Unventing - Koknar Scarf 07-12-23 09


Truth be told, I’ve never enjoyed much about Elizabeth Zimmermann, the patron saint of knitting. But I like that she created a word that is necessary…unventing.

What Is Unventing

No, it doesn’t mean leaving a garment or a room without a vent. It basically means coming up with an idea on your own that may well have been discovered a long time ago.

“But unvented – ahh! One un-vents something; one unearths it; one digs it up, one runs it down in whatever recesses of the eternal consciousness it has gone to ground. I very much doubt if anything is really new when one works in the prehistoric medium of wool with needles. The products of science and technology may be new, and some of them are quite horrid, but knitting? In knitting there are ancient possibilities; the earth is enriched with the dust of the millions of knitters who have held wool and needles since the beginning of sheep. Seamless sweaters and one-row buttonholes; knitted hems and phoney seams – it is unthinkable that these have, in mankind’s history, remained undiscovered and unknitted. One likes to believe that there is memory in the fingers; memory undeveloped, but still alive.”

― Elizabeth Zimmermann, Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitter’s Almanac

And in knitting, this phenomenon happens pretty often.

Years ago, I came up with this great method for I call the safety net. It was inserting a yarn into the current stitches on my needle so that if I made a mistake, I could rip back to the “safety net.” I was working with a beautiful, yet delicate wool/silk blend yarn and a complex stitch pattern that I didn’t know how to un-knit when I made a mistake. I was worried that the constant ripping out of all the knitting was going to ruin the yarn. So out of necessity I figured out the safety net technique. I even posted about it on the KnitList oh so many years ago. I was quite proud of myself

A number of years after I unvented this technique, someone else must have also unvented it (or found the original name for it in a text from decades ago) and called it a “life line.”

Not really knowing who invented this great technique, I’m still somewhat resentful my name didn’t stick.

Something New

And now, I’ve unvented something else. Well, a new way of doing something.

It doesn’t look very exciting from the photos yet. And my ability to describe it isn’t quite ready for prime time. I’m thinking that this will lend itself better to an episode of Knitting With QueerJoe. So, stay tuned.

Current Knitting

In addition to starting another Koknar welted scarf (shown above), I finished the two-color version and love how it turned out.

I’m realizing that to be able to describe the new technique for this stitch pattern, I need to make a second one-color scarf. So there’s still a little more work to do.

3 comments on “Unventing

  1. I’m disappointed in you Joe. EZ told me I was in charge of my knitting at a time when I was in charge of nothing else and it changed my life. You need to have more respect.

    1. Thanks Merit…I should have been more clear…I can totally understand how EZ could have been helpful for many knitters during her heyday…I’m just saying nothing she ever said or did resonated with me. Except for coming up with the brilliant word, unventing.

  2. She came up with at least a dozen brilliant techniques. I guess I prefer to think you ignorant of them not unappreciative. But I’m still disappointed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *