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Ask Me Anything: Edith Z.

Thanks for all the Qs in response to my post yesterday! Here are my answers. Also, here’s Jason’s great AMA if anyone missed it.

How long have you been knitting? How did you learn? Also do you have a favorite project/technique? I’ve fallen in love with cables.

I taught myself in 2015 using YouTube, which is great because you can replay the videos endlessly.

Aside from the Pengweeno cardigan and Sawtooth mittens I’ve already mentioned, I make a ton of these Classic Ribbed Hats from Purl Soho (above), which is probably a boring answer, but they’re great to give as gifts.

What is the most active conversation in your group texts right now?

In my friends’ Discord, we’re praising Lucy’s Christmas playlist.

How do you not run out of things to write? How does any one-person creative unit not run out?

I definitely run out of things to write. I did here on Day Two, and I freaked out. Then I just kind of pulled things out of my butt.

Back when I ran a blog of my own, I was super tuned in to the internet, and it was relatively easy to find a ton of cool/funny stuff to share and riff on all day — scrolling through Google Reader was like second nature. These days I’m less looped in.


Probably not, but I’m hoping to start my newsletter back up again. It’s just comics, though, unless something changes. I flirted with the idea of trying to bring back The Hairpin (the blog I used to run), but it would probably be a mistake, even if it was possible. I’ve really enjoyed posting here for Jason, though. Almost no one does it like this anymore!

I once worked for a publication that was technically a blog, but one of its (unofficial) policies was to summarize the articles we linked to, rather than encourage people to visit the sources, so as to not lose traffic. That was my understanding anyway, after an early conversation with an editor. I thought that was a bummer; the linking-out part of blogging has always seemed like the spirit of the internet. Which is of course part of why I love so much.

My question is more about you pausing your Substack comics. I’m curious about what happens to our work and creative process when we build an audience. I don’t know what the question really is — I guess: How do we share art without creating so much pressure on ourselves?

I wish I knew! At first sending my newsletter was so easy, but then I built up expectations around what I thought readers wanted. And then I became really worried about what people would think of any given installment, which started to disfigure the whole process for me. (“Will they like it? Is it stupid??? Will they hate me?? Do I hate me????”) I ended up creating work I thought sucked, and eventually I stopped posting altogether.

As for solutions to the problem, I got a lot out of something the writer Jessa Crispin mentioned in her newsletter, which I posted about a few days ago. The idea is basically that one should cultivate some healthy “contempt” for one’s audience. It sounded counterintuitive at first, even rude, but then it made a lot of sense. It helped me get out from under the weight of worrying about what people think, since that’s a losing game.

I used to really fear people disliking my work, and I still do, but maybe I have one degree more acceptance of it.

If I bring back my newsletter, I’m thinking I might turn off the “like and comment” feature. While I loved getting that feedback, I think specifically the “likes” were bending my work to their will. I’ve actually loved sharing stuff on Kottke in part because there’s not a ton of immediate feedback here. It’s like, Okay, the stuff is just out there. Hopefully it will help me connect with others eventually, but it’s not the end of the world if that doesn’t happen right away, or ever. It feels healthier.

How does the experience of blogging like this change how you feel about blogging, and if you want to get back to it?

I’m in a weepy mindset where my first response is: “Blogging this way is PRECIOUS!!! I didn’t appreciate it a tenth as much as I should have when it was my full-time job!”

I also forgot how intense and all-encompassing it can be. Like every day I keep wondering if I’ve gotten so zoned-in that I’ve forgotten to pick my daughter up at daycare. (I haven’t yet.)

What are your three favorite movies of all time, and one that you hate that everyone else loves?

I don’t watch a lot of movies, so nothing really comes to mind, but I do have an emotional attachment to the 1922 movie Nosferatu.

If you asked about books, though — let’s say favorites of the past five years — I would say War and Peace, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Pride & Prejudice. I was on a classic-novel kick in 2022, and it was one of the most fun reading-times of my life.

The story behind all the British novels is that many years ago my dad bought a leather-bound set of “100 of the Greatest Books Ever Written” that arrived once a month until the whole set was complete. When he died, I boxed them up and kept them in storage. I finally brought them out last year, when I had a real house with real bookshelves — after 14 years in those storage boxes! — and began reading a few. (For War and Peace I read the amazing Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky translation.)


Other great recent-ish reads: Nothing to See Here, by Kevin Wilson, and Piranesi, by Susanna Clarke.

Thanks for the Qs, this was super fun to write!

Discussion  10 comments

Lacey V

I’ve knit so many of those hats! They truly are perfect and look great on everyone. My favorite one is sock yarn held with mohair.

Your content here has made be realize that I really miss knitting blogs and knitting Flickr? It’s been my main hobby for 20 years and I just feel like “knitting Instagram” just isn’t the same.

Edith ZimmermanMOD

100% agree about knitting instagram -- just not the same. Knitting blogs rule.

Mary Wallace

Same here! Often the ones I can find are also trying to sell me something. I follow a few podcasts that I enjoy. But not the same as a blog.

Aileen Gallagher

Knitting TikTok is the worst. I must be the last person who knits English because social media tells me that I am wrong and everyone learning now is a picker/flicker/continental. I do like r/knitting, though. Really helpful.

Reply in this thread

Nathan Clark

I was 100% going to buy those books… until I saw they're $75 each! So beautiful though, and I love the idea of one showing up every month for a loooooooong time.

Martin Sinclair

Might you be able to link to the playlist you mentioned or is it not available publicly?

Edith ZimmermanMOD

It's private, so you'll have to take my word for it! Thanks for asking, though.

Reply in this thread

Meg Hourihan

If you're looking for more classic-novel kick in 2024, and you haven't read these yet, i highly recommend Anna Karenina (I preferred this over W&P), Crime and Punishment, and Middlemarch. Esp Middlemarch. I was an English major and read a zillion British novels and classics over the years, but never read Middlemarch until maybe eight years ago, and I was blown away. It instantly leap-frogged over almost everything else on my favorites list to take the top spot.

Meghan Lowe

Middlemarch is amazing! I’d highly recommend George Eliot’s Mill on the Floss as well. Elizabeth Gaskell is also a lot of fun; she was friends with Charlotte Brontë and wrote her biography when she died (the first biography of a female author by a female author!) - North and South is my favourite by her.

Edith ZimmermanMOD

Thank you, these recs are wonderful! I will try Middlemarch. I think I might even have a copy. And I love Anna Karenina too!!! I’ve read it twice (dying to brag about this — someone once recommended reading it every 10 years & seeing how it changes depending on the decade of life you’re in — checks out!!). Mill on the Floss will be up right after. I’m so grateful, thank you!

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