When I first heard about Elizabeth Zimmermann I read some of her stuff, loved it, and thought that she was a very clever lady. Then I knit my first baby surprise jacket and realized that she was not clever, she was a genius. One of those sparklingly stunning quick brains that does things ordinary brains do not. A brain that thought around corners and not in the limiting straight lines that I can’t even manage most days. I’ve knit a multiplicity of these little puzzles over the years, and when I had leftovers from the Dream in Colour fixation a little while ago,I knit one up over the weekend. It only takes a few hours (maybe….six- eight?) and is simple, assuming one can follow directions. This was my personal barrier to success with the Baby Surprise Jacket over the years. I kept trying to “figure it out” instead of just knitting one and letting the logic of it dawn on you. The first one takes blind faith. Just like turning a heel, when you are learning you suspend disbelief and leap. To make a baby surprise jacket, first you knit something that looks like the garter stitch equivalent of a manta ray.
I changed colours when it suited me, and as my leftovers allowed. It took more yarn than I thought it would, so this sweater contains leftovers from both mine and Ken’s “Rocketry” sweaters, and some extra from my “green” wrap Cardigan. I weighed the sweater when I was done knitting and it took 151 grams of Dream in Color “Classy” worsted. Odd piece of knitting accomplished, one folds it up like origami, and sews up two seams along the tops of the arms…
(Sort of carefully, since these seams are very public)
When I’m done that the sweater is technically finished, but I don’t like the raw looking edge of the neck so…
A crochet edge.
I don’t crochet, (current evidence notwithstanding) and am badly befuddled by crochet patterns in general. For some reason, the crochet terms have evolved differently in the US than in Canada/Europe and between the inconsistencies and my own inexperience, I can’t figure patterns out. I can do my own thing, but the trouble starts with following a pattern. Is it US? UK? I swear, it seems to me that if you wanted to start a barfight in crochetville you could just swagger into the local pub and say “I do believe I have worked me a fine double crochet on this here sweater” and someone would stand up and shout “No you ain’t! That’s single crochet” and the next thing you know hooks are drawn and the whole thing is a mess. (If you would like to have a version of the same fight in a knitting bar, ask what “moss stitch” is.) For the record, I believe I have worked one row of double crochet.
Now all the little wonder needs is three buttons (whoops. That’s another change. EZ’s pattern calls for five buttonholes, but I like it better with just three at the top.)
I love this little sweater, it’s always a pretty surprise. This pattern was written the same year I was born, but it never gets old for me. It’s really a classic.
Elizabeth Zimmermann’ s Baby Surprise Jacket, pattern found in The Knitting Workshop, or as a leaflet from Schoolhouse Press, or even as a DVD that walks you through it…but I haven’t seen it. There’s also an adult version….and an especially pretty example here.
Another surprise. I actually finished the yarn from yesterday.
Pretty eh? I love how you can see the learning curve. (Sort of, I mean I would have loved it more if there was no learning curve and I was just perfect all the time.) If you look at the greyish-pink in the centre of the ball, that’s where I was having trouble. The better reddish outsides is where I got it together. You know…in as much as I ever get it together. Still, an excellent effort. Now, I’m off.
It’s that time of year, and I’ve got my work cut out for me.