When knitters who want dependable, well-written patterns come to the needlework store, they know to go to the big binder marked “Nancy Lindberg Patterns.” For 32 years, Nancy Lindberg carefully tested, knit, and wrote directions that knitters trust.
While Nancy is not writing any new patterns, she continues to sell her existing ones and Ingebretsen’s is pleased to stock them. “All my pattern-writing experience was hands-on,” she says. “I didn’t sit at home writing. I did it by knitting samples, one-on-one personal teaching to see what people did and didn’t understand, and knitting every one of the variations that is shown.” Nancy devoted a year to each pattern, spending her winters knitting samples and working out problems by making the items again and again until she found a solution. “I am proud of my ribbed hat pattern,” she says. “I wanted to make a ribbed hat, but the challenge was decreasing. It had to be by multiples of four. I tried so many different ways and made so many different hats that I ended up with tote bags full of samples. I’m pleased about how it finally came together.”
When Nancy was 19, her grandmother taught her to knit and purl. Nancy has fond memories of knitting with her grandmother and she recalls the first item she made. “It was a green scarf. It was so ugly and as I knit it, I knew that I had to make this my job,” she laughs. Nancy had completed one semester at the University of Minnesota when she decided to make knitting her career. She went to the downtown Minneapolis Powers Department Store to apply for a job in their yarn department. Accessorized with a tote bag she had knit slung over her shoulder, Nancy had no trouble convincing the manager that she could do the job. “I loved it!” Nancy says.
After three years at Powers, she was ready to strike out on her own and open her own store. Armed with a $3,000 business loan and a father and brother who could build yarn bins, Nancy opened her store, Needle Point of View, in the upstairs of DinkyDale, close to the University of Minnesota campus. Nancy had her store from 1976 to 1987. After closing her shop, she continued to design knitting patterns and teach classes. “My whole career has been helping people understand patterns.”
While Nancy is proud of how she resolved the problem of decreases and making a hat with a smooth crown, her favorite pattern is for Christmas stockings. “Stores will hold classes on that pattern and people will send me pictures of what they made on their own. It makes me so happy!,” says Nancy. “It is exciting to see how people will design a stocking for their own family.”
Nancy has been in the business long enough to witness several cycles of knitting booming, then waning, in popularity. As a portion of the new knitters move onto a next-big-hobby, those who continue knitting work on refining their skills. “You can tell when a new boom is starting by the size of the yarn,” Nancy laughs. “When there are a lot of new knitters, there are lots of bulky, novelty yarns and huge needles on the market. Now all the new yarns coming out are fingering weight.”
Throughout the cycles, Nancy’s patterns have remained steadily popular. Her designs have options for different sizes of yarns and gauges, so users of both bulky yarns and fine ones can knit from them. Most important, the clarity of her directions is always, always in style.