This week my sweetheart gave me this ↓
Now read cover to cover, I am ever closer to my goal of reading every word that Elizabeth Zimmerman ever wrote.
“The Opinionated Knitter” is a collection of the “Wool Gathering Newsletters” that EZ wrote between 1958 and 1968. Those were the days when news such as this arrived through the snail mail. When EZ began writing her newsletters they were sent off for free and then later, she begrudgingly started charging 25 cents. Recipients must feel it was the best investment of 25 cents ever!
Things are so different now. Imagine what Ms Zimmerman could do with a blog!
…and still things remain the same. Knitters still knit, and we need EZ’s words of wisdom and guidance as much as ever. “The Opinionated Knitter” contains the details of EZ’s famous “percentage system ” how to design and knit your own sweater patterns based on proportions, the infamous Baby Surprise Jacket Pattern and the Tomten Jacket Pattern too.
More than patterns and sage knit-advice, even more than revolutionary knit ideas, and even more than boundless inspiration, this book illuminates some of the small corners of Elizabeth’s life that are priceless. Definitely highway robbery at 25 cents per.
Read about Elizabeth and her Old Man’s camping trips to Canada accompanied by their Siamese cat called KLINE (always in capitals is KLINE). Read about their motorcycle excursions and Easter egg hunts.
Above are pictures taken at the “Knitting Summit” with other noteworthy knitters Mary Walker Phillips, and Barbara G Walker, taken in 1980. That’s EZ in the middle!
Other pictures in the book feature folks from the Zimmerman clan, daughters, sons, grand daughters, and grand sons. The family photos give more context to the writing and also show off Elizabeth’s handmade creations excellently. Additional text is added by Meg Swansen (Elizabeth’s daughter) who is a fabulous knitter her own-self with several books under her belt. To get your own copy and other works by EZ go to the Schoolhouse Press.
I leave you with these words from the lady herself (they may help with the winter blues).
“I also prefer winters to some seasons I could name. So pretty and clean and spare. And plenty of time for, and call for, knitting”
Big thanks to my Old Man for the thoughtful gift.
This past Thursday Toronto broke a record. The temperature was 33.8 C. This gave the June weather official heat-wave status, with three successive days of heat over 32C. The last time this occurred was 1949.
I thought it might be safe to put away the last of the woolies. It was actually quite pleasant to splash around in some cold water as I washed them clean. I was squeezing out the water when I thought of Elizabeth Zimmermann.
I know some folks take umbrage with wrapping the woolens in a towel and pressing with all ones might to rid them of moisture. I don’t know why. Perhaps they think it is too rough, but then I think of EZ. She describes stuffing her sodden sweaters into pillow cases and then whipping them around – a kind of spin-dry. So I think, if that is acceptable, then a certain amount of stomping with a towel must be alright too. I look to Elizabeth Zimmerman for guidance in all things knit. She is the gold standard.
EZ is a brilliant author of several fantastic knitting books. She is also a genius knitter! She is the designer of the above sweater called “The Baby Surprise Jacket”. It appears in her book the Knitting Workshop. You can also buy the pattern separately. We have both at the shop.
The Baby Surprise pattern shows off EZ’s super-brain. Made all in one piece with just decreases and increases for shaping and only one seam. Making this sweater was a joy. I had memorized the pattern in no time giving me occasion to concentrate on how fantastic it is to knit with Noro. This sweater was made with Noro Silk Garden Sock yarn. All the beautiful colour work you see here is pure Noro genius. Genius+Genius=Double Genius. It’s the new math!
I was so excited about making the baby surprise jacket, I had to make another. This one was made with soft Casbah from Handmaiden Yarn. This sweater was made for my friend and her newborn who are living expat style in the USA. I chose the coloured details to be reminiscent of the Hudson Bay Blanket and Canadiana. It subtly whispers remember your roots.
I added on the hood to the pattern. It was improvised. The pompom on top is actual a needle felted ball.
One day (and it will be soon) I hope to have read every word Elizabeth Zimmermann ever wrote. I have been schooled heaps from what I have so far digested, I have been tickled by her turns of phrase, bolstered by her creativity and many a time laughed right out loud.
The baby surprise jacket is not necessarily for beginner knitters, although there are great video tutorials on the subject if you search them out. The time is ripe however, to make baby sweaters. As the city heats up, small projects are more comfortable to knit. If you have never knit a baby sweater before (or any kind of sweater for that matter) you might want to have a look into the Knit Cafe’s Baby Sweater Class that is coming up soon. This sweater is a basic construction that will teach you about making simple sweaters of all sizes. Here are the details:
Baby Sweater Class
Monday July 2, 9, 16, 23, 7-9pm
$96, materials not included
to register call 416 533 5648
Is this old news now?
For sure it is good news, so all the better to repeat it.
We have Noro!
Noro Taiyo, cotton, silk, wool, nylon
Noro Taiyo Sock (same as above but sock weight)
Noro Kureyon, 100% wool
Noro Silk Garden, silk, mohair, wool
Noro Silk Garden Sock (same as above but sock weight)
The Taiyo is new to us. I am especially excited to have a yarn to recommend to folks who are eager to get their needles into some Noro colour-ways but are put off by the wooliness. Some might say darn right itchiness in the case of Kureyon (I would not- I love a wooly-wool)). Did you know Kureyon means crayon in Japanese? A fitting name for yarn that captures the imagination much like a new box of crayolas might. All the other Noro varieties capture the same magic.
My first Noro project was my first sock project too, and I was hooked. A Noro addict and a sock addict too. If it has been said once, then it has been said again, and it is about to be said once more now: knitting with Noro is like reading a good book you never want to put it down. The anticipation of what will happen next is too much to bear. What colour will it be?
Since the sock days though I have sadly not knit much with Noro. I rediscovered the joy of it all when I made my Confetti mittens. Whoever said one can never go back was not talking about Noro. I was even more enraptured.
Also showing off Noro’s Style are these knit works from Jared Flood. The first pic is the Mitered Mittens, a simple beauty of a pattern by the genius knitter Elizabeth Zimmerman. Made more beautiful thanks to Noro. You can find the Mitten-How-To in both “The Knitter’s Almanac”, and “Knitting Around”, books by EZ. The second pic is Jared Flood’s Noro Striped Scarf, easy, effective, and a joy to knit!
Since December I have been diligent about blogging. Rain/shine-twice a week was my regiment. I must now admit that my perfect attendance record has been shattered. I missed my weekend post. Fortunately I have always found that perfection is over- rated. Perhaps you all will also forgive me for my truancy.
But really – can you blame me? The computer’s charms, they fade compared to the view from Bear Island. Notice the yarn on the bench? Though I may be a truant, I am no idler.
I was lucky that my vacation did not come earlier. If it had I might have missed the visit of our old friend Sophia. It was good to see her. I had not done so since she moved back to the UK, some time ago. Now here I am back in the big smoke and she is now safe and sound on her own side of the pond where she is writing the nicest things about us. I felt a little teary when I read her blog post but I concede that it is true. The nicest people do come to the Knit Cafe- bar none!
Read all about it on Sophia’s blog aquarterto
Nice to be back among the yarn.
Posted in Make it!, Yarns and Supplies
Tagged confetti mittens, Elizabeth Zimmerman, Jared Flood, kureyon, mitered mittens, noro striped scarf, noro yarn, silk garden, sock yarn, taiyo