Monday, April 09, 2007

Striped Surprise

In the mid-1900's, the knitting craft was revolutionized by British-born Elizabeth Zimmermann. As much a mathematician as a knitter, she developed some simply brilliant patterns and techniques, many of which are still very much in use or have been the springboard for other knitting designs.

I was aware of some of her work, and earlier this year, gifted myself with a copy of The Opinionated Knitter and found the astonishing instructions for the "Baby Surprise Jacket". The instructions, first published in a knitting pamphlet in 1968, go on in a conversational tone for 114 rows, adding stitches here, decreasing there, picking up some more here, working buttonholes on both sides of the front, except as you are working them, it's not at all clear that this IS the front.

Since I had several partial skeins of yarn that I wanted to use up, I jumped right in and worked in some stripes, not totally sure where those stripes would ultimately end up. Finally, the instructions called for binding off 202 stitches, and more accomplished knitters than I have called the resultant shape "an amoeba".

Here's what you get:


Then, the surprise. Some quick folding, sort of an origami-for-the-knitter, two short seams (across the shoulders), and you get this:


Elizabeth Zimmermann's original instructions called for a baby-weight yarn, small needles and produced a newborn/small infant sized jacket. I upped the ante to a worsted weight yarn (Rowan Cashsoft Aran) and size 8 needles and the resultant jacket is about a 2-year-old size.

I've already got my next color combination planned...

(Editing since some have asked - The sweater pictured is about 21 inches around at the chest, with buttons buttoned. It's about 12 inches top to bottom. Stitch gauge is 17 stitches = 4 inches)

4 comments:

Anastacia said...

Great, and very cute too. I've upsized a BSJ for CIC too.

Carol Ann said...

I'm curious--what is the finished chest measurement? I just finished one with Cascade 220, 5 st/inch, and it came out with an 18" chest. I'm interested in what sizes others get with other yarns.

Jakki said...

Looks great! I've been wanting to do a Baby Surprise and now I know I do! The worsted weight yarn & larger needles are a great idea. Thanks!

Susan said...

i want to make a baby surpise !very cute! just like a magician's trick the sweater appears!