Monday, October 27, 2008

elizabeth zimmerman

well, i've gone and done it. i bought my first elizabeth zimmerman books. up until this point i had been able to resist the EZ hypnotism. i checked out my first EZ book from the library while i was still a pretty green knitter. the only book of hers my library carried was 'knitting without tears', so that's the one i got. *it wasn't until much later that i realized my small town library had no good knitting books, and that if i wanted to get my hands on them without buying, i'd have to get them on loan from other libraries*. i had heard that if you wanted to learn to knit, 'knitting without tears' was a most valuable resource, but when i opened the book, i discovered that i already knew most of the skills covered in the beginning of the book and i became impatient. like so many novice knitters, i was consumed with passing the "beginner" phase of knitting and moving on to bigger and better things. dissapointed, i returned the book to the library. maybe i didn't give it enough of a chance.

after my first few years of knitting, we finally got the internet and i quickly found and joined ravelry. i was amazed to find so many groups there devoted to everything EZ. but my breaking point was, of course, the baby surprise jacket. as soon as i saw it, i fell in love and i wanted more. after looking up where i could find the bsj pattern, i asked my library to find 'the opinionated knitter' for me.

i had no idea what the book was about when i requested it, but before the book was due back i had read it cover to cover. i knew i was addicted. i've always enjoyed reading patterns to get a feel for them, but most are written so complicated that unless you have the knitting in your hands, you'd never be able to visualize the process.

not only are most of EZ's patterns only one paragraph long, you can actually understand them! even with her longer patterns, like her myriad of sweaters, i was able to learn so much from! i've always wanted to knit an adult sweater but have been terrified to try. with her writing style and ability to simplify everything, she takes out the intimidation factor and makes the process easier to understand. i could ramble about her all day long, but the truth is, until you read one of her books for yourself, you'll never really understand the hype. you can read about an innovater all day long, but to understand them, you need to see it for yourself.

about half way through 'the opinionated knitter', i knew i wanted to own it. not only own it, i wanted to start my collection of elizabeth zimmerman books. as luck would have it, i got my knit picks newsletter shortly thereafter announcing their 40% sale on all in-stock books for the month of october!!! i never have such great luck! i am now the proud new owner of 'the opinionated knitter', 'the knitter's almanac' and 'knitting workshop'!! i had a hard time choosing which books to get, but i can always get them from the library and buy them later if i love them.

on a semi-related note- my son was finally accepted into a preschool *yes, this late* about three weeks ago, and this brought up a strange dillema for me. since i'm now driving him to school in the early morning hours i've realized how important it is to have a good pair of mittens!! and i have none!!! since i knew there were mitten patterns in 'the knitter's almanac' i decided to start swatching while i waited for my books to arrive in the mail. i wanted to use handspun yarn and since i didn't have any on hand i decided to do the unthinkable.... i frogged the yarn over cable socks!!

i never fell in love with the combination of the ultra-textured yarn over cable pattern and the short color repeats in the autumnal yarn; that stitch pattern would be much better suited with a solid or semi solid yarn. but i fell hard for the autumnal yarn! the roving was much more expensive then i ever pay (if i remember correctly it was around $40 for 8 ounces) but when i saw it, i knew i needed it! and i fell equally hard for the high twisted navajo-plied sock weight that it ended up as! so throughout the knitting of the yarn over cable socks, it had crossed my mind more than a few times that if i knit mittenswith it, i would be able to drool over the yarn every time i wore them!! it was decided.

by the time the books arrived, my gauge was measured and i was anxiously waiting to cast on!
i did a little math to revise the pattern as my yarn was slightly thinner than the pattern called for, but the pattern's so simple, i only had to change the number of stitches cast on, nothing else! after browsing through the many mitered mitten projects on ravelry, i noticed that a lot of people had used thumb gusset modification instead of the "afterthought" thumb that EZ did. some people call it the "sore thumb mod" describing the original as uncomfortable. so i decided to save myself any further frustration and go this way the first time- as opposed to going with the original (which calls for knitting the entire mitten and then cutting and unraveling stitches to pick up thumb stitches) and then finding out i didn't like it after all, which is what i would normally do!

so after a few *first tries* of knitting the mitten way too long- around half way to my elbow- i've just barely finished the thumb gusset on my first mitten and am hoping it all goes much faster from here on out!! especially since i'm reminded how urgent the situation is every morning while trying to drive and use fine motor skills!!

oh, yes, and i have started another new project that's taking the backseat until my mittens are done... updates to come soon!!

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