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William Best Hesseltine Award 2011-12 Winner Announced

Congratulations to Kathryn Parks and Colleen McFarland, winners of the 46th Annual William Best Hesseltine Award for Volume 95 of the "Wisconsin Magazine of History."

Kathryn Parks.
Kathryn Parks
Colleen McFarland.
Colleen McFarland

Their article, "Stitch by Stich: The Life and Legacy of Elizabeth Zimmermann" races Zimmermann's life from her childhood in England, to her art-school days and work as a nanny in Central Europe, and finally to her marriage and immigration to the U.S. at the outbreak of World War II, when she began to show American knitters how to develop their skills.

With a passionate tirade against the unnecessary difficulties of knitting from a typical pattern for a ski sweater, Elizabeth Zimmermann, as a 45-year-old Wisconsin woman, burst onto the pages of "Woman's Day" magazine as a knitting designer in January 1955. Nothing in Zimmermann's personal history particularly qualified her to become a knitting designer. The education and career path of a professional knitter in mid-20th-century America typically would have included specialized courses offered by the major yarn companies and employment by a knitting shop or a department store's needlework counter. Yet Zimmermann's Norwegian sweater pattern launched a 35-year career in knitting that included authoring six books, 22 newsletters and hundreds of patterns, starring in three nationally syndicated instructional television shows, and establishing the first summer camp for knitters in the nation. Today Zimmermann's daughter, Meg Swansen, still runs the knitting camp, which will begin its 39th year in 2012. Access our online archives of the "Wisconsin Magazine of History" in order to read the article online.

Kathryn Parks graduated in the spring of 2010 with a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She recently accepted a job in member services at the Southwest YMCA in Eagan, Minnesota. Taught to knit at the age of eight, Kathryn has inherited her mother's wool obsession and belief that there is no such thing as too much yarn. More recently, she has started to experiment with designing knitted accessories and hopes to start designing knitted garments.

Colleen McFarland is an archivist for Mennonite Church USA in Goshen, Indiana. She has a master of arts in history from Cornell University and a master of library and information science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her mother tried to teach her to knit several times, but is was not until Colleen was thirty-six that the knitting lessons took hold. She is an avid scarf knitter and admits, without shame, that she is addicted to Noro yarn.

Established in memory of a past president of the Wisconsin Historical Society and a distinguished University of Wisconsin professor, the William Best Hesseltine Award honors an individual article that appears in a four-issue volume of the magazine. Readers have chosen the award winners since 2002.


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