Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitter's Almanac

Rating: +

Elizabeth Zimmerman


Zimmerman, who has produced a number of books and a television series on knitting, is an "old school" style knitter. She believes in using natural fibers, particularly wool. She focuses on functional, durable patterns, rather than the decorative or trendy. The patterns in this book reflect this style.

The Knitter's Almanac is divided into twelve chapters, presenting a different pattern to knit each month of the year. The patterns include four sweaters, a baby's set, a blanket, mittens, three hats, a shawl, Christmas ornaments, leggings, and moccasin socks. Zimmerman's patterns use a very brief style for her directions - what she calls "pithy directions". For example, rather than setting out by-row what stitches should be knitted, she may indicate to knit "enough stockinette stitch" for the given part of a garment. This may make the patterns difficult for beginners to follow. However, if you have some familiarity with knitting and with reading patters, Zimmerman's style makes her patterns very easy to adapt for one's own purposes or to one's own style. She also has some quirks, such as writing patterns to avoid purling, even if it requires cutting a knit piece after working what could have been on straight needles on circular needles instead.

These quirks add to the book, though, which can be read cover-to-cover as a story of the mindset of a knitter through a year. She shares tips and tricks that come from years of knitting experience, including how she learned to knit while reading, or in the dark, without losing her place. She acknowledges that sometimes you start a project not sure you'll have enough yarn, and notes places that can be accommodated, and places it can't. Even her should-be-obvious tip not to take a project employing white yarn on a vacation, particularly an outdoors-y one, is the type of practical advice that comes from someone who loves to knit and has considered the process enough to know what trips up knitters.

In the end, it is clear that Elizabeth Zimmerman is a knitter who happens to design, not a designer who uses knitting, and she feels that any knitter with a reasonable level of proficiency can become their own designer as well. Her patterns are basic, timeless, and easily adaptable. I recommend this book for knitters of any degree of expertise. You'll probably learn something, it's enjoyable to read, and it's a great reference for basic patterns. A very strong "+".

Review written March 2002.


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