Category Archives: Knitting Contrissmas 2011

Winner of The Crochet Dude’s New Book & Knit Chat

So many comments for “Hug it Out”, Drew Emborsky’s new book—— it is fantastic to see so many of The Crochet Dude’s fans!

The winner is Anne!

Posted December 23, 2011 at 5:37 PM

Would love to have another Crochet Dude pattern book! He’s my hero!

Congrats Anne!

In related news of yarn—-

I’m almost finished with a Christmas gift that was gifted along with an IOU, a pair of fair isle fingerless mitts:

They’re “Finishing Touches Fingerless Mitts” from Kerin Dimeler-Laurence. The pattern was from Knit Picks, actually offered in kit form earlier in the season, I subbed my own yarn colors.

I wanted to show Mike’s Hat—– a gift I was so happy to give this year. Mike requested a warm hat with cables and I was thrilled to knit it for him. It turned out great!

It’s the “Hat Most Likely to Succeed” from Alexandra Virgiel. Knit in Cascade Eco, fast and easy yielding a good looking hat I’d be happy to knit again. The best part is that Mike loved it—– fabulous!

Tree of Life fingerless mitts were another holiday knit gift. Lots of fun to knit—– the photo is from the designer, Jenny Williams. Mine actually look almost exactly like this, just a little darker.

The house empties out tomorrow night and I’m planning on dissolving into a puddle of exhaustion about 10 p.m. Knitting will follow after a bit of sleep—— but to work on the long languishing Eiffel Tower Shawl or the languishing since Christmas knitting took place Clarus… that is the question. I did receive some lovely yarn as a gift, several skeins of silk from Himalaya Yarns but honestly I have no idea what to knit with it.

It seems over the next few days will slowly get back to normal with full workload returning just after the New Year. Can’t wait to see what YOU’VE been working on!

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Winners— DIY Girls

LOVE the photo of the canned ham and vintage car decked out for the holidays! Don’t know the original source, if it’s yours let me know and I’d be so very happy to credit you!

Congratulations to Carol and Diana winners of the DIY Girls at DIY DISH Giveaway, $25.00 gift certificates to You Can Make This and My Girlfriends Quilt Shop!

I think the holiday madness has caught up to me…………………is it possible to be more tired? I don’t think so! Hope all is wonderful on YOUR side of the screen. :)

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Get Your Merry On!

Knitting Contrissmas is over (I confess to being a little bit relieved!) but the holidays are still in full force around here!

One of the things I LOVE this time of year is to visit the holiday ‘open houses’ sprinkled around the web! It is so much fun to peek into the homes of creative people and see their decorations, to marvel at their labors and enjoy a virtual bit of the season with them.

Casita Contessa is decked out as well, I thought you might like a wee peek!

Now, back to your regularly scheduled holiday relaxation–



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Knitting Contrissmas: Day 25: Norah Gaughan

Day 25 of Knitting Contrissmas, the last hurrah as it were. I hope you’ve had fun, I’ve had a great time!

Today wraps with Norah Gaughan, as we always do on Day 25! :)  Norah is a knitter, author, designer, and all around fabulous person, you’ll see!  And she’s a little funny too, just a little. When I asked her for a headshot, she sent me the self created shot on the banner!  Or she sent me the sketch (seen in the interview below, done by her father years ago).

Norah is giving away a copy of  the fabulous Comfort Knit and Crochet Afghans book! It’s a must have! Comment by January 2nd at Midnight CST and I’ll crank up the random generator.

KC: Hi Norah, thanks so much for agreeing to do a revisit of Knitting Contrissmas, I appreciate you! You know I can’t talk (or even think) about you without saying THE Norah Gaughan.  :)  I am a huge fan (that didn’t sound right did it???)  and eagerly wait for all things Norah! Thanks so much Norah for taking the time to hang out with us a little bit! You have graced all  of the Knitting Contrissmas events and we’d love to catch up! It’s December 25th and we’re all beyond crazy busy or at least a bit weary. YOU are always super busy though!!! Another fabulous collection of knitting patterns, Norah Gaughan Volume 9!!! You are an author, a knitwear designer, a teacher, and contributor to knitting magazines,  as well as the Design Director at Berroco—-how in the world do you do it??  That’s my first question for you—- what tips do you have to stretch personal time to be creative?

NG: Hey, Volume 9 you say?  Volume 10 is due back from the printer any day and I have already started planning Vol 11!  As far as stretching creative time – – I spend more and more of my time doing non-creative things, and then, as I am sure you all know, you can’t just say “quick, hurry up, be creative”.  I do tend to be the most creative under these two circumstances:
1 – When I am supposed to be doing something else and procrastinate by thinking about creative things

2 – On my two hours drive home to NH (from RI) on Thursday evenings.  My often find my mind wanders in a most enjoyable way.  I guess I am just the right amount of relaxed.


KC: You’re known for creating patterns that are very clean, with super interesting lines and construction. Has your “look” always been yours?

NG: That’s what my Mom claims. Oh, by the way, check out “phannie” on Raverly to see her “work in progress”.  I get such a kick out of it.  She really “got” the mood of Ravelry from the very beginning.

 KC: Cracks me up. To begin with, I LOVE her bio—– and her work in progress, could not be cuter. Could. Not. Be. Hugs to your Mom!


KC: Do you have a favorite pattern or is that like choosing one child over another?

NG: Too hard….A favorite pattern for what reason?  Because I am proud of how clever I was, or had a big breakthrough. Because I really want to wear it?  Because loads of knitters are making it? (KC: laughs)

KC: What comes first the yarn or the pattern?

NG:  It used to be the pattern, especially the service texture, then sometimes the structure. Working for a yarn company though, means the yarn comes first. I do get t juggle the two when I am designing for my self named volumes.


KC: I can only imagine what inspires you so you know I have to ask? What does your process of inspiration look like?  

NG: I bounce back and forth between photos of ready to wear fashion and the lines of thought I have going, like those hexagons I can’t stop working with , and variations on shrug shapes.

Sketch of Norah

KC: I can’t wait to see the list of you you take inspiration FROM? Who inspires you?

NG: Benoit Mandelbrot, Julia Childs, M.F.K. Fisher, Adele, Oliver Sacks, Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, Jane Goodall, everyone featured in the documentary “Between the folds”….


KC: You travel to a lot abroad in the name of yarn. Besides being exhausting, what do you bring home from your trips and how does it impact your knitting?

NG: I bring home sweaters and books. The most inspiring book I ever brought home was about crystals, not in a new agey, hidden power sort of way, but in a damn, the earth and the science of understanding it is cool. it inspired volume 7.

Astrid (the longest UFO I have I'm ashamed to admit!)

KC: Any new toys that made a difference to Norah this year?

NG:  Getting an ipad was a wonderfully fun new thing for me. I draw with it, I see international magazines on it. I email, I make check lists, I keep “show off” photos at hand.



KC: Are you making handmade gifts this year? Can we peek into your list???

NG: No handmade gifts. I spent too many weekend and evening hours knitting for work.



KC: Do you read a lot of blogs in the creative community?

NG: I have been spending a lot of time of visual sites, like Pinterest.

KC: The past year has been a big one for you, what is coming in 2012? Please share with us some of your upcoming news!

NG: My husband’s kid’s have made me a grandma twice over in 2011!  The prospect of spending time with them in the coming year is very exciting. Loki and Edith are so ridiculously cute.  Seeing the look on John’s face when he holds them is incredibly heart wrenching as well (in a good way).   So, maybe your question was about knitting – – in that case, I am pretty happy about Norah Gaughan vol 10. We photographed on two models, one is the traditional size 4 and the other is a size 14. She is very beautiful and really adds a lot to the book (and she can wear my size!).


KC: What words do you have for your many fans in the world of all things YARN? For those knitters and crocheters who follow you (and are about to)?

NG:   Your LYS is your friend.  Oh, and come see me at VK Live in January and try on sweaters!  We’ll have a lot of size Large sweaters (as well as size small) so even if you are smaller or larger or in between you’ll be able to tell which size would be best for you and be surprised by items that flatter, when you weren’t sure they would.


KC: I asked Norah what I was missing………… something she wanted to add and of course, in the irrepressible Norah Fashion she responds with:

NG:  Lookie – I am famous in Latvia!

KC: You make me laugh Norah!

Thanks Norah—— it was fabulous!  Can’t wait for volume 10.  (and 150!!!)

Don’t forget!!!! Norah is giving away a copy o f  the fabulous Comfort Knit and Crochet Afghans book! It’s a must have! Comment by January 2nd at Midnight CST and I’ll crank up the random generator.

Merry Knitting Contrissmas to all!



Knitting Contrissmas: Day 24: Marly Bird

Day 24 of Knitting Contrissmas, almost finished with one day to go! Hope you’ve enjoyed meeting so many crazy talented people! {That’s crazy talented not crazy AND talented. :) )

Today we feature Marly Bird, knitter, crocheter, teacher, designer, author, podcaster and creative director for Bisou Basin Ranch—- wow! You’ll enjoy spending some time with this busy woman for sure!

Marly is offering a very special gift for Knitting Contrissmas: a discount on her patterns (click here for the Ravelry link) to all who read this.  From December 19th, 2011 to January 3, 2012 use the code “Contrissmas” in the checkout and get 25% off purchase!

KC: Thanks so much Marly for taking the time to hang out with us a little bit! It’s December 19th and we’re all beyond crazy busy. YOU are always crazy busy though!!! As host of the Yarn Thing Podcast (that I’ve loved for a long time now), as a fabulous Craftsy instructor of Curvy Crochet and Curvy Knits as well as a crochet and knitwear designer. Holy Cow, how do you do it all?  That’s my first question for you—- what tips do you have to stretch personal time to be creative?

MB: I have a knitting or crochet project with me everywhere I go. A stitch here and there begin to add up.

KC: I love Craftsy and have personally taken and enjoyed your Curvy Crochet class. How did you get involved with the Craftsy Community?

MB: I was introduced to the wonderful group at by the remarkable Stefanie Japel. She recommended me to them.

KC: Is it truly like picking a favorite child to choose whether you like knitting or crochet better?

MB: I like both equally but there will always be a soft place in my heart for crochet as my grandma taught me how to do it first and that is the craft that started me on this journey.


Amimono Kimono

KC: What comes first the yarn or the pattern?

MB: For me, it is the pattern.  There are some instances when I design around the yarn, especially if the yarn is something special, but more often than not I do a sketch and pattern first.  Plus, when I design for a magazine or book I submit sketches and suggest yarn but the publisher chooses the final yarn and I don’t have a choice in the matter.  However, if I am designing for my own pattern line I get to make all the decisions!


Goldenrod Cardigan

KC: We’ve heard how inspiration takes on different forms to different creative personalities. What does the process of inspiration look like for you?

MB: That is one of the hardest questions as I get inspiration from everywhere.  I try to design things that I like so when I see a pattern stitch or shape or color combination that I find interesting I write it down so I can apply it to a sketch later.



KC: The past year had a lot of changes for the knit and crochet community. What do you think made the biggest impact in 2011 and what do you see on the horizon for 2012?

MB: Wow, I think the biggest impact in 2011 is the expansion of digital magazine subscriptions and digital books.  With the publishing industry struggling, I think the more these knitting and crochet publishers can use the digital media the better.  I know I love my e-reader and tablet.  On the horizon for 2012, I don’t know…but I for one am excited to see!

Marly Socks

KC: Are you making handmade gifts this year? Or should I say, hey, it’s almost Christmas, are you still working on anything???

MB: HA! I haven’t been able to make handmade gifts for years!  Deadlines loom and there just is no time for extra-curricular (that is what I call it) knitting or crochet. Trust me, my family is sad that they no longer get hand-knit socks.  Every year they used to call me in October to “place their sock order” for Christmas!

 *Note from KC: I decided long ago that NOBODY gets handknit socks. Nobody. I’m mean that way. :)

KC: Do you read a lot of blogs in the creative community?

MB: I have my favorites, including yours.  I am also really involved in the social media (ravelry, twitter and facebook).

Gradient Serendipity Shawl

KC: The past year has been a big one for you, what is coming in 2012? Please share with us some of your upcoming news!

MB: The podcast is really hopping.  I have great guests lined up for 2012 and as always there are GREAT giveaways!  I am also teaching at most of the STITCHES events across the country which I just LOVE!

MB: Oh…I am working on another booklet with Leisure Arts.  It is due the middle of February but I don’t have a release date yet.  When I do I will let you know.


Ribbed Waist Tunic

MB: There are also several exciting things with Bijou Basin Ranch  I am working on with them and other designers.  And of course…all of which are top secret!  :)

KC: What words do you have for your many fans in the world of all things YARN? For those knitters and crocheters who follow you (and are about to)?

MB: The #1 thing I tell my classes is don’t get too frustrated with your knitting or crochet.  It is just sticks/hook and string.  If you have to rip out you get to enjoy your yarn that much more.


Valle di Susa Cabled Wrap

Marly’s SPECIAL GIFT  (HEY, everybody wins!!!) just for Knitting Contrissmas readers: A discount on my patterns (Ravelry Link) to all who read this.  From December 19th, 2011 to January 3, 2012 use the code “Contrissmas” in the checkout and get 25% off purchase! 

Thanks so much Marly——– we look forward to more great things from you in 2012!

You can learn more about Marly at and





Knitting Contrissmas: Day 23: Brooke Nico

Day 23 of Knitting Contrissmas, woo hoo!  Today, an interview with the completely fabulous Brooke Nico! Designer, LYS Owner, teacher, and generous soul—- you’ll love getting to know her better!

Brooke’s GIVEAWAY is a Kirkwood Knittery logo notions bag and the yarn and pattern for Paige’s Circle (the purple shawl)!  Winner will be chosen by random generator on Midnight CST December 30th!

KC: Brooke I’m a huge fan of your beautiful designs—— some lace lovelies that I feel as if I could never knit their beauty! Do you consider lace knitting to be your primary focus or are there other things that get your attention?

BN: Right now, lace knitting is my focus. I love the way lace knitting combines the logic of math, with the creativity of the lace. I do occasionally like to do colorwork, especially slip stitch mosaics. But, there is so much left for me to explore in lace!

KC: As the owner of a successful local yarn store (Kirkwood Knittery) in St. Louis as well as a designer of beautiful knits how in the world do you get so much done? Do you have any tips to stretch time and be more creative?  

Angel Capelet

BN: I wish! I get up early in the morning, and that’s my quiet knitting time before the kids get up. I also really do knit fairly constantly, I’m never sitting around with empty hands. I would guess that I knit an average of 10-12 hours a day.

I have found that for me, I knit faster when I’m working on a more complicated stitch pattern, miles of stockinette will take me forever!

I absolutely love going into the store each day, and I find I’m so inspired by all our customers.

Also, Robyn Schrager and I inspire each other and are constantly playing ideas back and forth.

KC: I’m totally in awe of your intricate and beautiful patterns, what is your design process like?

BN: I usually spend several months exploring a theme, often it’s a shape or a garment type. Lately it’s been triangles, and all the different garments you can make with triangle shaping. Within that exploration, I’m often inspired by a stitch pattern or technique I want to try. From there, it’s a lot of swatching and ripping before I hit on a combination that works! (My business partner, Robyn Schrager, will attest to the amount of ripping I do.) It usually takes about 3 days of swatching before I can finally cast on my project. That is the down side of designing with lace, my typical swatch is about 70 stitches by 100 rows. I keep saying that my next area of exploration will be bulky yarns, but in truth, I much prefer the small yarn and needles.

KC: Does the pattern call for a particular yarn or does the yarn drive the pattern?

BN: That depends on what the design is for. If I’m designing something for the shop, it’s totally yarn driven. Whenever we get new yarns in, I get to play and design things that the yarn wants to be!

On the other hand, if I’m designing for myself, the design dictates what yarn I need to use. Sometimes a particular stitch pattern needs certain qualities in a yarn, sometimes the garment as a whole needs qualities, maybe drape, or body.

KC: Do you have a favorite pattern you’ve created??? I know it is difficult to choose!

BN: My favorite design is always the one on my needles. I’m afraid I’m a bit of a fair-weather friend that way!

I am partial to the Doily Tunic, published in Vogue Knitting Spring 2010, as that was my first nationally published pattern. I also love the capelet from the cover of Debbie Bliss Magazine Spring 2011—that was a great combination of yarn and design.

KC: What trends do you see coming in the world of yarn for 2012?

BN: I think, and hope, that lace knitting will continue in it’s popularity surge. It really is a great way to get your money’s worth out of your knitting…. a typical shawl provides several months of knitting entertainment, and costs under $50 of yarn.

We are also seeing a resurgence of the novelty yarns. People are wanting quick, easy knit projects, and novelties are a great way to get that.

KC: There are so many talented people in the world of knit and crochet, who always inspires you?

BN: You know, I really avoid looking at other designer’s work. I get more inspiration from a day walking through the mall and seeing what people are wearing. And, Robyn and I have been known to stop a customer and ask to examine a garment we admire! Right now, I’m working on a cape which was inspired by a coat I saw in a vintage store.

That being said, I’m always awed by the career of Debbie Bliss, the amazing breadth of her work, and I’m inspired every time I get to work with her.

KC: Of your many accomplishments in 2011, which one stands out to you?

BN: Definitely having my design on the cover of Debbie Bliss magazine is a big one, also all the great knitters I’ve met teaching at VK Live and Stitches events and in the store. I just love seeing that lightbulb go off and empowering knitters.

KC: Are you making handmade gifts this year? Can we peek into your list???

BN: I am making gifts with my kids. I bought a Cricket table loom this summer, and we’re all learning to weave. It’s been great fun, now I just have to be careful to keep this hobby as a hobby, not turn it into another career!

KC: Do you read any blogs in the creative community?

BN: Back to my time issue…I don’t spend much time on the internet, I tend to go on, check Facebook and Ravelry, then log out. I do check out the blogs of Franklin Habit,, and Carol Sulcoski, They are the wittiest people I know!

KC: I absolutely can’t believe you’ve only been knitting 9 years or so! I think that offers every knitter hope and inspiration! What was your first knitting project?


BN: First, I need to let everyone know, before I started knitting, I designed with flat fabric…I’ve been sewing since I was 9 years old. So, I came to knitting with a good knowledge base of fibers and body fit.

I taught myself to knit with books, I knit 2 swatches, then decided I was ready for a sweater (ah blissful ignorance). I went to my local yarn store (since closed) and found that I hated all the sweaters billed “easy knit” . They were so style-less and boring. I did, however, fall in love with an intarsia cardigan for my then 4 year old son. That’s when I got the best advice I’ve ever gotten. The yarn store owner told me, “If you want the finished product, you’ll make the effort to learn the skills you need to get it done. If you work on something you don’t like, you’ll just put it away and quit.” So, I bought the pattern and yarn and she was right, it was a struggle, but I learned what I neeeded, and finished the sweater. Unfortunately, it was stolen from my son’s daycare center the next year! But, I’ve always lived by that lesson, and have no fear of diving in and trying something, even if it looks “too hard”!

KC: You’ve only been knitting lace since 2008? Wow, I’m kind of speechless! I frequently say that I don’t have a ‘natural lace brain’. What is it do you think that makes some people gravitate toward lace? Are you one of those mathematical thinkers? :) 

BN: I am definitely “one of those mathematical thinkers”! I see patterns in everything, and really that’s all that lace is. I love the challenge of fitting the flow and ethereal creative qualities of lace with the rigid mathematical realities of garment shaping.

KC: Are you creative in other ways? Cooking, painting, crafty???

BN: I am so un-crafty, it’s really amazing. One of my biggest problems in designing is that I can’t sketch worth a darn. So, until I figure out how to mind-meld my thoughts into publishers’ minds, I usually have to knit the whole garment before I submit it!

KC: The past year has been a big one for you, what is coming in 2012? Please share with us some of your upcoming news!

BN: I’m really looking forward to more teaching in the next year. I’ll be at VK Live in New York in January, and at Stitches West, South, and Midwest. Also, we’ll be hosting a Lace weekend at Kirkwood Knittery on January 28 and 29. I’ll be teaching my most popular classes, Introduction to Lace Knitting, and Fixing Mistakes in Lace Knitting.

In additon to teaching, I’ll have designs coming out in several publications, including Creative Knitting and Debbie Bliss Magazine. Also, I was thrilled to be asked to contribute to several books which will be out in the next year.

As for other things, I have a few irons in the fire, but unfortunately can’t share yet, but I promise big things are coming from me and Kirkwood Knittery….

KC: What words do you have for your many fans in the world of all things YARN? For those knitters and crocheters who follow you (and are about to)?

BN: You know, whenever I make a mistake, or need to rip out (which is frequently!), I try to make sure that I do it at the store where everyone can see that I, too, rip! If all we wanted was to slog through and get a sweater, we’d be at TJ Maxx buying the sweater! We knit because we like the process, and ripping is part of that process for all of us. I won’t even get started on gauge swatches, because I see that Robyn already stressed that!

BN: Remember, it’s only a loop in a loop, and the worst that can happen is that you take it out and start over. Don’t be afraid to try something new and stretch yourself.

BN: Also, take the time to look at your work when you’re doing it right. So often, we don’t look closely until we make a mistake, then we don’t know how to fix it. As far as I’m concerned, if you’re knitting for yourself, if it looks right and doesn’t unravel, it’s fixed!

KC: Thanks SO much Brooke, I always say that when I grow up I want to knit like you!  :)  You definitely give me hope and inspiration!




Knitting Contrissmas: Day 22: Drew Emborsky

Day 22 of Knitting Contrissmas and it is the talented, kind, funny— very funny, Drew Emborsky, The Crochet Dude is here today! He’s a talented and generous person— you’ll enjoy the visit!

Winner of Iris Schreier/Artyarns Skein of Rhapsody Glitter Light, silk and mohair,  dk weight, 400 yards in 40 grams is the very lucky- ANNE!

GIVEAWAY: Drew is giving one lucky winner a copy of his brand new book,

“Hug It Out”! Winner will be chosen by random generator at midnight CST

on December 28th

KC: Hi Drew, thank you so very much for being part of Knitting Contrissmas!

KC: For those that don’t know, how did The Crochet Dude come about?

DE: I’m a lifelong crochetier and when my mom passed away a few years ago I found a lot of comfort in crocheting for a charity group called Heartmade Blessings. Within that group the others started calling me the crochet dude. In 2005 when I thought I’d start a blog it just seemed very natural to call it The Crochet Dude. And as I blogged about my adventures in crocheting I found some opportunities to get my designs published and before I knew I had a career as a professional crochetier.

KC: It’s December 22nd and we’re all beyond crazy busy. YOU are always crazy busy though!!! Did I hear you recently took a REAL vacation? One without work??? Sheesh!  As The Crochet Dude—you seem to be everywhere! Do you have any tips do you have to stretch personal time to be creative?

DE: Between my tv show, my line of products, my books, etc, I find that I am stretched pretty thin! Because after all, I have a home to take care of too! I find that if I carve out “creative time” and schedule it in then I feel free to be creative. If I don’t schedule it and say “I’ll be creative later when I get caught up” (which never really seems to happen) then I never get to it.



DE: A great way to schedule creative time is to join (or form) a group of hobbyists.  For example there is a men’s knit & crochet group here in Houston that meets regularly at a yarn shop. That’s a great way for me to schedule creative time because it’s a fixed day and time each week.

KC: Do you knit or are you a crocheter only?

DE: I come from a very crafty family where we all had the freedom to explore any craft we wanted to. My dad (the ex-Marine) crocheted and so did my mom, amongst my siblings there are knitters, quilters, wood-crafters, cross-stitchers, you name it. I love crochet, knit, sewing, home decor, cooking, gardening, and oil painting. If you were to ask me next year I’m sure there will be other crafty things I could list that I’ve become immersed in!


 KC: Tell me about “Crochet it. Love It. Wear it.”—– it’s a great book with excellent patterns for crochet. What is YOUR vision for your craft?

DE: Thanks for the kudos, I’m very proud of that book. I have a fine arts background having studied oil painting in college. All those years of design, composition, color theory, drawing, painting, sculpture, etc have sort of melded together with my lifelong love of crocheting. I approach each design with the desire to make the yarn looks it’s best, the experience to be enjoyable, but most of all to create a design that will be fulfilling to the person who is making it – almost as if each one is an piece of art that I’m creating.

KC: Your first book “The Crochet Dude’s Designs for Guys: 30 Projects Men Will Love” has some really handsome garments! Makes me want to crochet something for a favorite guy but I wouldn’t want to share it!

DE: Thank you! My goal was to create an evergreen “go-to” book that would serve the crochetier well for many many years. As color trends come and go there are basic styles that are classic, and I hope that Designs for Guys is a complete collection of them.

KC: What comes first the yarn or the pattern?

DE: Definitely the concept when I’m designing for a book. I know I want the sweater or pillow, or *fill in the blank* to have certain qualities and features, and then as the ideas develop I will swatch with different yarns to find the one that is going to get the results that I’m looking for. Once I have the concept and the yarn then the pattern develops as the stitching happens. I love having the freedom to allow the project to blossom naturally and every once in a while even I’m surprised with the direction the final project takes.

KC: It’s been so interesting to hear how everyone searches out their own inspiration— what does your process look like?

DE: I’m always pouring over magazines and websites to see the direction that the culture is trending. I also find a lot of inspiration from certain architectural periods (like art nouveau) and other artists (like Jonathan Adler).

KC:  You inspire so many people from a wide spectrum of creative artists…… who inspires YOU?

DE: I draw a LOT of inspiration from visionaries, those that have had a dream and did what it took to become successful – very often in spite of naysayers! Oprah, Lady Gaga, Steve Jobs, etc. 

KC: The past year had a lot of changes for the knit and crochet community. What do you think made the biggest impact in 2011 and what do you see on the horizon for 2012?


DE: I saw the knitters and crocheters coming together in a way I hadn’t seen previously. Ravelry has had such a wonderful unification influence over the fiber community and I love the direction we are headed. For 2012 I see the knit and crochet worlds blending together in a way that everyone will feel free to celebrate whatever craft they want to in that moment.

KC:  Knowing your schedule over 2011 I ask laughingly……are you making handmade gifts this year?

DE: Gosh I would love to say that I am making handmade gifts but this year has been just to busy for me – I’m afraid all my crafting time has been dedicated to The Crochet Dude! But I do take time to wrap gifts in special themed giftwrap – here is a link to show you what I mean:

KC: Do you read a lot of blogs in the creative community?

DE: Not as many as I once did because so many of the bloggers have moved their efforts to Facebook and Twitter.

KC: The past year has been a big one for you, what is coming in 2012? Can you possibly get busier????

DE: I JUST had a book drop called “Hug It Out” – which is a guide to crocheting for charity. Crochetiers are so generous and this is a way to help them find outlets for their need to comfort and help! Here is a link to my Flickr set that previews the projects included:

The most exciting thing that I can see for 2012 is that I’m adding 20 new products to my line bringing the total to almost 40!

I also have another book coming out in January 2012 with the working title “Use Up Your Scraps”.

I will be teaching at STITCHES Events across the country.

KC: What words do you have for your many fans in the world of all things YARN? For those crocheters who follow you (and are about to)?

DE: If I could say anything to the yarn enthusiasts out there? I would say love love love what you do. Make sure that you love the pattern you’ve chosen, and especially make sure that you love the yarn that you’re using. There is no happy ending to an unhappy journey.

Here are the different ways that I can be found:

Thanks so much Drew, can’t wait for the new book! I’ll continue to find your contagious smile on the screen and in your blog! Have a Merry!

Don’t you dare forget—- Drew is giving one lucky winner a copy of his brand new book, “Hug It Out”! Winner will be chosen by random generator at midnight CST on December 28th


Knitting Contrissmas: Day 21: The DIY GIRLS!

Day 21 of Knitting Contrissmas and we’re here with Kim and Kris from DIY Dish! Creative Cross Training indeed! ENJOY!

The GIVEAWAY from Kim and Kris is fantastic!  Kris is giving a lucky winner a $25 gift certificate to “My Girlfriend’s Quilt Shoppe” and Kim is going to make a winner happy with a $25 dollar gift certificate to “You Can Make This“!   Woot!  Two winners drawn!  Comment here and the winners will be chosen by random generator on December 27th! Good luck!

KC: Welcome to Knitting Contrissmas Kim and Kris!!! I’m super excited to have you be part of the festivities as I’ve been a fan for a long time! You girls are nutty busy these days, holy cow! From appearing on Rachel Ray and Nate Berkus to your web show on My Craft Channel along with your ‘normal’ routine of your weekly Craft and Web Show on your website for DIY Dish, add in,,  and you weren’t busy enough so you thought you’d open a quilt shop? PLEASE!!!! I’m really delighted you’re here!

 KC: FOUR SEASONS of DIY Dish! Out of all of the wonderful ideas, projects and inspiration you have brought to your viewers, do you have a favorite? What is the favorite of your loyal fans?

DIY: First of all, thank you Tina for inviting us to be a part of your Knitting Contrissmas! This is very fun for us and we appreciate your kindness.  A favorite project of our fans we think has to be the first episode of each season. We have made it a “tradition” to start the first show of each season with a new pin cushion project. (You can never have enough!) It’s fun to add something new to your collection – they not only can be functional, but they are a great way to “decorate” your craft or sewing space, as well – whether that be a special room, or even the dining room table – it is fun to create a space for you. We’ve also found that many have taken these pin cushion projects and made a whole bundle of them to give as gifts. We love that! Our favorite pin cushion project has probably been The DIY Dish Dress Form/Mannequin Pin Cushion that we did this season.

KC: You’ve been featured in a lot of great magazines, is it still a thrill to get the call that they’d like to put you in their pages?

DIY: Oh, definitely.  It still seems strange to walk down a store aisle and see that – and it’s just as much of a thrill today as it was when it first happened. We are grateful to those editors who take a chance on us.


KC: For those who don’t know you (gasp), how long have you been pursuing the life of creative entrepreneurs?

DIY: You’re so funny Tina. Let’s see…we guess you could say it “officially” became a pursuit of entrepreneurship back in 2006. I (Kim) started the website, I had been designing (and still design) under the name of Kimberbell, but we took that to a whole new level when we brought on women from all over the world who had different expertise in areas such as sewing, crafts, quilting, crochet, and more. Two years later, we started and Kris managed that website. Through a series of events, Kris and I started “The DIY Dish” show which showcases sewing, quilting, and craft projects each Monday.  This past June, Kris and her husband opened up the shop “My Girlfriend’s Quilt Shoppe”. ( and it has all been a wonderful experience. We’ve had some great opportunities, have met amazing people, and we love being a part of people’s creative endeavors, even in some small way.


KC: Is it as wonderful as you dreamed?

DIY: It has been an amazing experience, to say the least. It has been more work than we would have ever imagined, but at the same time, when you are doing something you love – and that you believe in – then it makes all the hard work very worth it.

KC: What little pitfalls were unexpected on your journey?

DIY: We think the hardest part of this journey is probably something that any person – especially moms – has to deal with. And that is the constant juggling of responsibilities and trying to find “balance.” We are definitely not perfect at “balancing it all” with home, business, children, etc., but we are learning. Each new day is a new beginning and we try to remember that when we have felt like we have failed in the “juggling life” department.


KC: You know my primary love is knitting while I “cross train” with other crafts. Are you knitters?

DIY: We wish! Maybe you could teach us? :)  Knitting is something we would both love to learn. We do know how to so some basic crochet, but after seeing all the amazing knitting patterns out there, it is something we definitely want to learn! One of these days…one of these days… :)

KC: ABSOLUTELY! You need to learn, now what shall we choose to learn on? You know I believe that a first knitting project should be fun, and something you really want. Not necessarily a miles long, endlessly boring scarf that beats you before you get going! Nothing would give me greater pleasure Kim and Kris!!! Let’s Do It!

KC: If you have a bit of time just for yourselves, what creative endeavors are you most likely to pursue?

DIY: While we both enjoy machine embroidery, we love to relax and create with hand-embroidery. It’s such a nice way to unwind and make something beautiful. (Again, why we’d like to learn to knit!)  We also both enjoy quilting and with Kris’ new quilt shop, she is doing a lot more of that lately! 


KC: 2011 was a really fabulous year for you ladies, what’s coming up in 2012 for you both?

DIY: Oooh…it’s going to be interesting to see what happens in 2012. We have a lot of plans, but unfortunately none that we can divulge quite yet. Kim also hopes to expand her Kimberbell line of patterns into shops across the country. These are patterns for quilting, home décor, and children.

 KC: Do you follow creative blogs as part of your day?

DIY: We used to a lot more than we have time for now, but we love seeing what people are making – it’s a wonderful community! Facebook is one way that we can follow what people are making and it’s so fun to see all of the creative people out there!

KC: What words do you have for your many fans in the world of all things creative?

DIY: You are too kind, Tina. For those who have been a part of our journey, we can’t say thank you enough. Thank you for the overwhelming support. Thank you for sharing with us your creations. Thank you for the kind emails letting us know how “creativity” or “learning something new” has affected your life. Thank you for telling your friends and family about us. We couldn’t do what we do without this kind of support. Although that may sound cliché, it is true and we are grateful.

KC: Thanks so much Kim & Kris—— it was wonderful and you know we’ll all stay tuned for more wonderful ideas and whatever it is the two of you will bring us!

Remember the DIY GIVEAWAY: Kris is giving a lucky winner a $25 gift certificate to “My Girlfriend’s Quilt Shoppe” and Kim is going to make a winner happy with a $25 dollar gift certificate to “You Can Make This“!   Woot!  Two winners drawn!  Comment here and the winners will be chosen by random generator on December 27th! Good luck!


Knitting Contrissmas: Day 20: Robyn Schrager

Day 20, we’re getting so close to the end of Knitting Contrissmas! This means that I have fewer and fewer days to knit those beensy weensy gauge Fair Isle fingerless mitts too, sigh!

WINNER of Natalie Servant’s latest .pdf pattern, “Deco Raindrops” is CAROLYN!

Today we have the privilege of hanging out with Robyn Schrager, knitter, designer, yarn shop partner, magazine contributor and self-professed “pattern savant”. (Which I have tried when describing to her any pattern she always knows the title and designer!!!) You’ll love spending time with Robyn!

She is giving away a Kirkwood Knitery Tote Bag with patterns from the Overtures Collection as well as some yarny surprises! Yay! The random generator will choose a number from the comments at Midnight CST December 26th!

KC: Thanks so much Robyn  for taking the time to hang out with us a little bit! You’re one of my favorite accomplished knitters, a generous and thoughtful teacher of knittery and crochetery, a LYS co-owner, a contributor to Creative Knitting Magazine and a designer making your mark in the yarn world! My first question is what is your favorite piece of the pie?

RS: How flattering it is to be included in this talented group!  Thanks for thinking of me.

Kirkwood Knittery

RS: Teaching is probably my favorite from the list above, specifically, I love it when the mantle of wisdom descends upon a student (a phrase from my old geometry teacher, Bill Marsoun), and she not only understands something new, but feels more empowered to unlock her own creativity.  Too many women come into the shop believing themselves “too dumb” to calculate gauge, adjust a neckline, follow a chart, do cables or lace, etc. If even one woman feels better about herself when she leaves my class, then my day has been a success.

Clementine Cloche

KC: Then of course, what are your tips to squeeze in more time to be creative? Especially now, we are all pushed to the limits trying to make time out of none—– any thoughts?

RS: I don’t waste time putting away laundry. I don’t play games online or on the phone. I try to only watch TV with a project in my hands.

Configurations Cowl

KC: Your designs are growing in number (so exciting!) What was that path like?

RS: As far back as I can remember, I’ve never worked a pattern exactly as written, but I only recently considered that I was already “designing.”  As my adaptations became more extensive I realized that I no longer needed the framework of a published pattern, but could start entirely from scratch by myself.  It’s only been the last few years that I’ve been writing the designs so others could make them, too.  Winning a design competition from Skacel Yarns (Cross Hatch Wrap) was the first step in considering myself as a professional. I’m fortunate to have Kirkwood Knittery to display my projects, and to stock such fabulous yarns.

Diamonds are Forever Infinity Shawl

KC: Do you have a favorite pattern you’ve created??? Or is that like choosing one child over another?

RS: I made a sweater for my step-mother’s birthday a few years ago (Not So Wicked Stepmother Sweater) which features a knitted bodice and a crocheted lace skirt, which is one of my favorites.  It hasn’t been written yet, but I love the way it turned out. Clementine Cloche is my favorite hat, and I have a bolero pattern coming out as part of the spring collection of one of my favorite yarn companies (still a secret) which is my current favorite.

Tam's Tam

KC: What comes first the yarn or the pattern?

RS: Usually a stitch pattern, or shape or construction technique comes first, then I have the fun of  choosing the perfect yarn to allow the pattern to take shape.  Sometimes though, the yarn comes first, especially with a highly textured or mathematically dyed yarn.


EntreLoops Cardi/Vest

KC: You are wonderfully creative and seemingly inspired by many things. Tell me, what does your process of inspiration look like?

RS: It begins with a purpose:  class project, sample of a new yarn for sale, submission for publication, or purely personal for me.  Then it involves a lot of stitchionary page-turning, followed by an incredible amount of swatching and frogging.  Then there’s math and graph paper. Finally, there’s the knitting or crocheting, and the writing. In conclusion, there’s the celebratory libations.

KC: There are so many talented people in the world of knit and crochet— who is it that particularly inspires you?

RS: My Great Aunt Sarah (who recently died at age 100) taught me to knit and crochet, and was my greatest inspiration as a child. I still remember her beautiful work. Of course I am always inspired and awed by my talented business partner and design mentor, Brooke Nico. There are many more, too numerous to name without offending someone I inadvertently left out!

Greentrelac Beret

KC: Of your many accomplishments in 2011, which one stands out to you?

RS: I first dreamed of owning a yarn shop in the early 1980s, so becoming a partner in Kirkwood Knittery is truly a dream come true.  The only thing that would make it better would be to find someone to pay me to watch soap operas and read cozy murder mysteries!

KC: Are you making any handmade gifts this year?

RS: A number of years ago we stopped giving gifts, and instead make charitable contributions, particularly in the arts in St. Louis.

Habu Cocktail Shawl

KC: Do you read any blogs in the creative community?

RS: I often read specific blog entries when a friend directs me, and my Google Reader subscribes to about a dozen sites.  The reality, however, is that I am not comfortable reading a screen for very long.  My pleasure reading is all from actual books and magazines, and only my referential reading is primarily online. My New Year’s Resolution is to update my own blog more often – maybe this year I will really do it!

Lacy Muffler

KC: You’re  very active on Ravelry, what is your“name” there and how do you see Ravelry continuing to grow into a role as  the place for knitters and crocheters?

RS: I am rms on Ravelry, one of my favorite time-sucking websites.  I confess to being a ravelry heart-tart – I used to send thank you notes to everyone who added one of my projects to their faves. Now I simply revel in ravelry’s great gifts to stitchers everywhere. The community is always inspiring, and so generous with their time and expertise and good humor.

 KC: You’re  an avid knitter and crocheter—- is one more favored than the other?

RS: My time is filled approximately 2/3 knitting and 1/3 crocheting, but I prefer to crochet.  Single crochet through the back loop is my calming, meditative activity – it never fails to restore my spirit.

Mardi Gras Hairpin Seduction

KC: The past year has been a big one for you, what is coming in 2012? Please share with us some of your upcoming news!

RS: I’m afraid a lot of the highlights still are being kept secret.  I am looking forward to traveling more, beginning with TNNA in Phoenix, and VK Live in New York City.

KC: What words do you have for your many fans in the world of all things YARN? For those knitters and crocheters who follow you (and are about to)?

RS: Always do a gauge swatch.  Always work a selvedge edge. Get a comfortable, supportive chair. Get up out of the comfortable chair every 30 minutes to walk around and stretch. Be your own cheerleader, and don’t point out your stitching mistakes.


KC: You teach a wonderful class for beginning knitters, what advise do you have for knitters (beginning and otherwise) to stay on track and achieve success?

RS: You must practice every day until the muscle memory is fully developed. Then, choose projects you really want to do, in yarn you really want to work – if you don’t, you’ll never finish it. If you do, you’ll manage to acquire the necessary skills for success.

 KC: Thanks so much Robyn, we look forward to the many exciting things that are coming your way in the next year!

Remember to comment by Midnight CST on December 26th to win a Kirkwood Knitery Tote Bag with patterns from the Overtures Collection as well as some yarny surprises!



Knitting Contrissmas: Day 19: Easy Burlap Christmas Stockings

Day 19…… you know that means we’re getting closer and closer to the big day. Hope you’re well and happy. Remember to take time for yourself, be creative and feed your soul! The payoff is that not only will you be in better spirits but able to give more to those around you!

I keep forgetting to tell you that the winner of a copy of Jane’s DVD  “From Art Journaling to Art”, chosen by random generator was CANDY!

I have 3 extras showing up for Christmas this year! Super great news and I couldn’t be happier. However that meant that I’d need more stockings and I can never bring myself to buy them! So I needed something cute, easy to make, big enough but not too big, “ohhhhhhh” worthy—– and makeable with what I had on hand.

I always recommend you keep in your Crafty Bin:

  • muslin, white and unbleached
  • burlap in natural and ‘white’
  • wool felt in a few colors
  • a few canvases
  • acrylic paint and brushes
  • tissue paper in prints and plains
  • yarn and fabric scraps

With those things at the ready, I planned my stockings. Using a stocking I had in the basement I traced around it making it a bit slimmer and a tiny bit smaller. You can of course make yours whatever size you want or need. I love to gift friends and family who visit with a stocking filled with things that are silly/fun/delicious/unique and so this size was large enough to tuck in a magazine as well as some chocolates, chapstick, emery boards, fragrance mini’s, nail polish, etc.

I decided to use the whiter muslin although you could go with the darker more natural color as well. Trace around the stocking, use what you have or design your own shape.

Cut a front and a back, and a lining front and back for each stocking. I used muslin to line my stockings. Cut the lining about 1/4 inch smaller all the way around.

See the way the stockings are laid out in the photo above? You want this duo of fabrics in this configuration to be the wrong side. Pin a seam in along the top and press.

Make another of these units OPPOSITE of the one you just made. Check before you sew, you should be able to put one of each half burlap/half muslin stockings right side together and have them match up.

Lay those two stocking units on top of one another, right sides together and pin (the burlap gets a little wiggly). Leave the MUSLIN open about 5 inches along the bottom of the foot. This opening will be used to turn your stocking. Using the muslin is MUCH easier than leaving an opening in that ravelly burlap!

Turn the stocking through the opening and stitch closed the muslin foot opening with a zigzag or straight stitch. Push the lining into the burlap stocking and use your hands and a steam iron to iron it nice and flat. Keep the lining and stocking body folded at the top of the stocking on the seamline, you don’t want to see the lining peeking out.

I wanted clean and simple tags so using muslin backed with stabilizer I stitched all of the names onto the fabric with my machine, using all caps.  Using a rotary cutter fitted with a pinking blade I trimmed around all of the muslin tags. I chose a creamy colored wool felt for the backer of the tag and pinked about 1/4″ inch around the muslin tag. Tacky glue adhered the muslin name to the wool tag and then the unit to the stocking itself.

The hangers for the stockings are matching pinked felt stitched inside the stocking with matching thread.

Happy I am. Happy they’ll be.

I really should replace OUR stockings but the leopard still makes me smile!



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