Dreary winter days give me the remember whens. Remember when we got 18″ of snow the year Tommy was born? Remember that ice storm? Remember eating chili when it snows? (we eat lots of chili) Remember when I started knitting?
Today I was thinking about when I first started knitting things other than squares. I had just two kids some twenty years ago and I was just loving every knitting book I could get my hands on and trying to master more techniques. I was making baby hats for the hospital and trying to master knitting in the round. My mother-in-law gave me Knitting Without Tears by Elizabeth Zimmermann and at the time it kind of blew my mind. I went to the library and checked out her Knitting Workshop videos. I really felt like I wouldn’t ever be as near as good as she was. Then on another trip to the library I stumbled upon The Sweater Workshop book by Jacqueline Fee.
OH! This book was it for me! There was information on how to take any yarn and make whatever you want. Empowerment. Hold on. That’s what Elizabeth Zimmermann always talks about. Jacqueline Fee was connecting the dots between me and EZ.
In this book one of the first suggested projects is to make a Sampler. It helps you to figure out many techniques that you might want to use in a sweater or any project. You practice it and move on to another. It also is something that won’t be worn so you can go nuts on experimenting and if you make a mistake, well…who’s going to know but you? Or of course you can do the proper thing and go back and fix it, like you should. (heh heh).
So I grabbed my yarn and dove in. I discovered a lot of things that day. Wow, I knit loose. I also didn’t want to put the thing down until I had finished every last technique. The family had to starve until I was done. There was no time for laundry. Or housekeeping (or who wants to do that ever?). The place just blew up. Not really. It actually went quickly. My brain was on fire to get to the next step. Do you want to see it?
Such beauty. Such a masterpiece. Oh, such skill.
What?? Is?? That??
My Shelby doesn’t get it. Also these two things are almost the same age…more than 20 years old. They should be friends.
Here are close ups of the steps (remember it was my first time so don’t look too closely):
Knitting in the Round, Knitting garter stitch, stockinette, different ribbings, and adding color:
Color work, pockety thing, decreasing:
Oh, yeah! I signed it:
Anyway, if you are a person who is wondering about making whatever you want without a pattern, want to improve knitting in the round, learning new techniques, figuring out Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Percentage System, want to make a weirdy little thing-y like this PLEASE! Go get this book. It is so great! One other tip is if you do get this book in your hot little hands and it’s not spiral bound, go to Kinko’s or Office Max and see if they will do it. You will be grateful a thousand fold. (sure, sure)
There’s also a cool pattern for Spiral Socks that I made for my very first socks. I can’t find those any more but let me tell you they were blue and pink and just about the coolest socks ever.
There are patterns in the book to follow to make sweaters or you can make your own up with whatever design styles you want. This makes me think of those kid flip books where you could change the characters tops, middles, and bottoms. FUN!
You can also go on Ravelry and explore the Jackie Fee Sweater Group:
You can see other people’s samplers. Yep, they are better than mine.
Here’s a picture of a bunch of them:
They’re ALL better than mine. But I got so much out of this book I can’t even…can’t even. haha
After this I went straight to Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitting Workshop and sat so proudly reading it. I got it. I really got it. That lady was a trail blazer.
Please go try this out! Let me know if you do. Yours will be better than mine, too!
Pretty loose knitting-ly yours,
-Here’s my pot o’gold-this moment!