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!