Sunday, October 17, 2010

slowly but surely...

It may appear to some folks, that there has been no further progress on my EZ mitts. This project had many false starts, then there was an issue of working out the numbers, I really should have paid more attention in math class. So, once I figured out how to count, these mittens are starting to take shape.

The next challenge will be the thumb gusset since it involves more math and more counting...

Saturday, October 2, 2010


Ah, Elizabeth, how I adore your writing.
EZ's books are the ones I turn to again and again to read for pleasure - yes, even the patterns. The instructions are wonderful to read, so natural. It's like having EZ there chatting away to you over a cup of tea.
As for the knitting, well, there's something very exciting about casting on and starting a pattern with a curious construction that I can't really visualise until I've made it.

Baby Surprise Jacket
Baby Surprise Jacket, Rowan Wool Cotton

It's like going on a knitting adventure.
With most patterns, I like to have a clear picture of what's going to happen, but I find that that isn't always possible with Elizabeth's, and it's a case of knitting blind instead. The extreme sports of knitting, if you will.

Of course, it's not always like that, and some patterns are so simple and intuitive that you wonder why you need a pattern. For those, Elizabeth has her more basic instructions. Either way, everything is to be determined by you - yarn weight, colours, adding patterns or designs, and the needles that you need to use to get gauge. I especially love this. And hate it too.

February Baby Sweater
February Baby Sweater, Rowan Felted Tweed, Gull pattern omitted.

There seems to be this idea that there's a magical knitter out there who always 'gets gauge' with the recommended needle size given. That's nonsense. The needle sizes and gauge given in a pattern are based on what the designer or test knitters used. They're a good guess about what size will work for the average person. But really, you need to use a needle size that gets you the gauge given in the pattern, not the needle size that the designer used. As an example, I knit most socks on a 2.5mm needle, because that's what works for me. Others use 2mm needles as standard, or 2.25mm. They are all correct. I love that EZ forces you to go and find the needle size that gives you the gauge you need, rather than telling you.

This is also why I hate it. I like having a starting point. I'm also lazy about swatching. Ravelry is great, as I can find someone who has made what I want to make, using the yarn I want to use, and I can see their needle size and go from there. I also know the needles that work for me for different yarn thicknesses, and might start there too. All of which is probably the right way to be going about it, now I think of it. So I retract my dislike, and instead thank Elizabeth for making me do the right thing.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Perfect Pi Shawl

It's done! It's done!
I've finally finished the Pi Shawl, and it's fantastic!
The edging took almost as long as the shawl, but in the end it's totally worth it.
Here it is pre-blocking. I think it measured approx 45" across:

I put it into a bath of Soak to get it nice & clean & wet to block it, and look what happened!
The red dye came POURING out of the yarn! My heart was in my mouth that I was after ruining it, after all the hard work!
Thankfully it doesn't seem to be any worse for the wear:
*sigh* Isn't it beautiful? It's not perfect, but I love it. It measures approx 52" after blocking. I ran out of yarn again after buying my extra wheel, so I gave up approx 3/4 of the way through the 576 pattern repeat and just began the edging.
Pattern: Pi Shawl by Elizabeth Zimmermann from Knitters Almanac
Yarn: Ístex Plotulopi Unspun Icelandic, 4 wheels of brown & 2 wheels of red
Needles: 4.5mm Addi Clicks and dpn
My only comment is that I couldn't close the hole in the centre after Emily Ockers cast on, as the Unspun Icelandic just came apart in my hand when I tried to pull it. So, it has an extra design feature in the centre. :)
A true labour of love project, but I'm going to be lovely & warm watching the tv this winter!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

February Baby Cardigan

There was less swearing once I got into knitting it.

And it's finished,
February Cardigan

I have to say it was a bit of a trial occasionally and is a prime example of having to read the pattern several times before launching yourself at it. Buttonholes are necessaryand you need to be thinking of them almost from the off. I used Weezalana's notes a lot while knitting and did knit the sleeves in the round as well. Once you get into the swing of the pattern it is relatively easy.

This is for my cousin's baby who was born this week. It's knit in James C Bret's Pure Merino, a machine washable yarn, the buttons are from my stash. I hope she likes it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pi Progression

Can you believe, I ran out of yarn, again? Unbelievable.
I decided enough was enough, and that the shawl was big enough as it is. I was about halfway through the second section of the final repeat, so I called it a day and began the edging.
What do you think?:

I know it doesn't look like much. I'm really hoping it opens up with blocking as it feels denser than the shawl body.
This is how much I've done. I guess about a quarter? It's not too bad, but the turning every row is a bit annoying.

Monday, September 13, 2010


I tend to accidentally run into things when it comes to knitting and my first encounter with the Zimmerman dynasty was way back in my days as a baby knitter. For a few weeks back in the early 90's I discovered this magic lady on PBS who knew more than one cast-on and loads of other tricks which were way beyond me at the time... especially since I wasn't studying knitting at university (obviously there was a flaw in the career counseling services at my secondary school). Turns out it was Meg Swanson and oh how I cherished those hours of procrastination we spent together.

Years later I finally received my first EZ book and while I've dabbled with a few baby surprises, most of them have been given away. Except the one I think is too ugly...

Or the February Sweater that is just too cute!

So I'm off on my first Knitting Elizabeth project. While there are no set rules, I've set myself some guidelines just to get going...

1) Pick something you will finish (I'm notoriously bad at completing things... still feel bad about my abysmal Ravelympic performance back in 2008);
2) Use the stash; and
3) Learn something new.

So with a trip home to Canada right around the corner I set off with some Mitered Mittens from the Knitter's Almanac. The goal is to finish these before I head home and get a couple of weeks out of them before my Mom or sister steal them.

I wanted to use the i-cord cast-on but 2 steps seemed like a pain, but them I found this one step technique which I modified with a provisional cast-on so I can graft the cord.

I'm knitting them up in Cascade220 that I received in the Irish Knitter's Christmas swap almost 2 years ago so I get to try some new wool and use the stash!

So 2 out 3 goals completed. Now we'll see if I actually finish them...

Sunday, September 12, 2010


I've finished the Ribwarmer from Elizabeths' Knitting Workshop. It was an interesting project and it does meet at the back, When knitting it I knit one row before changing colours on the opposite side which meant that it lined up properly, otherwise I would have had the reverse of the fabric to the front for the second half. I think it would look even better in a heavily variegated yarn with a plain dark yarn. Still this was in some leftovers I had around, I'm sure Elizabeth would be proud! It now needs some washing.
Ribwarmer finished

crossposted to my knitting blog

The February Baby Cardigan

I know that Elizabeth calls it a sweater but it's a cardigan.

I've cast it on twice so far and then went away and did grocery shopping to avoid having to scream at it.

This is for a special baby. My cousin had a baby, it appears that this baby has some development issues. This is my cousin who lost her mother, a knitter, to Breast Cancer, the first grandchild in that family. Her mother would have been knitting like a mad thing to fill the child's wardrobe with beautiful knitted objects.

I have two balls of James C Brett Pure Merino (machine washable!) and a plan to knit the February baby cardigan out of it. Only it's not cooperating. This time I'm starting, it's not getting buttonholes, I'll crochet them on later. Hopefully this time, oh please let it happen this time, that I won't end up with 20 stitches more than I need when I get to the third repeat.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Open-Collared Pullover from Knitter's Almanac

[Partially crossposted to my blog.]

My very first Elizabeth Zimmermann project!

Knitting! Brilliant, isn't it?

I've noticed that of all the crafts I do, knitting tends to take a back seat in the summer months. I really haven't touched any of my WIPs since May or so. This past while, I've mostly been sewing, but I've been feeling the yarny yearning, big time.

So as soon as I heard about this blog, I knew I wanted in.

That up there is my beginning: I'm making the Open-Collared Pullover from Knitter's Almanac – one of just two books I own by the great woman (I'm on the lookout for more, as soon as I can justify a book-spree).

All kinds of firsts here, for me

  • I'm making myself a plain jumper, in plain black wool. (Seriously, look at it. It's like, "how much more black could this be?" and the answer is none. None more black.)

  • I'm working the top-down version - my first top-down raglan, in fact.

  • I've learned EZ's "invisible casting on" (it's really, really fast once you get the hang of it).

  • I'll allegedly be steeking later on. (Steeking! The Fear!)

  • Despite how much I luff her, this is also my very first EZ project. I've read Knitter's Almanac and Knitting Without Tears cover to cover, because they're so fabulous and gorgeous (particularly suitable for those three-hour middle-of-the-night newborn feeds, I found), but that's as far as I've gone until now.

  • Not a first: I'll be adding some torso shaping, and I may do something exciting with the sleeves, depending on how the yarn stocks hold out.


    One reason I love Elizabeth Zimmermann so much is because I'm an utter construction geek (I'm talking trembling glee), and as we know, Elizabeth does construction.

    Detail of open-collared pullover start: collar

    This little bit you see here is the start of a double-thickness collar, worked in the round on an invisble cast-on that will later be Kitchenered shut. How cool is that? My knitting currently resembles nothing even vaguely familiar, but I can tell that as soon as I do the steeking, it will all resolve itself into a coherent and beautiful jumper.

    I'm making it, incidentally, in Jaeger Matchmaker merino aran 100% wool, from stash, which I picked up at the Knitting and Stitching Show a few years ago.

    It's not much as yet, and it's less than it oughta be, too, because I went and Möbiused my first attempt.

    Which brings us to today's lesson

    Or at least, it was a lesson for me. I offer it here in case it saves you some frustration.

    See, I was so sure I hadn't arsed up. I did the cast-on, all 152 stitches, and I was super-careful not to twist as I joined it up. So far so good.

    Then I knit my first two rounds as instructed, and set off on the collar decreases.

    It was only after five or six rows that I began to suspect all was not right. Sure enough, Herr Möbius had paid me a visit, and I was knitting merrily away at a topographical oddity.

    But how?

    With just the hint of a grim set to my jaw, I frogged the lot, cast on again (I was getting pretty handy at the new method by now), joined up with obsessive care, and knit my first round.

    I was dead suspicious this time. Nothing was going to get past me – because having to do it all a third time would've got me really riled.

    Lucky thing, too.

    Because when I got to the end of the first round, I checked again, and I found that even assuming I'd joined correctly, that joining stitch – the one that tends to get pulled way long for the first couple of rounds – had managed to twist around the needle, causing (a) a phantom 153rd stitch, and (b) an impending Möbius situation.

    Tricksy, tricksy knitting.

    But I got the better of it.

    This is how we're looking this morning

    Open-collared pullover in progress: 12cm knit

    12-ish centimetres knit, raglan increases well under way. My hands are readjusting to the muscular demands of somewhat feverish oh-just-one-more-round-then-it's-not-even-midnight knitting.

    Happy autumn!

    Sunday, September 5, 2010

    Ever Increasing Circles

    Partially cross posted from my blog:

    My Pi Shawl progresses. I'm on to the last pattern repeat, 576 stitches. It's a behemoth now, each round takes forever:

    It's really hard to photograph it, as it's all bunched up on the circular needles.
    I think you get the idea of the pattern here:
    As with almost all projects, I've run into a snag. This is all the yarn I have left in this colour:

    Nowhere near enough. I do have 3 wheels in red & I was planning on doing the border in that colour, but I don't even think I've enough for the last repeat.
    Now I guess I've two options:
    1. Knit until I run out & then start the edging
    2. Knit until I run out & continue in red to the end of the pattern repeat & then do the edging.
    2. Order another wheel from The Yarn Room. It's only €5.95 and postage is free.
    I have to admit, I'm loath to buy another wheel. I'm really trying to not spend any more on yarn before my holidays. I know it's only €5.95, but it's the principle.
    I think I'll settle for No. 1 and knit until I run out. No 2 would most likely look rubbish.
    If I'd planned it better, I suppose I could have alternated the colours between repeats, but hey, that's foresight & good planning, two things that I am not known for!
    Good knitting!

    Saturday, September 4, 2010

    Ribwarmer Start

    So before the schoolkids went back this week, it was starting to get cool and my mind drifted to waistcoats and other relatively warm stuff. Travelling to work daily on a motorbike means that season changes are pretty obvious stuff.

    I saw the Ribwarmer Waistcoat(Ravelry Link) in Knitting Workshop (one of the four Elizabeth books I have and one of the three I can currently find) and thought it would be a good thing to start with

    Earlier today I took a shot of my progress

    ribhugger start

    it's all in garter stitch and I'm starting to wonder how I'll get the reverse side working. It's also strange as I'm finding that I have to keep bringing my attention back to the knitting and making sure I don't accidentally do the wrong thing, I'm reminded of Tara Jon Manning and her discussions of Mindful Knitting and how being mindful of what your're doing is a good thing. I'm powering along with this and I'm on the back stretch of it. I'm enjoying it. I'm also finding myself having to avoid thinking about the next project because I want to enjoy what I'm doing. I love the simplicity of the pattern, you knit straight, then turn, straight, turn, straight and cast off, and then you have half of it knit, you knit a second and sew them up the back.

    However the next project has to have something other than garter stitch, between this and a piece of test knitting I'm doing I need something more.

    I'm using some leftover aran yarn from some other projects, the white is quite old and the blue is leftover from my Mr Greenjeans. It's quite old and old-style yarn. I think Elizabeth might approve.

    Crossposted to my knitting blog here

    Sunday, August 29, 2010

    EZ knitting for the very first time...

    I learned how to knit in 1985, and only first heard of Elizabeth Zimmerman in 2005. Two of her books have been sitting on my bookshelf untouched and unread until last week, when Twitter was a tweetin' about an EZ KAL and this group blog.

    My first EZ project is the Norwegian Mittens from Knitter's Almanac:

    From my yarn stash: Sublime Angora Merino
    Needle size: 4.0mm

    After many false starts, the first cuff is well underway but the fluffiness of this yarn is driving me insane as the fluffy bits infiltrate my nose and must not wear black when knitting.

    Saturday, August 28, 2010

    Icelandic Pi Shawl

    Ok, here I go with my first new KnittingElizabeth project.

    It took me a while to decide on which one to start, there are so many EZ projects I want to make!
    I have wanted to make a Pi Shawl for a while, though. And I had bought this yarn specially for it, so I decided now was the time.

    I'm using Ístex Plotulopi Unspun Icelandic yarn, with two strands held together. This gave me a gauge of 3 sts to 1" using 4.5mm needles. I'm using my Addi Clicks for this.

    Off I went, and to be honest, it's been flying along:

    I think it looks great:

    I've used a little over half of my first wheel (I have 3) and I'm up to 288 sts.

    I decided to use the "Three Lace Patterns For Shawl" directions from Knitters Almanac, just to add a bit of interest.
    I plan to use this as a lap blanket for snuggling up on the sofa watching tv (and knitting of course) during the winter.

    The only thing I'll say about the yarn is that IT SHEDS. I mean lots of hairs. It's like I have my old dog back at home with me. My advice is to not wear black while knitting with it!

    So that's my first Knitting Elizabeth project, I hope to have some more progress to report soon.

    Good knitting!

    Thursday, August 26, 2010

    Back 2 School

    It's late August. The sun is starting to fall below the horizon earlier. The rain is starting to pelt us a bit. The wind is chillier. All signs that it's ... back to school time! I had this idea of bringing myself back to school in a knitty way - and who better to guide you through how to knit everything than the great Elizabeth Zimmermann herself? I thought that if I just knit everything in one of her books, that then, then I would know so much more about knitting, that I would have a qualification, of sorts.

    I hadn't even heard of EZ until last year, when the Brilliant Becca told me about her (thank you! I miss you!). She lent me her copy of The Opinionated Knitter, and by the time I'd returned home from Wednesday-morning-knitting-group that day, I'd been online and ordered myself some EZ-for-me. I got the Almanac first (above) and Knitting Without Tears (below). I love the idea of the Almanac the most - your knitting year laid out before you, all neat and tidy. This was the book I wanted to work through the most, but I was (as were the other blogging contributors here, who I approached very swiftly when the idea of Zimmerversity struck) daunted by the fact that January's project = an Aran sweater. Oh! The complex and fiery relationship us modern Irish knitters bear with that garment!

    So, we blew the idea wi-ide open. A few clicks later, there was a blogspot set up. We're still adding contributors, so if you want to knit some stuff from EZ's books, and throw up a few pictures and words about it here, fire a comment below!

    Rules are stressful and crap, so here are the anti-rules:

    1. you should have access to a book or pattern by EZ
    2. there's no time limit for knitting anything - take as long as you like to join in
    3. there's no specific order of garments - knit what you like from whatever book you like, whenever
    4. there's no rule about x amount of posts - post once a month, or twice a day - whatever
    5. shove your nickname in your post as a 'label' (down at the bottom, in the little box) so they're all collected nicely in the sidebar

    Take your seats, open your books, sharpen those needles - class is now in session. 

    Wednesday, August 25, 2010

    How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

    I heart EZ. Obviously.

    Why do I love her so much? Well, she liberated me. Before I discovered her, I was a newish knitter, terrified to deviate from a pattern, and not truly understanding what I was doing. All I knew was that if I followed a pattern to the letter, my chances of my finished project looking like the photo were approx 70%.

    Then I heard of EZ on Ravelry and everything changed. I had to find out more! I bought the Knitters Almanac whilst on holidays in the US and I was hooked. I loved her conversational style, and her "pithy" directions. Once you understood what you were doing, you were free! You could change anything, add anything and your garment would fit YOU.

    I added to my EZ library fairly rapidly. I got Knitting Without Tears, The Opinionated Knitter, Knitting Workshop (book & DVD) and possibly my favourite, Knitting Around (book & DVD).

    I remember watching the Knitting Workshop DVD and following her step by step. I paused the DVD and cast on for my Colourwork hat as a swatch for my sweater:

    This was my first ever piece of stranded colourwork. It's not great, but it was a start.
    I never got around to making the sweater at the time, but I watched the DVDs over & over.

    The next thing I made was a sweater for my husband. I was so proud of this one, because I took the stitch pattern from another sweater and made up a sweater for him using EZs math and saddle shoulders:

    Not the best picture, I know. I should really get a better picture. He loves this sweater. To quote him, "It fits like a glove".
    There was no stopping me now!
    I made him another one using EPS and the yoke sweater formula:

    I'll be honest and say this wasn't such a success. I was guilty of racing ahead of myself. If I had had some patience, I would have read and watched Knitting Around and learnt of the 4 decrease yoke formula. This would have worked out much better for the larger size. The 3 decrease formula resulted in some "looseness" around the bust. Boobage if you like :) But he loves it all the same, and it's a firm favourite around the house during the winter.
    Then I decided to tackle the ultimate mystery, The BSJ.
    This pattern fascinated me. The ultimate piece of math coupled with ultimate trust. Follow EZ and everything will work out. I had to try it:

    And it worked! I love it! What a magical garment, and no seams! I think that's my favourite part of any EZ garment, no seaming. I suck at sewing.

    I made another one, but it fell victim to yarn that's too light. I used sock weight yarn and it turned out tiny. Although it is a perfect preemie size:
    I also made a February Baby Sweater from Knitters Almanac:
    I think this one was a bit of a disaster. Not EZs fault, but my own. I was guilty of lack of concentration. I really should make this one again.
    I then decided to tackle the Baby Bog Jacket. I loved the story behind this one; it was based on a garment found on a preserved body that was found in a bog. It's all knit in one piece, again with minimal seaming:

    I think my favourite part is the extra stitches to accomodate nappies. So thoughful!

    I looked back on what I had made, and I realised I'd made nothing for me! How could that have happened! As Meg says on the Knitting Around DVD, "You are knitting to please yourself". Dead right. I rectified that quickly enough with a hybrid knit, the February Lady Sweater. This is based on the February Baby Sweater from Knitters Almanac that I had previously made.

    I love this sweater/cardi, I wear it all the time:
    This is my most recent EZ creation, and probably the one I'm most proud of.
    It's my attempt at an exact replica of her very first published pattern, her Seamless Yoke Sweater. I made this using the same yarn & colours that she chose for her first version, and also the one Meg made with her on the Knitting Around DVD:

    I absolutely love this sweater. I made this over the last few months, and during the finishing of it, I thought of her a lot, and her 100th birthday. How she would have been so happy to see people taking her guidance and ridding themselves of their fears of knitting & patterns.
    I have been truly inspired by her and Meg, and thank them every time I start a new project of my own or by someone else, as I can understand what I can change and how I can make it fit me (or whoever) and most of all to be free with my knitting.
    I was lucky enough to meet Meg in 2009, and it was brilliant. She gave a talk (where she had THE ORIGINAL BSJ with her !!), and afterwards a book signing. I'm very proud to say I have a copy of her book, Handknitting, signed by her.
    I was like a gushing teenager at a pop concert when I met her.
    She was nothing but gracious:

    Phew! So that's the catch up on my EZ exploits so far. I hope to add some new projects very soon.
    I'll sign off as I always do on my own blog, and as EZ did:
    Good Knitting!