the opinionated knitter by Elizabeth Zimmermann

Happy new financial year! I’m writing this on my new computer (bought at 5.30pm last night since they couldn’t fix my old one) and have a gorgeous book to review.

I love my knitting books and think I have a new favourite. The Opinionated Knitter is a collection of newsletters by Elizabeth Zimmermann who is a knitting legend from the US. But the book is more than that because it has photos of her, her family, her projects, tips for each project, funny little stories and is just so beautifully put together. And I’m knitting one of the patterns from the book but I keep sitting down to read the book and laugh or have a little cry. It really is that special.

Here is a little section that I loved when she is talking about knitting

“It can be taken anywhere, stuffed into a bag or pocket and the plain bits may be worked in the charming company of friends, sitting or waiting in the car, or at any time when one wishes to idle while preserving an appearance of busy industry. The ivory tower may be used when actually designing a pattern or putting in a yoke on a plain sweater……” (this is from p87 ).

She writes so beautifully. Her patterns take some getting used to because she writes them matter of factly for you to follow as you go – counting the ridges of your garter stitch rather than detailed pattern instructions. Now if that makes you panic then don’t worry because there are so many helpful tips online and especially in ravelry. I even found some detailed youtube videos here for the Baby Surprise Jacket which helped me last night just to confirm I was on the right track.

I think this book is a must for all knitters and I just know that the knitters in my family would love it as it would be a trip down memory lane for them and for the newer knitters its a look back at knitting. The patterns are a great mix of baby, children’s and adults and for hats, cardigans, jumpers, a blanket and a few more.

The writing is just beautiful, you get to find out more about her life and her no nonsense but funny way of looking at everything. I am so glad I picked up this book and decided to get it. I found mine for $30 on amazon but have just seen that knitpicks are delivering to australia and it’s less than $24 here.  And what’s really nice is that the patterns appear in the book taken from the newsletters with the typewriter print and diagrams too. Typewriters? Remember those? I know! I remember our blue one.

I just can’t say enough about this book and just had to share a review of it with you. I’ve had The Knitters’ Almanac in my knitting book collection for ages and this complements it nicely. The Knitters Almanac is a small paperback full of lovely patterns and notes. Elizabeth’s family continues to run the family business Schoolhouse Press which you can find here full of lovely things too.



  1. I have had that book for quite a few years now but have not knit anything from it. I loved reading her stories though and they are always great to read again. I remember learning on a little black typewriter in school, and then the green electric typewriter. They were the years that liquid paper was quite popular. At least with computers you dont have to print something before you realise there is a mistake in it!

  2. What a funny coincidence. I am a renewed knitter and just finished off a cowl with the Elizabeth Zimmerman sewn cast off. I was wondering who she was…….and here is the answer!

  3. I have made the baby surprise jacket and the pattern is a little confusing!! Turns out beautiful once you get the hang of it

  4. Sounds great!! I have heard so many good things about EZ, but haven’t really ever read any of her works or knitted a pattern – maybe I should!

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