. . . Schoolhouse Press Knitting. . .

Elizabeth Zimmermann & Meg Swansen

Meg wearing her

Latvian Mitten Cardigan

About Schoolhouse Press

Schoolhouse Press is a publisher of knitting books and a knitting supply business founded in the mid-1950s by British-born master knitter Elizabeth Zimmermann. Today, we are a typical small business, with 5 staff members wearing a number of hats. Our focus is on customer service (yes, it’s still possible to reach us by phone--800-968-5648) and supplying knitters with wool, books, and tools we use and endorse.

The History of Schoolhouse Press

In the 1950s, Elizabeth Zimmermann wanted to supply hand-knitters with pure wool and circular needles (both a rarity in those days), as well as books, tools, and original designs. Elizabeth’s humor and unique approach to seamless garment construction gradually attracted followers through her semi-annual newsletter, a steady stream of designs in magazines, two television series’ taped for PBS-TV, the annual summer Knitting Camp (the first), and publication of her books. Elizabeth’s philosophy was received with glad cries by knitters who were eager to think for themselves. By using Elizabeth’s Percentage System (EPS), knitters were able to achieve perfectly-fitted garments while applying their own ideas to their knitting. Elizabeth is known for her technique innovations, such as I-cord.

In 1965, Meg Swansen joined her mother in business and in 1981, with Meg’s husband Chris, Schoolhouse Press began to publish knitting books and produce instructional knitting videos for both television and home use. Meg heads the business and our annual knitting camp. She writes regularly for Vogue Knitting and continues to design and publish, as well as teach around the U.S. and abroad. Meg is particularly known for her technique inventions (such as the jogless jog in color-pattern knitting) and her broad knowledge of knitting which she passes along to Knitting Campers each summer and those who query Schoolhouse Press. Customers of Schoolhouse Press are often surprised to hear Meg’s voice on the other end of the line and to receive expert technical advice directly from her.

Eleanor Haase is another voice who regularly instructs knitters over the phone. During Elizabeth’s semi-retirement, Eleanor became Meg and Chris’ office manager and has been part of SHP for over 25 years, processing and fulfilling orders and stocking books, wool, and tools, as well as answering technical knitting questions and helping to administrate Knitting Camp. We can count on one hand the number of times Eleanor has missed a day of work. She adds calm and consistency to the day to day operation.

In 1999, Michelle Wolfe, Meg’s daughter-in-law, joined the Schoolhouse Press team. Though she considered herself “temporary help” because she was not a knitter, she remained with the company and even learned to knit. Her role has expanded through the years to include business and technology organization, product development, publishing, and knitting camp and workshop administration.

Tami Schiferl began working with Eleanor and Michelle in 2001 and now manages the processing end of the business. Tami’s computer prowess has classed up the act considerably and helped push Schoolhouse Press into the 21st century. Our order management, inventory, and processing are more streamlined due to her efforts and the knitting camp market benefits from her aesthetic vision. She and Eleanor are instrumental as they run the day in day out aspect of the business.

Cully Swansen, Meg’s son, began pitching in when he and Michelle moved back to Wisconsin in 1999, literally unloading crates of books and doing all the heavy lifting. It was Cully’s vision that led us to build a modest warehouse/office space in 2006 and move just down the hill from Meg’s Schoolhouse (our former office). Cully also began working as our in-house accountant, but his role expanded quickly. He began to transfer our knitting videos to DVD, adding the ever important menu features. He has also filmed and edited several new DVDs. Filming peaked an already budding curiosity about knitting design and construction, and Cully began designing and publishing his works. He debuted his cable hat in the Winter 2010 issue of Vogue Knitting. His patterns are available through Schoolhouse Press, and he has become instrumental in editing books and patterns such as Elizabeth's Knit One Knit All and the new Circular Stranded Surprise Jacket pattern for baby, adult, and child (available in March 2013), an adaptation of the design his grandmother first created for him as a baby. Cully frequently corresponds with knitters about the Surprise Jacket and their technical questions and Schoolhouse Press designs.