Friday, December 08, 2006

Should I Elizabeth Zimmermann it?

I've been reading Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting Without Tears in which she provides a recipe for creating seamless sweaters in the round. It really is so brilliant and so simple (I think). The basic premise is that you figure out what size around you want the sweater to be (bust size, basically) and then figure out based on gauge how many stitches you need to get that size. Then, everything else, like the number of stitches for sleeves and number of stitches for the neck, is just a percentage of this. I've been very intrigued with trying this out for several reasons:

1. By-night, I am a knitter, but by-day I am in a quantitative arena (I'm a biostatistician), so I like that knitting involves some math every now and then (sorry, yes I am dorky).
2. My husband likes Beau in Rowan Vintage Style, but the pattern booklet is like $25 and I don't love enough of the other patterns to justify the purchase. This will be tricky to do in a seamless way, though, because of the collar and the squares in the yoke.
3. I saw this on

It's a Karabella Aurora pattern and costs $5. I am tempted to buy it, but I feel like it's a great candidate for the Elizabeth Zimmermann seamless yoke approach. It would be easy to replicate the shape, but I can't tell what the exact ribbing and cablings are.

But, I do already have a sketch out for my knock off of Bea that is a top-down seamless approach. I wrote it before I read Knitting Without Tears, so I need to check that my percentages are correct! Maybe I'll just wait and try that one first. I can spare $5. In the meantime, I'll start sketching out Beau . . . anyone have ideas for how to incorporate the collar into a top-down approach?


  1. That Karabella sweater is gorgeous--it does look like it would work using the seamless method. Good luck if you attempt it!

  2. Dang that's a beautiful sweater! You've just have to give it a try!

  3. I don’t know about that collar on Beau. It’s a double-placket, so it might be tricky to work into seamless construction. Plus, it kind of stands up a bit, so it might need those side and base seams to stabilize it.

    As to the Karabella pattern, it looks to me like the cable is a simple nine-stitch plait, maybe worked over 12 rows instead of 8? Not sure. I would say 8 rows but it looks a little more elongated…maybe swatch both and see. The rib looks to me like it’s 1X1, which is weird because the yarn is only a worsted weight but the rib looks more like aran or chunky. Maybe because it’s in a small size… hmmm… interesting. I’m looking forward to seeing your progress on these knock-offs.

  4. Anonymous7:58 PM

    I've done the percentage based pattern for sweaters in the round. IMO, they are not for well-fitted garmetns. They tend to be loose and fit similar to a sweatshirt. You're much better off taking individual measurements (ie: wrist, forearm, bicep) and using row gauge divided by the length measurement to determine how to space your increments. Good luck!


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