I am thrilled to announce the start of our much-anticipated knitting designer series here at KnittingWomen.com. This is a project that has been brewing in the background for a while now and it gives me immense pleasure to finally introduce this new dimension to our website.
Our aim is to bring you closer to the world of knitting by introducing you to some of the most influential, innovative, and inspiring designers in the field. We want you to get to know them, learn from their journeys, and hopefully, find some inspiration for your own knitting endeavours.
And who better to kick off this exciting series than the knitting aficionado, designer extraordinaire, and author of two renowned books — Deb Buckingham, of Knit on Designs! Many of you will recognize Deb as the ‘Dishcloth Diva‘, a name that pays homage to her exceptional talent and creativity in transforming humble dishcloths into stunning pieces of art through the medium of knitting. Her books, ‘Dishcloth Diva‘ and ‘Dishcloth Diva Knits On!‘, are both delightful collections brimming with patterns, tips, and tricks that make knitting dishcloths a rewarding and enjoyable venture.
But there’s so much more to Deb than just dishcloths. Her journey in knitting is one filled with passion and love for the craft. Through our interview, we dive deep into her creative process, her inspirations, her challenges, and of course, her achievements.
I hope you’ll join us on this exciting journey as we unveil the first chapter of our knitting designer series. Get ready to dive into the world of Deb Buckingham—the designer, the author, the knitter. Stay tuned and keep those needles clicking!
Deb, thank you for joining us today! Can you share with our readers how you first discovered your passion for knitting and what inspired you to turn it into a career?
Deb: Thanks for having me! I was a Hospice Nurse at the time and saw one of the nurses during her break, knitting a scarf. I realized at that time, it was something I wanted to learn how to do. On my next day off, I went to my LYS and asked them to show me a simple knitting pattern, and all the supplies I would need, so I could teach myself.
I spent almost 7 years as a hospice nurse, and as you can imagine, it got the best of me. Being a compassionate person, I felt all their hurt, pain, and fear. I gave them a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, but at the end of the day, I knew there had to be something else I could do to make someone feel happy.
During one of my knitting days, I found myself wrapped up in my thoughts. Maybe I could knit something that would bring someone joy, and possibly sell it.
The rest is history.
As an accomplished knitwear designer, how would you describe your design aesthetic? What makes your designs unique and stand out from other knitwear designers?
Deb: Great question! My design aesthetic is simple. It comes from my beginnings back in 2009. My customer was the novice knitter, so my designs couldn’t be anything intimidating. They are still simple designs, but I now focus more on the advanced beginner.
What makes me stand out from other designers are my photos. As a product photographer, it’s important for me to showcase the patterns in a way that they stand out. Natural lighting and very little editing are what bring them to life.
Your designs are often characterized by their innovative construction and attention to detail. Can you walk us through your design process, from initial concept to finished pattern?
Deb: My design process starts from a feeling I get from a skein of yarn – that moment when you realize what it’s meant to be. As a former hospice nurse, attention to detail comes easy.
The finished piece needs to be easy for the knitter (or crocheter) to navigate through. I never have charts in my patterns, only line-by-line written patterns.
That’s for the sole purpose of someone (mostly beginner knitters) not feeling intimidated by a chart that now they have to learn how to read.
What are some of your favorite materials to work with and why? Are there any specific yarns or tools you can’t live without?
Deb: Much of the materials I work with (especially for socks), come from indie dyers. I love a good sock yarn made from Superwash wool/Nylon blend. I want the end user to be able to care for their piece for years to come. They often want to knit with what I have designed with. My stash is currently filled with single skeins of fingering weight yarn. I do love a good sock pattern. A tool that I can’t live without are my sock blockers. Not everyone blocks socks, but in order for my design to come through, it must lay flat.
Many knitters often face a creative block. How do you overcome those moments when you’re struggling for new design ideas?
Deb: Well, this is an interesting question. I recently experienced this. After almost 14 years and so many new designers on the scene, it’s hard to come up with anything new. Because there isn’t anything new. Yoga has been a great outlet for me; giving me the mental space to just be. Also, working on others’ designs has been fulfilling, such as the ever-so-popular granny square. It’s amazing all that can be created with just one granny square. (winking because I have a design idea.)
As a published author, what inspired you to write your books Dishcloth Diva and Dishcloth Diva Knits On?
Deb: Back in 2009, I opened my first Etsy shop where I sold ready to ship dishcloth sets. They flew out the door. I, at one time, had a two-week ship time. I had to ask my mom to help knit the dishcloths. It was my friend who said, “Deb, you have an analytical mind, why don’t you design your own collection of dishcloth patterns.”
So, without thinking twice, I released my first dishcloth pattern in 2011. After such an amazing response, I decided to put together a book proposal. A book filled with dishcloth patterns for the beginner knitter. I submitted the proposal to a publisher, and it was picked up without hesitation. Both of my books can now be found on Amazon due to my publishers downsizing.
What do you think are the most important skills for a beginner knitter to master, and what advice do you have for those just starting out in the world of knitting?
Deb: One of the most important skills to master is patience with yourself. It’s hard to learn something new, especially if you’ve never picked up a set of needles or a hook. Have curiosity and be willing to do the hard thing. Learn that new stitch. But most important, allow yourself some grace while doing all of this. You will love your new craft and the finished piece. And just think how proud you will feel when you have knit that last stitch.
Which are your top 5 most favorite patterns you have created since you started designing, and why?
Deb: The first three favorite patterns I’ve created are: The Frond Socks, The Cake Pop Socks, and The Kenzie Socks. When you first glance at them, they look so hard. But as I mentioned, I don’t do anything hard. Then, it’s just not fun.
One of my favorite hat patterns I designed is the Meandering Roads Hat. It’s the only cable design I have to date. It’s a favorite of many as well.
The last favorite pattern I have created is the Glamour Dishcloth pattern. This pattern looks fancy, has a fun design, and makes an impressive gift.
Many of our readers are always looking for new knitting challenges. Can you share a sneak peek of any upcoming projects or designs you’re currently working on?
Deb: I love to give a sneak peek. You can often find me doing so in my stories on Instagram. But I can tell you, I’m finishing up my Coffeehouse Sock Collection with a bit of colorwork. Something I haven’t done yet in any of my sock patterns.
Lastly, what is the most rewarding aspect of being a knitwear designer and author? What do you hope your legacy will be in the knitting community?
Deb: I love this question! The most rewarding thing for me is when the knitter shares with the world how much they loved knitting one of my patterns. It’s also rewarding to know I’m creating patterns that aren’t too difficult and leave the knitter feeling fulfilled.
A legacy I hope to leave, when I do decide to retire, is that I gave them the courage to try the things they didn’t know they could do. To have them think, “She created patterns that gave us confidence.” Leaving a legacy in this industry is something most designers think about. It’s easy to leave a legacy when you know you’ve stayed true to you, the designer, and not strayed far from where it all began.
Where can our readers follow up and purchase your patterns and books?
Deb: Thanks for asking! Readers can find me on Facebook and Instagram @KnitOnDesigns. I also have an active blog, KnitOnDesigns.com. This is where I share stories, links to my free tutorials, shopping links, and more.
And there we have it, dear knitters! I hope you’ve enjoyed this delightful conversation with the wonderful Deb Buckingham, a truly inspiring figure in the world of knitting. Her journey has shown us that knitting isn’t just about creating something beautiful—it’s a profound expression of love, patience, and creativity.
We’ve learned from Deb that knitting can be as simple or as complex as we want it to be. Whether it’s a humble dishcloth or a intricate shawl, the process of knitting is about letting our creativity shine and creating something we’re proud of.
Thank you, Deb, for sharing your wisdom, your journey, and your love for knitting with us. We’re looking forward to diving back into the delightful world of ‘Dishcloth Diva’ with a renewed sense of awe and inspiration.
And for all you amazing readers out there, this is just the beginning! We have a fantastic line-up of designers in our “Behind The Patterns: A Designer Knitting Series“. So, stay tuned for more stories, more inspiration, and more knitting!
Until next time, keep those needles busy, and remember – every stitch counts!