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Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac: The Commemorative Edition

Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac: The Commemorative Edition

Автором Elizabeth Zimmermann

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Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac: The Commemorative Edition

Автором Elizabeth Zimmermann

4/5 (291 оценки)
238 pages
3 hours
Mar 7, 2012


One of America's most ingenious and creative knitters presents 23 patterns in this beloved classic of knitting lore. Elizabeth Zimmermann's bestselling guide includes Aran sweaters, mittens, socks, and patterns for other items that can be followed by intermediate to advanced knitters or adapted into original works.
This commemorative hardcover edition celebrates the centenary of Elizabeth Zimmermann's birth and the 50th anniversary of the founding of her company. Its new features include color photos of the finished patterns, many of them reknit using contemporary yarns, as well as a frontispiece by Andrew Wyeth, a preface by the author's daughter, an introduction by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, instructions for the February Lady Sweater, and other bonus items.
Mar 7, 2012

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Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac - Elizabeth Zimmermann

Elizabeth Zimmermann’s



Detail from Arctic Circle, 1996 drybrush watercolor © Andrew Wyeth. Private Collection (showing Elizabeth Zimmermann's Maltese Fisherman's Hat; see pages 68 and 156)

Elizabeth Zimmermann’s




Mineola, New York


Copyright © 1974, 1981, 2010 by Meg Swansen

All rights reserved.

Bibliographical Note

This Dover edition, first published in 2010, is an unabridged and corrected republication of Knitter's Almanac, originally published in 1974 by Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. The black-and-white photographs have been replaced with color, and many of the samples shown in the original edition have been re-knitted. This edition also includes a new frontispiece by Andrew Wyeth, a facsimile of a letter from Barbara Walker, a preface by Meg Swansen, an introduction by Stephanie Pearl McPhee, instructions for one additional sweater, a needle conversion chart, and a revised index.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Zimmermann, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitter’s almanac. ’A commemorative ed. p. cm.

Originally published: Knitter's almanac. New York : Scribner, c1974.

ISBN-13: 978-0-486-47912-5

ISBN-10: 0-486-47912-9

1. Knitting—Patterns. I. Title.

TT820.Z54 2010



Manufactured in the United States by Courier Corporation



To the Unsure Knitter,

To the Blind Follower,


To all those who do not yet know that they can design their own knitting, this book is encouragingly dedicated

Acknowledgements to Elinor Parker, for kindness beyond the call of editorship, and to sheep, who gave their wool.

November 13, 1974

Dear Elizabeth,

Have just received the Knitter's Almanac, and sat up till the small hours reading every word, and trying things from time to time. Can't decide whether it's a great knitting book or a great reading book – well, of course, it's both. You shine through so sweetly (that's a terrible word but the only accurate one) on every page – your life, your philosophy the enjoyment and comfort of your days. It's lovely and inspiring. E.Z. had done it again. Heartiest congratulations. And thank you for referring to me in your delicious pages. I'm honored indeed.

I intend to make Alan a pair of moccasin socks for Christmas, and I may never use any border other than the Idiot Cord again. What a wealth of goodie ideas. Can there be any more by-paths to explore in the field of knitting?

Gordon was intrigued by your ancestral-memory theory of knitting and spinning and wondered briefly if that sort of thing might have somewhat to do with his affinity for trees. He is happiest when indulging his hobby of climbing and trimming trees on weekends and he drives me mad when going anywhere in the car because he notices every dead limb and oak gall by the wayside and insists that I recognize all the more outstanding entities among the tree population. He is, of course, connected by his Norman strain with the Celtic Druids or perhaps the Frankish tree worshippers with whom the Christians had so much trouble in the sixth and seventh centuries. Or maybe it's all just reasoning after the fact – who knows?

Anyway, heartiest best wishes to you and your dear Old Man (I don't mean to offend, but I can't help thinking of him in those terms now) and your Almanac, may it become as popular as the Farmer's. Have a nice cosy winter.


Letter from Barbara Walker to Elizabeth Zimmermann on the original publication of Knitter's Almanac.


Many people—even though they may have no particular interest in knitting—read and enjoy Knitter's Almanac for its charm and literary value.

Indeed, my ma was an engaging writer. I like to allow my copy of this book to fall open at random, then have a refreshing read; I can hear my mother's voice quite clearly through the text. Even though you may never have met Elizabeth in person, when you read her books, in a way you have met her. This is just the way she spoke and behaved: sensibly and intelligently, with no artifice, but great humor.

She loved a good argle-bargle; it was an amusing sport to her and, in the mode of one of her particularly favorite relatives (Uncle Simon), she could argue that black was white until you were driven to distraction and actually conceded the point. Aha, she then might say,... but on the other hand, white can sometimes be black.

As a new American, her argumentative nature would lead her to criticize poor English useage as well as rejoice in and embrace what she called Americanisms, like rhubarb, picked up from listening to baseball on the radio. Even her name for the hat on page 69, Ganomy, was derived from having heard someone mispronounce the word gnome; she was charmed and adopted the pronunciation. You can see on this page from one of her Journals that she toyed with how to spell her new word.

Literature and language were a passion with my mother. She spoke passable French and was fluent in German, speaking it with a thick Bavarian accent. She was an omnivorous reader and philosophically opposed to television; our parents were united in banning it from the house . . . except when EZ's, The Busy Knitter program aired on PBS; she then rented a tv for exactly thirteen weeks. Our mother would read aloud to the family each evening after supper, a chapter a night. She began with A. A. Milne, Kenneth Graham, E. B. White and T. H. White, then moved to the Brontës, Thackery and her favorite, Jane Austen. I vaguely remember a bit of a to-do with a high school English teacher who thought my sister and I were being damaged by exposure to books that were above our level. Nonsense! said our ma.

I recognize my good fortune in having been able to knit, write, teach and be in business with my mother for so many years. After the initial publication of the book you hold in your hands, EZ's proposal for a third book was rejected. So, with my husband Chris, the three of us formed Schoolhouse Press. In 1981 we published our first title, Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting Workshop, and produced an accompanying video (now a DVD) which was shown on a smattering of PBS stations across the U.S. and Canada.

For several decades, I was perfectly happy to follow in her wake as an assistant and then as her ghostwriter; there is relatively little pressure while in the passenger seat. When the time came, it was a difficult transition for me to pick up the baton, but the path was made easier by the respect and admiration so many knitters had/have for my mother. That widespread regard was brought more sharply into focus upon her death in 1999 when floods of letters and tributes arrived from around the world.

Now her hundredth birthday is being celebrated by this special edition of one of her most loved books—a book further enhanced and elevated by the addition of a splendid Andrew Wyeth painting which includes Elizabeth's Maltese Fisherman's Hat. Not only did we as a family have all of Andrew Wyeth's art books, but Mrs. Wyeth is an avid knitter and we were always thrilled to see, in various magazine articles, our designs being worn by one of our heroes. Betsy Wyeth kindly gave us special permission to use the painting (so accurately realized), and Mary Landa sat for the portrait.

I like to think that my ma is observing these activities and thoroughly enjoying all this fuss.

Knit On,

Meg Swansen

Cary Bluff

March 2010

Other books by Elizabeth Zimmermann:

Knitting Without Tears

Knitting Workshop

Knitting Around

The Opinionated Knitter

Knit One, Knit All


When Meg Swansen asked me to write this little introduction, I had mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I was flattered, delighted and honoured, and on the other, I was nothing short of terrified. How could I do it? What would I say? How could I convey the significance and importance of this book and the knitter who wrote it? How do you sum up, in just a few pages, some-one and some work that you feel has had tremendous impact on your world and life? I struggled forever, and then realized that all I could really tell you, all I could really convey was what I knew for sure—what this book and its author have meant to me.

When this book was first published in 1974. I was six years old. I was a knitter of two years experience, and could turn out one heck of a potholder, a fine dolly blanket, and was coming along not too badly with a slipper experiment. (They were almost foot shaped.) I already loved knitting with a fierce passion, did some every day and was realizing I was going to need a job to support my wool habit, and I thought that maybe I could get a knitting job. If I recall correctly, I think Plan A was to sell hats, and Plan B involved knitting for people who, for some reason didn't know how to knit or couldn't be taught. (For the record, neither of those schemes worked out.)

At that time, I knew only three knitters—my grandmother, who had taught me to knit, and two great-aunts far away who bombarded the family with mittens each winter. While all of them seemed to enjoy knitting, it didn't really seem like they felt the way I did about it—or if they did, they certainly weren't talking about it like I was, or as often as I was. This was the case for about 10 years, where I knit enough that it was sometimes thought of as the thing that was odd about me, and nobody else really did. I would meet another knitter from time to time—especially once I was a teenager, but I learned pretty fast that if I let go with some of the fine thinking and feeling about knitting that I'd been doing, my audience dried up pretty fast. I wore glasses, I liked to read, I was short for my age (still am) had very unruly hair and was sometimes taken for a boy even when wearing a dress. I was physically and spiritually awkward, and after seeing the effect my passion for knitting had on my peers, I decided to keep the knitting to myself for a while. I didn't need another way not to fit in, and spreading it around the school that I was the kind of kid who liked knitting more than boys was really not going to help me get any more cool. I was already the kind of kid that other teens threatened to lock in a locker. They didn't need to know I had some yarn in there.

Somewhere in the middle of this awkward trauma, when I was about sixteen, I got this book. For the life of me I can't remember how . . . but I tell you, I can remember the feeling. I opened the book, sat down with a tea, and by the second page I had been entirely stupefied. I hadn't read a pattern, I hadn't leaned a single thing. All the wonderful ideas, tips, percentages and other cleverness that make up the bulk of the Almanac had not even been revealed to me, but on the second page she had me, and I would have followed Elizabeth Zimmermann anywhere. It was right there in black and white. She wrote I can knit. I knit all year, day in, day out, it is my passion . . . and with those few words, I felt an echo in me, and I turned page after page, awestruck and finding something I'd never found before.

It was recognition. I was a skinny, weird, bookish Canadian teenager who knit all the time, and there I was, feeling better about myself because I had finally found another person on earth who seemed to feel as I did. That she was a British-born American grandmother whom I'd never even met was completely irrelevant; in my mind we were exactly alike. She said things I thought but didn't say. Things like that knitting made her feel clever, that solving knitting problems was like solving real problems, that it was challenging, exciting, fun, engaging and even funny. It was clear that Elizabeth wasn't going through a strange knitting phase, but that this was just what she was interested in—and that it was working out for her. I closed the book and reopened it, this time at a random page, and discovered her in a quandary about a mitten, and I just about wept. I had mitten quandaries all the time! I snapped it shut and goggled at it. Reopened, I found her conceding that I was only human and that if I had a long stretch of plain knitting to do, she knew I would naturally begin to think of embellishments. My heart just about broke. I had a sweater with very, very unfortunately placed flowers on the chest just as a result of that impulse. I took the rest of the evening with that book, and I felt more encouraged and less weird with every minute. There were two of us.

That book—my very first copy of the Almanac—travelled with me, off and on, all through high school and until I left university. It became, and Elizabeth along with it, a strange and wonderful friend and companion. By the time I was twenty-one, the book was ratty, torn, the back cover was gone, and I had knit only one successful item from it. This wasn't the book's fault, or maybe it was, as truth be told, Elizabeth's admonishments to try new things, to experiment, to modify and adapt really got to me, and much knitting time was lost to producing an endless stream of hand knits that taught me a lot, but were truly catastrophic. Her belief that I really could think my way through most knitting problems if I tried resulted in the accidental invention of the horrific breast hat, a sweater with armholes and a back so tight that I actually had to be cut out of it after trying in on during the testing phase—and then an attempt to knit a sweater for a boyfriend that resulted in no sweater, but a pretty great tent. (Turns out Elizabeth was serious about that gauge stuff. How about that.)

That copy self-destructed out of use, and another, along with Knitting Around and Knitting Without Tears was bought in time for the arrival of my first daughter, who wore the baby sweater from the month of February. That sweater was sweet enough that I needed three more books for my friends who learned to knit just to make it for their own offspring, and all manner of variations were knit and placed on various young. Babies grew and needed pads to play on the floor (February's ideas again, only I changed the border I think, and used thicker wool.) Play moved from inside to out, and little hands wore mitered mittens and Surprise Jackets to throw snowballs and built forts in the depths of the Canadian winters. Somewhere in there I lost the book again (probably nicked by another knitter) and another was purchased just in time for a shawl to be churned out over the dark days of the winter solstice, when you can really use a little entertainment.

By now, I had little knitters, and the book went missing regularly, as it was the absolute simple primer on how to make most everything. Dolly wardrobes, tree decorations, hat after wonky hat churned out over the years, and I know for a fact that at least ten copies of this book were destroyed, lost, used up, wandered off or were outright given to knitters who looked like they could use it—and it wasn't really about the knitting patterns. The patterns were then, and remain now, darned good patterns, and my friends, daughters and I made plenty of them, for sure . . . but it wasn't the instructions that kept

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  • (5/5)
    The world lost a wonderful knitter and teacher when Ms. Zimmermann died. I would have loved to have the chance to meet and knit with her.

    This is an excellent book for knitters of any level. Once you can knit and purl, this book can help you do pretty much anything else you may want to do :)
  • (5/5)
    book with designs for every month of the year. Author was influential and loved knitting teacher.
  • (4/5)
    Monthly patterns in her folksy style with a great lace project
  • (5/5)
    This book is one of the few knitting books I read for pleasure. EZ's writing style is such that you get a feel that you are actually with her when she comes up with some of these patterns that she "unvents."
  • (5/5)
    She is a great writer, a real artist, I enjoyed every line of this book!
  • (4/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    I've been thinking of delving into the world of knitting design for a while now and reading this book stoked my desire to do so. Zimmerman's voice is completely her own and I appreciated the no-nonsense approach to being a "thinking knitter."

    Note: this isn't really a pattern book, so if that's what you're looking for, I wouldn't recommend it. There are "patterns" but they read more like design notes than anything else.

    1 person found this helpful