Barbara Walker once said that Elizabeth Zimmerman was , “….one of America’s most ingenious and creative knitters.” I would add that she was not only ingenious and creative, but was able to take her passionate opinions and write about them in a captivating, delightful style. She is known for her ‘pithy’ comments and the ability to teach us to relax and find joy in the simple act of knitting. If I had to choose one knitter, and only one, to mentor me from the scores of awesome knitters that have graced themselves amongst us it would be ELIZABETH ZIMMERMAN.
Resolved. The knitting resolution that I am putting before me in 2011 will be to walk in Elizabeth’s shadow and learn from her. Although I long to tackle one of her brilliant and timeless sweaters, I will stay true to finishing the sweaters on my needles and focus only on her smaller projects until my UFOs are done. And, I did that very thing yesterday afternoon on a cold and blustery day. I curled up on my bed with ALL of her books and decided that I would give one of her hats a go.
I rummaged through stash and located some Lamb’s Pride Bulky weight yarn in charcoal gray. With Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitter’s Almanac beside me, I pulled out a pair of 16″ Addi Turbo circulars in size 9 and cast on GANOMY. Four garter ridges later I was completely captivated by this ingenious design.
GANOMY is a silly looking, whimsical hat. GANOMY reminds me of a Spanish Conquistador helmet but the design is purely one of functionality. The hat is made with thick wool (4 stitches to 1 inch) and is constructed using a miter principle. In Elizabeth’s words, “Now, caps rarely cover the ears adequately unless provided with earflaps for this purpose; one is constantly dragging them down over the ears.” So her solution to keeping ears warm was to build two down-pointing miters into the sides of the cap.
The Ganomy Hat is an elfish looking hat and the original had a pointed crown with a tassel, like this one. I was not sure if I had sufficient yarn to knit so tall of a hat so I modified the pattern to give a more rounded crown. Although, when I where this hat it still has a cute pointed appearance even those this picture gives the impression that it is very round. I won’t bore you with the technique I used for they can be found on my Ravelry project page.
I found joy in the simple act of knitting miters. The whole mitering experience sent me hunting for another Zimmerman mitered pattern. I’m anxious to get started on a pair of mitered mittens from this gorgeous red/pink/brown Noro Silk Garden. I love Noro colors and from experience know that simply watching those colors change will keep me enthralled with the most boring of patterns, NOT that I’m anticipating the Mitered Mittens to be a boring pattern!
What did I learn from Elizabeth? I learned a lot about left leaning decreases, right leaning decreases, left leaning increases and right leaning increases or in other words, how to miter. I learned intuitively to know which one to do in its appropriate place and why it is done that way. I think I even learned to trust my instincts!
What brought a smile to my face and helped me not to be such a perfectionist?
“Do not feel that you are in any way obliged to possess perfect sets of four needles. Emergency and experiment have taught me that a very motley quartet will finish off a hat quite adequately………Try out your own reactions to such unorthodox tools and conditions; you may surprise and please yourself.”
Elizabeth Zimmerman, The Knitter’s Almanac