Thursday, December 14, 2006

EZ Baby Surprise Jacket

I first saw the adorable baby surprise jacket in a shop a couple of weeks ago and had to give it a try. I was surprised when I tried to understand EZ's directions...that they were, can I say...minimal? But I continued on and did pretty well until I got to the part "...when there are 158 stitches, work on center 90 only, for 10 ridges." I couldn't figure out what to do with the remaining stitches while I was working the 90. Were the other stitches put on a holder or were they bound off? Searching the net for answers, I happened on to Zimmermania! Sarah explained the "work on center 90 only, for 10 ridges" concept, so I hope it works. I wonder if anyone has ever re-written EZ's directions adding full and complete instructions or is have the fun of working her projects trying to figure them out? Her projects are wonderful.


  • For those of us who haven't tried the jacket yet, could you share the advice you received?


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:30 AM  

  • I had the same question! I did it as a "short row" and just turned around and knitted back the other way for those rows. You have stitches that you don't knit on each end on the needles. (Stitch markers are your friend on this project.) The only thing I would do differently now, is to make sure I'm not changing color yarn in that area (or anywhere near it) as one side comes out looking like the wrong side of the color change, and one side looks like you did it right. I'm looking forward to getting the new DVD that Meg has just produced on this adorable project.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:39 AM  

  • Thanks for the advice! I just found the DVD on the Schoolhouse web site too. That will be really great help.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:32 AM  

  • I think that's where EZ's English heritage shows most strongly: there is an assumption of certain basic knitting skills in a lot of her patters, or at least a willingness to experiment!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:18 PM  

  • You can join the Yahoo group "Baby Surprise Jacket," and in their files section, there are row by row instructions for the jacket.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:14 PM  

  • This is one of those cases where you've just got to trust the author and do what the pattern tells you. When she says to work on those center 90 stitches, she means it! Just pretend the other stitches don't exist.

    In one of the Debbie Bliss books, Bliss says she used to always read through a pattern to make sure it all made sense and she knew what was going on. But then she realized that, in general, a lot of things simply WILL NOT make sense until you do them. That's the case here. It seems wonky and just plain not right, but it really will work out in the end :)

    By Blogger Jenn, at 5:13 PM  

  • So far, I only have Knitting Without Tears, and I'm curious how different the instructions in there for the "Modular Tomten Jacket" are from the Baby Surprise Jacket instructions in The Opinionated Knitter??

    By Anonymous Maureen, at 6:10 PM  

  • I'm not sure if the other commenter meant the Yahoo group, "knitbabysurprise", which is what I'm on. They do alot of EZ's patterns and there is alot of help, tips and tricks as well as pictures of everyone's BSJ's. AND, there is a line by line file,too, which is what I did mine from( after purchasing the single leaflet pattern, and older issue of Knitter's magazine,or Knitter's Universe,or something like that....). We also have extremely talented people who have modified it( a crochet version, a Preemie version, doll version, etc.). Come join the party!

    By Anonymous Lisa, at 4:07 AM  

  • What I love about EZ patterns is not so much a kind of fun of "figuring it out" - being confused isn't fun! What I love is that (knowing that this is EZ, I can trust her, and that these are time-tested patterns) her way of writing patterns forces you to look at your knitting, and see how the shapes are forming under your hands. I certainly find that it's true that pattern instructions - of any kind - sound insane to me until I try it and then everything magically falls into place. But with the line-by-line color-by-number instructions, it seems to be that by the time I look up from the page, the thing is done and I really have very little idea how it happened. With EZ patterns, she teaches you what you're doing and why while you're knitting. For example, instead of taking in only "k23, pm, k60, turn and short row back 60 sts," etc, which is an instruction anyone can blindly do once and forget entirely the moment it's done, EZ tells us to "work the 90 sts in the center" - that is, she's letting us in on the logic of the pattern. That we're adding rows to the center section so that it will be longer than the side sections. How does that change the shape of the fabric from a flat piece into...something different? Once you see that happen while you're thinking about how you got there - you're well on your way to easily adapting patterns to your own desires and designing your own patterns from scratch! To me, it's the difference between *making something* and just following instructions. Even when I *do* follow instructions, I want to know what I'm doing and why, so I can truly participate in the process and learn something from it. I don't think EZ really does assume very much about what you know - I've seen some Norwegian and Russian knitting instructions that are *really* incomprehensible (to me) for that reason. What EZ does, I think, is assume that you're putting your mind into your knitting and paying attention to what *it's* doing - how the sts are forming, what shape is coming out - not just to what line of the directions you're on. This takes some getting used to, since we're all so much more familiar with the traditional instructions, but I think it's worth it - mainly because we can always trust EZ to be taking us somewhere worthwhile!

    By Blogger Kate A., at 8:55 AM  

  • Dawn Adcock wrote out line by line notes/instructions here

    I found them extremely helpful.

    By Blogger Shannon, at 1:21 PM  

  • Amen, Kate A.! You put my feelings on the matter into words better than I could have done myself. For Marty, here's what I wrote to Mary:

    What you need to do is count off
    34 sts from each end and place markers so you'll know which the center 90 are, and then just work back and forth on those central stitches, letting the end groups hang out unused on the needles. This is easy if you're using a circular needle. After your ten ridges you'll pick up stitches along the edges of the new portion to get back to the end groups and then you'll be working on all stitches again.

    By Blogger Sarah / Blue Garter, at 10:52 AM  

  • Any way I could get from you the EZ Baby Surprise Jacket pattern? I do not live in the US and have no way of getting hold of a copy. Would love to knit it for my month-old graddaughter. My email kelly.baehr@gmail.com. Tks.

    By Anonymous Kelly, at 4:00 PM  

  • could someone help me? i'm at the point of the pattern where i now have 158 stitches. but i'm very confused as to how i'm supposed to just work the middle 90 stitches. how do I do this? i just use the same yarn from the skein but start from the middle? i don't get it. i even have the DVD, but its not clear how i'm supposed to do this. :( please help. this is the first actual piece of clothing i'm attempting to knit, so i am very much a beginner. Thanks - Yookie

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:14 PM  

  • I manage this middle section differently from the pattern. Someone else suggested the method I use so that the "wrong side" ridge of the stitches you pick up after knitting the 10 ridges will both be on the same side (the inside) of the sweater, giving you an attractive outside of the sweater.

    When you have arrived at the 158 stitches, end by knitting that full row. Now, place the first 34 stitches and the last 34 stitches onto two separate stitch holders or thread a scrap of yarn through these end stitches and let them just hang there loose off your circular needle.

    Now, with the other end of the skein of yarn you are using or with another skein, knit the center 90 stitches until you have 10 ridges (which is 20 rows). When you have knit these 20 center rows, cut the yarn. Now go back to the stitches you put on holders, and using the yarn attached still to the beginning of the row, knit those stitches. Next, pick up 10 stitches along the side of the back 90 stitches you have knit. Now knit the 90 stitches from the back, pick up 10 stitches from the other side edge of the 10 ridges, and finally knit the last section of stitches you placed on the holder. At this point, you are back into EZs instructions, but you did it in one row rather than 2 rows, and you have the ridges created from picking up the stitches from the edge of the back section both on the "wrong" side of the sweater instead of a messy edge on the inside and outside of the sweater. At this point, you can do an additional knit row before proceeding with her instructions to make up for doing the picking up all in one row rather than the two rows from her directions. Be sure that as you knit across this picked up row that you have all purl stitches in the row you are knitting from, as in garter stitch.

    By Blogger sheilajoyce, at 12:11 PM  

  • Hello..........I have just discovered the total joy of knitting....at the grand age of 55yrs....i wne tin at the deep end with a baby surprise jacket, I wondered if anyone can tll me how to add a collar or hood....or know of a blog/book with the instructions in
    Thanks lots

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:26 AM  

  • Check out

    By Blogger indebele2, at 6:41 AM  

  • Another to check out:

    By Blogger indebele2, at 6:54 AM  

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