Garter is good

I had a feeling that I wouldn’t be alone in the sentiment I directed toward our spelling challenged peer, and I can assure you that even without your much appreciated support and encouragement, I am just fine. I am, my tender hearted lovelies, a McPhee woman, and though we are blessed with few skills, those few are mighty. (My grandmother, Kathleen McPhee, was once told by a General that she had “the finest ass in the Western Command”, but I’m not sure that’s a skill, or that I’ve inherited it, but I digress.) While McPhee women don’t always have grace or dignity under pressure, we do have clarity, and I am at no risk of having the joy and enjoyment this blog brings me yanked from my grasp by someone who cannot even spell their way out a paper bag. (I will admit to several revenge fantasies, but I am both too chicken and too proud to execute them.)

Sound more like me? I think so. After all the trials of the last week I am left with the fabulous adage that “what does not kill me makes me stronger” (though there are days in parenting and life where I am tempted to change it to “What does not kill me may still be grounded until it is 45 years old”, but again, I am digressing, and the children cannot be blamed entirely. I have a job as well as a cat that wears on my nerves.)

Jeri wrote:

“Garter is good. Is that a ribwarmer vest? I’m wearing mine today.”

Ribwarmersh0228

Good eye, that Jeri. The garter stitch extravaganza is indeed a ribwarmer vest, a fine Elizabeth Zimmermann pattern that can be found in Knitting Workshop. It’s a very clever pattern, making a vest out of the most unlikely shapes by way of short rows. Enormous fun the way that only garter stitch can be. I’m having a love affair with Elizabeth right now, and it’s not the first time. The last dalliance with her wonderful patterns and prose resulted in a baby surprise jacket, that wonderful combination of origami and knitting that never fails to amuse me. I’ve got all of her books, and even recently indulged in her DVD, which is all of the episodes of her old PBS tv show by the same name. I don’t know if I learn much watching it, especially since there is not much there that isn’t in the books. If you’ve read Knitting Workshop, you’ve probably heard it all before, but with Elizabeth Zimmermann that’s not the point. The point is how she says it.

I was recently shocked to realize that there’s a whole generation of knitters out there with absolutely no idea of who this woman was, and that was so stunning a revelation to me that it’s likely that you could have persuaded me to eat unwashed fleece while I processed it. The woman is the grandmother of modern knitting. She’s so iconic in knitting that many of us only use her initials (EZ) to refer to her. She was the first person who I ever heard say “it doesn’t matter that much” or “if the way you are doing it is working, then don’t listen to me” . She was like a wonderful mentor who encouraged you not to take the whole thing too seriously while simultaneously living an entirely knitting based existence. Until I ran into her I had only heard absolute explanations of knitting. “You must do this” or “This is the way to cast off” and her gentle urging to simply think about knitting a little more has had a great deal to do with the fact that I think about knitting at all.

Gartsh0228

We disagree about several things, Elizabeth and I – like her love of circular needles and my love of straights, her dislike of purling and my belief that it’s as pleasant as the knit stitch… but the thing about her is that even though I never met her, I firmly believe that she would like that. I am possessed of the opinion that she would take my polite disagreement, chuckle to herself and say “Well…I said she should think about her knitting”.

I love her. If you don’t know who she is, go looking. You won’t be sorry.

221 thoughts on “Garter is good

  1. and if that isn’t enough, go dig on the zimmermania blog. (I think if you google ‘zimmermania’ it will take you there. or near there). It’s awesome knitting eye candy.

  2. Love EZ, love circulars (have lost/bent/broke too many straights), but also adore sets of 5 DPNs. (At least if I lose one, I can still work with the other four and they usually make darn good cable needles.)

  3. I have been very slowly collecting her books and DVD’s. Once we are moved and unpacked my next big project will be to make my own EZ sweater using the percentage system. I love how her books challenge me to think out of the box and now when I look at any pattern I know that I have the skills to accomplish anything I put my mind to and really I can attribute most of that mind set to her books.

  4. I’ve been trying to decide between several projects in EZ’s knitting almanac, but I love reading it more for the stories than anything else!

  5. i don’t get the “purl-hate” either — i am equally tranquilized by both knits and purls (i almost typed “purrrrls”) when generating a bunch of stockinette.
    i picked knitting back up at the end of 2005 (i learned when i was a kid, and would knit something every couple of years, but it wasn’t till i found cheap on-line yarn sources — elann, i’m talkin’ about you — that i really dove right in and lost my mind). one of the first new books i bought myself was EZ’s “knitting around.” it totally changed my life.

  6. I had never heard of Elizabeth Zimmerman – until I saw you quote her in one of your books. I owe you a debt for that. ๐Ÿ™‚ I think the quote was the one about knitting ribbing “until you’re sick of it”. Unfortunately for me, that’s about three rows!

  7. Just a little reminder (after last week) that we want to see you at LK tonight! But I’m headed for the Sweet Georgia sock yarn and I dont want my hands slapped.

  8. Just a little reminder (after last week) that we want to see you at LK tonight! But I’m headed for the Sweet Georgia sock yarn and I dont want my hands slapped.

  9. anybody out there who hasn’t yet met EZ is almost to be envied as a most astonishing joyful journeys lies ahead!

  10. If only I could get a few hours alone with my grandmother’s stash of knitting patterns, I’m sure I could pull out a few EZ gems. Unfortunately, she lives several hours away from me and it’s not considered polite to march into your grandmother’s house and beeline past her to her patterns.

  11. It is amazing how few knitters know of EZ and her impact on knitting in America in general. Rib Warmers are such fun to make. I haven’t made one in years and need to revisit it. Thanks for the reminder!

  12. anybody out there who hasn’t yet met EZ is almost to be envied as a most astonishing, joyful journey lies ahead!

  13. I know who she is but haven’t had the pleasure. As her philosophy towards knitting seems to remarkably resemble mine (you should hear me try to explain socks to someone) I must become acquainted. Thanks for the push.

  14. If only I could get a few hours alone with my grandmother’s stash of knitting patterns, I’m sure I could pull out a few EZ gems.
    Unfortunately, my Grammy lives several hours away from me and it’s not considered polite to march into your grandmother’s house and make a beeline past her to her patterns when you’ve only just arrived.

  15. Elizabeth is the queen goddess of all knitting . . . she is just so logical about it all . . . and makes you not feel like a total dolt. My Mom got me hooked on Elizabeth many many years ago when I had given up knitting because it ate too much time and crocheting was faster. She handed me her copy of Knitting Without Tears and told me that Elizabeth Zimmerman wrote it specifically for me. And, it was.

  16. I, too, have an on-going love affair with Zimmermania (great interactive blog by the same name with many 20-ish knitters as members). There are several online lists of EZ/Meg fans. And we are not Blind Followers. I knit a baby bear ribwarmer and Barbar, my teddy, is quite the napper fellow wearing it!

  17. My Mom(or should I say “Mum”?), who taught me to knit, also taught me to revere EZ. I don’t(yet) have all her books, but love the ones I do have, & refer to them often. I also like knitting better than purling, though I can’t for the life of me figure out why!

  18. Not heard of EZ? Excuse me while I gape at my computer in amazement. That’s like having not heard of Alexander the Great or having no idea who Gutenberg was or not knowing about Emporer Meiji. It’s… She’s… I’m going to go gape some more. Sentences aren’t coming well.

  19. Fortunately I didn’t learn to knit with absolutes. Unfortunately, I learned to knit so early that I missed the innovative and rules-free excitement that people who discover knitting in their teens or 20s or later exhibit. Fortunately I have discovered EZ, and learned oodles from her combination of technique and unventiveness.

  20. EZ is the reason I still knit. She gave me the courage to think of my knitting as simply shapes and to make them at my own gauge. Now that I’m a more experienced knitter I can knit to other’s gauges but I would have never kept at through my teen years without her (admittedly she’s a strange teen idol but I think she would’ve liked that too). I would love to have the DVD, did you get it at the needlearts bookshop? I need the yarn name & colourway as well, please?

  21. You are so right!!! I started knitting last year and EZ’s books were some of the fisrt I purchased. It made a huge difference in the learning process; I am definitely the “boss of my knitting” and don’t feel compelled to follow any pattern to the letter unless it suits me to do so…. and I love circular needles!!

  22. Her videos are wonderful, especially if you need to see something, and are very good at making you feel like you too can do it.
    Whatever it is.
    My husband now knows who EZ is too, and he learned what i-cord is, and now can recognize garterstitch. Although he does call her ‘crazy knitting cat lady’ and is a little frightened of her. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  23. I just set aside an “intermediate” sweater, and cast on an easy shell with bamboo yarn that is straight knitting in the round to the armpits (after the waist band). I was so relaxed last night while I was knitting, I almost fell asleep sitting in the chair. If “Garter is good”, then just knitting in the round is a sedative…very calming and tranquil. Now I just hope I keep enjoying the calm knitting until I get to the interesting part around the neckline!

  24. I agree with Lani–you yarn looks to be some sort of 2 ply, hand dyed wool and is delightful. I definitely have have yarn-envy. Perhaps you would be willing to give us its vitals?
    And EZ’s Rib Warmer is an excellent winter diversion. Stimulating but not painful knitting and a great layer when it’s finished–enjoy!

  25. A giggle for me while I figured out whether it was a revelation or unwashed wool that you were processing. I’m SURE the sentence structure is fine but I too have had a week or three and days of parenting and life and two cats who are wearing on my nerves. May your ribs be warmed, grace

  26. I love EZ’s books as much for the chattiness & anecdotes as I do for the wonderful knitting advice. I happen to agree with her love of circs (probably anyone with arthritis would) but I definitely agree with you about the purl stitch. I love to purl – somehow it seems more efficient to me.

  27. I haven’t watched an EZ video yet (must soon rectify that), but watched a couple of Meg’s recently — and I’m sure she’s a lot like her mother. I always smiled when she’d say, ‘Now it’s time to do this, and Elizabeth would maybe try that, and I like to do it like so, but you do it however you feel comfortable — whatever works best for you. It’s your knitting.’
    Total love.

  28. In my 30+ years of knitting I hadn’t made a single EZ pattern until a few months ago. I made a baby surprise jacket for Dulaan with modifications (longer sleeves with ribbing and a collar to keep warm in Mongolia). The funny thing is that I have always knit with her philosophy of doing what works to the point where I was so busy doing “my own thing” that I didn’t pop my head up to see what see what she had done. (I did know who she was though.) It is a joy to discover her now.

  29. I haven’t watched an EZ video yet (must soon rectify that), but watched a couple of Meg’s recently — and I’m sure she’s a lot like her mother. I always smiled when she’d say, ‘Now it’s time to do this, and Elizabeth would maybe try that, and I like to do it like so, but you do it however you feel comfortable — whatever works best for you. It’s your knitting.’
    Total love.

  30. A giggle for me while I figured out whether it was a revelation or unwashed wool that you were processing. I’m SURE the sentence structure is fine but I too have had a week or three and days of parenting and life and two cats who are wearing on my nerves. May your ribs be warmed, grace

  31. In my 30+ years of knitting I hadn’t made a single EZ pattern until a few months ago. I made a baby surprise jacket for Dulaan with modifications (longer sleeves with ribbing and a collar to keep warm in Mongolia). The funny thing is that I have always knit with her philosophy of doing what works to the point where I was so busy doing “my own thing” that I didn’t pop my head up to see what see what she had done. (I did know who she was though.) It is a joy to discover her now.

  32. Although a relatively new (4 yrs) knitter, I have been ‘aquainted’ with EZ by way of her daughter (Meg Swansen, but you knew that!) in my very first knitting book, “A Gathering of Lace”. I’m aquiring books slowly, what with the internet having so much to offer, and have yet to possess an EZ of my own, but I do look forward to that day!
    My second knitting book ever, however, was “Knitting Rules”. I wonder if there will come a day when I am shocked by a new knitter who hasn’t heard of the Yarn Harlot?

  33. As someone that didn’t grow up with knitting needles in her hands (and there are millions of us “new knitters”), it takes a while to become aware of EZ. She seems to be omnipresent. I don’t have Knitting Without Tears or the Knitting Workbook but my awareness of EZ has become such that I don’t think I can really considering myself much of a knitter at all if I don’t get the books and really get to know my knitting and learn how to let go of the rules.

  34. I’ve been discovering EZ after being a solo knitter for many years. You know, the type of knitter who learned from her mom, didn’t knit in public, purchased the occasional Leisure Arts pamphlet, and poured over a well worn hardback copy of Barbara Walker’s Treasury in the privacy of her own home.
    But since rediscovering knitting 3 years ago, socializing with other knitters, and becoming enlightened to the knitting/internet connection, my purview has expanded dramatically. EZ is part of that and although I wish I had known about her earlier, I’m thankful that her work is still around for us latecomers to appreciate.

  35. A ribwarmer. Yes!!! My favorite garment. My personal favorite version is Sidna Farley’s pattern in Knitter’s #48 (oop), but I love them all. And I’m also in love with garter stitch. Imagine my joy upon learning in my recent spinning workshop (for rank beginners) that energized (read: overspun) singles work just fine in garter stitch! I have a Round The Bend (Meg’s pattern) jacket in the wings – more lovely garter stitch.

  36. She really is a revelation. I asked for Without Tears for Christmas and am working on a Seamless Hybrid… but every page of that book contains some incredibly clever, totally understated nugget.

  37. Re: “My grandmother, Kathleen McPhee…I’m not sure that’s a skill, or that I’ve inherited it, but I digress.”
    I never thought I’d say this to a woman, but, next time I see you I’m totally going to check out your ass.

  38. In order to successfully ground someone until they are 45, you would have to have them living under the same roof with you until they are 45.
    You may want to reconsider that one.

  39. I think having a nice ass is a skill, dude there are people who get paid for it. I’m not one of them, but still. I didn’t think one jackass would do you in. You are the same type of women that I was brought up by and that she was too, and that I hope to be some day. Ya some times what I say doesn’t come out that nice, and I may have a lack of grace, but I still get it done, and the world doesn’t end. My kids are still a live and I cleaned the brownies off the kitchen floor. The world is good.
    (I love EZ)

  40. I’m young enough to have discovered EZ through her books and others’ blogs rather than to have grown up with her, but I’m definitely a fan. Today, I’m making an EZ/Pearl-McPhee combo, actually — what started out as a brioche stitch (or “prime rib,” in her parlance) hat but appeared too small to be a hat, so I’ve just kept going on it. Now it’s a scarf of about 16″ long. When I get to 20″, I’m going to turn it into a “scarf rescue hat.” I’m confident it will all work out. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  41. I didn’t realize how wonderful EZ was until after I’d been knitting about five years and she had recently died. I’m in love with her videos and love the way she describes things. She inspired me to do my own knitting almanac this year.
    And about grounding your children until 45, I agree with Rachel H, are you sure you want them living with you until 45?

  42. I didn’t realize how wonderful EZ was until after I’d been knitting about five years and she had recently died. I’m in love with her videos and love the way she describes things. She inspired me to do my own knitting almanac this year.
    And about grounding your children until 45, I agree with Rachel H, are you sure you want them living with you until 45?

  43. I am so glad to hear you mention EZ. There can’t BE enough talking about her, in my opinion. Her books are like tranquilizers, in a good way.

  44. Although I learned to knit when young, it has only recently become close to an obsession. I believe I first heard of EZ from the YH, but I don’t have any EZ books. I LOVE knitting in round with circs(yes, sorry, hate purling)and know I would love to have an EZ book. Since some are a little pricey, could anyone give me a recommendation of which they like best? I do still have some small children, (and a few large ones), like to make sweaters some, and love socks. I’m not sure whether to go with most basic book to start, or try another. What do you think?

  45. Stephanie, I’m glad to see that the sun has started to come out again up there in Toronto. . .

  46. “Knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crises.”
    How can you not love a woman who urges you to have both confidence and hope? And the Baby Surprise jacket is one of the most amusing patterns in the whole entire world. ๐Ÿ™‚

  47. The very first thing I ever knit (a simple sweater from a pattern my mother literally thrust into my hands to keep me sitting still while in a hospital bed) was EZ. I STILL have that sweater. And several of its cousins.
    Although I was never fortunate enough to meet her, EZ’s words convinced me that it was alright to go off script, knit eccentricly (my right-handed mother taught an ambidextrous left-oriented daughter how to cast on backwards) and in the end, that it’s alright to try and fail, you still succeed cause you learn something from the trying. Rest in Peace, Elizabeth.

  48. I have been known at times, when I am tired or sad or lonely, too sad too knit even, to put on EZ’s Knitting Workshop DVD and go to bed, falling asleep comforted by her confident and soothing voice, reminded that whatever is bothering me will pass, and that I am A-OK just the way I am. And she’s really good at the knitting part too.
    Rest in peace, EZ. We will love you always.

  49. I’m sure you can find her books in the library, as a start. They are not expensive, even brand new. I discoverd EZ in the Ottawa Public Library a zillion and a half years ago and that discovery is what turned me into a knitter.

  50. I have been known at times, when I am tired or sad or lonely, too sad too knit even, to put on EZ’s Knitting Workshop DVD and go to bed, falling asleep comforted by her confident and soothing voice, reminded that whatever is bothering me will pass, and that I am A-OK just the way I am. And she’s really good at the knitting part too.
    Rest in peace, EZ. We will love you always.

  51. I have been known at times, when I am tired or sad or lonely, too sad too knit even, to put on EZ’s Knitting Workshop DVD and go to bed, falling asleep comforted by her confident and soothing voice, reminded that whatever is bothering me will pass, and that I am A-OK just the way I am. And she’s really good at the knitting part too.
    Rest in peace, EZ. We will love you always.

  52. Sorry for the multi-posts. I blame Mercury retrograde. I think I’ll go watch an EZ video now . . .

  53. I think I learned about EZ last summer. So, I would count myself as a knitter who did not know about her. I love that Baby Surprise. I have the book on hold at the library. I finally have something to make for my new niece due in June.

  54. I’m sorry, but I’ve never heard of Elizabeth Zimmerman…guess I will have to check her out on the internet. I love knitting, but it has always been a private thing- I think there might be knitting cafe’s in the bigger towns, but certainly not here! We live in the middle of nowhere…I look with envy on all your beautiful blogs and photographs and descriptions of yarns…but I will manage- with my children, my cats, my sheep, my knitting continental on(preferably)circular needles. And I will learn something new every time I visit your blog! Thank you- keep up the good work.
    Best wishes, Marit in Norway

  55. …After all the trials of the last week I am left with the fabulous adage that “what does not kill me makes me stronger”
    Also, remember the famous line that Despair dot com has on their demotivational poster Adversity: “That which does not kill me postpones the inevitable”
    I’m still processing the one from the other day, “if it’s not ok, it’s not the end…”

  56. I was fortunate enough to purchase “Knitting Without Tears” for a good friend, and took a moment to read it over before wrapping it up. I am now on the fast track to becoming a fanatic!

  57. I have been asked a few times in the last couple of years whom I would invite could I invite several dead people for dinner…..and since 1999 ( that’s when EZ passed on ) I have always chosen Elizabeth Zimmerman and Julia Child…. never had to think about it. I met ( well, I was in the same room during a class ) EZ in a couple of workshops in Minneapolis in the late 70’s and early 80’s and in a Summer Knitting Camp in Wisconsin, not really knowing of the impact she would have on me.
    I think she is the reason why I don’t buy many patterns and only own the most important knitting books and none of them are for patterns of specific items, just stitch collections and EZ’s books…….I have learned to look at things and then take wing and do my thing……I have EZ to thank for that.
    Now I would cherish the idea to have her at my disposal for a whole evening……
    These two women have had a profound influence on the two great passions of my life; knitting and food….in both areas nothing overdone and overprocessed……but done with a good attitude towards invention and adventure……
    People never know what to say when they hear whom I chose…….many know Julia Child at least by name , but hardly anyone outside of the US and Canada is very familiar with EZ…..they also ask why only two people…….and I answer that I would have my mouth and needles full with both ladies at my table and that I would not really be interested in anyone else.
    I can just imagine that wherever both are, they are delighting everyone else with spinning their particular yarn.
    Stephanie, I am glad you are feeling less pressure….
    Angelika
    Mexico City

  58. Ah, yes…EZ. I have her book “Knitting Without Tears” and the others are on my wish list. I always find little pearls of wisdom everytime I leaf through it. EZ was gutsy…you’ve gotta love a woman who repairs a broken outboard motor shear pin with a knitting needle!

  59. I wanted to comment on the spelling thing: i am a horrid speller. I can generally tell when things are spelled wrong but not necessarily how to spell them correctly. it sucks. However, my 7th grade English teacher actually taught me something i will never forget (thanks mrs. whatever-her-name is). “I T apostrophe S always spells It IS” this silly little saying has saved my butt often both in college and after. So, if you want to fix it…repeat that horrid little saying and you will never be able to write it’s without thinking it again!
    Otherwise carry on…those of us with taste LOVE your blog…

  60. I love Elizabeth Zimmerman, too. I go to grad school in Madison, Wisconsin (at UW) and I really hate that I was out of the country for the UW knitting exhibit that featured a ton of EZ knitted goods! I too have contemplated indulging in the DVDs – are they worth it for her? I’ve got all the books already, but – she’s such an inspiration!

  61. Shapely hineys tend to be the side effect of mass transit and the bicycle alternative. lots of walking is another big help. if you want a studied analysis, ask your husband. after all his opinion (after yours) is or should be the one that counts most. I don’t worry much about my hiney, it is behind me and I can’t see it so it doesn’t exist.
    EZ is the very first knitting author that I introduce a knitting student to. SP McPhee is the second one. Whoever they find and read after that, they will have a grounding in independent knitting thinking.
    You are going to be in Denver in April. I am going to be seeing you then, along with my knitting son and some huge bunch of friends from north colorado.

  62. If you are English and haven’t heard of EZ – think of Delia Smith but with needles!
    It’s testament to her advice (EZ I mean not Delia) that although the illustrations and patterns in her books now look a bit dated knitters still draw on them for techniques and inspiraton. Have to confess that I’m a recent convert but as an intermediate knitter her advice is invaluable.

  63. I am a huge fan of Elizabeth’s. She is one of the people on a very short list of people I wish I had been able to meet while they wre still on this earth. I have the “knitting glossary” DVD that she and Meg made and one day I watched about half of it while folding clothes just because it is so awesome, and because it does one good to find out how much one doesn’t know. The tapes of the PBS shows she did are an absolute riot, not to mention full of great knowledge and lovely knitting.
    Keep on keeping on, dear – don’t let the spelling devil get you down!

  64. Wow, it never occurred to me that there were knitters who didn’t know about EZ, either. I learned to knit the year after she died, but I love, love, love her books & DVDs. Meg has done a wonderful job of carrying on the legacy & creating a name of her own.

  65. I knew it I knew it!! I was too thinking of making a ribwarmer last month. But finally did a BSJ. It’s on my blog now, and I am smitten as a kitten (I don’t know if it is a correct expression, or an english expression at all, but I was loving the words and sounds.)
    Is this a home-spun yarn? It is lovely. I am trying to knit a real something (a shawl, actually) with one of my beginner’s spinner yarn. But it is not quite turning as I hoped. A little bit stiff, if you can imagine…
    Anyway, you are totally wrong for the spelling. The one and only correct one is: Couleur! (but I love the brackets, too)

  66. I love EZ!! Knitting Glossary is very cool to watch (although a bit sad because she was definitely getting old) and I ALWAYS recommend Knitting Without Tears to new knitters. EZ’s admonition to be a thinking knitter was critical to the knitting path I’ve taken, and I am very thankful.

  67. I’m one of Those Knitters who learned to knit about 3 years ago and only learned who EZ was about a year ago – my sis taught me to knit and much of my education since has been from the blogosphere, so I’m gradually learning ๐Ÿ˜‰ So far my only EZ experience has been flipping through her Knitting Without Tears, and I feel somehow unwashed that I haven’t had the EZ religious experience yet. I will persevere in this quest. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  68. Thanks for the tribute to EZ. About 15 years ago, I found a pattern in a magazine for a heart made in garter stitch and shaped with short rows. It was really intriguing (though it took several tries to figure out that when she said ‘knit x stiches and turn’ that meant I would NOT be at the end of the row and I really did have to count stiches so I could ‘turn’ at the right time) and I made several as coasters. Years later I heard about and read books by a woman named Elizabeth Zimmerman – then I found out that was her heart pattern!
    PS – I also love circs but there’s room for all of us.

  69. Wow, it never occurred to me that there were knitters who didn’t know about EZ, either. I learned to knit the year after she died, but I love, love, love her books & DVDs. Meg has done a wonderful job of carrying on the legacy & creating a name of her own.

  70. Ilove EZ, and she surrounded herself with neat people…what about the stories by Gaffer, in Digressions, in (I think) her last book, where he describes escaping from the Nazis? Neat guy. And they are Meg Swansen’s parents. Meg’s a neat lady. _Her_ I’ve met. I wish I’d met Elizabeth, too. I just love that Meg published her old newsletters in The Opinionated Knitter posthumously…that is what EZ wanted to name her first book…

  71. I found EZ 33 years ago, by chance, in a bookstore. Made my first Lopi 2 color that is still real viable even after so much firewood cutting and gathering…I play her DVDs when I miss my mother, although my mother did not knit- same intellignet tone and accent…She didn’t like to purl because she knit continental. When I knit continental I only knit. But thanks to her I don’t, can’t, follow patterns, I make my own impression of the object.

  72. it IS refreshing to be encouraged to knit the way that works for you, isn’t it? i get overwhelmed with the musts and musn’ts of knitting so much sometimes that it ceases to be fun at all and that is bad bad bad! btw, i TOTALLY prefer straight needles and it was lovely to see someone else does, too ๐Ÿ™‚

  73. I may be one of the few who has heard of EZ, but who has never read or even seen one of her books. However, I do follow all advice from SPM. Though I haven’t taken to storing some of my yarn stash in the freezer, not enough room ๐Ÿ˜‰

  74. My mother taught me the basics of knitting when I was so young I don’t remember it, and then sometime in my teens she gave me a copy of Knitting Without Tears (I think it was the Christmas it came back into print or something), and that has been my foundational text ever since. My first big project was a percentage sweater (which I still wear nearly daily, especially in the winter), and that book is still the first one I pick up when learning how to make a new garment, or even for a refresher on something I haven’t done in a while (like a Christmas hat for a friend’s toddler). It’s where I learned how to make socks the first time, even though I have moved on to other masters (mistresses? Anyway, I like Nancy Bush for socks better). I recently picked up the Almanac sheerly for reading matter… need I say that EZ has profoundly influenced my knitting philosophy? My EZ collection is by no means complete – I only own the aforementioned two books – and I must remedy that someday… if only for the patterns!
    Incidentally, even in the States, ‘donut’ is no more a correct spelling than ‘lite’ is, it’s just extremely prevalent. I may be a dyed-in-the-wool American, but I frankly prefer most British (or Canadian, if you will) spellings simply because they look more elegant. But then, I cross my 7s and Zs.

  75. I was someone who had no idea who EZ was…and then on top of it, had no desire to read further and figure it out…until a secret pal graced me with a copy of The Knitter’s Almanac. THAT book made me into a fan!

  76. We know that it takes more than an ethnocentric spell freak with too much free time and a limited understanding of font colors to bring you down.
    I have yet to know the pleasure of anything EZ, but I like her already – the expression on her face on the cover of The Opinionated Knitter gets me every time I see it.

  77. I have only recently ‘met’ EZ and am fascinated by her and her patterns. Have just finished a baby Bog Jacket and want to do the Pi squared shawl next.

  78. The more I knit, the more I learn to “trust” certain designers, and EZ is definitely one of them. She certainly takes a lot of the stress of knitting of your shoulders when she tells you to think about thingsmore. I’ve learned to examine WHY a pattern is telling me to do something, and to determine for myself if that’s the best way to do things, mostly because of people like EZ and the Yarn Harlot!

  79. Despite being capable of a really quite large array of knitting types/techniques, when I’ve had a particularly bad day/week I like to retreat into the nice soothing garter stitch for a while!

  80. My favorite EZ line is about dropping a stitche. She said not to worry about it, that it’s not like it’s going to “go all the way down like a run in a pair of nylons. Instead, it’s just going to hang there, mewling piteously, waiting to be picked up.”
    MARVELOUS prose, and a smile every time I drop a stitch!

  81. My favorite EZ line is about dropping a stitche. She said not to worry about it, that it’s not like it’s going to “go all the way down like a run in a pair of nylons. Instead, it’s just going to hang there, mewling piteously, waiting to be picked up.”
    MARVELOUS prose, and a smile every time I drop a stitch!

  82. EZ is what kept me knitting when I was still having trouble keeping things on the needles. EZ, and my friend who wouldn’t leave me alone until I learned how.
    I’d love to see what you’d do with a Pi Shawl.

  83. What a gracious, audacious lady she seemed to have been. I finished my second of her pi shawls recently and carried her increase theory through to almost 1,200 stitches to bind off (which I wimped out on by doing crocheted bauble bind-off). But that’s the point of EZ. You start somewhere, dream and then end up over the rainbow!

  84. What a gracious, audacious lady she seemed to have been. I finished my second of her pi shawls recently and carried her increase theory through to almost 1,200 stitches to bind off (which I wimped out on by doing crocheted bauble bind-off). But that’s the point of EZ. You start somewhere, dream and then end up over the rainbow! Some people think a circular shawl is a waste of effort, especially when it’s folded over but I love mine and use both of them often.

  85. As a recent EZ convert, I can honestly say that it took a while to warm to her ways. I do love the simplicity of the patterns (more like receipes), but there I times I almost scream, “Elizabeth! What the hell do you mean here?” However, the fact that I, and I alone, am responsible for my sweater pattern is quite liberating . . . even if it means that I may have messed it up to the point of steeking.

  86. “Knitting without Tears” made me feel my knitting obsession was ok. I was not a freak with too much time on my hands. Read it in one go sitting on the stairs just inside my backdoor.

  87. I, too, only learned of EZ recently (last year) and am much in love with her common sense approach to knitting. I am currently working on a Pi Shawl, although it has been ripped back and restarted since I didn’t go up to a large enough needle size, IMO. Now, if only the rest of the world could adopt a similar “there is no one true way” (to quote Mercedes Lackey) approach to life. Fewer wars and fights and more time for knitting and spinning. ๐Ÿ™‚

  88. ‘Finest ass in the Western Command.’??? Wow. Considering how hard good mules were to come by around then, that’s one heck of a compliment!!!
    (Um, if you inherited it, you’d know. The skeleton would take up a LOT of your stash space.)
    I’d never heard of EZ until I ran across you…and I spent a good hour last night smiling through Knitting Rules!
    Compliment? You betcher ass. ๐Ÿ™‚

  89. I’ve knit a long time, but in my own universe, and only found a book by EZ this past year. Love her, and love ya too!

  90. *Gasp!* Now that I’ve recovered somewhat from my attack of the vapors (or “vapours” for Little Miss Red Pen), I find myself overcome with an overwhelming sense of sadness for those not familiar with the wonders of EZ. Get thee to a bookstore immediately!
    As for the afore-mentioned Little Miss Red Pen, one phrase leaps to mind–“Get a life.”

  91. Made the Baby Longies from EZ’s Almanac for an honorary nephew. Said boy wore them, then lengthened without increasing much in circumference, so I ripped the feet back, used that to lengthen the legs and knit ribbed cuffs, and he wore them another couple of months. EZ was a genius! (Not to mention very, very funny)
    Julie

  92. I was lucky enough that one of EZ’s books (Knitting without Tears, maybe?) was one of the handful at my local library when I was a beginning knitter and reading them all. (I was also a thirteen-year-old at the time, so buying books was right out.)
    I consider myself very lucky to be exposed to her influence so early, and now with the love going around for her, I’m buying the books and re-discovering how fun she is to read.

  93. My favorite EZ quote: “You are the boss of your own knitting.” My favorite EZ book: The Opinionated Knitter (a compilation of her newsletters from 1958 to 1968). Be sure to check out the Dairy Queen hat — I have made two out of Sheepsdown yarn from Schoolhouse Press, and they turned out great.
    My other knitting obsession is Bohus Stickning, having lived in Sweden for a year. I saw a Bohus sweater at Stitches West and it was truly the most beautiful sweater I have ever laid eyes on. I can’t wait until you finish yours!

  94. Wouldn’t it be grand if we had the honor of her being here now? I just got the DVD of EZ with Meg and I’m savoring it til I can watch in peace, sans kids and husband.

  95. How can any knitter possibly not know who EZ is?
    (urp) What delicious fleece. Moving right along, you are quite right that the greatest thing about her is that you can decide you don’t want to do something her way, and know she’d be OK with that. (Sometimes, in her assumption that I’ll instantly know what she’s talking about and never need to say “wait, show me that again?” she makes me feel inadequate, like I might get tagged with the dreaded BF designation, but feeling inadequate is one of my core skills.)

  96. Erika, the EZ exhibit is available online and interactively. It shouldn’t take much search to find it, and is wonderful. Don’t forget the EZ KAL site, Zimmermania…there’s a link on my blog.
    I discovered Knitting Around (don’t remember how) first. Even if I didn’t knit, I would enjoy reading her autobiography over and over and over. In fact, I just checked it out of the library again today, along with Knitting Workshop.
    I’m currently working on two EZ projects. The integral I-cord edging on the Moebius scarf fascinates me every time I turn the work.
    Anyway, when I started reading her, I was SO proud to be a knitting Elizabeth, too!

  97. EZ is kinda like the Gramma of us all. Her influence has been **huge** in North America (less so, I think, in Britain, Europe and OZ/NZ); indeed, the entire NA knitting biz would be dramatically different had EZ not started publishing her patterns and importing books. Seriously: who would ever have heard of Bohus Stickning? It’s really interesting to see a generation or two of knitters being taught by knitters who learned from EZ, and who have no idea who Their Knitting Gramma is.
    BTW, Schoolhouse Press has put out an instructional DVD of the Baby Surprise Jacket. Haven’t seen it, but I imagine it’s very good.

  98. Yes, I was forced to realize just a few months ago that not everyone in the knitting world KNOWS who EZ is/was. I made some comment about an EZ baby sweater (the surprise, of course)… and got a question asking which easy sweater was I talking about. Oh, sweet innocent, let me take you by the hand!
    And, currently OTN, the second EZBS out of two sock yarns held together. The first one came out quite well and will, I’m sure, keep some little Afghani toasty next fall. The second will also go to A4A, but this time I’m digging for all the sock yarn leftovers with blue in them.
    (You can check out the first on Picture Trail if you want, same ID as the name I usually sign with)

  99. Knitting Without Tears was my first knitting book. Didn’t even know who EZ was….but what fun it’s been learning!

  100. My best friend (the one who taught me to knit) turned me on to EZ a few years ago and my knitting has never been the same. Imagine my suprise and incredulity when a sweater I knit using her formula actually fit me perfectly…not the first sweater I ever knit, mind you, but the first knit without a specific pattern and the first to fit! Amazing!
    She was golden and ingenious. I only wish I’d had the opportunity to meet her.

  101. This is what I wrote a year after EZ passed on. She was THE knitting goddess. My thoughts and feelings have not changed. I hope Nibs is sitting at EZ’s feel and gazing upon her fondly.
    “It has been a year since Elizabeth passed on. I was one of the lucky ones to have taken a class from her. In about 1976 or 1977, I was living in Iowa and she was teaching a class in southern Wisconsin. I drove about 175 miles to get there and walked into the shop where the owner told me that I hadn’t registered ahead of time and there wasn’t room for me that day. Elizabeth pooh-poohed the owner and told her that she (EZ) could perch on a counter and I could have her chair. Needless to say, it was a wonderful day; I still have the notes I wrote. I learned so much even though I had been knitting since I was a child; there was so much more to learn. And the most important thing I learned was to write at least one letter or postcard a week to someone expressing my opinion or my praise for something that person said or did. And that wasn’t even about knitting; she encouraged us to become activists or advocates in our own ways about things that were important to us.
    EZ signed my dog-eared copy of KWT at the end of the day and I went home and knit a yoke sweater for my 6’5″ husband (who has a 50” chest measurement and a waist of 40″and a very long torso). It was the first sweater of many that I knit him and it fit.
    In 1990, I had a young dog (rescued when he was 18 – 24 months old) who used KWT as a chewy, but left the page intact where EZ had autographed it. I called Schoolhouse in half hysterics. About a week later, the replacement arrived with a new authograph from EZ to continue “good knitting – here is a book to replace the one that Nibs ate.” Nibs is now about 11-12 years old; he will be wearing his first EZ sweater soon to keep his old bones warm when he goes outside.
    It’s been a year since Elizabeth’s death; I think of her often; I miss her still. ”
    Maura Stone
    Zuni, New Mexico

  102. I just recently learned about Elizabeth Zimmerman. I went to Stitches West with my Mom and she told me who Elizabeth Zimmerman was.

  103. Stephanie, I don’t want to linger in the unpleasantness, but I felt qualified to give you some intellectual support. I’m a professional copyeditor, and I wanted you to know that, if even a fraction of the authors I edit (not of them as individuals, like just their elbows, but a fraction of them as a group) had your easy grasp of the language, it’d be such a pleasure. There’s a great book by one of the gurus of English “style,” Theodore Bernstein, called Miss Thistlebottom’s Hobgoblins: The Careful Writer’s Guide to the Taboos, Bugbears and Outmoded Rules of English Usage, about how your childhood English teacher’s pet peeves really, really aren’t The Truth about English. We’re so fortunate to share a language that is especially plastic and wonderfully evolutionary. It’s our job to stretch it, to keep testing it out for new strengths and weaknesses! Amy in Maine

  104. I saw one of those ribwarmers on a woman at Madrona. Of course, she had modified the heck out of the pattern, which would have tickled EZ to no end. I need one of those. (Really, need isn’t too strong a word.)

  105. You’ve become too iconic, Ms Harlot! I Googled ‘ribwarmer vest’ to find a picture (because I am, I’m ashamed to say, too comfortable to cross the room and take the book from the shelf), and this entry is the 4th hit! Already!

  106. I love that about knitting. I can choose more or less challenge depending how challenged I feel by my life in general. Sometimes I just want to enjoy the yarn without too much thinking and sometimes I need to make lace.
    I hadn’t heard of EZ until recently, and thanks tto projects that I’ve seen on blogs (including Brooklyn Tweed, Split Yarn, Elliphantom) I am now very intrigued. I have one of her sweater recipes calling my name.

  107. You know, Steph, not to freak you out too much, but, having read The Opinionated Knitter–I’ve got to say that the two of you have a lot in common…
    Mostly that warm voice that says, “It’s okay–it’s knitting and knitting can not be evil.” It’s a good voice…it echoes down hallways built of sticks and string over generations.
    I even love the echo.

  108. How about an Elizabeth Zimmerman day? EZ Day. Now there’s the February holiday we need in Canada. (Yes, I am saying ‘zed in my head. The title may be a bit more fun for our American neighbours with their pronunciation, but, heck, they already have Presidents Day so we might just limit the celebration. Sort of individually chosen — like Thanksgiving.) Celebrated by knitting some small creative item knit in garter stitch — to keep with EZ’s preference for the knit stitch. Also with toasts in suitable beverages to the founder of modern knitting. All hail!

  109. I brought Knitting Without Tears to work with me today to share the passage which begins with “Tight knitters lead a hard and anxious life” with a beginning knitter. One of my regrets is that I didn’t know who EZ was while she was still alive. I’m not making the same mistake, so I WILL BE one of the 200 who get in to see you in Denver.

  110. I’ve been wanting to read some of the EZ books, but I’m not sure where to start. Is there one particular book that you would recommend for someone who is a college student and can probably only afford one for now?

  111. I bet she spelled the way you do too. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    [I’m making my first Tomten right now and totally feeling the EZ-love and the garter-love. Glorioius.]

  112. Your timing is impeccable. I just set down “Knitter’s Almanac” where EZ brought tears to my eyes by discussing her philosophy of wool for baby garments. I want to make everything in the book immediately.

  113. I’m gonna have to side with EZ on this one, circs and knit stitches are the best. But that’s why knitting is great, you can do things so many different ways!

  114. I don’t really think you can “get far” in knitting without running into EZ, at least not if you are into the internet/knitting blog scene at all. She gets around the blogs, EZ. I guess if you only go into the shops, you might possibly avoid her.
    I bought her Glossary DVD, worth every penny. I have learned so much, and it is so easy to pop in and go straight to the technique I want to see. Even if you own all the books, unless you know them all backwards and forwards, this is a much quicker way to look up a technique. And I love the “unglamourousness” (there’s a word for your grammar checker!) of the videos. It’s great to glory in the presence of an old woman with experience who didn’t find it necessary to hide it or pretend she hadn’t lived all those years. It’s a beautiful thing.

  115. I learned to knit very young, from my mom-a knittingholic-and when she would show someone in the store what she was doing, she’d tell them (and probably write it down, too!) that they HAD to get Knitting Without Tears by EZ.
    I had heard that so much, that it wasn’t until last year (the end!) that I finally bought the book.
    I had NO CLUE!!! I then went onto Schoolhouse Press, and tried to by the glossary of knitting DVD, but couldn’t get my DH to understand why this was a necessity, you know, up there with Heart and Asthma medicine!
    I am still trying to get it, but I WILL!!!
    She was a wonderful woman, and wonderfully gifted.
    Vicki

  116. As a new knitter, I have yet to “meet” E.Z., but have heard only marvelous things — which book would you recomment for me to start with? (I fully intend to have a very complete library at some point, but need a good reference/technique book — thanks!!)

  117. Great minds, etc… Just yesterday, less than 24 hours ago, I treated myself by logging onto the Schoolhouse Press website and ordering three of her books, which includes the workshop book(my treat after working on the taxes). Can’t wait for them to arrive. Couldn’t quite see buying the DVD, so I’m glad to read that it’s not necessary.

  118. Another amazing coincidence (well, I’m easily amazed). Those two comments posted above from maureen and Maureen, are two different Maureens (or maureens), not the same one posting twice.

  119. I love EZ, too. And I love how she referred to that yarn a great many of us seem to love, that “dreadful variegated” stuff.
    As for the Spelling Police – you sure that’s not the same idiotic person who takes great delight in marking up all the library books with their corrections??!!

  120. The great thing about EZ is that her message isn’t just about knitting…it’s about life. You know that revolution you often refer to? I think she may have begun it…

  121. I am astonished! EZ changed my whole life! I assumed every knitter knew of her and her wonderful ways! My students are always shown her books and encouraged to buy their own copies (afraid I will not let those out of my sight!) Haven’t seen the DVD’s yet but it would be wonderful to hear her voice again…..years and years ago (ekk! many many years ago) I had a problem with a sox pattern she had in one of her books and I called the shop…she was so pleasent and helpful…I felt like I knew her because of the way she wrote…hummmm sounds a tad familar.

  122. EZ is my hero(ine?)! Readers who don’t know EZ well may not realize from the comments above that Schoolhouse Press (http://www.schoolhousepress.com), which was started to self-publish much of Elizabeth’s output as well as out-of-print books, is run by Elizabeth’s daughter Meg Swansen, of “A Gathering of Lace” and Knitting Camp fame, and has all EZ’s published work, old newsletters, DVD’s and also knitting supplies and some yarns not available elsewhere. Check it out! Work keeps getting in the way of me being a knitting Camper, but I’m shooting for 2008 if I’m lucky.
    I too fondly remember the piteously mewling dropped stitch, and many other turns of phrase that amuse me no end. “It’s not a mistake if you can’t see it from a bicycle.” And I also keep telling myself and my knitting friends, that we are indeed the bosses of our knitting. Like others standing up and giving testimonials, I have to say that Knitting Without Tears was given me by my mother when I became serious about knitting in college; I still have that battered copy but have bought a new one to lend to friends! My second project ever was a Lopi colorwork sweater based on her percentage system, and it turned out great. I taught myself continental knitting from her books and now knit easily either way depending on whom I’m teaching and if I’m doing colorwork. She is my knitting mentor and my inspiration still, 25 years after that gift from my mother.
    I have made the Tomten but not the Baby Surprise, so I’ll have to try that some day soon! It has always looked intriguing.

  123. Umm, not to be a “spelling snob,” but everyone except Harlot has misspelled EZ’s last name in the comments above. It’s Zimmermann. And, yes, I’m an EZ fan. I love her books and her videos; they’re like listening to a favorite grandmother’s “digressions” while lovingly teaching you to knit.
    I know the Baby Surprise is the favorite of most EZ fans, but the Tomten is my favorite. I’ve made one for my granddaughter each of the last three years, and now she expects a new one each year! I only wish I was brilliant enough (like EZ) to calculate out a pattern for an adult Tomten.

  124. Ooops about the Zimmermann; I am usually very good with names, especially German and Scandinavian ones, living as I do in Wisconsin! My only excuse is that I know a Zimmerman with one n well, so am in the habit of that spelling, but that’s a pitiful excuse.
    Thanks, Katie’s Granny! Names are indeed important.

  125. I TOTALLY LOVE the EZ ribwarmer…I love making it out of novelty yarns, regular wool yarns, cotton yarns, changing from a garter stitch to a slip stitch or a rib stitch. Just having fun with it. Back in my “go into an office and work everyday” days (opposed to working in my pjs at home days) I would wear short little spashy/colorful ribwamers over a black turtle neck. I use to have a Excel spreadsheet set up just for changing the gauge and length of the EZ. I probably still have it somewhere. I say — knit a ribwarmer and think out of the box!

  126. I have most of her books and feel the same way you do about her. I am like you that I prefer straight needles and don’t mind purling or seaming, but she got me started when I rediscovered knittng. She inspired me to knit fearlessly, and I do!

  127. I’m going out on a limb here (with regard to your previous post about the person sending email to you about your “so called” spelling errors) and say that I feel very confident in saying that this anonymous chicken (if he/she wasn’t a big ol’ chicken then he/she should leave a real name and email account for you to contact) is American. I’m not anti-American, in fact I love ’em. I say that because by the looks of it you (as do I) spell words the Canadian/British way….colour instead of colour for example. Maybe it isn’t an American, but it is someone who uses American spelling.
    Anyway, it’s your blog – make all the spelling mistakes you want. If people don’t like it, tough noogies ;o).

  128. 1) spelling. I spell my way. I write dates my way. as an american I was always getting chastised in school for writing DD MM YYYY i have no idea where I learned to do this or spell ‘that way’, it just made more sense to me!
    2) not knowing EZ? Woah. Weird! One of the first things I did when I decided to be really serious about knitting (and put aside my crochet hook) was to learn some of the history … and EZ kept popping up. I have a BSJ on the needles … One of the first books I bought was knitting without tears… I knew it was a classic and thus I bought it and read it. And reread it.
    3) I do prefer circs to straights but I’m little. I learned to knit when I was younger with 14″ straights. Ick! They were huge! About a year ago (after relearning to knit with circs) I discovered 7″ kids needles. I know I would’ve knit more years ago if I started with those. I like 4″ dpn’s best but switched to 12″ circs because I don’t want to loose a needle on the NYC subway.
    Why am I babbling??? If anyone’s read this, sorry to hijack the comments and thanks for reading. I’m going to sleep now.

  129. 1) spelling. I spell my way. I write dates my way. as an american I was always getting chastised in school for writing DD MM YYYY i have no idea where I learned to do this or spell ‘that way’, it just made more sense to me!
    2) not knowing EZ? Woah. Weird! One of the first things I did when I decided to be really serious about knitting (and put aside my crochet hook) was to learn some of the history … and EZ kept popping up. I have a BSJ on the needles … One of the first books I bought was knitting without tears… I knew it was a classic and thus I bought it and read it. And reread it.
    3) I do prefer circs to straights but I’m little. I learned to knit when I was younger with 14″ straights. Ick! They were huge! About a year ago (after relearning to knit with circs) I discovered 7″ kids needles. I know I would’ve knit more years ago if I started with those. I like 4″ dpn’s best but switched to 12″ circs because I don’t want to loose a needle on the NYC subway.
    Why am I babbling??? If anyone’s read this, sorry to hijack the comments and thanks for reading. I’m going to sleep now.

  130. Inspired, I just ordered EZ’s book for the baby sweater recipe you linked to. (and preordered yours! Yippee..I’m all giddy now!) Your work is beautiful. Like you haven’t ever heard that before in your life. What a great blessing to be able to earn a living (or at least contribute towards that living) doing what you love.
    What is that yarn for the garter project? The green is so springish and happy. A little tweedy and varigated? Lovely.
    Happy *Almost* March-means-spring-IS-right-around-the-corner!

  131. Inspired, I just ordered EZ’s book for the baby sweater recipe you linked to. (and preordered yours! Yippee..I’m all giddy now!) Your work is beautiful. Like you haven’t ever heard that before in your life. What a great blessing to be able to earn a living (or at least contribute towards that living) doing what you love.
    What is that yarn for the garter project? The green is so springish and happy. A little tweedy and varigated? Lovely.
    Happy *Almost* March-means-spring-IS-right-around-the-corner!

  132. I’m with you on the EZ worship. Her Knitting Without Tears was one of the first books I picked up, and it really helped to counter the inferiority complex I got from reading the Knitlist emails I’d signed up for when I taught myself to knit in 1999.
    I like to think that it was no coincidence that EZ died in fall 1999 around the same time I just suddenly decided that I wanted to learn to knit. It most likely IS a coincidence, since knitting socks for angels is probably a full-time job (but just think of how SOFT that yarn must be!), unless she realized that she can whisper into lots of ears at once from where she is now.
    Deep, dark secret: When I’m knitting, I often feel like someone is watching over my shoulder, and I’ll hold my project up for her as well as myself when I’m checking progress. I don’t know if it’s one of my grandmas or if it’s EZ, but I like to think she always says nice things about it.
    On the subject of Canadian/British grammar and spellings: you guys just want to win at Scrabble, with your extra U’s and other letters. I see right through you.
    My Canadian husband spent the first 7 years of our marriage in the US, being teased for all his “cute little Canadian ways”. If you can find the offending Korrektor, he would be happy to deliver an Oxford English Dictionary for you.

  133. Stephanie,
    Fogive me if this has already been asked and answered before on your blog but I can’t help but notice that on the front cover of your new book and your last book (Knitting Rules!) you seem to be wearing the same outfit. Is this true? Did the publisher just take a picture from the first photo shoot and use it on the new book cover?
    Just wondering.
    Marly
    http://www.knitthing.blogspot.com

  134. I’m with you on the EZ worship. Her Knitting Without Tears was one of the first books I picked up, and it really helped to counter the inferiority complex I got from reading the Knitlist emails I’d signed up for when I taught myself to knit in 1999.
    I like to think that it was no coincidence that EZ died in fall 1999 around the same time I just suddenly decided that I wanted to learn to knit. It most likely IS a coincidence, since knitting socks for angels is probably a full-time job (but just think of how SOFT that yarn must be!), unless she realized that she can whisper into lots of ears at once from where she is now.
    Deep, dark secret: When I’m knitting, I often feel like someone is watching over my shoulder, and I’ll hold my project up for her as well as myself when I’m checking progress. I don’t know if it’s one of my grandmas or if it’s EZ, but I like to think she always says nice things about it.
    On the subject of Canadian/British grammar and spellings: you guys just want to win at Scrabble, with your extra U’s and other letters. I see right through you.
    My Canadian husband spent the first 7 years of our marriage in the US, being teased for all his “cute little Canadian ways”. If you can find the offending Korrektor, he would be happy to deliver an Oxford English Dictionary for you.

  135. Thank you Stephanie! We are going though a hellish period at work now, and I put your quote about “It will all be okay in the end…” on our white board – the staff really appreciates it.
    And thank you for sharing so much of your personal life with us – I love reading about your family as well as seeing the knitting. I’m glad you’re not letting that one person get you down – why does there seem to be a person like that in every crowd?
    I have not yet read EZ, but my sister just gave me KWT. I guess I’ll start on it tonight! Can’t wait to see you when you come to CA – on my birthday no less! Very exciting – and yes, Napa/Sonoma is close to the Bay Area so I won’t have to travel too far. Even if the location changes, I will be there!

  136. I’m with you on the EZ worship. Her Knitting Without Tears was one of the first books I picked up, and it really helped to counter the inferiority complex I got from reading the Knitlist emails I’d signed up for when I taught myself to knit in 1999.
    I like to think that it was no coincidence that EZ died in fall 1999 around the same time I just suddenly decided that I wanted to learn to knit. It most likely IS a coincidence, since knitting socks for angels is probably a full-time job (but just think of how SOFT that yarn must be!), unless she realized that she can whisper into lots of ears at once from where she is now.
    Deep, dark secret: When I’m knitting, I often feel like someone is watching over my shoulder, and I’ll hold my project up for her as well as myself when I’m checking progress. I don’t know if it’s one of my grandmas or if it’s EZ, but I like to think she always says nice things about it.
    On the subject of Canadian/British grammar and spellings: you guys just want to win at Scrabble, with your extra U’s and other letters. I see right through you.
    My Canadian husband spent the first 7 years of our marriage in the US, being teased for all his “cute little Canadian ways”. If you can find the offending Korrektor, he would be happy to deliver an Oxford English Dictionary for you.

  137. I consider myself fortunate that Knitting without Tears was my first knitting book. It is empowering to figure out your knitting. Just finished a large Pi shawl, adapted the last section to to suit myself and knitted on a shetland lace edging. Hope EZ would be proud.

  138. I had a sweater project that had me alternatively crying and cursing. One day I told my husband that there was this book called “Knitting Without Tears” and wouldn’t that be a good book for me. As I was telling him this he started ordering it off Amazon. That book really helped me as a knitter. Reading EZ’s books feeling like the knitting mother I never had giving me advice-she’s that good.

  139. I had a sweater project that had me alternatively crying and cursing. One day I told my husband that there was this book called “Knitting Without Tears” and wouldn’t that be a good book for me. As I was telling him this he started ordering it off Amazon. That book really helped me as a knitter. Reading EZ’s books feeling like the knitting mother I never had giving me advice-she’s that good.

  140. What amazes me is that you (SPM) can read these comments at all, given their incredible number. I am glad you’re there, though. Thanks for remembering EZ for me, so I can be encouraged to keep re-investigating her books. I’ve only recently discovered her existence, but as with everything about knitting, I’m learning very fast.
    Can our favorite spelling stalker spell “therapy”? If that doesn’t work out, maybe we can contact his/her/its internet provider and convince them delete said s.s. from the server. PERMANENTLY.

  141. Wow – 162 replies!? Go to Wool in my Soup blog. She has a couple of vests from Elizabeth Zimmerman that you would enjoy seeing.

  142. I’m just rediscovering EZ — I grew up with her books around me, courtesy of my mother, so she was terribly ubiquitous for me and I didn’t really appreciate her when I first learned to knit. It was only later that I came to understand how important she really is.

  143. “Knitting Without Tears” was the first book I read about knitting when I first started about 7 years ago. I’m not sure I would have perservered through those first learning curves without EZ’s practical musings. She was a genious!
    And I love her videos. Meg’s are just as wonderful. I went through a phase where all I would put on were the videos. My husband, who had never knit a day in his life, one day picked up needles and yarn, and was able to cast on and knit (albiet after a few failed attempts) just from having seen EZ & Meg do it/talk about it so often!
    Yes, if haven’t already, PLEASE “meet” EZ!!

  144. I’m just rediscovering EZ — I grew up with her books around me, courtesy of my mother, so she was terribly ubiquitous for me and I didn’t really appreciate her when I first learned to knit. It was only later that I came to understand how important she really is.

  145. WHEN THE HELL did you write all those books? I feel at knit’s end was only yesterday.

  146. I love double pointed needles rather than circular (circular do have their time and place). I really don’t enjoy purling and when possible I knit backwards, rather than having to purl. It really works a treat!!!

  147. I love double pointed needles rather than circular (circular do have their time and place). I really don’t enjoy purling and when possible I knit backwards, rather than having to purl. It really works a treat!!!

  148. Love EZ, love the Yarn Harlot…and you do realize that there are going to be a LOT of people checking out your arse in the near future. Franklin will not be alone. I expect to hear stories from this one.

  149. Love EZ, love the Yarn Harlot…and you do realize that there are going to be a LOT of people checking out your arse in the near future. Franklin will not be alone. I expect to hear stories from this one.

  150. I’m glad your feeling a little bit better. It’s amazing what coffee and a good knit will do! My grandmother had this great saying that she would tell me whenever my life was too stressful or crazy. It is now my mantra. My grandmother understood stress. She raised 8 kids during the Depression and was one of the strongest women I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. She wasn’t just my grandmother, but a very dear friend and one of my all time favorite people. She would say, as she rubbed her hands together briskly, “It’s a great life if you don’t weaken!” It’s gotten me through all kinds of nastiness, often with a chuckle. Your blog reminded me of her today so I thought I’d share. She would have just loved the ass comment!

  151. I made 3 of these jackets for my grandchildren for Christmas, and they loved them. I finished them off with I-cord in a contrasting color. Haven’t posted here before, but love your blog. I always learn something here.

  152. Thanks for the info about EZ – I have read a lot about her on various blogs but haven’t checked out any of her stuff. Her philosophy suits me perfectly!

  153. I just got my first EZ book (Knitting Around) and I am indeed kicking myself for not getting one of her books earlier. I love the attitude and the patterns. I definitely need more of her books.

  154. I absolutely agree about EZ. I have several copies of Knitting Without Tears that I lend to people I’m teaching to knit. I buy it as a gift for friends and relatives learning to knit. Not only are her patterns wonderful (the Tomtem sweater is a long time favorite at our house) but her philosophy is excellent for new knitters. “Relax.” It blew me away the first time I heard it. Relax? This is supposed to be relaxing? HOLY COW!
    I’m a much better knitter because of EZ. (And I can use smaller needles because I don’t strangle the stitches.)

  155. Good morning from snowy Minnesota!! I love EZ too!! Thinking of starting another of her projects today since I can’t get out of the house. Not sure what all the drama is about that you referenced in your blog — but I think you’re great!!

  156. I’m SO glad I’m not the only one that’s ever mentioned fleece being near my mouth region. Ahhhhh.

  157. I had the good fortune to attend Elizabeth’s Knitting Camp several times in the mid-80’s (before it became trendy) and her philosophy certainly opened a whole new world of knitting for me. She always made you feel like your modest projects were just as important as the most elaborate patterned sweater. Her perspective on knitting gave me the freedom to venture beyond the pattern.

  158. I guess at the tender age of thirty-two, I stradle the gap between knitting generations. I am not exactly one of the hip urban knitters (Urban yes, hip with three kids? Hard to maintain.) and I have not had the great fortune of knitting since I was knee-high to the proverbial grasshopper. But early on, someone pointed out Knitting Without Tears to me and I fell in love. I also just found that I also worship at the shrine of Lucy Neatby, a wonderful knitter who carries on the banner of knitter empowerment. Thinking knitter are good knitters. No two ways about it. And I really should get that EZ DVD, she and Lucy would make pretty swell shelf-mates.

  159. I guess at the tender age of thirty-two, I stradle the gap between knitting generations. I am not exactly one of the hip urban knitters (Urban yes, hip with three kids? Hard to maintain.) and I have not had the great fortune of knitting since I was knee-high to the proverbial grasshopper. But early on, someone pointed out Knitting Without Tears to me and I fell in love. I also just found that I also worship at the shrine of Lucy Neatby, a wonderful knitter who carries on the banner of knitter empowerment. Thinking knitter are good knitters. No two ways about it. And I really should get that EZ DVD, she and Lucy would make pretty swell shelf-mates.

  160. I guess at the tender age of thirty-two, I stradle the gap between knitting generations. I am not exactly one of the hip urban knitters (Urban yes, hip with three kids? Hard to maintain.) and I have not had the great fortune of knitting since I was knee-high to the proverbial grasshopper. But early on, someone pointed out Knitting Without Tears to me and I fell in love. I also just found that I also worship at the shrine of Lucy Neatby, a wonderful knitter who carries on the banner of knitter empowerment. Thinking knitter are good knitters. No two ways about it. And I really should get that EZ DVD, she and Lucy would make pretty swell shelf-mates.

  161. I am so sorry for obnoxiously posting my comment three times in a row! I mean really it’s not that great a read. Computer and networking difficulties. Gosh, how embarrassing.

  162. Oooh, thundersnow this morning. Unfortunately, it’s supposed to turn to freezing rain later. ICK.
    Does anyone else find purling awkward when knitting in the round but not when using straights?

  163. I have made the baby surprise sweater/jacket several times and am always amazed when, after a few flips, the shoulders are ready to be stitched. EZ is amazing and I requested 2 of her books as Christmas presents in 2006 and am still enjoying perusing them.

  164. I’m a young knitter, and while I may have found the Yarn Harlot first, I soon owned all of EZ’s books. Working on her circular shawl right now, as a matter of fact. So yes, there is hope for my generation.

  165. Another EZ fan here – I’ve made her “(Almost) Seamless Baby Sweater” from the Knitter’s Almanac many times as a baby present, resized to use finer yarn. I don’t think EZ would mind! I also used it as the basis for a cabled baby sweater that I liked very much (thankfully I kept notes so I can make it again). The Baby Surprise and Tomten Jacket are also great patterns. What I love most about EZ is her use of language, her construction techniques and the way she makes you think about your knitting and what’s going on – how it all works together to make something wonderful. I have her quote “Knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crises.” posted at work where I can always see it. She was a grand lady!

  166. I am 34 years old, so I am not sure whether I am a young knitter or an in the middle knitter. My mother showed me her PBS series that she had on VHS tape and I loved it. She really is so witty and funny and so right on with knitting. She really was and is inspirational. My hatred of seaming and her love of circular knitting brought me to where I am today. I take every pattern and just work it how I want to work it and if I still get the same results or better results does it really matter. I love the flying by the seat of my pants knitting. It is really freeing.

  167. I am 34 years old, so I am not sure whether I am a young knitter or an in the middle knitter. My mother showed me her PBS series that she had on VHS tape and I loved it. She really is so witty and funny and so right on with knitting. She really was and is inspirational. My hatred of seaming and her love of circular knitting brought me to where I am today. I take every pattern and just work it how I want to work it and if I still get the same results or better results does it really matter. I love the flying by the seat of my pants knitting. It is really freeing.

  168. So glad I read the blog today! A big fat thanks to you…I’ve been stalled in my knitting (would you belive I screwed up something as easy as a hat!?! WTF), but now I am so revved about getting out my copy of Knitting Workshop and gartering away on a rib warmer…yay Harlot, Yay EZ. This should get me back on track, or then again, it may be that D—ed Mercury in retrograde thing. Also glad to hear you sounding more like the yarn harlot I “know” and “heart”.

  169. Once in a while I check in, read the blog, enjoy it immensely (sp) and move on. Your writing and commentary are wonderful and as a yarn shop owner I know how terrific your fan base is. That said, I have to comment on the doo doo head who clearly can’t spell and hides anonymously; I have a dear friend who’s Irish. We have spent many hours laughing uproariously over the non issue of accents and syllables. Where the accent goes on a word can change it entirely. Don’t, dear god, let the doo doo heads get you down. None of us with any education at all would give that cretin credence…
    Phyllis Detwiler
    Blue Heron Yarn Studio
    Barnstable MA

  170. The Police have added another concert. Get registered and ready to go online at zero hour tomorrow.

  171. I can’t believe there are knitters who haven’t heard of EZ. Being a knitter and not knowing who EZ is … it’s like being Irish and not knowing who Daniel O’Connell is! It’s like living anywhere on planet Earth and not knowing who ELVIS is!
    Muggles, yes, but KNITTERS?
    I was fourteen, a freshman in high school, when Knitting Without Tears appeared at our local library. My grandmothers had both died (one quite recently), and with them, my knitting mentorship. For some strange reason my own Mom doesn’t knit. Instead, she reads obsessively.
    I opened KWT and was immediately taken in by EZ’s gentle style as she walked me through things I never would have dared: steeking! traveling stitches! a whole new world of things to do. By the time I was fifteen I had designed a cabled cardigan for Christmas for my Mom. All by myself. In that good ol’ Red Heart Superwash they used to make. And it fit!
    She also helped me understand math better than any math teacher I’d had before (or since). There is hardly an EZ garment I haven’t made.
    I still cherish a letter I recieved in reply when I wrote to her that summer, wondering if it would work if I knitted my granny’s ballet-slipper recipe, then picked up stitches around the foot opening to make a sock leg, and knitted UP. I recieved a reply (promptly, too).
    I could not have been more thunderstruck if Robert Plant had showed up on our front porch to ask me to the Spring Formal.
    Elizabeth Zimmermann, Marlon Brando, Bodaceia, H.P. Lovecraft, Sitting Bull, and Gerry Garcia would be at my fantasy Dead People Dinner Party. There are, of course, some personal friends and family I would include as well, just because I miss them.
    EZ also did something, quietly and apoliticaly, that few people recognize the importance of. She demonstrated how a woman with a little chutzpah could run her own, successful business both while raising a family and after her kids were grown, and to keep on at it long past when most people “retire.”
    Steph. Your ribwarmer yarn is yummy. That’s my second favorite color next to deep, true violet.

  172. Garter IS good. Garter is good the way Zen is good.
    I just last evening started a garter bib from the Mason-Dixon book because it was all I could conceive of attempting right now, what with the massive deadlines and the too much working – but I also couldn’t stand to NOT be knitting….
    Also? It’s grey. You know…as opposed to gray. Ahem.

  173. EZ. Teenagers. Geee. I remember my mother draping a mobius over me in the seventies when I was a teen and asking me what I thought of it, would I wear it? “Some dame from the midwest came to talk to us at the Guild and this is what she showed us, but I don’t know…, what do you think?” she said to me. I felt irritated and dismissed both my mother and the mobius. Ten years later, my mother passed away. I could cry right now.

  174. I too find purling harder with circs that straights as I rest the left needle on my srm with straights and its easier. Can you believe that our library only has 2 of EZ’s books!!! They have been informed that they should get more in haha, and they didn’t know a thing about a dvd by her . I live in a CITY for goodness sake!!!! Backwards isn’t the word for this . Your baby surprise jacket looks yummy and I hope we get to see the finished product.

  175. I am just ever so glad that you are feeling good! (I still advocate for a week in the sun, though…:))

  176. Yesterday I said I never comment–now I can’t shut up. I so relate to the return to EZ and the rewards thereof. I’ve done the baby surprise jacket, nether garments for my husband to wear under his fishing waders, and plan to try a Pi R Square shawl. My personal favorite among her books is Knitters Almanac — a nice, skinny little book with lots of wonderful EZ personality and great projects. Jo

  177. Thank you for reminding me that there are patterns in Knitting Workshop! I am a huge of EZ, but I mostly read her books to hear her talk about knitting. Her enthusiasm for it amounts to evangelism (and not the kind you’d close the door on). She (along with the many wonderful knitting bloggers I read) is a big part of why I really fell in love with knitting the second time I learned it.

  178. If she trained the ass herself, that would be a skill. And if you’re ‘training’ three teens, you’ve inherited it.
    Love reading EZ, but have yet to actually use one of her patterns… I’m slow!

  179. Huzzah for EZ! Jess of Fig & Plum and I started the Zimmermania KAL back in the autumn, and I’m the gal you ask if you want an invitation to join the 300+ other participants, so obviously I’m a big fan. Thanks for giving her the (re)exposure she so justly deserves! And what a scrummy ribwarmer that’s going to be.

  180. Absolutely and I too would eat unwashed fleece. Elizabeth Zimmermann is and was and always will be most amazing knitting liberator and unventor and catalyst and humorist (although Stephanie, you rival her in this area) ever. If I had to choose one individual in the universe, out of all history, to spend a day with, it might be her. And I too have been amazed to meet knitters, even knit shop owners, who do not know who she is. But I know how lucky they are, because they now get to meet her via the DVD’s and books and stories and patterns and everything else. Fortunately she left us an enormous and practical trail of brilliance. And I expect to knit 10 more ribwarmers in this lifetime. And wear them to shreds.

  181. My mother may be the reason that I know how to knit, but Elizabeth is the reason that I am still knitting! I discovered her in college. And she set my knitting free.

  182. In the spirit of wonderful Canadianness — just reply to your lovely commenter with “I’m CRUSHING YOUR HEAD. CRUSHING YOUR HEAD!!!” You rock!

  183. My only experience with EZ is Knitting Without Tears. That was the first book I got when attempting to teach myself knitting, and I got so confused by the few small illustrations that I couldn’t even manage to cast on. [I think it was a Suss Cousins book of all things that finally made it click in my head.] Since then I’ve tried several times to give EZ another shot, but I always start wishing for color photos and detailed patterns. Maybe I’d have better luck with DVDs…
    But yes, garter is very, very good!

  184. My only experience with EZ is Knitting Without Tears. That was the first book I got when attempting to teach myself knitting, and I got so confused by the few small illustrations that I couldn’t even manage to cast on. [I think it was a Suss Cousins book of all things that finally made it click in my head.] Since then I’ve tried several times to give EZ another shot, but I always start wishing for color photos and detailed patterns. Maybe I’d have better luck with DVDs…
    But yes, garter is very, very good!

  185. Your photo of the ribwarmer vest has inspired me to go find EZ in my local library. I keep looking at that needle, on a 45 degree angle to the knitted fabric, and I’m boggled. I can’t wait to crack open “Knitting Workshop” and figure it out. I also can’t wait to delve into EZ’s prose, so highly praised by the knitters here.

  186. I am not a faithful reader, yet feel I must comment. Poor spelling sucks. In this day of IM-speak when spell check is so readily available, I don’t get it. Iโ€™m not perfect, but I went to Catholic school and can identify British (kick-Canadian) spelling. That said, I find your writing style very easy to read.
    Egad! Berating someone who might (even remotely) have a problem with spelling also sucks. I use a good computer spell and grammar check to compensate for a cognitive deficit. If I choose to use a colloquialism I can do so. And, if I wish – I can ignore incorrect grammar decide on foreign spelling, and leave in my weird dashes (or parentheses for that matter). I wanna sound like me.
    Besides, Sister Carolla would haunt me if I didn’t at least edit.
    Oh, and thanks for the swell knitting stuff too.

  187. I think now that EZ has been praised in your blog she will be much better known.
    Just finished her “gull wing baby sweater” from the Knitter’s Almanac. Also got the pleasure to go to Camp this summer and learn from her beautiful daugher Meg who is carrying on EZ’s traditions will great pride and grace. All of the staff is classy in the best definition of the word.
    Have almost finished Meg’s shawl collared vest for my 80 year old father. The video for this is wonderful-a must if you are going to knit this and The Knitting Glossary DVD is all you ever need to know!!

  188. Which is better to buy: DVD or the book (I mean “Knitting workshop”)
    I just started seamless yoke sweater from “Knitting without tears” and doesn’t mind additional help.
    Is it USEFUL video or isn’t?

  189. My introduction to knitting about 25 years ago was through a friend who was knitting the famous rib warmer. Lately I’ve been thinking of it as the precursor to the shrug. Judy was a true knitting fanatic: she went to knitting camp in Wisconsin every year, for goodness sake. And, introduced me to Elizabeth Zimmerman, whom I love and adore. The woman – Judy, too — was amazing.

  190. I had the pleasure of meeting her years ago at a knitting seminar. She was exactly how she came across in her writings.
    Yeah, I’m that old. ๐Ÿ˜€

  191. Well, I have just started actually reading EZ lately… although I have certainly heard of her mentioned often. She really is as great as everyone says.
    I just got her Knitting Workshop in the mail today. I like her books for the same reason that I like yours: they are about knitting and have useful info in them but you can certainly curl up with them as an enjoyable read.

  192. Well, thanks to your early works, I became a fan of EZ early on in my knitting career (now in its 2nd year). I was just thinking the other day, as I clicked the “order” button on your latest and EZ’s
    “Knitting Around” on Amazon, that if I could have dinner with anyone in the world, I’d have EZ & you for sure, and possibly Shakespeare. (but he’s a guy)
    I’m embarking on a bog jacket soon, though the ribwarmer is most appealing.

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