Baby Surprise

Published on Sunday November 5th, 2006

You all know how I revere EZ, but now I think about it there’s something off about the name of this pattern. Baby Surprise . . . it conjures up associations with ’50s cookbooks. You know, the American culinary era when vegetables were boiled until unrecognizable, everything contained Velveeta, cream of mushroom soup, and crumbled potato chips, and what was for dinner was entitled something like, well, Chicken Surprise.

But I digress. Whatever it’s called, this pattern is ingenious, and I finally buckled down to the finishing details and then popped it in the mail on Tuesday:

BSJ3.jpg   BSJ2.jpg   BSJ1.jpg

Pattern: Baby Surprise Jacket from Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitting Workshop

Yarn: Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sport “Ravenwood”, about 1.3 skeins

Needles: US size 3

Finished size: Perhaps for a six-month-old baby? I’m terrible at guessing baby sizes, but I know it’s too big for a newborn.

Modifications: Only the addition of the simple crochet around the edges. I thought the variegated yarn wanted visual pulling together. And I had some scraps of Dale Baby Ull in an appropriate red left over from my Sockapaloooza socks.
Overall, I’m delighted by this little sweater. The construction is so clever and unusual. I was guessing at the pithy directions a couple of times, but I guessed correctly and all turned out well.

Now it’s off to pack my rain gear for an afternoon of cyclocross spectating. Mr. Garter is racing this morning, but I’m not with him because it’s the last day of plant dyeing class. He’s going to pick me up afterward and take me back out to the course so we can watch the top men’s race, though. My own physical activity for the day will be cycling down to Sellwood for class, since Mr. Garter took the car. Cross your fingers Mr. Rochester and I don’t get too wet on the way. (Mr. Rochester is my back-up commuter bike. He’s not as cute as Domitilla, but he’s strong, manly, a little rough around the edges, and clearly has a salacious past. There are stickers of anime babes and a woman licking the crossbar right between my thighs as I pedal along. It makes me feel a little dirty if I think about it too much.) Okay, off I run.


Published on Thursday October 5th, 2006

I finally bound off this:


Behold, a knitted amoeba. But bless me, it really does turn into a sweater!


Now to dash off a couple of insignificant seams (along the sleeve tops only – brilliant!) and sew on five cute buttons, purchased Tuesday at Josephine’s Dry Goods. I may crochet a single chain along the border just to polish it up a bit, and then it’s off to the recipient, possibly even before he arrives in the big bright world. (He’s due on the 11th. If there’s any truth to Stephanie’s theory that babies show up as soon as you’re done knitting for them, his mother will be ecstatic that I worked fast. I promise not to dawdle with those buttons, Misa.)

And, because I am a bad blogger, I’ve been withholding pictures of my Socktoberfest project. I give you the Drunken Bear Stocking:


I’ve long meant to work up a pair of socks based on the Bear Track pattern in the second Barbara Walker treasury. I thought I’d go ahead and work in some new skills, too: Toe up, baby! Via Turkish cast on! With afterthought heel! The Turkish cast on turns out to be a breeze, exotic as it might sound, and I can see many splendid applications for it — glove fingers, top-down hats, booties, all kinds of things. I haven’t actually knit the afterthought heel yet, so we’ll have to reserve judgment on that. But let me speak to you of the Bear Track pattern. First I had to adapt it for working in the round. Easy as winking on the foot, where there’s only one pattern repetition. But when I got to the ankle and wished to replicate the pattern all the way around the leg, a pint of Laurelwood Sticke Altbier helped me discover the following: if you complete the last round as I’d written, the bear tracks begin to stagger. At first I thought I’d correct my instructions, but then the idea of a drunken bear track sock delighted me. (Total coincidence: Google “drunk bear video” if you haven’t already seen it.) I thought I’d work a few repetitions and see how it went. The color isn’t behaving with such fawning obedience as it did on the foot, but I think I like it all the same. Maybe when I do Sock #2 I’ll make a designated driver bear with straight tracks, as originally intended. The yarn is, of course, Socks That Rock, colorway Red Rock Canyon. These are intended to be knee highs, and I intend to wear them while riding my bicycle. Thus I will fulfill two proud traditions at once: that of outrageously colorful long knitted cycling socks, de rigeur in the ’20s when cycling became popular, and that of Keeping Portland Weird. (Seriously. We have bumper stickers.)

Next time: a project I’ve been knitting in secret the last few days. Can you guess what it might be?

Let the wild rumpus start!

Published on Saturday September 23rd, 2006


Zimmermania is under way. It’s a beautiful weekend for sawing firewood, and also for knitting baby sweaters. Behold the nacent Baby Surprise jacket, phase 1 complete. Doesn’t seem likely to turn into a sweater, does it? I promise it will look even more bizarre the next time you see it. But that’s the engineering genius of Elizabeth Zimmerman. You just gotta have faith and knit on.