Daily Archives: November 24, 2010

Speaking of Elizabeth Zimmerman (Book Review)

I’ve been doing a bit of Elizabeth Zimmerman knitting lately, so I was extra supportive of having a look at an EZ commemorative edition for a book review. The folks at Dover sent me over a review copy of the Knitter’s Almanac, revived in full-colour hard back form for a fall 2010 release, on the occasion of her 100th birthday (or would have been 100th, were she alive today). It’s a lovely edition, and worth considering, I would say, particularly in the gift-giving season that quickly approaches.


The patterns in here are identical to those found in the original edition of the Knitter’s Almanac (published 1974), and include a few favourites like the Pi Shawl (that I’m currently working on and starting to see the end of), mitred mittens, and even a pattern for knitted leggings (or, “nether garment”) which in some moments I consider casting on for because seriously, hand-knitting leggings. Totally what winter ordered up. (Possibly also: extreme motivation to never gain weight and maintain current size forever and ever.)

There are a few new things in this edition, most notably the inclusion of colour photographs (many new altogether) of finished items, which is a remarkable change from the black & white photos and might well help many knitters view these patterns in modern context. Another is the re-printing of the adapted free online pattern for the “February Lady Sweater,” which you might find helpful in print form just in case you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t encountered one of the thousands of online knitters who have already knitted one of these.

I came only recently to the discovery of who Elizabeth Zimmerman was and what her contributions to the knitting world were like. My own knitting life has happened in a world which did not include her living presence. And so what I like the most about this revised edition, is the inclusion of a written preface by Meg Swansen (Elizabeth Zimmerman’s daughter), an Introduction by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (The Yarn Harlot), and a letter to Elizabeth Zimmerman by Barbara Walker, both in praise of Elizabeth and her writing. Because of course, she wasn’t just writing patterns, she was writing to knitters about bringing confidence and self-assertion to their knitting lives.

So while the book itself has been glitzed up a bit in this commemorative edition, in a snazzier and sturdier hard-back edition, the purpose is entirely the same as it always has been. I rather like how Stephanie describes it in her introduction: “My own love of knitting and my belief that it was clever and worthy was reflected in those pages. I believed then, and I believe now that knitting is so much more than it appears, so much more than the sum of its parts.”

Thanks, Elizabeth! And happy 100th birthday.


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