Knitting Without Tears: Basic Techniques and Easy-to-Follow Directions for Garments to Fit All Sizes

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9780684135052: Knitting Without Tears: Basic Techniques and Easy-to-Follow Directions for Garments to Fit All Sizes

From Elizabeth Zimmermann, who “revolutionized the art of knitting” (New York Times), the classic knitting bible that removes the frustration and puts the fun back into knitting with easy-to-follow instructions and timeless designs.

Do you love to knit—and hate to purl? Have you ever started a sweater without enough yarn from the same dye lot to finish it? When you cast on, do you end up with a tail of yarn that’s maddeningly too long or too short? Elizabeth Zimmermann comes to the rescue with clever solutions to frustrating problems and step-by-step instructions for brilliant, timeless designs.
In Knitting Without Tears, you’ll find elegant designs for:

  • Color-pattern Norwegian ski sweaters
  • Seamless patterned-yoke sweaters
  • Hooded garter-stitch jackets for babies
  • Watch caps, socks, slippers, mittens, and more!

This classic and influential book is poised to inspire a whole new generation of knitters who have yet to discover the joys and comforts of knitting. As the lady herself once put it, “properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn't hurt the untroubled spirit either.”

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Elizabeth Zimmermann (1910-1999) was born near London, England, and attended art school in Lausanne, Switzerland, and Munich, Germany, before immigrating to the U.S. in 1937. Frustrated by magazine editors who translated her conversational knitting instructions into abbreviated code, she started her own knitting newsletter and launched Schoolhouse Press, a mail-order business that still sells knitting supplies, books, and videos under her daughter Meg Swansen's guiding hand. In the mid-1960s she hosted The Busy Knitter, a nationally syndicated public television show, and by the early 1970s had become an icon of the knitting world. This and her three lively instructional books -- Knitting Around, Knitter's Almanac, and Knitting Workshop -- are treasured by knitters around the world.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter 1

The Opinionated Knitter

Most people have an obsession; mine is knitting.

Your hobby may be pie-baking, playing the piano, or potbelly-stove collecting, and you can sympathize with my enthusiasm, having an obsession of your own. Will you forgive my single-mindedness, and my tendency to see knitting in everything?

Carvings and sculpture remind me only of Aran and other textured designs; when I see a beautiful print my first thought is how it would adapt to color pattern knitting; confronted by a new fashion, I immediately start drawing in the air with my forefinger to see if it would suit itself to knitting, and if so, how -- which way the grain should run, if the shape could be knitted in, and what stitch would be most effective.

So please bear with me, and put up with my opinionated, nay, sometimes cantankerous attitude. I feel strongly about knitting.

What follows is an attempt to explain some of the ideas that come while designing knitted garments, and during the pleasant hours spent working on the plain straight pieces.

I am taking it for granted that you are already familiar with the rudiments of the craft.

Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn't hurt the untroubled spirit either.

When I say properly practiced, I mean executed in a relaxed manner, without anxiety, strain, or tension, but with confidence, inventiveness, pleasure, and ultimate pride.

If you hate to knit, why, bless you, don't; follow your secret heart and take up something else. But if you start out knitting with enjoyment, you will probably continue in this pleasant path.

Consider the agreeable material and tools. (I admit to a rooted preference for wool.)

WOOL

Soft wool from the simple silly sheep can be as fine as a cobweb, tough and strong as string, or light and soft as down. There are scientific reasons why wool is the best material for knitting, and into these I will not go. I only know that it is warm, beautiful, and durable. Woolen socks never become cold and clammy, however wet. A woolen sweater is so water-resistant that when dropped overboard it floats long enough to give you ample time to rescue it. The surface on caps and mittens made of wool repels all but the most persistent of downpours. I have in mind a particularly beautiful cap made of the finest wool and angora at seven stitches to the inch in the lovely designs of Bohus in Sweden. It has been worn for two seasons by a dedicated ski-teacher in all manner of blizzards and dirty weather, and she swears that it is the warmest and driest hat she has -- snow perches on it but does not penetrate.

For people allergic to wool, one's heart can only bleed. Synthetics are a marvelous substitute, but a substitute is all they are. The allergic must be grateful that they didn't live in the Dark Ages of fifty years ago when one kept warm in winter with wool, or froze to death in linen and cotton. Of course, some avoided pleurisy by swathing themselves in sables.

It is true that a synthetic sweater can be washed and dried in machines, but to me this rather reduces it to the level of a sweatshirt. Washing a real sweater is akin to bathing a baby, and brings the same satisfaction of producing a clean, pretty, sweet-smelling creature -- very rewarding.

There is a persuasive old wives' tale about one reason why wool shrinks. It goes, "Never wind your wool into a tight hard ball, as this will make it stretched and taut. You knit it up into a sweater. Then it gets dirty and you wash it. The wool, encouraged by the dampness, goes back to its original unstretched state, with the result that the whole sweater shrinks." Think it over.

"Ply" is a frequently misunderstood concept. It has nothing to do with the thickness of yarn, except in a relative way, and everything to do with its construction.

A ply is a strand of wool. Two, three, four, or more strands are twisted together to make 2-ply, 3-ply, 4-ply, or many-plied wool. Since the strands or plies can be of any thickness, it is clear that the thickness of wool does not depend on the number of plies but on the thickness of the individual ply. I have used 9-ply wool which was no thicker than 4-ply knitting worsted, and I'm sure all are familiar with 2-ply wool so heavy and bulky that it knits up at 2 1/2 stitches to 1 inch.

So when buying wool be guided by the recommended GAUGE rather than by the number of plies, and compare this recommended GAUGE with the GAUGE specified in your knitting instructions.

When wondering how much wool to buy, ask the saleslady. She knows by experience. If she doesn't know and isn't interested, go to another store. In fact, start off by going to the best specialty yarn shop or good department store that you can find. It is not wise to shop around for cheap wool unless you are very experienced, or are willing to risk spending hours of work on an object that will shrink, fade, or run. A well-made sweater, knitted with good will and good wool, is beyond price; why try to save a dollar on the material?

Consult the nice expert in the wool shop, and if she doesn't suggest taking an extra skein as insurance against running short, take one anyway. Find out the time limit on returns and exchanges, and mark this on your sales slip. And keep the sales slip with the wool, OK? The saleslady will then love you. Even if you never get around to returning the extra skein, think what a disaster it would be to run short, and to fail to match the dye lot. Anyway, extra skeins are always useful for socks, caps, mittens, color patterns, or stripes.

If you prefer to economize and love to knit, make your sweaters with very fine wool and many stitches. A thin sweater weighs much less than a great heavy one, and, broadly speaking, wool sells by weight. Fine knitting gives you many more hours of your favorite hobby before you have to sally forth and make another capital investment.

Discrepancies will occur between dye lots; even with white, even with black. Never start a project without sufficient wool to finish it.

But on a rainy winter's night who can resist three or four skeins of wool, pleading to be made into a sweater? "I'll go to the wool shop first thing, and match the wool." Oh dear. Famous last words.

Well, there are several remedies.

If you can find an almost perfect match, the two shades may be successfully blended by working them in alternate rows for an inch or two.

Seams will also help to hide the slight color difference of a close match. You may make one or both sleeves of the new color, which will fool the eye.

If the match is Not Good At All, you can be glad you are making a Zimmermann sweater (I hope you are). Several of these start at the bottom on sleeves and body; the three pieces are united at the underarm, and the shoulders or yoke are worked last. This offers endless opportunities for using up odd wools. Few people embark on a new sweater overnight without material to get them at least to the underarm. So when the wool runs out decide that you had decided on a sweater with a contrasting yoke anyway. Eureka. If you are determined to have a one-color garment, intersperse a few purl rounds where the dye lot change occurs. This is enough to fool most eyes, even if it never fools yours -- you know too much. You can put in a small pretty color pattern at the point of change, which may please you so much that you may decide to continue with different color patterns up to the neck. This is one way of achieving a "famous masterpiece of taste and imagination." Save a few yards of the original color for one of the last patterns, and the whole thing will look as if it had been planned.

NEEDLES

Needles are made of so many materials that you can go dizzy taking your pick. Years ago you had your choice of wood, bone, steel, or luxurious tortoiseshell and ivory. The contemporary ones are usually of metal or plastic, and are firm or flexible respectively.

The U.S., for some reason, employs different size numbers from those in Europe, which are measured in millimeters. A needle gauge is a very useful thing to own, although it and the needles may vary infinitesimally, which sometimes leads to confusion. Occasionally one comes upon a mature needle gauge in which the holes have actually become enlarged through constant use, or by the forcing through of too large needles.

This all points to the admonition not to take needle sizes too seriously, especially if you tend to knit loosely.

Tight knitters lead a hard and anxious life. They grab needles and wool so tightly that great strain is put upon their hand muscles, nay, arm, shoulder, and even neck muscles in extreme cases. They must let go of everything from time to time, just to rest, and then resume knitting, with what looks like a careworn expression, although they neither admit, nor, in most cases, believe this. The tight little stitches they make must be forced along their (right) needle, and more tight little stitches force up along their (left) needle, to be squeezed in their turn. The resulting fabric, in knitting worsted, with #8 needles, can have a GAUGE of five stitches to one inch, because of the great tightness. The identical GAUGE may be easily and calmly achieved by a loose knitter on, say, #5 needles.

If you are a beginning knitter, don't try to knit tightly in order to make your work look neat.

If you are a habitually tight knitter, try to kick the habit.

Loose knitting tends to make your stitches look somewhat uneven, but what of it? Are you trying to reproduce a boughten machine-made sweater? Besides, it is surprising what blocking and a few washings will do to uneven knitting.

I used to think that people in the Olden Days were marvelously even knitters, because all really ancient sweaters are so smooth and regular. Now I realize that they probably knitted just as I do, rather erratically, and that it is Time, the Great Leveller, which has wrought the change -- Time, and many washings.

Don't fuss too much about one size in needles; it is GAUGE that is important, and this does not invariably depend on needle size. If you want to make a sock and can find only three #2 needles, add unto them a #1 or a #3; it will make very little difference if you are a loose knitter. I have, on a bet, made a sock on four different-sized needles without ill effect. One tends to give one's fingers too little credit for their innate good sense. They feel when a too-thick needle has arrived on the scene, and will tighten up a tad. Confronted by a really skinny needle, they will help the little thing along by loosening up, and no harm done. One is in this knitting pastime for pleasure, not for toil, anxiety, and doubt, so don't WORRY. If you are a tight knitter by chance instead of by choice, practice knitting loosely, and it may change your life.

Different needle materials are:

Wood

Very useful in the larger sizes -- say #10 to #15. Well-worn wooden needles can become well loved. Their benevolent clack is soothing, and brings back the feeling of childhood. New needles, not mellowed, may be broken in with sandpaper or steel wool, and light applications of paste wax or linseed oil, but the best finish is attained by years of use, preferably with natural oiled wool.

Bone

These have become quite rare, and should be treasured. Sandpaper helps them too.

Steel

The original clicking needles, which come in small sizes, for socks and lace. They tend to rust, so get out the steel wool, and oil them lightly before putting them away.

Tortoiseshell and Ivory

Museum pieces. Cherish them.

Celluloid

The famous old fire hazard, but why sit so close to the candle? Extremely brittle; not to be sat upon.

Aluminum

Good rigid needles. If the outer coating has worn off, watch out when using them with natural oily wool (sometimes called "boot wool"). The lanolin in the wool causes the metal to blacken, and this will come off on your knitting. No great tragedy, as it washes out quite easily, but rather unsettling. A #6 aluminum needle has been known to furnish an excellent emergency shearpin for an outboard motor. It once saved us seven miles of paddling. Then I had to spend hours re-pointing the needle on rocks, having nobly, but foolishly, offered the business end instead of the knob end for sacrifice.

Plastic-Coated Metal

An excellent rigid needle. Bends when sat upon, but is easily bent back.

Plastic or Nylon

Splendid for those who like flexible needles.

Walrus Tusk

It is pure boasting to mention these. I own a few sets, and use them reverently. They are as gently curved as the tusk from which they sprang.

That takes care of straight needles. Find out which kind you prefer. Some have blunter points than others and these are fine for loose knitters, while tight knitters are more comfortable with relatively sharper points. They come in sets of two, with knobs, for working back and forth, or in sets of four, without knobs, for circular knitting. In Europe they come in fives, as there the sock itself is on four needles, with the fifth one used for knitting. Emergency knobs for double-pointed needles may be made from tightly wound rubber bands, or from those rubber needle guards which are never to be found when wanted. Dorothy Case links her needle guards with wool; then they can both get lost together.

To sharpen the knob end of a wood or plastic needle, try the pencil sharpener and sandpaper.

Circular Needles

Circular needles are my particular pets. They have changed enormously since my youth, when they were formed of a piece of wire with knitting-needle-like points. The joint between wire and point was far from strong, but it rarely broke apart so that you could honorably throw the thing away. One little strand of wire would come loose, and catch on every single stitch brought up to the left point to be knitted. You could resourcefully reverse the whole piece of knitting, so that the stitches were pulled over the faulty end on the right side, which didn't seem to matter, but then the other end would soon start fraying. I'm pretty sure that this is the reason for the rooted dislike of circular knitting evinced by some of my generation; I can think of no other cause. Younger people are more open-minded and love circular knitting, but suffer under a great paucity of directions for the technique. This gap I am valiantly trying to fill.

Circular needles are now beyond reproach, as far as durability goes. Different versions vary considerably. You can find them in all-nylon, or in nylon with metal points, and in a great variety of lengths. I use the 16" and the 24" lengths only; the extra 3" on a 27" length just seem to get in my way. But even a 36" length is happily used by some.

I like the 16" length for sleeves, caps, and children's sweaters. The 24" length will take care of any sweater, skirt or shawl that I care to make. When I tell you that once in the latter stages of an ambitious project I had well over a thousand stitches on a 24" needle, would yo...

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Book Description SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 2008. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 269 x 206 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. Do you love to knit-and hate to purl? Have you ever started a sweater without enough yarn from the same dye lot to finish it? When you cast on, do you end up with a tail of yarn that s maddeningly too long or too short? Elizabeth Zimmermann comes to the rescue with clever solutions to frustrating problems and step-by-step instructions for brilliant, timeless designs. In Knitting Without Tears,you ll find elegant designs for: Color-pattern Norwegian ski sweaters Seamless patterned-yoke sweaters Hooded garter-stitch jackets for babies Watch caps, socks, slippers, mittens, and more! This classic and influential book is poised to inspire a whole new generation of knitters who have yet to discover the joys and comforts of knitting. As the lady herself once put it, properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn t hurt the untroubled spirit either. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780684135052

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Book Description SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 2008. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 269 x 206 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. Do you love to knit-and hate to purl? Have you ever started a sweater without enough yarn from the same dye lot to finish it? When you cast on, do you end up with a tail of yarn that s maddeningly too long or too short? Elizabeth Zimmermann comes to the rescue with clever solutions to frustrating problems and step-by-step instructions for brilliant, timeless designs. In Knitting Without Tears,you ll find elegant designs for: Color-pattern Norwegian ski sweaters Seamless patterned-yoke sweaters Hooded garter-stitch jackets for babies Watch caps, socks, slippers, mittens, and more! This classic and influential book is poised to inspire a whole new generation of knitters who have yet to discover the joys and comforts of knitting. As the lady herself once put it, properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn t hurt the untroubled spirit either. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780684135052

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Book Description SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 2008. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 269 x 206 mm. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. Do you love to knit-and hate to purl? Have you ever started a sweater without enough yarn from the same dye lot to finish it? When you cast on, do you end up with a tail of yarn that s maddeningly too long or too short? Elizabeth Zimmermann comes to the rescue with clever solutions to frustrating problems and step-by-step instructions for brilliant, timeless designs. In Knitting Without Tears,you ll find elegant designs for: Color-pattern Norwegian ski sweaters Seamless patterned-yoke sweaters Hooded garter-stitch jackets for babies Watch caps, socks, slippers, mittens, and more! This classic and influential book is poised to inspire a whole new generation of knitters who have yet to discover the joys and comforts of knitting. As the lady herself once put it, properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn t hurt the untroubled spirit either. Bookseller Inventory # BZV9780684135052

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