Elizabeth Zimmerman is ace!

Yup, it’s official – I really like Elizabeth Zimmerman’s knitting style. If you like being taken by the hand and led all the way through a pattern then she may not be for you but if you are prepared to ‘freestyle it’ a bit then she’s great.

You may remember I was knitting the ‘Stu’s Fair Isle’ pullover from the Knitting Workshop book which I still have from our local library. I’ll confess to having a good giggle at the instructions (such as they were), particularly when I read the instructions on guage – “6 stitches to the inch. GET IT RIGHT” (Her capitals). And I should have been paying attention.

In a straightforward stocking stitch this was achieved perfectly. What I hadn’t considered was that even doing my best to CARRY WOOL LOOSELY (again, her capitals) whilst knitting the fair isle pattern I clearly made it a bit tighter. Not horribly so, but I think The Management could do with a little more wiggle room. He thinks not as he is ‘going to the gym now so I should shape up sometime soon….’. I think we all know how often that works.

Anyway, in all his glory, here he is wearing the pullover within seconds of it being finished. I think he likes it!(Sorry for the fairly numpty I-phone picture)

Happiness is a finished fair isle pullover

Back to the pattern. Before I realised I was going to have to actually do a bit of work on this pullover I followed the fair isle chart exactly as printed. It didn’t fit the number of stitches I had. Nor any of the other sizes with the exception of size 40.  Lesson number 1 was that when it comes to the patterns you really are in charge. Pay attention.

I spent some time rejigging the pattern so that all the designs were divisible by 12 which meant that they fitted the stitch number I had. No problems at all after that. As you are working ‘in the round’ and all rows are knit rows this pattern knitted up much more quickly than I expected.

Can we talk about ‘steeking’? Following EZ’s instructions I knitted this all the way up to the shoulders – adding ‘kangaroo pouches’ and various other completely unknown methods – before being instructed to cut into my knitting. Yes, that’s basically what steeking is. Terrifying. I selected a ridiculously short stitch on my sewing machine (after  basting guide lines) and sewed three anchor lines rather than the two advised. Belt and braces? No way was this going to unravel if I had anything to do with it. And then I had to cut into the work I had spent so long knitting. If I could have safely done it with my eyes closed I would have done – I’m pretty certain I wasn’t breathing at this point. OK, long story cut short. No problems!

I picked up the armhole and neckline stitches with heart in mouth. I was convinced that this would end up in pieces on my lap but I can promise that it was absolutely solid. I was pretty confident that if the results hadn’t been predictable then there would have been warnings all over the interweb so I really shouldn’t have worried. If you ever have to do this then be brave (and don’t put it off for days in fear as I did). Herringbone stitching the cut edges down has made the insides actually look fairly presentable which I wasn’t confident about.

Anyway, I have done what I needed to ensure he now has a jacket, tie, and hand knitted sweater …… and the builders haven’t finished their stuff so the shelter isn’t going to be opened straight away (probably a good thing as the poor man would freeze in there at the moment!). He still needs to source suitable trousers and decide on a suitable shirt and shoes but I’m leaving that to himself – I feel that honour has been satisfied from this end!


View from our room

Snowy view from Salts mill

Another Snowy view from Salts Mill

Hockney at Salts Mill

I imagine you are all getting bored with the UK weather pictures now. The funniest thing I have read about last weeks storm was ‘In the UK it’s The Beast from the East’ but the Finns are calling it Wednesday’. So right and totally hilarious. I’ll confess a sense of humour failure after sitting for almost two hours in the same spot on a Yorkshire motorway as we traveled home after a trip to the Frozen North. We hit Northumberland overnight to attend a much loved (but exceedingly elderly) uncle’s funeral before spending a night in Skipton – after a wonderful bright snowy drive through the Yorkshire dales which were beautiful. We also took the opportunity to visit Salts Mill in Saltaire for a Hockney exhibition. It was wonderful and we will certainly visit on another occasion when we might even get to walk the wonderful area around there.



Costumes for our delight

Princess Margaret’s wedding dress

I had a very relaxed day at home….. before setting off into another snow storm on the way to London for a V&A talk on Costume and the Crown. I wasn’t going to miss that! The darling daughter was even willing to join me so we enjoyed a meal in the gorgeous members room before enjoying a very fine talk from Jane Petrie, the costume designer from series 2, and Vanessa Kirby who plays

Looking very pretty in the gathering dark

Princess Margaret. I enjoyed the talk, as did Jess, but I did hear some mutterings that suggested that it hadn’t been sufficiently focused on costume for some. We were able to have a good look at the few costumes that had been brought along for inspection – something that initially horrified Jess until she realised they were made for TV rather than original.


The following day was a lovely trip to Greenwich to enjoy the Royal Observatory. If you have the least interest in astronomy, particularly its relevance to maritime history, then this place is an absolute must visit. I enjoyed a show in the Planetarium too – wonderful! Again it’s

My feet and the Prime Meridian

I’m assured there’s a good view…

somewhere I am going to have to revisit just to see what must be just about the best views over London there are when it’s not misty as all get out! The Cutty Sark is in one of those photographs – no prizes if you spot it though.


I’m looking forward to a very quiet couple of weeks, I might even sew (although I have absolutely no sewing mojo at all at the moment – Lesley from Sewniptuck suggests a bit of stash fondling). That may work. Possibly. Maybe. I’m still knitting the Botanical Yoke sweater, now back on the needles stolen to make the fair isle, so I’ll quietly bumble on with that for now. And think kindly sewing thoughts which might ignite a desire….

Still knitting

Stay warm out there, and keep on with whatever craft makes you happy.



23 Comments on “Elizabeth Zimmerman is ace!”

  1. sewchet says:

    LOVE that pullover! Would love to make one for hubby, but he is still scarred from wearing the handknit tank tops in the Seventies and there is still an element of “uncool” about them as far as he is concerned. Personally, I think it would look fab under his Tweed jacket….

  2. Gorgeous vest!! You did a fantastic job with steeks and everything! It looks so handsome on.
    I just love Elizabeth Zimmermann. She was a no nonsense knitter. There are videos/DVDs of her instructing and they are amazing. At one point when talking about afterthought pockets she just reached down and snips the sweater she wearing and picks up the stitches to add a pocket. She was just fearless!

  3. CurlsnSkirls says:

    Congratulations on a lovely pullover!
    Steeking? Uh . . . I think I’d need a lie down before contemplating that!

  4. I love your adventures…and am in awe of your knitting!

    • Kim says:

      Aww, thanks!
      I love exploring new places, or revisiting favourites like the V&A. The Royal Observatory was great – well worth a visit – and there’s lots close by to see too so I will go back. Salts Mill probably warrants another visit too (I love Hockney and particularly the fact he is making art on an iPad!)
      The knitting honestly looks much more difficult and impressive than it should 😀.

  5. Hubby looks great – I find knitting frustrating but I love your instructions. GET IT RIGHT!

  6. tialys says:

    Well done with that vest – amazing work and I would also have been terrified to cut into it. He’s really going to look the part at the museum. Looks like you had a lovely trip to London with your daughter and, judging by the reports coming out of the U.K., you were the only people there 😉 Lots of flights cancelled out of Gatwick – Mr. T. was lucky to get home last weekend – and the video he sent me on his phone showed about a spoonful of snow in the bit of South London where he was. The weather reports I see over here from the U.K. always show the worst and the best as if the country has no regional variations at all. Still the tabloids have fun with coming up with the headlines.
    I’m just getting my sewing mojo back after a long time of knitting/crochet full on mojo – now I’m back doing both. I did a bit of online fabric fondling (followed by buying!) which seems to have done the trick.

    • Kim says:

      Thanks! The weather wasn’t wonderful but it didn’t warrant the fuss that was made – I’m a northern lass and I just about remember being carried on my dads shoulders in the worst of the snow in 1963 (I was very small – and young!). My mother has been hysterical every time I get in the car through this and it’s driving me mad. Yes, the tv and tabloids have had a field day. Well done to Mr T for getting home.
      I’m still enjoying knitting but really have no desire to sew at the moment. M sure it will come back soon. I daren’t buy any more fabric for now 😭

  7. The vest looks great! So glad you made it through steeking. So far, I’ve only steeked a mug cozy, but I was a wreck during the process!

  8. wybrow1966 says:

    The jumper looks great!

  9. Roxane says:

    Doesn’t EZ say somewhere that, when doing one’s first steek, it helps to have a beer first, but only one? I went to her knitting camp circa 1985, and it may have been something she said there. Anyway, lovely sweater!

    • Kim says:

      Lucky you! I imagine she would have been a hoot – and I would suggest something stronger than beer as it really is quite terrifying 😱. Thanks for your lovely comment

  10. Jo says:

    You’ve made a fabulous job of the pullover but eeek, steeking, I would avoid a pattern if it told me to cut into my work. Glad it all worked out okay and that’s another technique you can add to your talents. Looks like you’ve had some lovely trips out.

  11. Sewniptuck says:

    I must have missed this post, which would have been a terrible shame because that fairisle vest is fantastic – can I place an order?! Now dear Mr Management don’t give yourself a hernia at the gym, just cut out the elevenses! I’m gritting my teeth working on an Amy Herzog cardi – my first cardi. What’s that? There must be 2 fronts? Damn, thought I was making good progress!

    My sister, niece and Mum were attending a funeral in N’land only a couple of weeks ago and they couldn’t quite get to their accomodation because of snow – I don’t recall this much snow when I lived in Scotland – what’s happened to the weather? x

    • Kim says:

      I actually really enjoyed knitting this (apart from the near heart failure cutting into it!) And following EZ’s instructions it was quicker than expected. Don’t forget that the fronts of your cardi need to be mirrored – ask me how I remember that……
      The weather this winter has been bizarre, and seems to be lasting FOREVER. We had probably our first truly warm sunny day today. I hope there are many more to come 😃

  12. Oh goodness, that vest is fabulous! It will fit in perfectly in a museum setting (I might be the tiniest bit jealous that he has such a grand spot to volunteer). Sorry that your sewing is lacking right now, but your knitting is certainly going like gangbusters. Knitting has such an interesting vocabulary.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s