February 28, 2007

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."


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.


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.

Posted by Stephanie at February 28, 2007 1:24 AM