12 Jan What do you want to know about Elizabeth Zimmermann?
Sarapomegranate has been a fan of my work on the knitting designer Elizabeth Zimmermann to the point of reading my entire dissertation, and she wants even more! We are working on a series of possibly 8 conversations regarding knitting and Elizabeth’s life and influence. I’m hoping to be able to cover many of the topics that get summarized only briefly, or swept aside completely in my usual hour-long presentation. But I’d love to hear your thoughts and interests as well, especially if you met, or were influenced by, Elizabeth, or heard one of my talks and want some follow up on something you found intriguing. We are planning a tentative schedule of Monday Feb 8th as our first publication. Yarns at Yin Hoo is the podcast title, and her website can be found at www.yarnsatyinhoo.com
Linda RosePosted at 21:41h, 16 February
Hello and thank you for inviting engagement. I am eager to hear all you know about the significance of Knitting Camp for the people who were devoted “campers.” My aunt, who I did not know as well as I would have liked, was an enthusiastic Knitting Camp attendee. I was surprised to see her in a photo that the Fruit Knitting podcast included in one of their episodes (featuring Meg Swanson). Many thanks for your work. (My handle on Rav is happycamper (all one word).)
Lilly MarshPosted at 08:03h, 28 October
Good morning, Linda,
Please, first accept my apology for neglecting this comment thread for so long. Several comments got lost in a website update/shift and I just recently found them. I hope you enjoyed the podcasts, and the information on Knitting Camp. It is quite an institution to this day. It almost has the feel of a pilgrimage for many of the repeat campers. It must have been exciting to see the image of your aunt. I was lucky enough to sit in on a few days several years ago and interview a few of the long term attendees. It was fascinating. Elizabeth clearly touched a deep chord in many of us and it continues to shape us.
Margaret StonePosted at 22:24h, 29 June
Hi Dr Lilly,
I have been listening to the podcasts and delighting in all you have had to say about EZ.
I live in a little valley in NSW Australia and bought my first copy of The Knitters Almanac in the late 1990’s and proceeded to read sections out to my family as we all enjoyed her turn of phrase and unique expressions. I had known of EZ for much longer having bought Knitting in the Old Way earlier and knitted several handspun jumpers using the percentage system. If I get to join the talk for Fiberworld I would love to hear more about the mix of domesticity and EZ craft and how she seamlessly worked the two around and how much that has influenced you as you navigate your craft and home life.
I home educated our 4 children from 1989 through to the mid 2000’s and worked hard at doing things creatively as part of our life to show them that being creative took time and effort and planning and great joy and could be done amidst the work we did to educate ourselves and the life we lived as a whole. Thus my particular interest in what you found so fascinating about how EZ did it and how it changed your thinking. Thanks again for the podcast and please pass my thanks on to Sara too.
For those of us who may not get to join the Fiberworld I hope you and Sara make the talks available after the festival is over.
Lilly MarshPosted at 07:56h, 28 October
Good Morning Margaret,
First, I must apologize for neglecting your comment for so long. I just recently found it. Several months ago, I changed how I manage my site and several comments got lost in the transition. I’m really very sorry.
I’m glad to hear that you are enjoying, and have enjoyed, Elizabeth and our talks. I am right with you: I think EZ’s writing was the first thing I loved about her. She is very funny, and yet she gets right to the heart of the matter. I started reading Knitting without Tears when my kids were toddlers in the late 80s and just fell in love myself with her independent adventurous spirit that was both tartly witty and full of affection. And her easy segue between family and work was exactly the point at which I had so much difficulty. I grew up in a very conservative, religious family with a strong model for my ‘true’ role as wife and mother. I was so lucky that the man I fell in love with just loved me, whoever that confused 23 year old girl would turn out to be. He encouraged me to explore my passions, as well as love our kids, and I found I could do it, just like Elizabeth was doing it. She was so clearly free to follow her heart, and so clearly had a family life that was full of affection, respect and profound love. The manner in which she used her family to drive her creative work, and to drive innovation in her designs simply exploded all the preconceived ideas I’d had planted in me about how a wife had to limit herself to and prioritize her husband’s interests, how a working mother couldn’t be good at both aspects, and even how a professional had to hide away family connections. Elizabeth’s kids needed sweaters and so she invented a methodology for the drop shoulder Norwegian ski sweaters; Elizabeth loved camping and so she worked out the cable pattern for the Vogue sweater while hanging with Arnold and his fishing by the riverside. She managed to make supper most nights (or at least, on enough nights) and write books!!
With all that exploding in my brain, my husband and I bought a small property and started keeping Corriedale sheep, chickens and dairy goats. I loved our small farm, and started selling handspinning fleeces. When my kids got to school age, we were so disappointed in the local schools conservative leanings, we also started homeschooling. A farm is such an amazing combination of art, science, mathematics, and literature. And like you and yours, we encouraged creativity and hard work, and the joy that comes from the pair of them.
And Elizabeth just continued to be at the center of it for me. When my girls finally left home, and I found myself at a bit of a creative loss in my gallery work, I found myself more and more interested in how we as individuals come by those beliefs about creativity and identity which shape us so profoundly, and how do those shift over time and new understandings. I went back to school and found a program that would allow me to explore that complexity in American Studies, and professors who wanted to know what, and who, had influenced me. When my major professor encouraged me to find out if Schoolhouse Press had saved Elizabeth’s materials, I found the Press had saved everything. This is a key requirement to research…that there be actual stuff (letters, journals, books, manuscripts, pictures, membership rolls,….) to study!
It has been a fascinating study, and continues to shift how I see myself and my work as I get older. I love talking about Elizabeth and realize more and more how very many women have struggled and grown to embrace themselves in reading her. As Linda Ligon says, she is the mother of us all. I hope you enjoyed the Fiberworld talk but I must admit the podcast series was much better 🙂 And they are of course still available.