My Next Project: Cable Knitting Perfection

To me, there's nothing more lovely than an intricately cabled sweater. Kathy Zimmerman is one of my favorite designers. She's known as the Cable Queen, and her sweaters are simply beautiful.


Setting out to design the perfect sweater to wear on a getaway weekend at a New England B&B, Kathy Zimmerman came up with this lovely, body-skimming pullover.

A master in cable variations, Kathy has staggered cables-some embellished
with garter-stitch centers-in a central panel. Vertical ribs framing the panel
add dimension and texture to the rest
of the sweater, and draw it in slightly
for a closer fit.

Trimming the edges in a contrast
color provides a little punch.

They're also a joy to knit. The knitting is challenging and pleasurable, and the finished sweater is a work of art. Cable knitting can be so gratifying!

I'm looking for a new sweater project, and I think Kathy's Bed and Breakfast Pullover, shown at left, might be it! Isn't it gorgeous?

Check out the following profile of Kathy; she's as fascinating as her designs.

Creating Classic Cables and Cardigans

One of the first things you notice about Kathy Zimmerman is she always wears hand-knitted sweaters. In spring and summer, she sports cotton tees; fall and winter, wooly, cabled pullovers. Remarkable, yes—but even more impressive when you realize she designed every single one. Apparently one benefit of spending twenty-five years as a world-renowned designer is that you amass a wonderful wardrobe of handmade knits.

Best known for her classic sweater patterns, Kathy is an accomplished knitter, teacher, and designer. Her work personifies investment knitting. You can spend a small fortune on yarn, invest several months stitching-and still wear her sweaters a decade from now. Kathy favors classic designs with a twist, often using cabled, slip-stitch, and textured stitchwork. Her patterns adorn every major knitting publication, as well as the pattern books and websites published by yarn manufacturers. She also owns Kathy's Kreations, a yarn shop specializing in quality handknitting yarns and accessories located in Ligonier, Pennsylvania.

When it comes to designing sweaters, "I aim for balanced, tasteful weekend wear," Kathy explains. "I live in an area with many ski resorts and other travel destinations. I'd rather design things people actually like to wear, more everyday and weekend sweaters, particularly in rustic wools and other natural fibers."

Kathy's designs almost always feature some gorgeous cabling or lace pattern. She finds inspiration everywhere. "I love stitch dictionaries, especially Japanese ones. I'll take a stitch pattern and turn it upside down, or I'll marry two different stitch patterns together," she says. Cables come naturally to her and often tell a story. "Like after we vacationed in Cape May, New Jersey, a beach community known for its beautiful Victorian homes, my next sweater featured an intricate gingerbread lace stitch that reminded me of those lovely seaside porches," she said.

Unlike most other designers who start with a basic notion about a garment—the shape, style, or fit—Kathy begins with a swatch. Kathy picks a yarn and then starts knitting. "My swatches speak to me. They tell me what they want to be," she explains. "I'll swatch away. I swatch for hours—sometimes even days—until the stitch pattern is just right. I get the ribbing right, the colors right. When it's really pretty, I give the design to my knitters to finish—and then I go on to the next creation."

—Julie Matthews, Interweave Knits, Summer 2011, and A Designer Profile eBook with 6 Knitting Patterns by Kathy Zimmerman

We all have our favorite designers. We've bundled four of our designer profile eBooks for you. You'll get patterns from my favorite, Kathy Zimmerman, along with Pam Allen, Shirley Paden, Courtney Kelley, and Kate Gagnon Osborn.

Get your Knitting Designer Profile eBook Collection today!


P.S. Sound off—what's your favorite knitting technique? Cables, lace, entrelac, intarsia . . . Leave a comment and share it with us!

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