Favorite Pattern: Surprise! It's a Baby Sweater!
|Look at these adorable puppy buttons!|
For me, it's an unlikely pattern -- a baby sweater. I don't have children. My nephew and niece are too far away and too rarely seen to get knitted garments (they grow too quickly and I have no idea what size they are for knits). Not very many of my friends have children or are having children. But still, a baby sweater.
|Baby Surprise Jacket in three colors|
Back when I first bought the Baby Surprise Jacket from Schoolhouse Press, it was a single sheet of 8.5" x 14" paper with instructions on both sides. The instructions, in Zimmermann-signature style, are fairly spare and concise. And totally intimidating. But let me tell you, I sure learned a lot.
What I love about Zimmermann is she believed in the knitter and that the knitter should believe in him/herself. Not much handholding from Mrs. Zimmermann when it came to knitting patterns. Do this until that, then this step, then finish with that and then you're done. (Another of my favorite baby sweater patterns is also written by Elizabeth Zimmermann, the February Baby Sweater, and it is really only three paragraphs of instructions.)
|After knitting, before seaming|
|After seaming and buttons.|
It's a sweater!
I've taught the Baby Surprise Jacket class at Kanawha City Yarn Company several times and helped many of my knitter friends with the project. Here's some of the things I've learned:
- The original pattern (I'm not even sure it's still available. My copy has been folded and unfolded so many times it's showing lots of wear.) is intimidating. There are few pictures, few instructions and lots of reliance on the knitter's skill and confidence. But it's doable!
- There are many rows with a lot of things happening. Don't panic.
- For almost the entire pattern, every right side row will have two decreases or two increases. Treat these decreases/increases as just part of the row and not an extra instruction and you will be less confused.
- Every wrong side row is just plain. Just knit! It's a great time to relax.
- Color color color color. Use whatever colors you want. Mix variegated yarns and solid yarns. Stripes are so easy because it's all one piece, whatever stripe pattern you use will automatically -- automagically? -- be symmetrical!
- Don't stress about the finished size. Maybe this is just me because I've never had to bother with dressing a baby, but I don't worry about the finished size. If the sweater is finished before the baby arrives, it will fit at some point in the baby's life. And if it's a little later? Garter stitch is so forgiving and stretches in almost every direction. One of my friend's kids wore her baby surprise jacket as a baby and as a toddler - first as a jacket and then as a short sleeve shirt.
Quick note on the pattern: I've been using a new version of the pattern in the latest class and it has instructions for baby, child and adult jackets, in addition to very expanded instructions. There are even line-by-line instructions if you get confused by any step. Buy it from Schoolhouse Press now! (I am not affiliated with Schoolhouse Press so all I get out of it is the satisfaction of a new Baby Surprise Jacket fan.)