Knit Unto Others . . .

Paperboy Cardigan by Debbie O'Neill

It's funny, when I look through sweater knitting patterns, I'm drawn over and over to the same designers. Debbie O'Neill is one of those designers. Her Paperboy Cardigan, shown at right, has been in my queue for a couple of years now, and I've knit one of her baby sweater designs about four times, with each mom just as thrilled as the last.

Here's an excerpt of a profile on Debbie, which appeared in the Winter 2011 issue of Knitscene magazine.

"Knit unto others as you would have them knit unto you."

Piccadill Pullover by Debbie O'Neill
Bas-Relief Socks by Debbie O'Neill

This is Debbie O'Neill's design philosophy in a nutshell. A software engineer who "stumbled into designing" about thirteen years ago, Debbie first designs knits she would want to wear herself.

The approach seems to have worked. To date, Debbie has published over 100 patterns and earned legions of devoted fans.

Debbie says she never set out to be a designer. She learned to knit in college from a friend who was a knitting novice herself. This method of learning left really big gaps in her knowledge, but the experience also allowed her to tackle projects that would normally only be attempted by experts. Debbie's first project was an ill-fated sweater; her second was an Icelandic colorwork pullover—one she still owns. "Nobody told me it would be hard, so I just knit it!"

Debbie began designing after a local yarn shop asked her to teach classes. "I was very insecure about being able to give people their money's worth," she says. "So I had this philosophy that if I was going to teach, I was never going to teach from a published pattern—I was always going to come up with an original pattern for anything I taught."

In her collection for this issue of Knitscene, Debbie wanted to honor her golden rule by sticking to the things she loves most about knitting. "My favorite things are texture, lace, cables, and twisted stitches." This collection serves as a reflection of these favorite things while maintaining Debbie's usual simple-but-smart approach.

Debbie's Paperboy Cardigan is a boyfriend-style piece perfect for cold winters by the fireplace. It's shown in a green, but it would be equally beautiful in a variety of colors.

Beautiful in its simplicity yet detailed in its unusual construction, the Piccadill Pullover has saddle shoulders and a lace panel that add interest to an otherwise classic shape. Knit in a cotton/wool blend, the sweater is another piece one can wear throughout the year.

Finally, her Bas-Relief socks combine both the texture of twisted stitches and lace details. Knit with a Madelinetosh yarn, the design is a great canvas for the beautiful semi-solid hand-dye.

When asked about her own design influence, Debbie cites Alice Starmore, Meg Swansen, and Connie Chang Chinchio among her favorites. "I think there are a lot of people out there to admire," she says. "I think knitters are darn lucky."

Knitters are darn lucky to have Debbie, too.

—Laura Birek, from the Winter 2011 issue of Knitscene

All three of Debbie's patterns—plus one more—are available in the Winter 2011 issue of Knitscene magazine! And you can have the entire Knitscene 2011 collection on DVD (or download!), too. Get yours today!


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