A few days ago I mentioned a little book of essays I picked up in Vancouver, Beyond Stitch and Bitch: Reflections on Knitting and Life by Afi-Odelia Scruggs, published in 2004.  And seeing I just posted photos of the latest, wonderful Baby Surprise Jackets, based on Elizabeth Zimmermann’s pattern, from Lynda’s class, I am going to start sharing bits of the essay called “Elizabeth Zimmermann: Mother of the Craft.”

“At times, small events remind us that creativity not only endures but expands to touch and inspire others. That’s why the death of renowned knitter Elizabeth Zimmermann in 1999 was worthy of an obituary in the New York Times. Non-knitters must have been confused when they picked up the paper that day. The nation’s paper of record devoted almost a thousand words to commemorate the accomplishments of a professional knitter–yes, that’s what she was; no, the designation wasn’t a contradiction in terms.

Zimmermann wasn’t strictly a fashion designer, even though thousands of women and men still follow patterns she created almost a half century ago. She didn’t have the celebrity of the Missonis, the Italian family whose knitwear sells for thousands of dollars, nor the cachet of Kaffe Fasset, the British designer whose beautiful colors turn knitted sweaters into artistic canvases. Zimmermann had a single-minded passion for the craft that allowed her to see ‘knitting in everything’ and a gift to help others see as she did. By overturning the traditional approach to knitting with her revolutionary techniques, knitters were given the freedom to create patterns to suit themselves.

Her most famous ‘unvention,’ which was what she called the techniques she devised, was her method for making a sweater.”

To be continued! And if you are interested in reading the NYT obituary, it can be found here.