By Margaret Hubert
Margaret Hubert started in the needle arts business in 1963, as co-owner of a small yarn shop. She later became the needlework instructor for Bloomingdale’s in White Plains, New York. She has written 25 + books on knitting and crocheting, two of the most recent being Customize Your Knitting and Customize Your Crochet. She has had many designs in knit and crochet magazine publications and has also contributed designs to many multi-authored hard covered books. Margaret teaches knitting and crocheting workshops all over the country and has been teaching in her local yarn shop in Pawing, NY, for the past 18 years. She has recently been inducted into the Jean Leinhauser Crochet Hall of Fame.
My son likes to say, “My mom is an overnight success after only 40 years in the business.” This is not far from the truth. My life in the fiber world has been an odyssey—a long, adventurous journey, woven throughout with beautiful textiles. The journey began when I was about 5 years old and my mother taught me to knit. My mother, who was born in Italy, also learned to knit as a very young child.
She told me that their knitting was done strictly for utilitarian purposes and she was knitting her own stockings when she was about 9 years old. The beautiful yarns of today and the fabulous garments that are made from these yarns, always surprised her. My mother and I made all the garments for my first book.
I have no memory of these early lessons, but my sister recently told me that I would sit for hours making doll clothes. As I grew older I learned to crochet, sew, and quilt. I loved it all.
While I initially learned all these crafts at a very young age, my successes in the world of knitting and crochet came much later, with helping hands from lots of people. Through the years I have owned a yarn shop, I was a needlework instructor for Bloomingdale’s, and a partner in a hand knit sweater business.
At Bloomingdale’s, a yarn representative from Brunswick Yarns, saw a sweater that I had designed. He was impressed by my work and gave me the names of several editors and encouraged me to show my work. The very first day that I met with editors, I sold 5 designs. I was elated, and opened up new possibilities for my journey, which continues today.
My first free form jacket
My work has been a great source of pleasure in my life and I feel very fortunate that I love what I do, and at my age, I can still do it. In 40 years in this business, I have published over 30 books, countless designs in magazines, and contributions to many other publications. As I write this, I am working on another new book. My first book, One Piece Knits That Fit, published in 1978, was a big hit, and I still get letters about that book to this day. For the past 15 years I have worked with Quarto US, and editor Linda Neubauer, who is the best ever. Linda, along with my family, has helped me navigate the transition to doing everything digitally—years ago I did everything on a typewriter and had to mail all entries into editors, or take a trip into the New York City to have meetings in person. During this process, my brain was often overloaded, but I am getting better at it every day.
I think part of my success is the fact that I am very versatile in my designs. I have designed everything from doggie sweaters to men’s extra large – but my main focus has always been women’s fashions. I get genuine pleasure from the feel and texture of the lovely materials available to us today.
One of my favorite things to do is teaching workshops. About 16 years ago I was invited to speak at Professional Development Day at the Crochet Guild of America Conference in Chicago. This was a huge eye opener for me. I had no idea that these events even existed. Seeing so many avid crochet fans, gathered in one spot, taking classes, sharing stories, enjoying each other’s company, it was mind boggling. The following year I proposed classes to teach at several venues and another whole new world opened. Many students tell me that, while they love the idea of making a uniquely handmade garment that fits and flatters, either for themselves or as a gift, they find the process difficult. I love teaching them how to achieve this. One of my most popular workshops is “Customize your Knitting or Crocheting.” The response has been so great that I recently did two books on the subject. I get emails from students all the time telling me of the great satisfaction they feel when they can accomplish this. They always include pictures of their work, which brings me joy. My other most popular workshop is Free Form Knitting and Crochet. Students love this class and we have so much fun creating fabulous items. In the Free Form workshop, I give students some homework to complete before class, and something really unusual happens. Fifteen people, working from the same set of written instructions, come into class and every one of their pieces is totally different. I have actually been criticized for writing instructions for “Free Form”, but I feel by giving people a little jumpstart, their imagination takes over and amazing things begin to happen.
Autumn in New York shawl
There is something very calming about working with your hands, and it has helped me immensely over the years. It is very therapeutic and can be a great stress reliever. Many tell me that their handwork helps them to cut down on various addictions. At the end of a busy day, what could be better than picking up some knitting needles or a crochet hook, some beautiful yarn, and creating something lovely.