Friday, 27 April 2007

A word about EZ, and other things too

Quite a long post here. I thought that today - as the sock continues, and the raglan continues, and Exchequered continues - I would respond to some of the comments, in particular those regarding Elizabeth Zimmermann's books.

Until I discovered the existence of the online knitting community, I had never heard of Elizabeth Zimmermann.

I just used to knit - rather a lot, actually. That hasn't changed. I would go down to one of the local wool shops (there were at least four in my little town, all closed long ago, sadly) pick some yarn and a pattern, and go home and knit. Alone. My mother was the only other person that I knew who knitted - and the ladies in the wool shops of course, who were always interested in seeing finished garments.

But gradually the little wool shops all closed down. After that, I bought my yarn mail order, from a company called Falcon - does anyone else remember them? - until the catalogue stopped arriving, because they too had closed down. I had discovered Rowan by now, in my local John Lewis store, and that was a revelation in itself. But I was still working one project at a time, with maybe the yarn for one more stored away.

And then I found Knitty, and everything changed. There were lots and lots of other knitters out there! And they all liked to chat about knitting! And help each other, and learn from each other! And there were lots and lots of online yarn shops! And there were other online forums too....

It was like a door being opened - I learned so much. (And bought so much more yarn! - but that's another story...)

I had been knitting at this point for more than 40 years - my favourites were aran work, intarsia and fair isle. I hadn't tried knitting with the yarn in my left hand. I didn't know combination knitting existed. I hadn't tried lace knitting - well, of course I had knitted baby shawls in lace patterns, and whitework bed covers, lace cardigans and so forth - but not the really fine stuff, not proper Shetland lace, in fact I had no idea that the yarns and patterns were even available. And the idea of knitting socks had never even crossed my mind.

I learned about all these things from the online community.

And I also learned about Elizabeth Zimmermann.

It is truly a cliche to say, where have you been all my life? But this really is how I felt. Her style is conversational, and her whole message is that you can do this. And more than that - you don't need anyone to tell you how to do it. Which is how I feel about knitting, too.

Her writing is precise and, to my mind, elegant. She is economical with her words - she doesn't use a long sentence where a short one will do. Her 'Pithy Directions' are a case in point here. She treats you like an intelligent person - she explains what you are going to do (and why) - tells you how - and leaves you to it. Wonderful.

Please, don't be afraid of her books. She only wrote four of them - Knitting Without Tears; Knitters Almanac; Knitting Workshop; and Knitting Around. They are nothing like modern pattern books, although they do contain lots of patterns - rather, they are intended as something that you can sit down to read and enjoy. I started with Knitters Almanac: I read it slowly and with great pleasure. It's not just knitting - by the end of the book, you feel that you know this lady. Little things about her life are included, all the way through. Really, it is a wonderful read.

Knitting Without Tears - well, I wish I had discovered it years ago. In fact, I believe I will re-read it before I start the new books. This was her first knitting book, and every page is full of little gems of information. Never, ever does she fail to explain. She tells you precisely how - she tells you why - and you find that you can.

My own knitting continues.

Trekking XXL is lovely to work with, the yarn is very smooth, and kind to the hands. And the colour changes are gorgeous! It may be childish to be so fascinated by this, but really, it is fun. I keep looking at my work, and at the ball, and trying to see what it's going to do next. And guessing wrongly, let me tell you. No colour repeats here, none at all.

Colour #100 is - well, maybe not famous, perhaps ubiquitous is a better word. It's the colourway that everyone seemed to be working on, a little while back. And as usual, my picture doesn't do it justice. This is really, really pretty. DH says it is quite psychedelic. I think he means that it is bright, which is definitely true.

The raglan now has one whole sleeve, so I'm on the last stretch, finally. Today I will spend some time weaving in ends, and get the second sleeve well on it's way.

Exchequered is still growing - it is past the half way point now, which feels like something of an achievement. When this is done, I will be able to cast on for the Kidsilk Stole. I am looking forward to that!

What else....

Diana Gabaldon's books - if you haven't discovered them yet, then you have a treat in store for you. I was extremely sceptical about them initially - I didn't read 'books like that'! I suggest that you start with the first one - 'Cross Stitch' here in the UK, and 'Outlander' in the US. Same book, just the title is different. I must add here that I think the US title is much, much better - I really cannot see where the UK title came from. Anyway, recommended.

The house - I wrote a letter, and it had an effect. We seem to be back on track. So far, we can't quite believe this - it seems too good to be true.

The boat is now at its destination, and my husband is back home again, which is wonderful.

And I did get the grease stain out of the tshirt in the end - thankyou so much for all your tips, I will know how to deal with it next time!

1 comment:

Bronte said...

Agree completely with your EZ comments! She is the perfect knitting grandmother or mentor, and I want to be her when I grow up. :-)

So happy to read the house is still on track, too. Will keep everything crossed for you, though I know it won't be real for you til you've got the front door keys in your hand!