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Knitting Without Tears: Basic Techniques and Easy-to-Follow Directions for Garments to Fit All Sizes Paperback – July 1, 1973
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Vogue Knitting Elizabeth taught us to trust our instincts, revel in our creativity and above all, find joy in the simple act of knitting.
The New York Times [Elizabeth Zimmermann] brought a penetrating intellect and a sculptor's sensitivity to revolutionizing the ancient art of knitting.
About the Author
Elizabeth Zimmermann (1910-1999) was born near London, England, and attended art school in Lausanne, Switzerland, and Munich, Germany, before immigrating to the U.S. in 1937. Frustrated by magazine editors who translated her conversational knitting instructions into abbreviated code, she started her own knitting newsletter and launched Schoolhouse Press, a mail-order business that still sells knitting supplies, books, and videos under her daughter Meg Swansen's guiding hand. In the mid-1960s she hosted The Busy Knitter, a nationally syndicated public television show, and by the early 1970s had become an icon of the knitting world. This and her three lively instructional books -- Knitting Around, Knitter's Almanac, and Knitting Workshop -- are treasured by knitters around the world.
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My curiousity got the best of me, later that night I found myself curled up in bed reading the book. My initial response of disappointment could not have been further from the truth! After immersing myself into just a few pages, I felt like I had sat down to knit with an old friend. Zimmermann's candid and frank writing style brought me a smile and more than a knowing laugh or two as she shares her knitting wisdom. Yet, there is a sophistication to her writing that leaves the reader drawn into the pages, finding each new tip or bit of advice as something to savor.
Even the rudimentary skills of knitting come into new light within her chatty, and sometimes unabashedly opinionated, pages. I loved and applauded her stern lecture on the importance of gauge. (Yes, an entire chapter all its own, and rightly so!) Gauge is the golden key to the door of knitting design. Yet it is something so often overlooked by new or impatient knitters, and often with ghastly, disappointing results.
Step by step in a narrative, familiar style, she covers the tools of the knitting trade, needles, yarns, skills, and of course, her passion for knitting. All given with tidbits of enlightment even for the experienced knitter. Then gently, she takes the reader to a new path of creativity with clear guidance and instructions to explore nearly endless options of pattern and design. She does this by laying a simply, methodical ground work for the form and shape of any sweater. You can then take that skeletal form and emboss it to your heart's content with your own stitches, designs, color work, originality, and style. I have fallen even more in love with circular after reading this book, and I find the seamless, ease of style, even more liberating.
The focus is on sweater design, but really, you can take these skills to any facet of your knitting. She even covers a sampling of other projects, hats, mittens, afghans, even skirts! I found the details of what makes a sweater into a coat interesting. The section entitled "A Few Remarks on Socks" makes the book worth its price alone! The photos and details of just different knitted heel types were fascinating and most helpful. The "few remarks" are actually a few pages of detailed, fool-proof instruction which I fould both instructional and inspiring for sock knitting.
What can I say, I LOVED the book. I found it a necessary jewel for any knitter's library. I'd suggest that very new beginners to knitting will want to learn to cast on, knit and purl comfortably before digging into this treasure of a find. Once you have those basics down, however, do dive into this book with glee!
As stated by the author herself, "Really, all you need to become a good knitter is common sense...of course superior intelligence, such as yours and mine, is an advantage." And that is Elizabeth Zimmermann for you!
Like 3 other books penned by her: TOK ([Please read my review https://www.amazon.com/Opinionated-Knitter-Elizabeth-Zimmermann/dp/0942018265/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8 The Opinionated Knitter ]; KW ([Please read my review https://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Zimmermanns-Knitting-Zimmermann-1981-12-01/dp/B017MYPOCA/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8 Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting Workshop by Elizabeth Zimmermann (1981-12-01) ]; and KA ([Please read my review https://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Zimmermanns-Knitters-Almanac-Knitting/dp/0486241785/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8 https://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Zimmermanns-Knitters-Almanac-Knitting/dp/0486241785/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8 ], KWT is written in a charming and witty personal narrative style, just begging you to listen to her and do what she suggests – as if she were in the same room with you! It is a highly-endearing style for an author to use, but it makes you want to personally befriend her and learn from her at the same time.
Notice that the first chapter title head is the same as the title of one of her most popular later hard-cover books (TOK), which was published after her death. Chapter 2 (and onward are titled as follows): Gauge: Required Reading; 3. Ski Sweaters in Color Patterns; 4. Seamless Sweaters; 5. Other knitted Garments; and 6. The Washing of Sweaters.
Following these 6 chapters is the Bibliography and then the Index.
(Note that many of the chapter heads in this book are discussed in more detail in later books because they have fomented discussion and problem solving from its readers in THIS book. For example, WHO DOESN’T WORRY ABOUT knitting GAUGE problems? Also, all of EZ’s books could be read according to their publication dates because these were the most important topics to her to write about at those times. [She already knew about American knitter’s problems because she used to publish her patterns in Vogue Knitting, McCalls, and other US magazines before she started writing her books and holding her annual HK conference on her farm in WI.] TOK was co-written after her death by her daughter Meg and some other people to celebrate EZ’s life but to also showcase some of the main HK topics that people wanted to know about. Conversely, TOK could be the perfect book for EZ followers to commence their HK journeys because it is, in many ways, a grand re-cap of EZ’s teaching and life philosophy – and the color photos and many black and white stitch and pattern graphic help keep readers’ attention.)
One of EZ’S bons mots AND pragmatics in KWT is: “A well-made sweater, knitted and with Good Will and Good Wool, is beyond price; why try to solve a dollar on the material?”
One of her remedies of ALMOST perfect dye lots or colors is absolutely stellar: Read the book to find out what she says and how to do it.
Continuing, EZ gives ways to use up different remnants of yarn – a problem from which all knitters suffer. Read this book to find this out.
Read the book to understand EZ’s discussion of needles: what materials they are made of; their sizes (both US and Continental); gauge; her love of circular needles and teaching her US audience how to use them (and what sizes she uses to make everything) instead of the US ‘2-stick’ needles; and how she begins a round.
Afterwards, she discusses tools, fabric and texture, problems with curling edges and how to solve this problem. Read the book to find out about these, too.
After the 6 chapters is the Index.
Much of the book deals with creating items and while doing so, solving problems that crop up, including: creating and following specific color patterns; knitting seamless, patterned yoke sweaters; knitting hooded garter-stitch jackets for babies, and more.
Here is another EZ bon mot on knitting: “Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn’t hurt the untroubled spirit, either.”
In sum, KWT is a wonderful addition to EZ’s other books: TOK, KW, and KA. All of them should be part of a serious HKer’s library for reference, for inspiration, for problem-solving, and for learning how to HK from a guru.