Designer Spotlight: Martina Behm

mostly-warmness-The-Loopy-EweIf you’re one of our regular blog readers, I know you’re all familiar with Martina’s patterns, as I think I have linked to her fun and popular patterns more than anyone else’s here in the blog! She has so many popular designs that work beautifully for multi-colored skeins of yarn (the ones you buy because you love the color combination, but then you’re not sure what you’re going to do with it?). And the Nuvem that I made continues to be one of my favorite wrap-arounds in the winter and on airplanes. Here’s a little peek into Martina’s life and her designing. Enjoy!

Loopy: Thanks for being in the Spotlight today, Martina! So how long have you been a knitter, and who taught you to knit?

Tubularity-The-Loopy-EweMartina: I learned how to knit when I was 8 years old – that’s more than 30 years ago – phew! My grandma Lisa taught me (she will be 90 next year), and my first little project was a light blue garter stitch scarf for my doll. Still my favorite stitch pattern!

Loopy: I guessed that garter stitch might be your favorite, as so many of your patterns use that stitch. I think that’s one reason so many people love your patterns. Easy to make but unique and fun at the same time. What is your favorite type of item to knit?

Martina: Triangular shawlettes, obviously, and anything that has an interesting construction or geometrical shape, and as few purl stitches as possible! I have a very inefficient method of purling, and I guess that is the reason why I like to knit and design purl-free patterns.

Miss-Winkle-The-Loopy-EweLoopy: You always seem to be so innovative in your designs. I don’t think anyone misses the purling. What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?

Martina: That would be the “Tabi Socks” by Veronik Avery from her book “Knitting Classic Style”. They have a very pretty, delicate lace pattern on the top of the foot that I was unable to memorize, so I had to look at the chart all the time. But they were surely worth the effort, they turned out very beautifully. I knit them as a birthday gift for my mom a couple of years ago and she still treasures them and wears them on special occasions.

Trillian-The-Loopy-EweLoopy: I went and looked those up. Those are pretty. It almost looks like cobblestones going up the front of the sock. Lucky for your mom! When did you first start designing, and what spurred that interest?

Martina: When I had my first child, I knit some children’s garments from an old eastern German pattern book that I had found on e-bay. It was from the 1950’s and the patterns were not really patterns, but rough guidelines. Often you were asked to shape something according to a schematic, without it telling you exactly how many stitches to decrease. So I learnt how to do that and also how to adapt those patterns to heavier yarns. (In the 50’s, apparently they knit everything on size 0 needles). At the same time, I started reading Elizabeth Zimmermann’s “Knitting Without Tears” that tells you that yes, you can knit anything you want as long as you know how to calculate a few things. And she was really innovative in constructing knitted items. I liked Hitchhiker-The-Loopy-Ewethat. And at some point, I started making up my own.

Loopy: That’s where your innovative streak comes from! Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?

Martina: That’s a very hard question. Usually it is the one I have just worked on, and right now it is the next design for my Strickmich! Club, which turned out beautifully! The one I like most construction-wise is my Matchmaker, which is a big, triangular cowl knit entirely in garter stitch. The shawlettes I wear most are my striped “Ecken + Kanten” (“Corners + Edges”) and “Miss Winkle”. I just think the little loops are cute!

Matchmaker2-The-Loopy-EweLoopy: What is your favorite part of designing? And your not-so-favorite part?

Martina: I love playing with geometric shapes, sketching and figuring out what would be the easiest way to achieve a certain effect. Swatching is also great because I get to play with yarn and see if my plan works – it is wonderful when it does! One thing I do not like that much is translating my patterns. I always write them in English first (although English is not my native language, you can probably tell) because I think the English knitting language is much more concise and easier to understand. I then translate everything back to German, which is fiddly. You really have to pay attention and it is not very creative, so that is really not my favorite part.

Nuvem-The-Loopy-EweLoopy: That’s so interesting that you write it up in English first. I’m actually happy that your patterns are in English at any point in the process! Do you have other jobs outside of pattern designing? And do you do this business full or part time?

Martina: I am a mom and I have two kids (5 and 8 years old) and a husband, and I take care of most of the housework. So my designing is part-time. I used to work as a freelance writer for “Brigitte Magazine” here in Germany, but I have given that up in favor of knitwear design. I really enjoy being my own boss (at least during the times when my kids are not around). I do this part-time and my husband is helping me with a lot of things like organizing our Club. I am getting the feeling that it is very important to not be on your own with your business and have Endless-Rainbow-The-Loopy-Ewesomeone to team up with. The dyers I have worked with for our club are a great example – they all have business partners, husbands, or grown-up children working with them. Sure, even if you are a team, still something difficult may come up, but you are not alone. And if everything runs fine, you can enjoy it together!

Loopy: It’s always nice to have family help in the business. I’m fortunate to have that, too. Does anyone else in your family knit?

Sleeves-The-Loopy-EweMartina: Now that you have me thinking about it, it turns out no one really knits. My grandma used to knit socks for everyone but gave that up in favor of Norwegian-style embroidery which she enjoys and loves a lot. My mother can’t really knit because she had Polio when she was a child (no vaccines back then), so she cannot use her left hand the way knitters usually do. So I try to knit her every hat, sock and shawlette she desires, because she cannot do it herself. She helps me with the sewing machine in return! My 8-year-old son actually prefers to crochet. But I recently taught my husband to knit garter stitch, and I still have hopes that he will pick up his half-finished potholder again one day!

Viajante-The-Loopy-EweLoopy:Β The only trouble with that is that he might want to share your stash as he gets more into knitting. You’ll have to make sure he starts his own stash! Are there other hobbies that you enjoy as well?

Martina: I love to play the piano, and I play the guitar a little bit, badly, but enthusiastically.

Loopy: What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?

Martina: Driving to the shores of the Baltic Sea, preferably the island Fehmarn where my family used to spend their summer vacations on a camping site. I would walk on the beach, pick up pebbles, breathe salty air and enjoy the view.

Ecken-plus-Kanten-The-Loopy-EweLoopy: That sounds beautiful! Ok – last question – Morning or Night person? English or Continental? Solids or Multicolors?

Martina: I have my best hours and feel most motivated to start new projects after 10 pm at night. Sadly, that is the time when I have to go to sleep because school starts at 8 am here in Germany, and we have to get up at 6:30 to get everyone ready. I have a very hard time getting up in the morning, and I try to compensate with lots and lots of coffee. Β I am a continental knitter, and although I am curious about the “throwing” method, I am just a tiny bit too lazy to try it. And solids or multicolors – that depends, of course! Knitting with multicolors is just plain fun, especially when you can achieve some pooling, striping or spiraling with it. When I knit my latest pattern “Endless Rainbow”, it was pure joy to see the colors emerge and the effect they create next to each other. But for some projects, solids are obviously the way to go, especially if you are doing complicated cables or lace. So, really, every kind of yarn has its place in the this world – and, of course, in my stash!

Naiada-The-Loopy-EweLoopy: Everyone needs a well-rounded stash! Anything else you’d like to add?

Martina: When can I come see your lovely store?

Loopy: Ha – ANY time. We would love to have you visit! πŸ™‚

So have you made some of Martina’s patterns? Or do you have some on your list to make?Β Which one(s)? Martina is offering our Loopy blog readers $1 off of one of her patterns, your choice! Simply enter the code: theloopyewe upon checkout. This offer is good between July 11 and 18, so pop over and pick one!

Sheri whowantstomakethatMatchmakerthisfall

65 comments

  1. What a wonderful interview! I didn’t realize Martina had a 5 and an 8 yr old! I have a few of her free patterns but haven’t tried them yet! I always look at all of her patterns though because they look so great! The Nuvem looks soooo comfy! I may have to try that during a Loopy quarterly challenge- I need all the time that I can get to make something that big!!! Thanks for the discount and interview!

      1. I just went over to look at the specs- it starts out with the magic loop cast on?! I don’t know if I could tackle that or not! Is that what you used to cast on, Sheri? Do you think there is an alternate way of casting on for those of us who are not quite as skilled yet?!

  2. Love Martina’s Patterns, have made several. Can’t wait it start a new one, purchase 3 patterns last weekend.

  3. I love her patterns! I have at least 4 already. So far my favorite is the Hitchhiker. Very well written and always beautiful!

  4. Martina’s patterns are so well written and fun to knit! Hitchhiker is my favorite….I feel very polished and cool when I wear it. : )

  5. I enjoyed this interview very much. It’s nice to get to know a little bit about a favorite designer. I have knitted four of Martina’s patterns so far and enjoyed each one (Hitchhiker, Trillian, Magrathea & Nuvem). I also get a lot of wear out of them. I love the offset triangle shape. It’s so versatile!

  6. Great interview! I just purchased Lintilla and ordered yarn from TLE. Can’t wait to get started πŸ™‚

  7. I just finished my Viajante — it’s been all over Europe and the East coast, so it is aptly named! I can’t wait for there to be a chill in the air so I can wear it! Next up is either Trillian, Tubularity, or Miss Winkle — I just love Martina’s patterns! Thanks for the discount code, maybe I will add another to the mix of possibilities!

  8. Great interview – AWWW shoot ! Wish I hadn’t chickened out on Matchmaker for Camp Loopy 3. I was all set – had Julia help me pick out two complimenting yarns and went to the cart to push the button and panicked at the last minute. I think secretly I am holding out for the Wollmiese I can never seem to catch in stock. I will however order up a couple of her patterns I have had que’d forever like Nuvem, Leftie and who knows what else.

  9. Oh, yes. I have knit a couple and her innovative designs always catch my eye even if they don’t end up on my ‘must knit’ list.

  10. I’m so glad that you interviewed Martina. I love her designs and have done Hitchhiker and Trillian. I have 4 others in my library, but couldn’t resist getting Matchmaker now.

  11. I get so many compliments on my matchmaker! And my Hitchhiker and my latest Ecken + Katen. They were delights to knit. As a retired mathematics prof, your geometric ideas are a thrill. I wish I had been your math teacher! Thank you for sharing.

  12. I have yet to knit one of Martina’s patterns, although I have queued up several and even have the yarn! I love her creativity and style – I also prefer knitting to purling!

  13. My first Martina Behm pattern was the Hitchhiker, done for Camp Loopy June project 2012! I own more of Martina’s pattern and my next Martina Behm pattern I plan to do is the Brickless. I also have Magrathea, Trillian, Lintilla, Miss Winkle and Nuvem in my Martina Behm pattern collection – maybe a few more! Martina is by far my favorite designer! I love her ideas and how she expresses herself in her knitting!

  14. I’ve been dying make Viajante ever since I scored a huge skein for it at Stitches West this year. Thanks for the discount code!

  15. I am doing Sleeves for camp project 2 (was in on Wednesday to get some help) and was thinking of Tubularity for camp project 3 – and now I have a coupon!

  16. Lovely interview. I enjoy the contemporary patterns. I purchased Endless Rainbow with the coupon. Thank you!

  17. Great interview from my favorite designer. Using three of Martina’s patterns for Camp Loopy this year~#1 BRICKLESS, #2 ENDLESS RAINBOW (just passed the halfway mark), and #3 will be a huge TRILLIAN. Thank you for the code~have to check to see if there is a pattern I have not purchased. πŸ™‚

  18. Great interview!!! Martina is my favorite designer. I am almost done on my second Nuvem, in a Mont Blanc lace I was lucky to get on one of your updates. I love my first and decided I needed another in a more neutral color. I use it on airplanes too. I am going to get Matchmaker with your coupon. Thank You for it.

  19. Love her patterns. Bought the Hitchhiker – I have always wanted to make one.
    Thanks for the coupon code!

  20. Love the interview. I have wanted to knit one of her patterns for the longest time. I got “Matchmaker” and hope to knit it in a DK weight. I’ve got a pretty navy blue yarn and I just need to decide on a second color.

    1. Hi Kim – I’m sorry you couldn’t get it to work. After you put one of her patterns in your cart on Ravelry, click the link that says “use coupon code” and then type: theloopyewe in the box that comes up. I just tried it again to make sure there were no glitches, and it worked. Otherwise, I’m not sure what is going on when you try to use it!

  21. I love Martina’s patterns and have knit several of them. I am still working on the Viajante I started at last year’s Fling! LOL! I just love the concept and design of it, but it is A LOT of garter stitch, and I get bored easily! πŸ™‚

  22. Love Martina’s designs, so I really enjoyed this interview! And especially appreciated that dollar off my next pattern. Enabler! πŸ™‚

  23. Martina was my cabin mate at Squam last month. She is a beautiful lady inside and out. And a genius with design.

  24. Sheri: I really like your interviews with designers. The interview with Martina was very interesting. I have knit quite a few of her designs and they are always fun. They also make great gifts which is why I have pictures of them and not the shawls. I’ve been wanting to make a Hitchhiker that will be mine.

  25. I have made Leftie and I love it. It is the perfect size to wear as a scarf with my motorcycle jacket! I have several of Martina’s patterns in my library; two of which I will use loopy cakes with. I also have Matchmaker and Naiada on my list to use with some of my Wollmeise. I really enjoy the colorwork and designs she puts together. Thanks for Spotlighting her!!

  26. Thanks for the interview Sherri. I love Martina’s patterns. So far I’ve knit a hitchhiker, Lintilla and Trillian. I so want to knit Leftie. There are so many beautiful versions of that pattern on Ravelry. I would love to knit a Nuvem and a Viajante but all of that knitting with lace is a little scary. But, I will take the plunge, someday.

  27. I enjoyed reading the interview very much. I have several of Martina’s patterns and took advantage of the $1.00 savings and purchased Matchmaker.

  28. I have finished 4 Hitchhikers, a Brickless and a 22 Little Clouds. I love all of them. I have several other patterns in my library. I decided to add Trillian thanks to this generous offer from Martina. I plan to knit it with some Wollmeise I bought from The Loopy Ewe.

  29. What a great interview! It was so fun to read about Martina’s knitting life — I enjoy her patterns so much. And thanks for the discount code too! I picked up Leftie and will look forward to casting on. πŸ˜€

  30. Wonderful interview! Thank you for the coupon. I’m planning to knit Endless Rainbow for Camp Loopy in August and now I have the pattern.

  31. I really enjoyed this interview with ‘another’ Martina! What fun designs she has created. I managed to find a pattern which I did not already own, so thank you both for the special discount. This year I plan to knit a Nuvem, a Naiada, and perhaps a Brickless. Sleeves is high on my to do list, but I’m just waffling about whether to do one for my daughter or myself first. What a terrible quandry to be in….Just did Miss Winkle for Camp Project #1.

  32. I’m such a fan of her patterns. I’m wearing a Nuvem right now, and I’ve knit multiple hitchhikers and Lintillas. The Lintilla makes such a wonderful gift.

    Thanks for the code! I bought the pattern for Viajante, which was in my queue.

  33. What a lovely article! I love Martina’s designs. I also hate purling too!

    So far I have knitted both “22’s”, a couple of Hitchhikers, Leftie and Brickless. I have Viajante in to do list and just purchased Be My Angel compliments of the loopy discount! Thank you!!

    Would like to get back to Germany to visit. I did two tours of duty there thanks to the military.

  34. I’ve just started my 4th Brickless, I love it. It’s a very easy and interesting knit. One for me and the other 3 for Christmas presents. Just gave a very pretty purple silk “22 Little Clouds” as a gift. I’ve had the yarn for “Hitchhiker” for a while now. I think I will buy “Miss Winkle”, love the loopy ends. Also love “Matchmaker” As you can see I am a big fan of Martina. Thanks Martina for your lovely patterns.

  35. Love Martina’s patterns! My Dad would say that they are “just a bubble off plumb,” but only because they are assymetrical – love that! I have made Magrathea and Hitchhiker. I love ruffles, so Lintilla will be next…but I’m intrigued by Viajante and Sleeves. Hmmmm. Keep it up Ms. Behm!

    1. That “just a bubble off” is definitely one of the things that I think make Martina’s designs fun!

  36. Martina’s patterns are fun and very wearable. I have made Leftie which I love and I’m knitting my 4th Hitchhiker. I think I’ll select Brickless.

  37. I just ordered Matchmaker. I love simplicity yet elegance of Martina’s designs. I still consider myself a beginning knitter and her designs let me create something lovely that doesn’t require complicated stitching. Thank you!

  38. I use the code (thanks to you and Martina) for Miss Winkle, which I’ve loved since I first saw it.

    And now that I’ve seen Matchmaker, and the videos about it, it’s apparently been lurking in my subconscious, and just pushed its way forward. I think I want one!

  39. Great highlight of a fabulous designer. Thank you!

    ETA: Really would like to buy another of her patterns, though I’ve been trying to use code for discount and it’s still early on the 18th and it’s not working?

  40. I like the patern and the colours very much. But please could you let me kno where I can buy the rainbow yarn. Thank you happy knitting.

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