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 Explain Elizabeth Zimmerman?
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SusanT
Seriously Hooked

950 Posts

Posted - 11/17/2002 :  11:21:28 AM  Show Profile Send SusanT a Private Message
I'm a very novice knitter and keep hearing about Elizabeth Zimmerman and how influential she is/was on knitting. I haven't been able to get my hands on her books (my library doesn't have them). Can you explain to me what makes her so revolutionary? Do you recommend her to a newby?

BessH
Permanent Resident

3095 Posts

Posted - 11/17/2002 :  12:49:43 PM  Show Profile  Visit BessH's Homepage Send BessH a Private Message
Dear Susan

EZ was an amazingly forthright clear headed opinionated darling knitting genius (can you tell I am one of her devoted fans?) whose work spanned the last half of the 20th century. She championed knitting in the round with circular needles at a time when most knitting instructions insisted that you knit back and forth on straight needles, creating flat pieces that were then sewn into tubes and attached to each other by sewing. I remember they also tended to describe projects in the most intricate and complicated manner. Basically she taught that you were smart enough to knit the way you chose to. And then she showed you how to shape the basic pieces with the minimum of sewing, and to fit your particular needs.

I have my own opinions of how knitting (which, at one time, nearly everyone had to do or he went without socks,) went from a useful skill that gave one the opportunity for self expression to an "art" only the gifted could master. But I believe that is the belief that created difficult complicated instructions out of the joining of 3 tubes into 1 which narrowed down to a neck opening.

And so - have I managed tomake a simple idea into a complicated one?

anyway, there are several ways to learn the lessons of EZ. If your library does not have the books, you might request the librarian borrow one of them for you from another system. It is called InterLibrary Loan. Her most famous book is Knitting Without Tears and it is still in print, and there is a paperback edition of it available on Amazon.com AND at just about every Barnes&Noble and Boarders book store I've ever been in. It is also available in a cheap Dover edition for about $10 or less, in used book stores.

My favorite title of hers, though, is her Knitting Around book which is a little more expensive but also avialable at Amazon or on her daughter's webstore http://schoolhousepress.com

But I think the best way to learn EZ's clever ideas is by watching her videos. They are a bit more expensive - for you must buy them in sets of 3 at $100 a set. But that is how I really saw the magic that she taught.

I hope you continue to explore her liberating knitting ideas. Certainly it is not essential for you to come to her first. But I sure wish I had been introduced to EZ first. Many people prefer to learn knitting from other sources and in other ways. I learned that way myself. But then I just knew how to knit. It wasn't till I learned from EZ that I became a knitter. The main lesson EZ proposes is that knitting is something you should do to please yourself first and then to obey instructions.

so

Good knitting to you

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KathyR
Permanent Resident

New Zealand
2969 Posts

Posted - 11/17/2002 :  2:18:19 PM  Show Profile  Visit KathyR's Homepage Send KathyR a Private Message
Bess, you explained EZ so well! Here in New Zealand she is not very well known, but several years ago I had the privilege of reading one of her books where she explained how to knit a jersey on circular needles. I loved it as I could use my handspun yarn to create a comfortable, well-fitting jersey for my husband which he is so proud too show off to people! Before that I always had trouble making him a jersey (oops, sorry, sweater!) even out of bought yarn. Still don't know why.
Anyway, apart from that, I thought you might be interested in what I thought was a rather disturbing conversation which took place at the latest spinning club (guild) meeting I attended. Many of our members enter their knitting in local and sometimes national shows and exhibitions. One member spoke of a judge that was having trouble deciding between two jerseys, both of which some about equal as for as faults were concerned. The way she decided between the two was that one was knit flat and the other was knit in the round. She ruled that the one which was seamed together needed more expertise and therefore won!
I disagreed with this judge's opinion - what is your's?


KathyR
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kepkake
Chatty Knitter

USA
251 Posts

Posted - 11/17/2002 :  5:56:23 PM  Show Profile Send kepkake a Private Message
Hi Susan,
I am also a big fan of EZ. As a beginner knitter a few years back I bought and read all 4 of her books as soon as I could afford them. By the way, you can usually get her books for a good price at www.half.com and the videos sometimes come up for bid on www.ebay.com Elizabeth made me realize that "all things are possible" when it comes to knitting. I was so intimidated by those darn needles when I first started...even though I crocheted for over 20 years. She has a wonderful way with words. I read some of her books in one sitting...couldn't put it down. Hope you can get a hold of the books...it's worth it.

Wendy
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achrisvet
Permanent Resident

USA
5986 Posts

Posted - 11/17/2002 :  8:08:27 PM  Show Profile Send achrisvet a Private Message
I've read Knitting Without Tears and The Kniting Almanac. Sheis a charming writer. She was born in England and moved to teh US. She goes on these marvelous diversions, elling stories aobut her husband and children. I really enjoyed the books, and I learned quite a bit. I now feel like it's OK to change a pattern rather than to be a slave to it. Her percentage system is explained in detail in a book inspred by her, The sweater Workshop. The point of the EPS is that you can take any yarn, figure out your gauge, and design a sweater, rather than struggling to make your yarn fit the gauge recommended by a pattern. I just finished my first sweater using the system and it's great. Instead af having a bunchof pieces to sew together I could just weave in the ends and put the sweater on. In fact, I will wear it tomorrow.

Anita

See my completed projects!
http://www.picturetrail.com/gallery/view?p=999&gid=977585&uid=619962&members=1
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SusanT
Seriously Hooked

950 Posts

Posted - 11/19/2002 :  3:28:23 PM  Show Profile Send SusanT a Private Message
Thanks, everyone, for the information and feedback. Would EZ be helpful to a newby like myself or do I need to get more knitting under my belt before reading her? The extent of my experience is two scarves at this point.

Thanks!

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achrisvet
Permanent Resident

USA
5986 Posts

Posted - 11/19/2002 :  4:47:15 PM  Show Profile Send achrisvet a Private Message
I think Knitting Without Tears would be a good place to start. She covers basics and makes you feel like you can make anything. And she's jsut so fun to read!

quote:

Thanks, everyone, for the information and feedback. Would EZ be helpful to a newby like myself or do I need to get more knitting under my belt before reading her? The extent of my experience is two scarves at this point.

Thanks!





See my completed projects!
http://www.picturetrail.com/gallery/view?p=999&gid=977585&uid=619962&members=1
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BessH
Permanent Resident

3095 Posts

Posted - 11/20/2002 :  04:08:25 AM  Show Profile  Visit BessH's Homepage Send BessH a Private Message
Now is the perfect time for you to read or watch Elizabeth Zimmermann. and re-read next year, and the year after and again on into the future. I like to check her videos out of our library just to hear her voice in the house. Like hearing my mama talking in another room. It's just so heart warming.

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marfa
Permanent Resident

USA
2085 Posts

Posted - 11/20/2002 :  5:23:04 PM  Show Profile  Visit marfa's Homepage Send marfa a Private Message
How do.
SusanT, when I saw your ? in the Forum category screen, I immediately tho't of Bess & then I saw her as the 1st "respondee". She said it all & said it so well. As usual she is on the $. I 1st bought KNITTING WITHOUT TEARS & devoured it. It's chatty, educational, amusing, knowingly eccentric & thus allows you to learn in a relaxed atmosphere. Bess is right - EZ teaches you that you can be a smart knitter!
Re good places to buy books, www.powells.com is a wonderful place for new & used books. I have found a number of excellent used knitting books there.

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fmarrs
Guardian angel

USA
9776 Posts

Posted - 11/21/2002 :  5:51:22 PM  Show Profile Send fmarrs a Private Message
Start with EZ. Stay with EZ. You can't go wrong with her methods. With a little more experience you will see how some writers are just giving their own opinion and leave no opening for someone to disagree. EZ teaches you to think for yourself. And its all so logical.

fran

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achrisvet
Permanent Resident

USA
5986 Posts

Posted - 11/22/2002 :  3:53:27 PM  Show Profile Send achrisvet a Private Message
I would also recommend Knitting in Plain English by Righetti (sp?). She also believes that you don't have to be a slave to aptterns. And she has a lot of little tips she's learned from years of experience that are very helpful. The first time I looked at it I didn't buyit becuse it looked too wordy. The next time I looked closer and saw it was very helpful.

Anita

See my completed projects!
http://www.picturetrail.com/gallery/view?p=999&gid=977585&uid=619962&members=1
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betsy_who_plays_with_string
Warming Up

USA
58 Posts

Posted - 11/22/2002 :  7:06:25 PM  Show Profile Send betsy_who_plays_with_string a Private Message
Hi!

She knitted with heart, she knitted with guts, she knitted to KNIT. Of course, sometimes her ideas were off the beaten track, but sometimes, you wanna go the road less taken (VBG!)

I read her once as a novice, in the 80s, then got her book again about 2 years ago. You are going to pick something up every time, because she addresses more than one skill level-or maybe I was too slow the 1st time? Who knows, but you want her books.

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Atavistic
Permanent Resident

6604 Posts

Posted - 11/22/2002 :  9:44:24 PM  Show Profile  Visit Atavistic's Homepage Send Atavistic a Private Message
quote:

You are going to pick something up every time, because she addresses more than one skill level-or maybe I was too slow the 1st time? Who knows, but you want her books.



I bought her around the start of the year (I've been knitting for over a year now?) and I was a bit bowled over by Knitting Without Tears. I still haven't cut my knitting. Even though I was a novice, her attitude made me realize that I can do whatever I want with my knitting.

Right now I'm knitting a simple cable sweater for my partner for the holidays. I'm knitting it in the round, and although EZ would suggest steeks--I'm just going to switch to back and forth for the armholes and then add set-in sleeves. (I LOVE set-in sleeves!) I made a swatch and I'm measuring it carefully as I go along--I can always fiddle with the gauge as I work.

Amanda

PS I am loving Ann Budd's Grand Plan Book right now.

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Knitnluv
New Pal

11 Posts

Posted - 11/23/2002 :  5:31:58 PM  Show Profile  Visit Knitnluv's Homepage Send Knitnluv a Private Message
It is so great to read such enthusiastic reviews of EZ's work. I had been knitting for several years when I first encountered KWT. I read and reread and reread it. I knit very different style garments from hers, but I find the techniques to be right on. A dream vacation? To go to knitting camp. I don't think we fully realize how she revolutionized knitting in this country. I have become a confident knitter because of her inspiration. When I was very ill a few years ago and too sick even to knit (yes, one can be that ill) I occupied my days by reading her books. What a mind! And she was funny. Re: cutting steeks. It works. "Knit on with hope and confidence through all crises."

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BessH
Permanent Resident

3095 Posts

Posted - 11/23/2002 :  7:12:24 PM  Show Profile  Visit BessH's Homepage Send BessH a Private Message
Ahh I didn't tell you about another treat - Elizabeth made a recording of her biographical musings that was sold as a cassette recording some years ago. Meg Swansen (her daughter) polled the folk on KnitU to see if there was still any interest in them. The response was quite enthusiastic and she dug around a little more and one last box of them. I ordered 2 immediately and I just love to pop them into the car tape player and take a little drive with EZ.

You can read about her in her Knitting Around book and see the photos too, but she adds little bits on the tape that aren't in the book. Besides, it's charming to hear her tell her story of England during WWI and art school in Germany between the wars, about Arnold's having to flee Nazi informers for being irreverant towards Hitler, landing in the U.S. with only borrowed money, and their own pioneer version of America. It's thoroughly fascinating.

And what do you know, Meg has re-issued the tapes. They're available on her website http://www.schoolhousepress.com on the front page.

Great richness of knitting history here.

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MarionB
New Pal

30 Posts

Posted - 11/23/2002 :  9:04:32 PM  Show Profile Send MarionB a Private Message
Ahhh, Elizabeth! I checked and rechecked her books out of our library for several years. Finally have the full set. Found out about knitting camp and signed right up thinking it was a once-in-a-lifetime for me. Elizabeth was such a sterling character--warm, kind, sensible, very knowledgeable, and eager to pass on what she knew. She was very humble and had a great sense of humor. We campers once heard her tell of her early days with husband, Arnold. Such a courageous pair against Nazi Germany!

As the next knitting camp approached, I knew I had to be there and have been almost every year since 1983. I'm so happy that I got to know Elizabeth.

Don't miss her video with her and daughter, Meg teaching the basics--Knitting Glossary--2 tapes. Hearing them discuss back and forth as the tape rolls is so helpful. Their cats often walk right through their videos. In one video 'intermission' we see EZ riding on the back of Arnold's motorcycle knitting along, with her yarn streaming out behind them!

Her books are, for me, like sitting in EZ's kitchen as she tells of her unique experiences. I remember her writing about waiting for her Arnold while he competed at ski jumps--"tremble, tremble" or taking a "post-prandial nap" as she sat with chin on chest. I feel that her books are a fun read if you never knit, but so much the better if you do!

We campers (and many more)miss her terribly. But we have Meg carrying on her mother's work with all EZ's warm, charming genes and clever brains who comes up with her own tricks, techniques, books, patterns, beautiful sweaters and much more. Susan, run, don't walk to the nearest EZ or Meg Swansen books/videos!

A devoted fan! Marion

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MarionB
New Pal

30 Posts

Posted - 11/23/2002 :  9:06:53 PM  Show Profile Send MarionB a Private Message
OOps! Missed the typo. Elizabeth's last name has two N's as in Zimmermann. Knit on!

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elka_knits@hotmail.com
New Pal

3 Posts

Posted - 11/23/2002 :  9:26:58 PM  Show Profile Send elka_knits@hotmail.com a Private Message
Elizabeth's books were the first that I ever read as a new knitter. I strongly recommend them to anybody starting out--just perfect for explaining they whys and hows of knitting so that you understand what you are doing. Like an old friend she patiently guides you through any project. I was, in fact, just thinking of her today. I belong to a list that has amongst its photos section "modern classics" and she is missing from the list. How SAD!! Her designs truly are classic and have been the starting off point for many other designers [they may not have realized it but] such as Falkenbergs Lastrada from Rib Warmer. Very chi chi <g> Some lists have made it their goal to follow her 2nd book, Knitters Almanac, month by month. You cannot go wrong with any of her 4 books and those by her daughter Meg Swanson.

OH the reason I was thinking on Elizabeth was when I went to knitting camp several years ago I was knitting a version of the Rib Warmer for Berrocco[I am a sample garment knitter] and am currently knitting another version of the rib warmer for another company. This led me to think of all the versions I have seen of it put out by various companies and designers. Trust me the woman was a genius and wrote with a very comforting style.
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elena
New Pal

USA
11 Posts

Posted - 11/24/2002 :  08:36:24 AM  Show Profile Send elena a Private Message
If it hadn't been for EZ I would never learned to knit. I lived 50 miles away from a yarn shop in the '80s. The yarn shop sold me Knitting Without Tears because I couldn't run in to get help from the staff. It is now worn, crinkled and has lots of coffee stains. I still refer to her books on a regular basis. If I were stuck on an island I would want her books. I have just finished 2 of the Totem jackets for babies and just love them. I am now starting one for myself without the hood.
Her books aren't slick and colorful but I think that helps stimulate your own creative urge. I love her writing style, much like Clara's in MHO.
I have to agree with previous posters that even today most patterns or books are written in the most complicated way possible. Because of EZ I can rewrite or develope my own pattern on a half sheet of paper. It grates on me that so many current designers are doing slick books based on EZ and not giving her credit.
I can not imagine knitting without EZ by my side.

elena
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Valerie
New Pal

19 Posts

Posted - 11/24/2002 :  08:47:54 AM  Show Profile Send Valerie a Private Message
Another good thing about EZ's books and approach is that she has you tackle new concepts one bite at a time. Her techniques are applied to hats, mittens, socks, vests, gloves...and then you build up to a larger garment.

For that reason, I would add her books and patterns to the tips in the current Knitters Review on how to tackle a larger, more complex project.

If you go at it EZ's way...
want to try fair isle or Aran....start with a hat.
want to sharpen your shaping skills...try a baby surprise jacket or a rib warmer for yourself.

I've been knitting for over 40 years and I believe that Elizabeth in her very humble way has done more for the current state of knitting than any other single person.

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BooksAngel
Chatty Knitter

USA
165 Posts

Posted - 11/24/2002 :  08:53:47 AM  Show Profile Send BooksAngel a Private Message
T,

No one has mentioned that for the lucky ones of us old enough to remember, Elizabeth had a pogram on public TV for quite a while. I think that is where the vidios origially started. You can't remember the thrill of flipping channels and finding her program for the first time. Here was a great teacher that made us laugh. Everyone is braver to try something new if it starts with a chuckle.

I just reread "Knitting Without Tear" making new notes and giggling.
When I want to try something new I check her out for advice first.

And, yes, I remember the horror I felt the first time I saw a program where she grabbed big shears and sliced right down the front of a fiished sweater to give it an open front. She says if you try it one time that nothing else in knitting will ever scare you. I have never been that brave or maybe trusting.

Angel



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