Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surprise Jacket

sheilajoyce_gwJanuary 1, 2008

I am in the midst of making my first Baby Surprise Jacket designed by Elizabeth Zimmerman. My sister got me going on it. Have you ever made one? It is all made in knit only in one large piece with only two seams. It is so strange to see it develop because you cannot tell which part you are making. It does seem to look best in wools but since we are an allergic family, baby items are made in acrylic only. That way they can go in the machine to wash and dry for moms too busy to hand wash and air dry baby things.

If you feel like having something different to do, try a BSJ. I may just make a larger one for me one of these days. Right now I am trying to beat the stork to DDs SILs house with a layette due in late February.

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donna_loomis

Sheilajoyce, I've had the pattern for a couple of months now, and I just haven't gotten up the nerve to try it. I don't know why, but it just intimidates me. But I do want to give it a try. There has been some discussion on it at KnittersReview forum, and I've even copied and saved all the tips from those posters. Soon..... soon......

Of course, we want to see pictures when you're done.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2008 at 1:08AM
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profsusan

I've seen these jackets and think they are adorable but my knitting skills are pretty terrible. Anybody know of a crochet alternate?

    Bookmark   January 1, 2008 at 9:22AM
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sheilajoyce_gw

It is all knit, Susan. And then you purl only as you cast off the last row. There are increases, decreases, yarn overs and slipped stitches, but that is not hard. Be sure to knit into the BACK of the increase stitches to avoid a hole. It is great for using up sport weight bits and pieces. I was amazed at how little yarn it used. Even the main color doesn't require a lot of yarn because you stripe it with other odds and ends, unless you have a great varigated yarn, preferably with a long repeat, to use for the whole thing. As I say, a tweedy, varigated or slubbed wool yarn would look best, especially in deeper colors than baby pastels. This pattern seems to call for deep colors. I tried it in pastel, and it was so blah that I ripped it out. Gauge is 6 stitches to the inch.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2008 at 5:56PM
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Dash2

Baby Surprise is one of those rare instances where reading ahead should be avoided. The instructions are very confusing to read. It's best to just jump in and do what it tells you to do - one step at a time. When it's done, you'll marvel at how clever it is when it comes together.

It's great for using up stash yarns. It's interesting that the last of what you knit is actually the bottom edge.

If you don't know whether it will be a boy or girl, what I do is make the buttonholes on both ends. Then you just sew the buttons over the openings on the proper edge, when you find out.

Don't be afraid of this pattern. It's a lot of fun to work.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 1:14AM
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sheilajoyce_gw

Actually, in following EZs directions in her book, the last few rows became the button and button hole edges of the fronts as well as the bottom edge. It is like knitting an amoeba.

For quite a while, I thought what finally became the fronts were the sleeves and vice versa. It is hard to plan the stripes on your first one, so my advice is to make stripes early in your knitting and often.

Good pictures, YL. You can see why you have no idea what you are making as you are under way. Kind of a fun project, and really great for using up odds and ends. It seems to me that deep colors and tweedy yarns really look best in a BSJ.

You can also see that the neckline needs something. That is where I put the attached I cord using one of the stripe colors. As you can see, the only seam you have to sew is the top of the sleeves, and she often uses that seam to decorate in a stripe color too. I did not.

Have we intrigued you?????

I have also made some plain garter stitch booties with the instep in a stripe color. I now need to find a silly looking baby hat to top off the ensemble. I think I will just knit a cap that ends in a long I cord which you tie into a knot. That ought to look cute with it.

I don't have a camera, so no pictures. Sorry.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2008 at 7:54PM
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sheilajoyce_gw

Trying my second BSJ right now. I am making this one on size 6 needles with 5 stitches to the inch, and hope it will come out a little bigger. The size 4 needles and 6 stitches to the inch gave me a cute newborn size. I am using TLCs new (to me anyhow) pale blue, light blue and brown variegated sport yarn only and not making stripes of any other colors, though if I had had some TLC pale blue, I might have tried it. I really need to finish SILs sister's afghans, so I will probably put this away for later once a see how it is going.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2008 at 6:13PM
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cannahavana

I just finished my first BSJ. It took me about a week and a half to complete and I really enjoyed making it. I used some variegated acrylic that I picked up in a clearance bin and thought that it worked up pretty cute. My only goof was on one side on the increases, I moved my marker up to the wrong stitch, so it is slightly off on one row. I didn't really feel like ripping it back out since this was just a practice piece. I will probably give it to my daughter to dress one of her bears in it. I used worsted weight and size 8 circs and I would guesstimate it at around 6-9 months in size. I think I will keep it unfinished for a while and show to some of my non-knitting friends!

Rebecca

    Bookmark   January 18, 2008 at 9:33AM
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donna_loomis

Rebecca, that turned out nicely. Each time I see one, I feel I "need" to make one.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2008 at 12:34PM
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Zipper_TX

Very nice Ladies, I keep waiting for the yarn shop I visit to get the book in so I can make one of these myself. I think it's a neat concept. Since I haven't got the pattern yet I found this one online for free and I just finished it. It's knit from side to side so I'm pretty sure the stripe effect wouldn't be as neat as the BSJ.

Here it is turned ;0)

Here is a link that might be useful: free pattern by Mary Lee Herrick

    Bookmark   January 18, 2008 at 3:16PM
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profsusan

and I need to practice my knitting! so tempted to try to replicate the design in crochet but right now I will be busy. One of my friends told me that her son is expecting triplets in July -- probably will be delivered by the end of May and the shower is March 15th! No news yet on the sexes but these are natural triplets -- chances of 1 in 8,000 and their first attempt to have a child. They are married 3 1/2 years and just bought property and put up a modular cape. Only two bedrooms finished but the upstairs has plenty of room for more....they will need it.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2008 at 3:17PM
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profsusan

I got the pattern from her book that I borrowed from the library through inter-library loan. No need to wait for a store to get it in. Of course it is old black & white text, etc. no pretty colors but the pattern is there and there are numerous sources on the web for color examples.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2008 at 4:11PM
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sheilajoyce_gw

My sister lent me her two Zimmerman books which both have the patterns. They are in black and white too. It is interesting to see online the yarns people have used to make these--it looks so different every time with the various colors of the main yarn and stripes. So Susan, go for it. It makes up quickly, it seems to me. Just pay attention to where you are, because some next steps occur a lot quicker than others. Can you tell I had to rip out a few times too?????

    Bookmark   January 18, 2008 at 6:24PM
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tami_ohio

My LYS has the pattern in leaflet form, also. Zipper you may be able to get it that way. I think I bought one of EZ's books on ebay, but can't find it. So, you know what I'm going to be doing! Looking for that and working on the sweater!

Tami...who thinks all the pics are beautiful works of art in the making!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2008 at 11:08AM
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Zipper_TX

Thanks Tami, I found a Yarn Shop in Plano, Tx and I bought the book last week, I finished the first BSJ but some where on the last few rows I made a mistake and one side of the bottom of the sweater came out weird lol. Working on a second one now but I think I hate the yarn I'm using, is all variegated yarn stiff? I'm using some Simply Soft variegated and it's like working with steel wool lol. I'm thinking about frogging this one and going for something softer......sigh.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2008 at 12:36PM
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enjoyingspring

Would someone be will to post this pattern.

Thanks

    Bookmark   February 1, 2008 at 1:29PM
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sheilajoyce_gw

This is a current, copyright pattern and no one will be posting it, I am afraid. Check your local library or buy the book or pattern. See the free similar version above--the pictures of the pink baby sweater.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2008 at 4:55PM
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sheilajoyce_gw

zipper, I find Simply Soft to be soft. Why not try washing it and using some fabric softener too. Maybe it is the sizing on the yarn. Now stiff is super saver Red Heart yarn.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2008 at 11:10PM
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Dash2

I don't think there is anything softer than Simply Soft. Are you using a needle that is too small for your tension? You may have to go up a size or two if you are a very tight knitter.

I tried doing an adult surprise. Not much fun at all. The baby surprise is small enough to make it worth the effort. But in the large size, going astray is way too easy. I ended up frogging the whole thing and scrapping the idea.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2008 at 12:34AM
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Zipper_TX

Well I frogged that variegated stuff ;0) I've started another one using plain colors of Simply Soft yarn, I don't know what it is about the variegated it's just not as soft as the plain colors. I'm using the same needles and this one is going as fast and easy as the first BSJ that I did.

Thank you for the suggestions Sheilajoyce and Yarnlover......I'm guessing if I went up a needle size with the variegated it would be easier to knit, do you wash a skein of yarn by dunking it in a water bath? I had this horrible vision of my washing machine and the "Lucy" moment when I opened it up to get the yarn out -- which is something I'd probably do if I hadn't thought it out good lolol. I think I'll try some baby yarn in variegated next time maybe that will make a difference.

I'm glad you mentioned the adult size Yarnlover, I kept thinking that I would like to try it next lol...I bought The Opinionated Knitter from the yarn shop and it has 2 versions of the adult size in it, one of them you knit the same as the baby's just using a bigger needle. I didn't look at EZ's version very closely so I don't know how many more stitches you cast on for it....not going to try it right now lol.

I'm sorry Enjoyingspring EZ's daughter is still selling this pattern and holds the copyright on it. We can't post a copy of it.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2008 at 10:31AM
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sheilajoyce_gw

Do NOT wash a skein of yarn. Ask me how I know. Just knit your sweater or whatever with the yarn, and then wash and dry the item in the machine and be sure to use fabric softener.

I made a BSJ in variegated blue and brown. It looked kind of blah till I folded it into the sweater shape. I like it. I also like the idea of using just 3 buttons for baby sweaters as someone suggested and leaving the bottom open.

I plan to try an adult BSJ at some time to wear on cold evenings out. Something that will go with my jeans. The sleeves are too short without knitting an extension, which I will do too.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2008 at 5:25PM
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tami_ohio

I know a lady knitting the adult version on yarn that looks like it is at least 1/4" thick! It is knitting up really fast and looks great, besides being very warm!

Tami

    Bookmark   February 2, 2008 at 11:26PM
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socks

I saw the DVD version through Amazon, but it's $18, more than I want to pay when I'm not really sure about taking on a BSJ. My library does not have Opinionated Knitter, but I put in a request for an interlibrary loan. Hope they can get it for me.

I don't know if I'll try the sweater or not, but I sure would like to at least look at the pattern.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2008 at 11:42AM
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donna_loomis

Sheila Joyce, thanks. I bought 4 skeins of yarn at a thrift shop. It looks fine, and no bad odor, but I just felt like I should somehow clean it before I use it. But after your comment, I guess I won't. I don't have any immediate plans for it though, so I will have to bag and label it so that I'll remember later that it needs to be laundered after being made up.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2008 at 3:01PM
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sheilajoyce_gw

I need to make clear that I use acrylic yarn almost exclusively, so I wash and dry my items in the machine and use fabric softener. Do not use a washing machine to wash items made from other yarns unless it says you can on the label, and do not dry it in the dryer unless it says you can.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2008 at 5:08PM
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sheilajoyce_gw

Socks, the BSJ pattern is in a few of Elizabeth Zimmerman's books. I like seeing the variations on that pattern which she includes in some of her books. Her books are published by School House Press, which she founded. Perhaps they have a website where you could purchase just the pattern.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2008 at 5:13PM
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profsusan

you can purchase the pattern only for $3 directly from this site

Here is a link that might be useful: Baby Surprise Jacket

    Bookmark   February 4, 2008 at 6:57AM
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sandra_ferguson

You can certainly wash yarn before before knitting it...I do it all the time. I spin yarn, and always wash it in the skein...and, I've bought yarn on a large spool, supposedly for weavers, and it has something in it that I don't like....it's sort of harsh. So, I put it into skeins...being careful to attach the end of the skein to the skein itself...I than also take a couple extra pieces of yarn...any yarn, and, using a figure 8, loosly tie the skein in a couple other places. Fill your washing machine tub with warm water and a gentle soap...place your skein around the agitator and allow it to sink to the bottom, on it's own. Leave it in there for a while, then, with your hands, agitate it a bit, just up and down in the tub...again allow it to sit in the warm water...then spin it out. DO NOT ALLOW THE MACHINE TO AGITATE!!!!! That is the big NO NO .... fill with rinse water, allow to sit...then spin out. This will NOT hurt the yarn, or mat it, etc. It's the agitation that does that. When finished, hang over a clothes line...when completely dry, I then ball them.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2008 at 8:29AM
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profsusan

OK, as you know I am not the knitter but I saw this the other day so this is for all you knitters without the BSJ pattern -- another that is made in one piece with a free pattern. Lion Brand also has another free pattern that is made in one piece from the top down.

Here is a link that might be useful: One Stitch Baby Sweater

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 9:18AM
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donna_loomis

Thanks, Susan. Even though I occasionally get the Lion emails, I don't think I'm gettting all the new stuff. I must remember to check their site periodically for what's new. That's a cute sweater, and it looks simple enough.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 12:03PM
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suebdoo

Thank you Susan for "One Stitch Baby Sweater" link.

This looks to be about my speed!! It's so cute.

Sue

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 6:53PM
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vijk

Would like to try a baby surprise sweater,if someone is willing to share the pattern.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2008 at 8:27AM
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Lindsey_CA

Vijk, the pattern is copyrighted and must be purchased.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2008 at 3:51PM
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nanajoy

Does anyone know where you can get the old fashioned siwash wool. I would like to make my grandchildren the siwash sweaters that my mom make my kids, but I can't find any of the wool. I live in Canada, so maybe you know of a distributor. HELP
Joy

    Bookmark   April 21, 2008 at 6:54PM
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sheilajoyce_gw

Gee, Nanajoy, I never heard of Siwash. But I bet someone here has heard of it.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2008 at 12:36AM
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twomeezers

hi folks. Here it is Jan. 2011 and I just read the postings from 2008 on this subject. I have begun the baby surprise sweater three times (miscounting stitches) and am now on my way! In all the postings, gauge is rarely mentionned. It is my biggest bugaboo in knitting, and as Elizabeth Zimmermann says in one of her books, gauge is everything! I meditate on it, yet emerge as confused as ever.
I am determined to master this sweater and move on to bigger sizes.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2011 at 11:10AM
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yoyobon_gw

I just completed my first BSJ......it is a simple enough pattern to do ( although I am an accomplished knitter, not a beginner)....BUT....you will have to follow the chart which is included ....exactly.
During the knitting I could not imagine how this silly thing was going to go together !
It does, and nicely too.
I did make an error when doing M1 .
In order to avoid a hole you must K that st in the back of the st.
I ended up with nicely spaced holes near the beginning of each sleeve edge and decided to weave a ribbon through it and tie it in a bow. Cute addition for a girlie sweater.

My only advice is to choose a good yarn that will knit up in an interesting way. The variegated ones sometimes don't do up as well as you'd think.
I imagine that a self-striping would be really nice.

My advice: DO IT !!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 10:08AM
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sheilajoyce_gw

twomeezers, as long as you don't make it too small, a baby will eventually grow and thus fit into most any small size you knit. Nice thing about knitting baby things.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 4:05PM
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