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Sarah E. White

Getting Inspired: Elizabeth Zimmermann

By January 7, 2013

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Now that we've taken a good look at what we all want to accomplish with our knitting this year (knitting more from stash has the lead as I write this, and I'll definitely be here to help with that one!) I thought it would be fun to spend some time with some really inspiring knitters who can encourage us to knit more, be more expressive in our projects and be braver knitters.

With those criteria in mind the first knitter we have to talk about is Elizabeth Zimmermann, of course. Her book Knitting without Tears was one of the first I read after taking over this site, and her reminder that there's no right and wrong in knitting has served me well over the years.

Her advice to knitters is that we are smarter than we think; certainly smarter than a bit of string. She also provided the world with her wonderful "unventings" such as I-cord, the Baby Surprise Jacket and her percentage system for designing sweaters.

In addition to Knitting without Tears, she was the author of Knitter's Almanac, Knitting Workshop, Knitting Around and The Opinionated Knitter. (I'd love to know which is your favorite if you'd share in the poll!)

Zimmerman's legacy lives on in her books and videos, in her daughter Meg Swansen's continued running of Schoolhouse Press, and in the legions of knitters who still knit her projects and follow her advice. (The Zimmermaniacs group on Ravelry, for example, has more than 10,000 members).

I hope that this year you will remember her guidance from Knitting without Tears:

Really, all you need to become a good knitter are wool, needles, hands, and slightly below-average intelligence. Of course superior intelligence, such as yours and mine, is an advantage.


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