PERSONAL: Female. Education: Yale University, Ph.D.
CAREER: Bust (magazine), New York, NY, co-founder and editor-in-chief, 1993–.
(Editor, with Marcelle Karp) The Bust Guide to the New Girl Order, Penguin Books (New York, NY), 1999.
Stitch 'n' Bitch: The Knitter's Handbook, illustrated by Adrienne Yan, photographs by John Dolan, Workman Publishing (New York, NY), 2003.
Stitch 'n' Bitch Nation, Workman Publishing (New York, NY), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: Debbie Stoller moved to New York in the 1980s after earning a Ph.D. in women's psychology at Yale, and founded Bust in 1993 with Marcelle Karp and Laurie Henzel. What began as a photocopied and stapled fledgling publication grew into the popular glossy magazine that became a leader in media for empowered women. Michael Colford reviewed the magazine—subtitled The Magazine for Women with Something to Get off Their Chests—in Library Journal, comparing it with other magazines that feature unrealistically thin models, and articles that focus on pleasing men. "What Cosmopolitan claims to be for the 21st-century woman," Colford concluded, "Bust really is."
Ameland Copeland reviewed The Bust Guide to the New Girl Order, a collection of sixty-nine essays from the first six years of publication, in Women's Review of Books. The magazine "reflects the sensibilities of the twenty-something, urban hip, media-savvy girl culture that hasn't forgotten its roots," the critic explained, adding: "Karp and Stoller back up their social commentary and media punditry with a hyperaware, savage appetite for pop culture."
The Bust Guide to the New Girl Order is divided into eight sections that address such issues as dating, motherhood, pornography, beauty, masturbation, and celebrity, and contain contributions from a wide variety of writers, some of whom, including porn stars, use pen names, and others, including Courtney Love, who do not. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that "adeptly capturing its cultural moment, this vibrant anthology is a must-read for those who consider themselves versed in all things pop."
While Stoller was on a tour for the book, she picked up a knitting project she had been working on—a sweater—and finished it. When she returned to New York, she began her informal neighborhood "Stitch 'n' Bitch" circle, and began writing about knitting on the Bust Web site. The circle widened, and groups began forming across the country and beyond. Stoller published Stitch 'n' Bitch: The Knitter's Handbook, which contains contributions from knitters who have designed contemporary designs that include bikinis. The book provides instructions to help the novice and covers such issues as types of yarn, stitches, tools, and techniques. Booklist reviewer Ilene Cooper felt that Stoller's commentary, including her review of the history of knitting, and her views on why younger women are picking up the age-old craft, "that gets the book off to a rip-roaring start."
In Stitch 'n' Bitch Nation, Stoller provides guidance on changing patterns and switching from the suggested yarn to another of a lighter or heavier weight. A Publishers Weekly contributor remarked that "Stoller uses her signature sharp, matter-of-fact voice to demystify these potentially confusing processes." The book includes photographs of models wearing various projects against American backgrounds, like Mount Rushmore and an urban Chinatown, and details about knitting clubs that have formed. Cooper wrote that "this volume is just as entertaining and twice as useful as its predecessor."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, December 15, 2003, Ilene Cooper, review of Stitch 'n' Bitch: The Knitter's Handbook, p. 717; December 15, 2004, Ilene Cooper, review of Stitch 'n Bitch Nation, p. 706.
Entertainment Weekly, October 1, 1999, Clarissa Cruz, review of The Bust Guide to the New Girl Order, p. 70.
Library Journal, July, 1999, Heather McCormack, review of The Bust Guide to the New Girl Order, p. 117; July, 2002, Michael Colford, review of Bust: For Women with Something to Get off Their Chests, p. 133; September 1, 2003, Heather McCormack, "The sound of two needles tapping," p. 37, Rachel Collins, review of Stitch 'n' Bitch, p. 164.
Newsweek, August 23, 1999, Elizabeth Angell, review of The Bust Guide to the New Girl Order, p. 60; January 26, 2004, Julie Scelfo, "Rock-and-Roll Knitters," p. 54.
Publishers Weekly, June 28, 1999, review of The Bust Guide to the New Girl Order, p. 64.
Women's Review of Books, November, 1999, Ameland Copeland, review of The Bust Guide to the New Girl Order, p. 24.
Debbie Stoller Home Page, http://www.bust.com/ knithappens (March 7, 2005).
SoapBox.com, http://www.soapboxinc.com/ (March 7, 2005), "Debbie Stoller."