Schoolhouse Press—Newsletter #14 May 2011
“One day I think I'll write a whole book on Garter Stitch; it is so easy and versatile, and so satisfactory for designing.”
— Elizabeth Zimmermann, in Knit One Knit All
Knit One Knit All has finally arrived! Elizabeth Zimmermann's new book is a collection of over 40 of her Garter stitch designs, none of which appear in any of her other five books. Many of these designs, including the mitered cardigan seen above and below, have never been published anywhere. This book truly highlights the genius of EZ's design construction and the wide range of garter stitch application. We'll devote this newsletter to what EZ characterized as her "favorite knitted texture." Below are a few more unpublished words from Elizabeth on the topic of Garter stitch with Cully's comments in parentheses, followed by Meg's Q&A on garter stitch topics. As always, you'll find discount offers in the side column at right (scroll near bottom).
EZ writes: Let us list the advantages of this lovely and useful fabric:
1. GS is easiest of the easy - just knit, knit, knit.
(There is some stocking stitch and purl in the book, but for the most part it is knit, knit, knit. There are simply constructed, plain knit designs, as well as intricate ideas to challenge advanced knitters.)
2. GS is the same on both sides. Garments made of it, when neatly finished, may be worn either way out; cuffs may be rolled back and lapels folded over without any exposure of the 'wrong' side.
(EZ's Icelandic Overblouse (a never before seen sweater) is fully reversible when knitted in one color; she wrote 'I find I'm wearing this a great deal. Peel it off so that it's inside-out every 2nd time'. As for rolled back GS cuffs, EZ writes '...a folded back cuff looks good, wears well, and is a deceitful way of ensuring exactly the right sleeve length'.)
3. GS's edges never curl, so it needs no borders.
(Borders not necessary, but when desired, EZ has wonderful I-Cord
4. GS embodies a great mathematical truth, which, once learned, simplifies measuring and fit: a given number of GS stitches measure exactly double the number of GS rows. That is to say, if you cast on 20 stitches and knit 40 rows (20 ridges) in GS, the resulting piece will be exactly square. This is far from the case, as you perhaps know, with most other stitch-patterns or fabrics.
(When EZ references an exact square, she is working with 100% wool, and knitting with a firm gauge. Within the book, there are several brilliant examples of using the stitch to row relationship of GS: Most specifically, her Mitered Cardigan, which uses 8 GS turns within the serpentine border.)
5. GS's seams are practically impossible to join untidily; they are pleasant to sew, and they lie flat.
(Several options for joining GS selvedges are presented in the book; some give striking SS outlines on one or both sides of the fabric.)
6. - although this is perhaps a matter of taste - GS is a good-looking stitch. Its pronounced ridges catch the light strongly, and when employed running in different directions yield an interesting and varied play of light and shade.
The steady stream of queries I receive feed this electronic Newsletter beautifully; thank you—and keep ‘em coming.
Q: I have completed the sweater and am now on the front garter stitch placket. Where I knitted up to start shaping for the neck, there are little blips of color. I watched your Cardigan Details DVD again, but still get blips where the garter stitches butt up against the stocking stitches. I assume it is due to all of the color changes....I forgot to add a solid stitch of color for the knit-up row, when I did the speckled steek. Is there something I can do to make this less noticeable?
A: Dear Teri, If you are knitting-up with one color, into a second color, you will get color blips if you work from the INside of the cut edge. Try working from the OUTside. And/or - try this method of knitting-up: First choose a single vertical stitch into which to knit (you can work between 2 sts, or between the 2 halves of a single stitch). From the "right" side, dive through the chosen stitch and hook up the working wool from underneath the fabric. Since you are not knitting through any part of a stitch, you will get no blips and have no distortion. AND, the knit-up sts will address the fabric more firmly than other methods.
Q: I am making the EZ garterstitch baby blanket, from WG leaflet #9. I am having a problem on the diagonal corners; the holes are way too big. I am knitting up to the stitch, then turning & knitting back. WHAT am I doing wrong? Should I be wrapping to keep this from happening? I have made so many of your mother's designs over the years & well remember the day I found KWT in a bookstore in Nashville. I had made one of those Icelandic yoke sweaters & when you raised your arms the whole sweater pulled up. I had gone back to the knit shop to find out what went wrong; the knit shop lady said "That is just how those sweaters fit". Then I find EZ and in KWT she tells me right there in the bookstore as I was flipping through the book, holding it in my hands, about short rows and I thought oh my word-- and I bought it then and there. I had never even seen a knitting book in a bookstore before. Hope you can help with this little problem.Thank you for having this web site. MB
A: Dear Marilyn, The holes are considered decorative - but if yours are too large for the blanket/gauge, you may employ "wrapping" at each turn. Then you have to decide whether to knit the wrap together with the slipped stitch ... or not. In the beginning of the Round-the-Bend design, I recommend knitting a swatch to experiment with all permeatations at the turning points.
Here is the passage from my book:
Even if you already know how to turn a corner in garter-stitch, we recommend that you make a swatch - not only obtain your gauge, but also to decide whether you want Holes or No Holes, and slip k’wise or slip p’wise on the way back.To demonstrate all four possibilities, knit the following (you can make it 6 possibilities by knitting the wrap together with the slipped stitch -- or not) ....
K7, Wrap (slip next stitch, wool forward, replace stitch), turn, k
Now turn the corner back up again as follows:
K9, turn, slip 1 k’wise, k back.
Take a look at your finished swatch and decide which of the above
Q: Don't I remember you - or your Mom - doing an issue about knitting gloves? Now that I have an interest in knitting gloves I'm having a hard time finding quality patterns. It seems that I remember you teaching techniques for fingers, etc. Any reccommendations?
A: Dear Ellie, Indeed, we have a pattern for I-Cord
Fingered Gloves in the book, Handknitting with Meg Swansen. Also,
check out Elizabeth Zimmermann's Sideways Garter-Stitch Gloves in her
new book Knit One Knit All.
If you have questions you wish to see answered in a future newsletter, please write to us at email@example.com.
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