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I fully expect to get skewered by the knitting community for saying this, but I don’t really like Elizabeth Zimmermann’s books. I don’t hate them; I just don’t think she is the genius she’s cracked up to be in the knitting world.

Yes, the Baby Surprise Jacket is ingenious, from a design perspective. I love that there is practically no sewing involved, and no proportion problems (e.g. one side longer than the other) since it’s all knit in one piece. But it is an odd-looking little jacket with a bizarre sleeve length. It really looks more like a baby bathrobe.

Ms. Zimmermann is known for her story-telling style, which is both good and bad. It means you have to read pages and pages of her sometimes interesting commentary, sometimes inane babble, to get the actual pattern. Take the Knitter’s Almanac, for example. I had decided to make her gorgeous Norwegian mittens (May). The pattern is available at the end of the chapter, but it’s not the whole pattern. It is the very bare bones of the pattern, including the weight of yarn, gauge and size of the mittens. There are no step-by-step directions. I scan through the chapter leading up to the pattern, finding little clues and tips as well as her reasoning for making mittens in summer (excellent reasoning, I must say). But this is a frustrating way to read a pattern, especially when I realize that after I struggle through one mitten, I have to go through this painful process again to make the mate.

I’m not saying I need to be spoon-fed. I don’t mind having a pattern in full sentences rather than bullet points. But I need those sentences in a logical order, and all together, without having to pull bits and pieces of the instructions out of a short story. Am I wrong?

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