E is for EPS

E is for what?


Hint: It’s not for Earnings Per Share (memories of Econ 1001, a class I had to take in college but definitely not one of my top ten favorites) , nor Extrapyramidal Symptoms, nor Ensoniq Performance Sampler, nor any of the other listings for EPS in wiki.

No, it’s another creation of that knitting revolutionary, Elizabeth Zimmermann: Elizabeth’s Percentage System, a (nearly) foolproof system for customizing a hand-knit sweater to YOUR measurements and YOUR yarn to make a perfectly well-fitting sweater!

Nearly foolproof, because, you realize, fools are so ingenious.

Here, as an example, is my first EPS sweater, which was also my first colorwork sweater.


My mother had taught me to knit English style when I was young, though I didn’t knit much at all then. But when I was in college, she gave me “Knitting Without Tears” and encouraged me to learn continental style too, telling me how much easier it made colorwork. (And don’t I wish I had known continental style for my first knitted garment ever, a vest of worsted weight acrylic done all in SEED STITCH. What a project for a young knitter to choose: an ultimately ugly garment in not-so-nice yarn, entirely made in knit one purl one. It’s a miracle I ever made anything else. However, switching between knit and purl stitches is slightly less tedious in continental.)

So I decided to tackle a Lopi pattern, but done according to EZ’s directions and using the EPS method.  And carrying one color yarn in the right hand and knitting with it English style, and the second color in the left hand, knitting continental style.  About 25 years ago, it was.  With the result above.

And I did my first grafting (Kitchener stitch):


Not too shabby! Really, I’m still pretty OK with the colorwork & Kitchener both, first time or no. It’s a little rumpled because I just took it out of storage, but it’s a worthwhile sweater.

Now here’s the “fools are so ingenious” part:

Back in the 1980s when I knit this, we wore clothes that stopped at our waists. Our pants (gasp!) went all the way up to our waists! can you believe it?! And most of our tops fit at or just below our waists (blousons, anyone?). But even given the styles o’ the times, this is a little short, because I apparently was optimistic, impatient and in denial. This goes just beyond my waist, but gaps when I bend over. Not a flattering look, nor the warmest.

That being the case, I can’t wear this sweater even though I still think I did a good job on it (and it has great grafted armpits). Width is still OK, arm length is OK, I love the colors and the patterns, and I’ve kept it away from the moths and the carpet beetles (this old house being infested with the latter) all these years. But the sweater is too danged short.

There may be hope. In late April, I am attending the Midwest Masters Seminar at Yarns by Design in Neenah, Wisconsin; with this very sweater in mind, one of the classes I signed up for is “The Long and Short of Knitting Alterations” taught by Margaret Fisher, about lengthening or shortening an already-knit project — with an invitation to bring a problem project to discuss strategies for help. So this sweater is going with me to scenic Neenah (hey, I’m not being sarcastic, I just couldn’t resist the assonance). Given that this was knit over two decades ago — no, I don’t have more of the same yarn! I do have some Lopi that’s not too far off. My thought is to convert it into a hemmed rather than ribbed sweater, and perhaps take the cream yarn from the sleeve cuffs, the bottom ribbing and the neck ribbing and use all of of it for extra length in the body, splicing the yarn to be able to use every bit, and changing the cuffs/neckline and lower body to all gray/blue color work (I know I have some gray Lopi that would work just fine with the blues and grays already in the sweater). That’s my tentative plan. But this sweater’s taking a trip to Neenah, and we’ll see what it becomes!

10 responses to “E is for EPS

  1. Neenah is lovely – and I’m so impressed with your first sweater! Wow! It has aged extremely well.

    Any bets on when we’ll be out there in shorts?

  2. The sweater is so nice – can’t wait to see what you do to lengthen it!

  3. You should put a request for the old yarn on Ravelry you may be surprised. I just pulled out a couple UFOs from about 20 years ago that finished and gave a friend was am teaching to knit some 20 year old yarn. You might just find your yarn out there in someones stash and then you could lengthed your sweater with ease.

  4. The sweater is lovely. Totally worth saving.

  5. I can’t believe that you mentioned that time in the way distant past went pant went up to our waists. That is obviously just so wrong.

    The sweater is obviously worth saving. I can’t believe that was your first colorwork project.

  6. Oh, I’ve taken that class! Good luck with it, the instructor is very knowledgable…

  7. I am impressed with both the excellence of the colorwork (your second sweater? get out!) and the cleverness of your planned remodel. Not to mention that you still have the sweater — it wasn’t thrown out in a mad fit of spring cleaning at some point. Good luck!

  8. Beautiful sweater! Well worth saving. But you know, it looks like pants are going higher again — maybe if you wait a while, it will be in again!

    Remember those late-80s jeans with the paper bag waist that you cinched in with a belt? The belt was around your waist and the “paper bag” was actually above it!

  9. Wow! Your second sweater is really beautiful. It’s a perfect fit for your ‘master’ class– and I bet you will be able to concoct a perfectly lengthened version in the nearish future!

  10. Pingback: A Month Of Saturdays « Hither and Yarn

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s