Elizabeth Zimmermann always wanted to write a book about Garter Stitch, her grandson, Cully Swansen, says in the introduction to Knit One Knit All: Elizabeth Zimmermann's Garter Stitch Designs. In fact, in 1972, while she was writing Knitter's Almanac, she asked her editor if she could set that book aside for a volume on Garter Stitch.
It didn't happen, but Zimmermann did have a lot of Garter Stitch designs that had not been published -- and in some cases not even knit -- before, filling up design notebooks and being worn by family members.
Now the rest of us can get a peek into those notebooks and learn once again from Zimmermann while exploring these patterns that use Garter Stitch in delightful, innovative ways.
About the Book
- Number of pages: 168
- Format: hardcover
- Number of patterns: 39
- Skill level: Zimmermann would hate that I even suggest her patterns should be classified by skill level; if you can knit and have a brain she says you can knit these (I would say advanced beginner and up, or anyone who's willing to think more than the average pattern makes you)
- Illustrations: full-color photographs, some black-and-white drawings of Zimmermann's and watercolor paintings of hers as well
- Knitting lessons: a techniques section covers methods of making buttonholes, casting on and binding off, the EPS (Elizabeth's Percentage System for sizing garments), I-cords, selvedges and more
- Publication date: May 2011
After a short introduction the book dives right into the patterns, which are arranged based on what part of the body (or, in one case, who) they cover:
- head, hands and feet
Several patterns are found in each category. There are three patterns for hands and four vests, seven sweaters and eight hats, for example. A wide variety of projects are represented, for a range of people, and using much more interesting construction methods and techniques than you might expect in a book full of Garter Stitch; well, until you knew it was full of Elizabeth Zimmermann's ideas, anyway.
The projects include a little information about when the project was initially designed or devised, how the item is constructed and sometimes a bit about how the patterns were translated from Zimmermann's notebook into the real world. Some patterns show bits of her notebook, which is a lot of fun to see and makes it almost like learning directly from her.
There are so many interesting and intriguing, but also pretty, patterns here, it's hard to choose which ones to highlight. I'm quite interested in the Sideways Gloves, which come with a fascinating story about how Zimmermann originally designed the gloves and how Joyce Williams improved on the design for this book. (The Sideways Socks sound like fun, too.)
There are a handful of adorable baby jackets, of course. I kind of want a version of Cully's Vest, which uses lines of Stockinette to highlight the V-neck shaping. The New Zealand Sweater looks like a simple, rugged sweater that you'd want to wear all winter long; and the Suspender Sweater is a great way to highlight a bit of lovely yarn you don't have enough of for a big project.
There's also the Long Collared Jacket, a favorite of Zimmermann's; and the Bavarian Jacket, complete with an adorable picture of Elizabeth and Arnold in matching jackets.
Knit One Knit All is essential reading for fans of Elizabeth Zimmermann and her fun construction methods. This book will stretch you and show you the limits of knitting design are nowhere near where you thought they were, even when mostly just using one single, simple stitch pattern.
This is also a great book for fans of Garter Stitch who want to do something a little fancier than a lot of patterns out there. The intention is that the book is for newer knitters as well as those with more experience and there are plenty of smaller patterns here that wouldn't be a problem for the adventurous beginner.
Though Zimmermann didn't have a hand in producing this book you can feel her in its pages and rejoice in her creativity and the fact that her family values passing on these wonderful patterns and more of her wisdom to another generation of knitters.