Sunday, May 15, 2011

Baby Surprise Jacket

Non-knitters, just scroll through the pictures and see the evolution of a weird rectangle into a sweater. Knitters, the details are for you! 
I've wondered for years about all the hoopla surrounding Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surprise Jacket. A quick check over at Ravelry shows it as a project 14,612 times, and it is waiting in 5,451 queues. I bought the reproduced - and expanded - pattern from Schoolhouse Press some time ago and waited for opportunity and inclination to coincide. They did, in a tiny bundle of lovely girliness named Misaki, born just a few weeks ago.

Ok, the knitty gritty - sorry: In a nutshell, EZ was a brilliant woman in general, and applied a lot of her logical thinking skills to her knitting projects. She designed this baby sweater to as one piece, to be worked flat, with no seams except the shoulders, when finished. As it is knitted it resembles nothing more than a stretched-out rectangle with a few lumps here and there. Like this:
There are decreases and increases along the way, and that's the annoying part. Not the actual changes in stitch count, but the fact that they are done on either side of a moving stitch. You cannot use a stitch marker but must instead hang a marker on the stitch, and move it up as the rows proceed. I tend to fumble the marker, forget to move it up, pass up my increase/decrease point, and generally hate that method. In the end, I counted a lot. Not such big deal with a small project, and perhaps I would be able to read the knitting easier if wasn't self-patterning yarn, but this type of project should be nearly automatic knitting until my fingers reach a marker.

Here is it just after binding off.
Compare it to the picture above and it shows the same cast-on edge at the bottom, while the top edge has a row of buttonholes even spaced on either side of the center.

Now this is the thing, you see, the thing that will force me to cast on another one immediately. Because I picked up the piece you see there, with its increases, decreases, a few bound off rows, and a tiny flap, and turned it around a few times and then suddenly, delightedly, found that I had a little tiny jacket!

The bottom, cast-on row, became the sleeves and back neckline while the bound-off edge became the jacket opening and the back hemline. Does that make any sense without holding it in your hand?

 Yes of course I knew what it was going to look like. Of course I knew I was knitting something that had a neckline, two sleeves, and a front opening. I was still amazed at how it folded up, how the rows lined up and turned corners, and how anyone ever came up with it in the first place.

There are two rows of buttonholes to allow for a boy or girl button placement, which also makes it easy when sewing on the buttons, since they can just cover and close each hole.

Now to give it a soak, dry it, and gift it!

My stats, for knitters who need to know, are:
A size 4 needle, bound of with a size 6
Gauge: 6.5 stitches/inch
One skein of Italian-made Supersocke Cotton, a blend of cotton and wool, in the "Beach" color.
When buttoned, it will have a chest circumference of about 14.5 inches, a hem-to-shoulder length of 9 inches, and a sleeve length from neck-to-cuff of about 5.75 inches.
I followed the directions for 160 stitches.


DS1SO said...

So cute!

I suspect there IS a way to keep the markers inline, but my brain can't come up with it right now. For now I rely on a tiny internal voice that says "tiiiime to increase/decrease!" a few stitches prior, but I can't say where I picked up that particular knitting tool.

The yarn you used striped really nicely, your sweater came out really cute. WHY is it not on ravelry? ;)

Anna said...

Okay, maybe this is the one that I use to start posting on Ravelry! The work has been done, after all...

I did see a good idea for markers - using a yarn "scarf" as in this video:

DS1SO said...

I like the scarf thing! Especially in a contrasting color. I put my stitch marker in the same place, but it's still a marker, and sometimes falls off, etc. I like that solution.

Pat - Arkansas said...

Amazing! I applaud your patience and skill.

Anna said...

Thank you Pat! I washed and dried it and now, somehow, it's even cuter.