1.21.2009

I was afraid this would happen...

That's why I put off diving into Elizabeth Zimmerman's work before now.

I suspected, just by what I've read from others who have become Zimmerman devotees (Brooklyn Tweed is the best example of this) that she might prompt an entire knitting agenda in addition to the robust queue I'm already enjoying. Sure enough, she suggests trying to master her seamless techniques by knitting all four (Seamless Yoke, Seamless Raglan, Seamless Saddle-Shouldered, Seamless Hybrid) in order. She reasons...
"If you diligently follow instructions when making the first one, the other three should be duck soup."
I love the idea of "duck soup" which I think of as being able to do something with such complete understanding it becomes essentially effortless and easily adaptable to any notion of design or practicality. I've experienced it with cooking and baking and gardening and grudgingly, sewing so I know it takes real time and energy. Just think what a struggle using computers used to be before we all came to see them as "duck soup"? Once integrated into our lives these things do enrich them and our experiences hence I like the idea of coming to understand how sweater construction really works and feel her approach might be quite a rewarding exercise.

I would have to set that little queue of knits (4 sweaters is no joke!) against the another aspect of my recent reading up  - all the gorgeous patterns that are available, with more coming out every day - not the least of which are Jared Flood's Cabled Gloves (Vogue Knitting Winter edition)! My plan to dedicate January to "Vivian" from the latest Twist Collection has evaporated as I've slogged along with my outstanding WIP's and the longer my queue on Ravelry sits unchanged the more it feels like a sentence rather than a list of real possibilities.

What's a keen knitter to do beyond learning how to stretch the time/space continuum to make every day yield three times the knitting hours?


All the angst aside I do enjoy her writing.  I love the cryptic style without embellishment or apology for an unorthodox point of view. What confidence she wields as she waves established mitten knitters on past the section on mittens. If they're already doing them successfully, she reasons, there'll be nothing of value for her to add.

When I read her words regarding fitting a sweater... 
"The important thing is the body-width you want, and the best way to ascertain this is to lay your favourite sweater out flat and measure it."
I thought of all the posts I've lapped up from Interweave's Sandi Wiseheart on fit and ease and their terrific galleries that show the same knit on different body types. I pored over them last year, struggling to understand how big to make a sweater for myself. EZ kind of sums it all up in a sentence. 

I also had a bunch of other moments of sudden clarity as I recognized design elements I thought were utterly new but I found were concepts she wrote about in the 60's.  (Seamless and top down construction, fake side seams on seamless sweaters, afterthought heels - they're all in there - copyright 1971.)

So I love the book and its got me freaking out about time and queue - all just as I suspected - now to do something about it!

As a first step towards resolving this I'm going to show the red knitted curse scarf to the Knit Doctor at tonight's DKC meeting. Maybe she can tell me whether the wavy edges will relax with blocking or whether I should just bale on the project before I waste any more time with it. I'll work towards finishing the second sock with gauge issues on the subway to and from the meeting as well as during the lecture. I also need to reexamine my Ravelry queue and do some editing. Meanwhile I'll continue to think about undertaking the "Zimmerman Four" or more accurately how I can integrate them into my knitting life without having to bale on all my other knitting dreams for the next six months.
 

3 comments:

Lorraine said...

You should get some of her dvd's, which are alot of fun and very informative.

Brenda said...

" a sentence rather than a list of real possibilities" How well you put that. My stash, my queue and my closet full of sweaters all feel that way to me at times. That is the reason I gave away some of my sweaters this past fall. the quantity in the closet was keeping me from feeling free to make new ones.

Rae said...

ah yes, EZ. I just finished a Tomten jacket for Elliot -- have been meaning to post it but of course there are about 10 other things in line ahead of it to go up on the blog. I am not as hard-core as either you or my sister when it comes to knitting, but EZ has such an awesome philosophy that it's easy to see why she is the patron saint of knitting.

I've enjoyed reading your thoughts on project organization as well -- I often feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of projects I want to do and have going at any given time. It's nice to hear how you are working through those issues.