What does math have to do with knitting? Well, if you are Elizabeth Zimmerman – everything.

Elizabeth Zimmerman was to knitting what Henry Ford was to automobile manufacturing. Ms Zimmerman was part philosopher, part engineer and part scientist. She saw patterns and designs in life and the world around her. Elizabeth called herself The Opinionated Knitter. She had definite ideas about yarn, wool, needles and designing and encouraged fellow knitters to test their limits

Ms. Zimmerman became disenchanted by her friends demand to use printed patterns in their knitting. Ms. Zimmerman developed a mathematical formula for creating seamless sweaters in the round on circular needles. This allowed knitters to concentrate on other creative concerns, like yarn and stitches. This mathematical formula or “K” is all about the finished size of the sweater and the amount of stitches needed to make certain parts of a garment.

Sadly, Ms Zimmerman is no longer with us, but her designs and legacy live on through her daughter Meg Swansen and Schoolhouse Press. If you want to take your knitting to the next level, I suggest reading Elisabeth’s books. They are full of her reflections on her life, from childhood in England to the schoolhouse in Wisconsin where she lived with her family.

By Laura Nixon




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