Saturday, February 14, 2009

What My Honey Gave Me

Happy Valentine's Day!

A couple weeks ago I was talking about Elizabeth Zimmermann and saying I couldn't believe I had none of her books. I think we would be kindred spirits (not equals, I wouldn't claim that, but I think we think along the same lines) and I'm hearing/reading more and more about her lately. I happened to say this around my husband who immediately asked, "Oh, would this make a good birthday present?" (He is always trying to give me good birthday presents which lately has resulted in my getting at least one in all three of the months leading to my birthday!) I said that my birthday is months away but Valentine's Day is next Saturday so I thought it would make a better Valentine's present. (I'm learning how to work this system!)

So about four days later I find this
lying on my pillow. How wonderful! And isn't that a great title? (Elizabeth had a hankering to be called this and wanted it to be the title of her first book. The publisher, however, insisted on Knitting Without Tears, which is also a good title. But not as good.) I'm taking my time to read through this slim volume and enjoying the patterns from the old newsletters, the extra notes written by her daughter and fellow knitter, Meg Swansen, and the excerpts from Elizabeth's journals.

In my first glance I read this from a journal entry in 1972 about skiing
As a young woman I considered myself competent on skis, having been lucky enough to have enjoyed about a decade of Alpine skiing. Standards were gentle in those days. Snappy turns on a well-groomed slope were considered more meretricious than otherwise and the main attributes of a good skier were endurance, strong legs and a love of discomfort... (p 7)
I love this attitude! I learned the word, meretricious, during a game of Balderdash (played from a dictionary) so many years ago; what a joy to see it actually used! (Well-worth looking up.)

She goes on to say that "Lifts were for the rich and worldly" but I'm not sure I want to go that far! I rather enjoy chair lifts when I'm skiing.

I'm also learning that talk about Elizabeth is full of abbreviations I'm just expected to know, such as,
EZ = Elizabeth Zimmermann (in knitting, EZ will never mean "easy" but always Elizabeth)

EPS: Elizabeth's Percentage System, a system to calculate how many stitches to cast on for different parts of a sweater given the number needed for the full chest measurement. It allows you to adapt patterns to almost any gauge or yarn you may use.

BSJ: Baby Surprise Jacket, a pattern knit all in one piece that "surprisingly" turns into a baby jacket after sewing two seams. Very popular design for KALs still today. Classic.

And I'm sure there are more that I will learn about. I have a new nephew; perhaps getting this book which includes EZ's BSJ pattern will inspire me to make it for him. If I do, I'll let you know!

I feel like I am about to delve into a whole new world. Thanks, honey!

And I will leave you with EZ's own tagline:
Kint on, with confidence and hope, through all crises,
-c

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