Tag Archives: Elizabeth Zimmerman

Yarn Spotlight: Hawthorne

I feel a little bit like I’m turning into a shill for KnitPicks, but, well, I’m just in love with everything I’ve done with them for the last couple months.  (Sorry!  I promise this blog won’t become an annex for KnitPicks.)

A couple weeks ago, KP sent me, out of the blue, two of the most beautiful skeins of their new Hawthorne yarns:

Lovely, deep-chocolate-colored fingering weight in Fawn Kettle-dye, and gorgeous rainforest-colored sport weight in Mt. Tabor.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(I failed at taking photos today- sometimes I’m good at getting colors right, but today was not one of those days.  The yarn is actually much more beautiful in real life than in any of these pictures-all subtle variation and intense shifting colors.  Not washed-out and kind-of blueish.)

I’ve got a friend who’s expecting a baby  in a couple months, so I thought, “Hey!  Perfect timing!  I’ll make a baby sweater.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo I broke out my Opinionated Knitter, and whipped up my one millionth Baby Surprise Jacket on size 5 needles.  Here’s what I found out:

1.  The new sport-weight yarn is perfect for size 5 garter stitch, and makes a super cute BSJ.  It’s subtle colors and crazy-good stitch definition make a very sleek-looking BSJ.

2.  You need 2 skeins of Hawthorne Sport to actually complete the sweater.

3.  The Hawthorne Fingering, held double, is just a little thicker than the Hawthorne Sport.  The brown parts of the sweater ended up a little stiff.

4.  Babies really don’t care about stuff like gauge, so in the end, it doesn’t really matter.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe sweater, while not perfect, is super cute.   I always love how variegated/hand-painted yarn looks when used on super simple patterns, especially with garter stitch.

If I was to do this project again (which I’m sure I will, because… BSJ), I’d order two skeins of the Hawthorne Sport.

What would you make with Hawthorne?


(Also, don’t forget to sign up for the Spring Collection Giveaway!  My Dahlia Shawl would be really pretty in Hawthorne Fingering Weight Kettle Dye in Turkish Delight.  Just saying.)

Stellar’s Jay Sweater- Sleeves

My Stellar’s Jay Sweater is roughly based on Elizabeth Zimmerman’s EPS (Elizabeth’s Percentage System) sweaters.  EPS sweaters are based on the idea that the size of someone’s arm is roughly proportional to their bust size, which is roughly proportional to their neck size.  It’s not perfect for people with more unusual body types, but I’ve found that most people can make the EPS work for them on the whole.  It’s a great basic sweater recipe that you can customize, tweak and otherwise futz with to make yourself the sweater you’ve always dreamed of.

My Stellar’s Jay Cardigan is knit from the bottom up, which means that make the body first, from hem to armpits.  Then I cast on the sleeves at the cuffs, and knit up the arm.

I wanted a slightly fitted, tapered sleeve, so I cast on 22% of the stitches I used for my torso.  It sounds weird, but EZ spent years perfecting her formulas, until she figured out that a cuff should measure about 20-25% of the torso in diameter.  (Crazy, right?)

Then I slowly increased (increasing 2 stitches every 8 rows in a line along the inside of the arm) until I reached 64 stitches, which was my planned upper arm measurement (about 35% of my torso measurement).  Then, I knit along, without any more increases, until my sleeve was long enough for my arm.

The result was a gently tapered sleeve, that perfectly fit my arm.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe next thing to do was to join the arms to the body.

Pattern Spotlight: the Pi Shawl

Happy Pi day!  (In America, anyway March 14th (3/14) is Pi day.)  Let’s celebrate by eating pie and talking about Elizabeth Zimmerman’s super nifty pattern, the Pi Shawl.

This pattern (or un-pattern, since, like most of EZ’s patterns this one is more of a guideline or than written out instructions) is available in several of her books, but it was originally published in the Knitter’s Almanac.  Hey look!  There’s the Pi shawl right on the cover.

Elizabeth-Zimmermann-s-Knitter-s-Almanac-9780486241784The Pi shawl is a circular shawl knit in the round from the center out (so it’s great if you hate casting on.  Less great if you hate binding off).   It’s based on the relationship between circumference and diameter, so that every time you double your rows, you double the number of stitches by working a row of (knit 1, yo) increases.  So, all the shaping happens in only a handful of rows, which means that the rest of the shawl can be used for adding whatever lace, stripes, or whatever else you want.  It’s a great way to play around with new stitch patterns, or to try out a lace stitch that’s been bouncing around in your head.

You can go lacy and delicate with thin lace yarn and openwork designs.

2005150285_6c0618787c_z[1]You can do stripes and simple eyelets.PICT0342_medium2[1]You could even make a cozy round blanket with thick wooly yarn.

photo_1__medium2[1]Happy Pi Day!

Pattern Spotlight: The Baby Surprise Jacket



EZ was sort of the original knitting blogger, so I have a bit of a soft spot in my heart for her.  She published a quarterly knitting newsletter in the sixties that you could get delivered to your house for 25 cents.  (A deal, if you ask me.)  She has a ton of really clever patterns to her name, and they’re all written in an interesting “conversational” style, which I really enjoy (although I’ve heard some people complain about it).

In my opinion, her most interesting/clever/cool pattern is her “Baby Surprise Jacket” originally published in Fall of 1968 (though it’s been republished in many places now).  It’s a little garter-stitch baby cardigan knit all in one piece.  As you knit it up it looks like nothing more than a random pile of knitting.  But, when you bind off and execute a couple simple folds and sew in two short little seams (along the shoulders), you end up with an adorable little sweater.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis sweater is one of my favorite things to knit for my friends that are expecting.  Here’s why:

1.  It’s easy to adapt the pattern for either boys or girls, or for babies whose parents refuse to tell you if they are going to have a boy or a girl. (Jerks)

2.  I’ve probably made half a dozen of these sweaters, and I still get excited when I get to the final step and get to fold up the sweater.  It’s like magic.  Or origami.  Or magical origami.

3.  This pattern uses just about the same amount of yarn that a grown-up pair of socks uses, so one 100g skein of sock yarn will make an entire sweater.  And, depending on the brand of yarn, you might have a little extra to make a matching pair of bootees or a little stuffed animal or something.  AND, this pattern looks really cool when you use self-striping sock yarn.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo, go get yourself a copy of this pattern and make a bunch of baby sweaters.  (Even if you don’t have any babies/preggo ladies in your life, it’s a fun pattern to try just for the heck of it.)