Blog #5 Meg Swansen on Increasing and Arnold Zimmermann
The increase--knit into the front & back of a stitch--has never been one of my favorites. It produces a horizontal bar across the front of your knitting. The only time I ever used it was when I knitted the Dickey on page 38 of EZ’s book, Knitting Around, and increased at the beginning of every row on the chest section. For a steady, repetitive line of increases, it made a nice texture-detail that I found pleasing. But for only an occasional increase... no thanks.
Until - enter Shirley Grade, owner - for many decades - of The Yarn House shop in Elm Grove WI, and long time friend of EZ’s. I have described Shirley’s alternative front-&-back increase in a previous Newsletter, which included several photographs. But some knitters were still mystified and asked follow-up questions. Now, let us take advantage of streaming video to show Shirley’s modification (and dare I say, Vast Improvement) slowly and clearly.
If you have watched my mother tell her Mistake Sweater story at the end of The Knitting Glossary Streaming Video, the other knitter in that story - with whom the contest was undertaken - was the very same Shirley Grade mentioned above.
Shirley had a favorite EZ story she liked to tell when giving presentations to knitters: Early in their friendship, Shirley was visiting Elizabeth to discuss details of opening The Yarn House. The knitting talk was fascinating to both of them, and afternoon wore on. Suddenly my mum heard a car coming up the driveway.
“Oh!” she said, “Arnold’s home. I will introduce you ... but brace yourself, he is very charming!”
Now that I have mentioned my father, I can reveal an email I received recently from someone who feels we have given Arnold short shrift:
"I just finished reading several EZ books, and saw the nice NYT obituary. Nowhere is there any mention of the Old Man (Arnold) and if he survived her, or when he died. As they were so very much life partners I am hoping they were not separated long and it seems he warrants a mention as well. I have been reading the digressions to my own dear husband as bedtime stories and he loves them. Perhaps you could fill me in, and maybe others are curious as well; a short bio on the website would be appropriate.
It blows my mind that I did not hear about EZ sooner ... She is a genius and a treasure."
Although Elizabeth writes frequently about Arnold, a.k.a. The Gaffer, or The Old Man (in Knitter’s Almanac), and there are a number of photographs of him in Knitting Around and The Opinionated Knitter, I can expand a bit upon his background.
Arnold Ernst Zimmermann, the eldest of 3 children, was born in Munich, Germany in 1909. His mother, Maria Siebold, was Swiss and his father, Walter Zimmermann, Bavarian.
The Zimmermann family was well known in the European art world. Arnold’s father Walter, was curator of the Glaspalast Exhibition Hall, in München, and Walter’s brother Ernst R. Zimmermann was a painter.
Walter’s and Ernst R.’s father, Ernst Zimmermann, was a famous painter and a Professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. Ernst’s brother, Alfred, was a painter and an opera singer.
Arnold’s great-grandfather was the most well-known of all: Reinhard Sebastian Zimmermann was painter to the court of the Duke of Baden, and some of his work hangs in Munich’s Alte Pinakothek museum to this day. In 1986, a book was written about his life and works (available on Amazon, auf Deutsch).
Arnold went to school in Munich, and spent his summers swimming, sailing and fishing at the family’s house on the shores of Lake Chiemsee, near Prien. Through the winters, he skied at every opportunity and competed in both alpine and cross-country events.
After graduation, he apprenticed at Spatenbräu in Munich - a brewery which is still owned by his uncle’s family.
My parents’ meeting, skiing courtship, marriage and eventual immigration to the US in 1938, is described (with photographs) in EZ’s book, Knitting Around.
Upon arrival in New York, Arnold went to work for Liebmann’s Brewery in Brooklyn. EZ and Arnold lived in Richmond Hill, Queens, where my brother, sister and I were born. Eventually Arnold moved his family to New Hope PA, after accepting a superior job at Trenton Old Stock brewery in NJ, just down the Delaware River from New Hope. When that business folded, AZ was snapped up by Schlitz brewery in Milwaukee, and we all moved to the suburb of Shorewood, WI.
As brewmaster at Schlitz, he developed new brewing techniques and products, and travelled the world for the company. By the time he took early-retirement, AEZ had become Vice-President of Brewing Operations for Schlitz.
He and Elizabeth retired to an old schoolhouse in Babcock WI where they explored the state on his BMW motor cycle - with EZ riding behind and knitting; footage of this is included in the Knitting Around Streaming Video.
The Old Man was an avid sportsman and - with his family; and later with just Elizabeth - spent several weeks each year, camping in the wilds of Canada.
In central WI, he fished, hunted, and skied the Birkebiner cross-country race, and did very well in the senior's class.
My father was also a linguist (fluent in French, English, Spanish and Latin(!)), a fly-fisherman, and author of several children's books (Fafnerl the Ice Dragon, Troll Island, and The Tale of Alain, Catalog, and the Lonely Lake).
He died two years after Elizabeth.
(image courtesy of Joy Slayton)