An Elizabeth Zimmermann Craftsman Sweater Chart

On page 86 of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s book The Opinionated Knitter, you’ll find two photos of Elizabeth with three sweaters she exhibited at the 1960 Milwaukee Designer-Craftsman Show. I’ve always wanted to knit the sweater on the left (hereafter “The Sweater”), shown in the photo below.

A photo of a photo of Elizabeth Zimmermann with The Sweater.

The Sweater was later redesigned as the Norwegian Tree Sweater and published on the cover of McCall’s in 1959, but I’ve always yearned to knit the original. There’s just something so mid-century modern and striking about it.

Since a pattern was not produced for the original (at least, according to this forum thread on Ravelry), I decided to chart it based on the photo and on Meg Swansen’s suggestion to do so. I think I may have gotten it:


Here is the free chart for The Sweater that I alternately refer to as the Original McCall’s Sweater Chart or the 1960 Milwaukee Designer-Craftsman Show Sweater Chart (Craftsman-Sweater-Chart for short).

My particular sweater will take the form of a steeked vest with a zipper. It is knit in Imperial Yarn Columbia in Quail (the gray) and Natural (the white) on size 8 needles.

I hope this chart is useful to someone. I don’t claim that it is exactly what EZ herself knit, but it was close enough to appease me. Feel free to comment here with any questions or comments about the chart and I’ll do my best to help.

Happy knitting!

2 Responses to “An Elizabeth Zimmermann Craftsman Sweater Chart”

  1. Joan

    I think your chart needs to be a 16-st wide repeat, not 14. If you look at the first 10 rows, you have 2 of those speckled vertical columns. But then when you get to the next set of rows where the patts offset, there is only 1 column. There are 8 sts of repeat in the bottom section counting from beginning of 1 speckled column to the next, so usually for syncopated patts like this, you need double that #.

    Ditto for the # of rows to the repeat so I’d expect an even # of rows though I haven’t yet worked out just how they’ll set. If you want to continue on with further discussion, I’m happy if you email me and we can do it there as it would be easier for me to add a graphic.

    I’d also suggest changing the directions for reading the chart to go with the more conventional reading from right to left, even though the patt is symmetrical so reading it left-to-right would result essentially in the same patt.

    I feel a kinship with you in working out the charts for these sweaters as I was the one who fiddled with the Norwegian Tree chart from EZ’s scrapbook and knit a sweater based on it that ended up generating the interest in resurrecting that sweater. Rather a fun challenge and I applaud your venture.

    • anysteph

      Hi Joan! Thank you. I’m honored to hear from you. The chart is read from right to left, which is why the numbers go from 1 to 14, right to left. I’m currently knitting the vest using this chart exactly as printed, and it’s working well for me, which is why I posted it in this manner (the photo shown matches the chart shown and vice versa). Please add a graphic, and then perhaps I’ll better understand your meaning.


Leave a Reply

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS