2013: My EZ year in notes

2013: My EZ year in notes

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts (both here and over at the DHY blog), I have decided to focus much of my 2013 knit-reading on Elizabeth Zimmermann and her amazing knitting unventions and ideas. Each month of this year I will read one of her books (in publication order) as well as work at least one design based on her ideas.

Here is the list of books, in publication order, that I’ll be reading over this next year:

  1. Knitting Without Tears – 1971 — KWT
  2. My EZ collection of books and newsletters

    My EZ collection of books and newsletters

  3. Knitter’s Almanac: Projects for Each Month of the Year – 1974 — KA; there is a commemorative edition (which I just purchased) that is hard-cover and in color (and, IMHO, well worth the upgraded price) published in 2010
  4. Knitting Workshop – 1981 — KW
  5. Knitting Around – 1989 — KA
  6. The Opinionated Knitter: EZ Newsletters 1958-1968 – published posthumously in 2005 — OK
  7. Knit One, Knit All: EZ’s Garter Stitch Designs – published posthumously in 2011 — KOKA
  8. I also own a few of the semi-annual “Wool Gathering” – EZ’s newsletter with designs, book reviews and other fun tidbits. I have #31, #34, #38, #44, #45, #46, #48, and #49 — WG. [BTW, these past issues of Wool Gathering, as well as all the books listed above, are available thru Meg Swansen’s website.]

    Can you tell I’m a BIG fan of EZ and her knitting style?

    The very first knitting book I ever owned was a brand-new copy of the KWT … my mom gave it to me for Christmas in 1971. I had that copy for years, until it fell apart, and purchased a new edition about 10 years ago.

    KWT, the first published and my first exposure to EZ, was my read for January. I love her simplicity and directness, her opinionated-ness and her creativity. In this her first book, the reader gets a “license” to knit the way is best for the knitter. Whether you hold the yarn in your left hand (continental) or throw the yarn with your right (American/British) … as long as you are making the stitches properly, enjoying the outcome, and creating an item to fit, there is no problem. As a 10yo who was just two years into my knitting adventures, this was AWESOME to read. She described always knitting in the round and dared to say that seams are a pain and should be avoided! EZ was speaking to my knitting-heart.

    A couple of notes when reading EZ:

    • her patterns are chatty and not detailed in exact directions; much of her work is based on getting a good gauge and working with that to determine number of sts to cast on, bind off, or whatever. She gives you generalities to get you working on your own, to get you to become a thinking knitter.
    • EZ’s gauge on worsted weight is always 5 sts to the inch; when I knit with worsted on #7 or #8, I obtain somewhere between 4 and 4.5 stitches to the inch; I think 5sts in worsted is too stiff. I don’t need to change my gauge to fit EZ’s. Mine is fine as long as I remember to re-do the math based on MY gauge, not hers.
    • EZ was a thrifty woman — to keep costs down on her publications, they contain black/white illustrations and hand-drawn graphics. The only exception to this are the books EZ’s daughter, Meg Swansen, published posthumously (the OK and the KOKA books).
    • The picture quality is not always of the best and can be off-putting in this age of digital photography. Don’t let the archaic-ness fool you — these books don’t need fancy illustrations; just read, and I’m sure you’ll agree.

    • in the older books and Wool-Gatherings, fashion dictated a slimmer silhouette than current; also there is no shaping in her knits. By the time you’re done with even the very first book, you’ll have the tools to adapt any of her patterns to make them fuller and/or more shapely.
    • Design notes: I just finished a sweater for HamBone (14 and taller than I now) that utilized EZ’s rather cryptic description of a seamless, set-in sleeve. Tomorrow, I will post design notes about how I did the sleeve, using EZ’s instructions, to make a sleeve that not only looks good, it also fits nicely and I didn’t have to SEAM! LOVE it … and HamBone does too.

      So have you read any EZ? What do you think of her work and her unventions? How has EZ affected your knitting? If you’ve never heard or her, or never liked what she wrote, why? Can I help explain something. Leave me a comment and I’ll be happy to address these in a later “EZ Notes” post.

      Next month: Knitter’s Almanac: Projects for Each Month of the Year!

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