You may recall that I recently mentioned that I had bought a copy of Elizabeth Zimmerman’s book Knitting Without Tears. What an amazing woman. But we all know that already!
There was one passage in the book which struck a deep chord with me. In it, Elizabeth says: “I am truly the boss of my knitting.” (Emphasis added by me). It made me think.
Elizabeth published this book in 1971, and it’s interesting to read this book now, as some of the methods she suggests have since been improved upon and further advancements made in the world of knitting (something that she acknowledges would happen). The absolute basics are all there though, and she speaks to you as an equal, inspiring and motivating you to challenge your perception of what you can do in knitting (and then giving you the tools so that you can go and do it).
I was in fits of giggles and chortles through most of the book, envisaging the circumstances she talked about. She had the most humourous way of saying things: (In talking about the importance of measuring and gauge to make sure you’re knitting the right size for yourself) “Otherwise you may sup the porridge of regret with the spoon of sorrow.”
Here is another of my favourite passages: (she’s talking about stranded knitting) “The Books don’t know everything. They know a great deal, but not everything. Take anything you find in an instruction book, including this one, with a large grain of salt. If it doesn’t make sense in your particular circumstances, pay no attention to it; seek further. There are scores of different ways of doing things in knitting, and none of them are wrong, but they are sometimes unsuitable. There is no right way to knit; there is no wrong way to knit.” So true!
I’m sure my experience is not unusual in catching myself stuck in a rut from time to time. We think there’s only one way of doing things, and that’s it. Or we slavishly follow a pattern even if we’re not happy with the way the knitting is going, and don’t free our mind to consider happier alternatives. Or we’re scared that we might get it wrong, or that it’s too hard, and so don’t try. Elizabeth’s book is a fantastic motivator to do just that – question, and experiment. After all, knitting is just a ball of yarn, amazingly looped and twisted to form a shaped piece of fabric. So what if you have to pull it out and start again if it doesn’t work? It’s all valuable learning time.
She’s certainly helped me to understand the fundamentals of knitting so much better, advance my own skills, and summon the courage to try new things. And even though she’s now passed on, her knowledge continues to enrich the skills of every new generation of knitters. What an inspiration Elizabeth Zimmerman!
Knitting without Tears is a very worthwhile addition to any knitter’s library. To my New Zealand readers, you might be interested to know that you can buy this book on Amazon at a third of the price that you get it in a New Zealand bookstore, including postage. I see no reason why one has to pay NZ$65 for a book when you can get it for a fraction of that price. Besides, it’s the only way I can get my sticky mitts on a personal copy – how else could I afford it?