’t have the blanket 🙂

How has knitting changed your life?

Woosh…in a lot of ways. My husband and I now plan vacations around knitting and spinning! I still embroider, sew and quilt…but they happen occasionally. I knit and/or spin every day. I read about knitting every day (on Ravelry, blogs, magazines, or books). I found a love of sheep, and alpaca through knitting. The wonders of wool yarn always amaze me. I could go on and on here…

What is your favorite thing to knit? Obviously, Sojourn Mitts are already on that list…

Socks. I adore knitting socks. If I want a challenge, I knit a complex sock. If I want to relax and not think, I knit a simple sock. If I don’t know what to knit, I knit a sock. Mitts come in a close second here. In a lot of ways, socks and mitts are similar: you cast on, you truck around and around for a while. Just when you might be getting a little tired of that – boring! It’s time for the heel (or thumb).  You perk up through that, then settle back down for the foot (or hand) and before you know it, it’s time for the toe (or fingerband) and then you’re binding off. And you think, “man, that was fun!” Which is good, since your sock or mitt needs a mate…and you get to go again. Of course, there are also shawls…

One last question, Robin, What is your favorite yarn to use? Because you know, as well as any knitter, there are favorites…

I’m a wool lover. I think sheep are brilliant. So, except for June through August (and that’s only because I live in Arkansas, where we have “air you can wear”), you’ll find me knitting with wool yarn. Sock yarn, is of course, a weakness. I tend to prefer finer gauge yarns overall, though. Lace weight yarn is another one I seem to collect a fair amount of because  you never know when the urge to cast on a shawl will strike! 

I’m so glad to be following Robin on twitter, and on her blog, and on Pinterest, so I can find out what she’s up to, and what her next fabulous design is. 

Dear Readers, you must check out Robin, as she’s an inspiration to all us knitters and designers.

Many thanks to Robin for participating in my feature designer series…stay tuned each Wednesday for a new knitting designer. You WON’T want to miss a single week.

So, as I always say,

Knit On!



WIP Wednesday

Seems like the perfect thing for today. There is always something this hasn’t been finished. There’s not a day that goes by that a project is waiting to be completed.

In this case? A dishcloth set…

Dishcloth are (obviously) my thing. This particular one will go into my Etsy shop, in the “front window”, for everyone to see. It’s bright lemony colorway lends itself to sunshine, lemon pies, and summertime. 
Happy Wednesday to all my fabulous friends!