Great new knitalong starts today over at Fringe Association. We are IN on this thing.

Weekend Devotion

Dear Ann,
I’ve been knitting in secret again. I don’t mean knitting presents– which I’m NOT DOING THIS YEAR, ok?–I mean knitting stuff and then forgetting to blog about it. In the spirit of No Knit Left Behind, here goes.
Genius and a Great Baby Jacket
Over the Thanksgiving weekend I made a Baby Suprise Jacket. I made it because in her description of it in Newsletter and Leaflet #21, Fall ’68 (“Free until spring ’69; then 25 cents”)*, Elizabeth Zimmermann says “it looks like nothing on earth when you have finished knitting it, ” and that “your friends will be AMAZED.” I am all about knitting things that look like nothing on earth (accidentally or on purpose), and amazing my friends. It’s garter stitch! It has miters! What took me so long?
babysurpriseskate.jpg
Of course, since I seem to lack imagination, I made it in denim. These photographs are pre-washing; after a trip through the washer & dryer, the edges were nice and even. I think it looks a little like a manta ray.
It’s a puzzle to put it together the first time, even if you’re not spacially challenged like me.
babysurprisejacket.jpg
Front.
babysurpriseback.jpg
Back.
Next time I’ll do a provisional cast-on so that I can lengthen the arms a little, and I’ll highlight the mitering by using more color changes. Why waste a good miter on a solid color?
Genius, in general, is pretty rare. But genius plus a cute baby jacket?– this is the only thing going. No wonder there are people who’ve made 50 of them.
Now all I have to do is find 3 “very pretty little buttons” and a baby the right size. Can I get a measurement on wee Molly’s arms?
Love, Kay
*My copy of this newsletter is in The Opinionated Knitter, Elizabeth Zimmermann Newsletters 1958-1968. It is so cool to see facsimiles of the actual newsletters, with EZ’s own typing, handwriting, and drawings. When Belinda was visiting, she and I snatched the last 2 copies off the shelf at Seaport Yarns, and I’m guessing that by now there are one or two new Baby Surprises in England. The pattern also appears in EZ’s book Knitting Workshop. Can you tell that I am poised to order the videotapes?

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23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. Kay
    as we speak I have dichroic glass fusing itself together in tiny pieces, for the sole purpose of making buttons (like the ones on my felted bags) (work out website address from my email addy & click on the bag picture!)
    and there’s some in some utterly gorgeous dichroic glass in blues & turquoises htat’s look adorable on that jacket – I won’t see them or get them drilled until tuesday night, but could send you some piccies then.
    Jo
    xxx

  2. oops meant to say that’ll look adorable on that (v.v. adorable) jacket!
    jo
    xxx

  3. I love the Surprise sweaters and I’ve made the baby and also the adult. I’m also a huge EZ/Meg fan and have every newsletter and every book plus the videos. I even have a swatch EZ knitted for me long ago in the early 70’s when I couldn’t get short rows. She asked me to contribute a dollar to a charity which I did and then some. Yours looks great!

  4. Comparing the baby surprise sweater to a manta ray is inspired! I’ve seen dinosaurs, teddy bears, and now a ray. Has anyone knit a giant squid yet?! Like the sea creature itself, knitted squid is elusive…

  5. You’ll love the videos ! I read Knitting Around to beat insomnia. My knitting heroine.
    It’s so fabulously cute in denim.

  6. This is the pattern I’ve been looking for, not the Tom-Tom jacket I’m currently knitting.
    Of course…when you randomly order books looking for a pattern…
    Thanks for the info!

  7. I am so happy to see these denim posts!!!!!! I read (perhaps in my copy) of some people who pop in the EZ videos to keep them company – when they are lonely or depressed. Bravo on the sweaters!

  8. LOVELY baby surprise!
    Knitters #56 (Fall 1999) is another source for the pattern.

  9. Good for you to keep out of the Holiday knitting mania. The baby Surprize sweaters always suprize and delight when they are finished. Nice work.

  10. ….perhaps you need some grandchildren?….ADORABLE!

  11. I must have made about 20 of these over the years – I used to pick up stitches round the sleeve and add an inch or so of rib. Have also been known to add a bit more on the length too. I’ve got all the EZ books, including The Opinionated Knitter – EZ changed my approach to knitting.

  12. That is the cutest little sweater, and I still can’t figure out how the Manta Ray turns into a garment, even after looking at that first picture for a long time! I just might have to make one of these – perhaps for the Guideposts “Knit for Kids” project (http://www.guidepostsmag.com/sweater/) that I’d like to try as my first attempt at sweater knitting. Thanks so much for the inspiration!

  13. Fabby! I’ve been looking at that one, wanting to knit it. Thank goodness I have a knit-worthy friend who is pregnant. How many shades of pink can I fit in one baby surprise jacket?
    Nice tip on the arm thing–I had noticed that there were mods to the pattern in the book with its short arms and all. Wouldn’t want the baby to have cold wrists….

  14. EZ meets Rowan at long last! It could only happen over at Mason/Dixon, obviously. I hope you post a picture of the Baby Surprise with buttons and after a turn or two (or 15!) in the washing machine, as it is sure to fade beautifully.
    This pattern is my #1 favorite for using oddments of dk weight yarn. I have made 3 so far and I like to add a small edging all around. The Tomten jacket is another great canvas for creative color combinations.
    By all means get the videos!Or wait a month or two as Schoolhouse Press is now converting them to DVD format.

  15. looks remarkably similar to sally melville’s “einstein jacket” in the knit stitch. Not mitred exactly, but a similarly easy baby jacket for the mitre impaired, such as myself, though I love the ray analogy, will bring one of mine to the deep on the next dive trip to see how saltwater affects the yarn!

  16. I have only read a little of EZ, but clearly I need to make that a priority. What have I been doing all this time? I could have been making little manta ray baby sweaters in denim! Very gorgeous. Lucky baby.

  17. No need for the provisional cast-on – just pick up stitches around the cuff and add about 3 inches of k1p1 rib, enought for a nice turn-back cuff. Another tip: Skip the buttonholes altogether and pick up stitches and knit a garter-st buttonband along each front edge, putting the buttonholes in one of the bands (whichever side you prefer). That gives a little extra “tummy room” — another drawback of the original sweater is that it was a bit tight for any size except newborns. (Think about how much of a baby is tummy!) And I also make an I-cord edging around the neck for a more finished look, leaving a short end on each side for a small bow-tie. Your colors are lovely!

  18. I haven’t knitted one yet! Next on my list after finishing the clapotis (pressie) and the Picovoli t-shirt (me). There is a new Baby Molly this side of the Atlantic, too!

  19. ooooh, and I’ve come over all funny at the thought of ‘dichroic glass fusing’, it sounds fantastic, Jo!

  20. I love this sweater! I think my co-workers are sick of me showing them the progress and how it was going to go together, but they too were amazed at the piece before finishing and how it made up into a real sweater. I think I, too, will add the ribbing to the wrists. And I believe I am going to try the I-cord edging with the loops for buttons. If you are interested in trying it, don’t read too far ahead to try and understand the directions. Just keep following them and they will make sense as you go along. Great fun!

  21. So cute, can’t wait to try one,
    Li

  22. sorry to interrup the joy of jeans fest, but i’m (a) blogless and (b) in need of support or at least the lounge. i’m in a kay-inspired rip out of a huge error i made in gorgeous, yet slippery, hand painted chenille (never touched the stuff before my husband gave me this saying, I thought you would love it ……) any ideas how long i need to let it rest before trying with far larger needles????? sob, sob, sob

  23. and, ps, i love the jeans