Sunday, October 17, 2010

A lovely day with Kathy Zimmerman

I ventured back to Pennsylvania yesterday for another class with Kathy Zimmerman. This time, I took some pictures so that you know exactly what you're missing! If you're ever in the Laurel Highlands east of Pittsburgh, make sure you stop in for a day at knitting nirvana, aka Kathy's Kreations.

Located in the picturesque, archetypal American small town of Ligonier, PA, Kathy's Kreations resides in a store that has been in the Zimmerman family for generations. The establishment, once an appliance store, features classic American architecture including bay windows and a stamped tin ceiling. When you enter the store, you're transported back to a gentler, better, simpler time - all while getting the very latest in knitting yarn, patterns, and projects.

Meet Kathy! She's always there with a smile to greet you and help you with your biggest knitting challenge. That's Tracy in the back; she and the rest of the staff are just as kind, knowledgeable, and helpful.

The store personifies order. You can actually find yarn in this store! And if you can't, Kathy and her staff can dig up the most esoteric knitting-related item in an instant.

I love Kathy's Kreations. It's my most favorite yarn store of all and I've been to a gazillion of them. Of course, the main reason the store is fabu is Kathy. Here we are, me adorned in my Augusta for the first time, a sweater that Kathy helped me with from the beginning. And look how much better it looks with a non-baggy shirt underneath.

Yesterday, she helped me with the entire basketful of projects I hauled from Maryland. First up: Tom's sweater. ACK! I showed Kathy the sweater, lamenting that the pattern calls for a half-repeat at one end, making the sweater unbalanced. I hate that! But Kathy took one look at it and said, "How big do you need this to be?" She measured and it's at least eight to ten inches too narrow. Damn! Yet another thing to rip out and start over again. Oh well, this debacle lets me fix the half-cable problem. This time, I'm going to do eight full pattern repeats rather than that half-repeat. Kathy sagely pointed out that I'd just completed one hell of a swatch. True that.

I was supposed to learn about combining cables and lace yesterday but got sidetracked by hours of discussion about the knitting industry in general and sweater designing in particular. Towards the end of the day, Kathy suggested that she show me how she designs and prepares patterns for submission for publication. Fascinating! I loved seeing how her ideas morphed into swatches and then into full-fledged patterns.

But then she reached into her own personal knitting bag and pulled out the most gorgeous cabled swatch I've ever, ever seen. Ever. She whipped up this lovely cabled masterpiece using a modified Japanese stitch and it's just plain glorious. It was love at first site. I must make make a cardigan with this stitch pattern! It's required by law.

But that's only half the miracle. The other part is the yarn. It is the most amazing DK weight alpaca/merino yarn I've ever seen and it hasn't even been released yet. She's got the very first skeins ever made. I'm telling you, I've never felt anything as glorious as this yarn. It's got all the softness of alpaca topped off with a dollop of soft merino that stablizes the often droopy alpaca. The result: the most perfect yarn ever. It will soon be released by Kraemer Yarns - but not soon enough.

I'm lamenting this fact when Kathy picks up her cell phone. It's 3:00 on a Saturday afternoon and I am drooling (figuratively - not literally!) all over this amazing yarn. I thought maybe she was calling her husband or something, but the next thing I know, Kathy's got the head of marketing at Kraemer Yarns on the phone and she's ordering me the very first bag of this yarn ever sold in the United States. WOW WOW WOW! Unbelievable!

SO... instead of making the Katharine Hepburn cardigan, I'm going to make an aran style sweater of my own design, created just for my own personal lumpiness, using an exclusive, unpublished cable pattern created by the illustrious Kathy Zimmerman, with the most glorious alpaca/merino yarn that hasn't even been released yet. Talk about knitting nirvana. I mean REALLY. Really! We start in two weeks. Can't wait!

I will keep you posted about this new sweater, the release of the yarn, and when Kathy's pattern will (hopefully) be published. Stay tuned.

But now you know why I venture every month 160 miles one way to see Kathy Zimmerman. Who wouldn't? Knitting dreams do come true, it can happen to you, if you're young at heart willing to make the trip! I can't say enough about Kathy and Kathy's Kreations. Go if you can. You will love it.


  1. Your enthusiasm just bursts through the monitor!
    What a grand time you are having!
    You have knitting fever,gal! are on your way to realizing your knitting goal!
    When I enter a yarn shop, the first thing I look for is to see if any of the staff is wearing knitted items..and it looks as if Kathy is wearing one of her comfy favorites.
    And such stock! I would definitely shop there. I must pop on over and view Kathy's Kreations via the web. t_a

  2. Can you feel the earth shaking???
    I'm jumping up and down and yelling "I wanna go!, I wanna go!!!". What a great yarn shop!!! And it's not that far. Only about a 2 1/2 hour drive. I will bribe Zip with several restaurant stops!

    Congratulations on being the first to try that amazing new yarn! And the newly created wonderful pattern. How cool is that!
    I can't wait to see the first pictures!

    I took the pictures for the Fit to Flatter tutorial and from the front I am straight up and down. OMG! No indentations! Like a monolith!!! Back to front I have the indentation at my sway back. Lordy, what a shape!
    I shall keep reading to see what to do with this information.

  3. Pat, I don't know if you have time or not, but on Saturday, October 30, Kathy is having a Fearless Knitting class where she's teaching how to make a sweater from scratch to fit your particular form. I'm driving up for the class - it's worth the hours in the car, I promise you! The class is from 1-4. Regardless, if you go visit, please tell her I sent you.

    Congrats on doing the F2F pictures. It's an amazing discovery, isn't it? You live your whole life with a particular body and you still don't know what you're shaped like!

  4. I only wish I lived that close. My small town is about 30 miles away from the nearest small yarn shop and not much in the way of instructors. I was drooling on my keyboard while looking at the pictures. I too have large size and too warm issues. I have stuck to socks for a long time while wishing for a need for a great sweater. Enjoy your luck. Candy

  5. Candy, I feel your pain. I drive 160 miles one way to get to Kathy Zimmerman's shop. There are at least 10 LYSs within a 30-mile radius of my house and none of them can hold a candle to Kathy's store. I wholeheartedly encourage you to make yourself a sweater that fits. Enough with the socks! Move onward and upward. If I can do it, you can, too.