I've just finished knitting an EZ's Surplice Baby Jacket as a gift for a young friend who's recently had a baby boy - Alexander.
It's such a natty design - the applied i-cord that neatly edges the neck opening; the so-practical adjustable buttoning at the waist where the button-holes continue around the bottom edge as a decorative feature; the ribbing added to the sleeves to cosy the jacket. But of course what I really love is the regularity of garter stitch, the boxiness of the shape and the way the stripes form such neat shapes. So satisfying.
So much has now been said and written about Elizabeth Zimmermann. But I find it interesting that I've only recently discovered her, despite being an occasional knitter, and generally interested in fibre crafts through the 1960s and 70s. I suspect Elizabeth Zimmermann was not widely known because of the vagaries and restrictions of publishing and book exporting to Australia. It's only relatively recently that books and publications from the USA have been freely available in Australia, and of course the internet and on-line shopping have rapidly globalised knitting contacts and knowledge.
I bought my first Elizabeth Zimmermann book last year - The Opinionated Knitter - because I wanted to knit a Baby Surprise Jacket, my first excursion into Zimmermania. It's such an attractive book, and it's so appropriate that it is square. The seductively beautiful photographs feature members of EZ's family, which enhances the book's folksy charm and makes the patterns seem more possible and accessible. These characteristics are further developed by the reproduction of the obviously type-written Newsletters and sketched diagrams.
I fell in love with the book, and was captivated by the EZ character. I would probably never make many of the garments or accessories. On the whole, I'm not interested in making or wearing traditional shetland jumpers or yoked fair-isle garments. I think what I most admire is the practical, 'let's make it happen' attitude that underpins all her work and writing. She's not pretentious, though she is opinionated, and I like that combination.
And of course I love her love of garter stitch and the way she exploits and features its mathematical precision. Having already made the Baby Surprise Jacket (twice) and a February Baby Sweater, it's been fun to add the Surplice to my EZ repertoire.
EZ's Baby Surplice Jacket
Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer 2007
Filatura di Crosa Zara