i recently ordered two of elizabeth zimmermann’s books on knitting.
if you’re not familiar with elizabeth zimmermann, she is an iconic figure in the knitting world. a knitter, a teacher, a designer, a writer. many who knit have referred to her books for guidance, tips and inspiration over the years.
i came to know elizabeth zimmermann later in my knitting life. i feel lucky to have had knitting introduced to me when i was young, by people in my life who held my hands (literally and figuratively) and passed on this ancient technique.
and though i only recently took up knitting again with any earnestness, it came relatively easily to me, i think, because of my previous exposure to it. i still consider myself a beginner and have a lot to learn, but i think it would be difficult to learn from scratch as an adult and i admire anyone who tries to do so.
i turned to elizabeth zimmerman’s books in particular because there are SO MANY new knitting books on the market. so many. and excuse my bluntness, but a lot of them are fluff, cashing in on the recent resurgence and popularity of this craft. i wanted to read some books that had substance, not just pretty shiny pages. (though to be perfectly honest, i enjoy pretty shiny pages too and flip through them admiringly while at the bookstore…but just like candy, there isn’t much to them and i’m left craving more.)
i think elizabeth zimmermann’s books are substantial in content. i find that her words and approach are natural, warm and have endured through the years like a well-knit garment.
i like how she explains the construction of garments, rather than just throwing cryptic charts and symbols our way. her percentage system, for example, shows the proportions of stitches that make up the average sweater of any size. she simplifies overwhelming techniques. teach a man to fish? forget it. she teaches us all how to knit a fisherman’s sweater in any size using any wool and needles that we want. the process of knitting is approached both mathematically and creatively. she encourages us to think, not just follow patterns blindly.
the knitter’s almanac is a book filled with projects for each month of the year. you follow elizabeth as she knits up creations through the seasons. in february, she shares some baby things. one of them is a sweet little sweater for a newborn.
in the commemorative edition i purchased, there is a pattern for an adult version of this baby sweater, created by pamela wynne. i summoned up the courage through zimmermann’s words to experiment in my knitting. i attempted the same sweater, but in a size to fit my daughter who falls between those ages, about a size 8 to 10. i used the adult pattern, but went down a few needle sizes and used a finer yarn (a 4 ply, rather than the recommended thicker worsted weight yarn).
i’m very happy with how it turned out.
there are those buttons i mentioned…
it hangs and fits beautifully. (there are more photos on my ravelry)
to the sadness of many in the knitting realm, elizabeth zimmermann passed away in 1999. her words continue to inspire others, and her patterns and techniques live on, on knitters’ needles everyday. including my own. isn’t that a neat thought?
“Really, all you need to become a good knitter are wool, needles, hands, and slightly below-average intelligence. Of course superior intelligence, such as yours and mine, is an advantage.” ~ Elizabeth Zimmermann, Knitting Without Tears.