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While there are many, many knitting magazines, books, and patterns published in the United States, this country is not the center of the knitiverse. Schoolhouse Press is perhaps uniquely aware of this – from its website, this small business offers choices that are hard to find outside of Europe. Knitters interested in ideas and patterns from “across the pond” would do well to check out their web site.
Founded in the 1950’s by the indomitable Elizabeth Zimmerman, the company is now headed by her daughter, Meg Swansen, a knitting luminary in her own right. It’s a family run business – Meg’s son, Cully, has recently published a book of his own celebrating and innovating upon Elizabeth’s Baby Surprise Jacket pattern. So-named because of its beginnings in an old schoolhouse, Schoolhouse Press has over the years maintained its homey, let’s-sit-gab-and-knit atmosphere by offering first a folksy newsletter, still in print. The site now also offers an equally relatable blog. The patterns created here are not high fashion for the most part, but they are interesting, fun to knit, and produce handsome, serviceable knits.
Browsing through the web pages reveal some fascinating finds. Interested in knitting Selbuvotter or learning about Faerosk Strikkebog? Eponymously named books are available. Some of these are not translated into English, but have charts using international symbols; the website notes when this is the case. Knitting traditions from the Baltic are well-represented in addition to those from Scandinavia and the British Isles. This is a great place to search for independently published books and those still in print but now hard to find, such as Anna Zilbourg’s Socks for Sandals and Clogs.
Individual patterns are also available for purchase. These range from lovingly restored (and sometimes updated) versions of Elizabeth Zimmerman’s “unventions” to designs created by lesser-known artists. Most of the patterns are very traditional. If you’re looking for Fair Isle or Scandinavian color designs, Schoolhouse Press is a treasure trove. There are also some lace patterns available as well. These patterns are not for beginner knitters, nor for the faint of heart, as advanced techniques are used.
The website also offers knitting materials, including knitting wool. Jamieson yarn is well-represented, and there is a smattering of other companies such as Swedish Ull. Schoolhouse Press also offers its own yarn line. Weights and yardage vary, but in general the prices are reasonable. Needles, buttons, and other tools can be purchased as well, although the stock in this area isn’t that different from that found in your local yarn shop or craft store.
Schoolhouse Press has hosted summer “knitting camps” for many years, and now offers dates for four summer weekends and a fall workshop. The cost starts at around seven hundred dollars without lodging, $850 and up if you want to include housing and meals. Transportation to and from Marshfield, Wisconsin, is extra. If you’re a long-time Elizabeth Zimmerman or Meg Swansen fan, these will be priceless events.
Disclaimer: I am not associated with Schoolhouse Press. I have paid for items bought here with my own funds.
Schoolhouse Press, www.schoolhousepress.com, 800-968-5648.
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