Thursday, May 05, 2011


I really enjoy knitting. When I was about 7 I was put on bedrest due to rheumatic fever. I was presented by my mom and my grandmother with just about every craft to keep me occupied . Included in these 'adventures' was learning how to knit. I might have mentioned this before but I have even knitted a royal purple dress when I was in high school. My girls found it from time to time and chuckled over it. I think Marissa or Jocelyn might even have tried it on. Now I just knit for fun. Just yesterday I found a pattern for some infant textured hats and tonight, after a Cinco de Maya dinner with Rose I'm going to get some more yarn for it. I am currently in the middle of my 2nd dragon skin scarf. The first I promised to Cara and the 2nd will go to Marissa. Cara had told me she's always cold and Marissa...well, I just think she needs it for all the walking she insists on doing with Henry.

I enjoy sites like Berroco's Knitbits and a week or so ago, I entered a contest to win one of four numbered and signed letterpress art honoring Elizabeth Zimmermann. The piece is a collaboration between Jessica Spring and Chandler O'Leary, and it was a limited edition. I enter lots of these giveways and then generally forget to check back to see if I have won.
Today, UPS Randy Bott (adding his full name so his computer program will ding him that he's been mentioned again online) who has less than 40 days til he retires, stopped by to drop off a package to me (As well as to check out my succulents and show me how nicely they are propagating and where else to snip them to create well as to tell me to buy root hormone {I'm writing this cuz I am trying to be more like Randy and NOT write down every single thing I want to remember} and to find odd shaped containers or to imagine a container in a different way). I really didn't think I had ordered anything and so I was stunned when I opened it to discover (as Dawn puts it) that I was a 'weiner' of one of these 4 lovely letterpresses.

I am delighted. And do you know who Elizabeth Zimmerman is, the one who is the topic of this piece of art?
Though knitting back and forth on rigid straight needles was the norm, she advocated knitting in the round. using flexible circular needles to produce seamless garments and to make it easier to knit intricate patterns. She also advocated the Continental knitting method, claiming that it is the most efficient and quickest way to knit. During World War II, German or continental knitting fell out of favor in the UK and US due to its association with Germany. Most English-language books on knitting today are in the English or American style. Elizabeth Zimmermann helped to re-introduce continental style knitting to the United States.

Her "EPS" (Elizabeth's Percentage System) is still widely used by designers: it consists of a mathematical formula to determine how many stitches to cast on for a sweater, given that the sleeves and body are usually proportionate no matter what yarn or gauge is used.

I am so NOT a mathematician but I have been taught in small measure about this just before Rebecca Stay moved away. She came by one afternoon to teach me how to knit a sweater for my granddaughter's American Girl doll and it seems that this might be the same method. I just wanted to write down number of stitches and not have to try and do any math. But I still have these scraps of paper because between the math equations are the readable-and-followable-instructions that I can do. Rebecca knits this same sweater for children of all sizes and my grandson, Henry, still wears the lovely green one she knitted for him. Marissa says she will be sad when he outgrows it.

Other patterns and techniques for which she is well known are the so-called "Pi Shawl," a circular shawl that Zimmermann claimed was formed by regularly spaced increases based on Pi -- as she said in her book Knitter's Almanac, "the geometry of the circle hing[es] on the mysterious relationship of the circumference of a circle to its radius. A circle will double its circumference in infinitely themselves-doubling distances, or, in knitters' terms, the distance between the increase-rounds, in which you double the number of stitches, goes 3, 6, 12, 24 and so on." The shawl is not, however, based on Pi in any special way, but only on the property common to all two-dimensional shapes in Euclidean geometry that all dimensions increase by the same factor at the same rate; the circular shape is simply created by regularly spacing the increases). Zimmermann is also known for the "i-cord" (or "idiot cord"), and the "Baby Surprise Jacket," which is knitted completely flat and then folded, origami-style, to create a shaped jacket.

She also founded a series of Knitting Camps that continue to this day under her daughter's direction. (Thank you Wikipedia)

If you've read through to the end, then be it known that I have requested several of these book mentioned and am ready to learn some more about this woman and her knitting patterns.

But for today, Thanks Berroco Knits...I love my surprise.


Sophia C. said...

Knitting is one gift that I've always wanted. The other is playing piano. You excell at them both! LYB!

Lin Floyd said...

glad you are keeping out of!

Dawn Mercedes said...

congrats, wiener!!

Rebecca Holt Stay said...

Tell Marissa to email me what color she wants next, and about what size she'd like for Henry, plus suggestions for buttons, and if she wants the same sweater style, or something different.

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