EZ Swatching

Like most knitters (I think), I don’t especially love to swatch. When I start a new project, I always go back and forth as to whether I really *need* to swatch, and if I do, how small of a swatch can I get away with.

And on nearly every skimpy-swatching occassion, I end up with a garment that doesn’t fit very well. Argh.

So, I’m starting a new sweater project (a KAL with the lovely Espino) and here I go again debating if and how much I should swatch. The Devil on my shoulder says, “oh just make a little square, back and forth, it’s close enough.” The Angel on the other shoulder says “you better make your swatch in the round or you *know* it won’t be accurate!” And then Elizabeth Zimmerman walks up behind me, swats the Devil/Angel off my shoulders, and says “why not knit a swatch cap?” Oh you wise and wonderful woman.

I’m not sure why – but the swatch cap doesn’t *feel* like a swatch. It’s a hat! I’m not knitting for calibration (which really isn’t a bad reason to be knitting), I’m knitting a future finished object that will have a practical-wearing use. And, I’ve also learned the hard way, if you don’t block your swatch, then why on earth did you even bother knitting a swatch?? The swatch cap is a perfect little blocking garment too (dries fast).

So, I’m half way through my Merle/BT Loft swatch cap and I’m so glad I listened to EZ. Granted, I’m going to take a little longer to get to the sweater (sorry, Espino, I’m knitting as fast as I can), but I’m confident that this sweater is going to fit me (and not the poor person I gift it to because I can’t bear to see this beautiful sweater just sitting in my closet).

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Updated Edition of EZ’s Knitting Workshop

When I read in Meg’s newsletter a week ago that the Updated Edition of Knitting Workshop was finally available, I didn’t even finish reading the newsletter – I went immediately to Schoolhouse Press online and ordered my copy. [Then I finished reading the always-delightful newsletter.]

It arrived yesterday and I (again) immediately dropped everything to read through it.

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Cully and Meg have worked a masterpiece here.  Knitting Workshop has always been one of my favorite EZ book AND favorite knitting-help books, but often the instructions were a teeny bit lacking and often the pictures (B&W) weren’t easy to see.  The Updated Edition still has all of EZ’s original text but is now supplemented with TONS of editor’s notes, color pictures, hand drawn diagrams showing exactly the processes being described, and on and on.  Cully and Meg added a few EZ journal entries they have found over the years and fit them into the book where it seemed appropriate.  A wonderful extra addition.

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If you love EZ (then I probably don’t need to tell you this but), you should pick up this book as soon as possible.  It has certainly just become my #1 go-to knitting-help book.  If you appreciate the way things are explained in Knitting with Two Colors (Meg Swansen & Amy Detjen), then you will appreciate the updated Knitting Workshop as well.

Good Knitting!

Next project – the hooded Pelerine

I’ve wanted to make EZ’s Pelerine for sometime, and I’ve finally decided now-is-the-time.  I’m going to turn a good amount of this:

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into a hooded Pelerine. As quoted (but who said it??) in SO40, “The total man (l’homme tout entier) must be driven from the thickets of Philistinism where he likes to find cover.”  Therefore, even though EZ’s version doesn’t have a hood, *I will figure it out.*  I’m going for the garter stitch version (of course).

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Reflecting this morning, gee I sure don’t know what I would do without knitting.  As someone with high anxiety/panic disorders, knitting really is something that keeps me sane.  I can’t quite put a finger on *why* it keeps me sane, but I think there are many facets – something about controlling the fiber and making it do what you want (yarn dictator!), something about being creative/making something out of nothing/making something unique that you thought of, something about the repeated motion of making stitches, something about both zen-like stockinette and the mental challenge of complicated stitch patterns, something about how deeply rooted knitting is in history of humanity, something about how mathematical/rational most stitch patterns are, something in how comforting the feel of wool is in your hands…it’s all of the above and then some.

I really appreciate the last chapter in Anna Zilboorg’s book Knitting for Anarchists.  She writes, “As we watch them [our hands] work, giving them the instructions of what to do next when the pattern changes, feeling the yarn and enjoying the rhythm, we find all sorts of knots relaxing, the psyche quieting down.  Who can knit when consumed by a critical spirit or while thrashing about with envy and irritation?  Petty demons can be driven out by knitting needles.”  She goes on to comment that though knitting does wonderful things, it isn’t meditation and it isn’t prayer.  I heartily agree with her, but I’m thankful for knitting all the same.  For me, it’s one more powerful and precious tool which with I process and deal with the world I live in.