Mia's Baby Surprise Jacket

Delivered Mia's BSJ next door tonight. This wasn't exactly an impulse knit. I did put quite a bit of thought into what I might make for the new baby. Once I settled on the BSJ and got my hands on the pattern, though, I moved swiftly and decisively, pushing everything else to the back burner until I had this project done and delivered.

Pattern: Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surprise Jacket
Started: February 26, 2008
Completed: March 2, 2008
Materials: Plymouth Dreambaby DK print (2 skeins)
Needles: US5 / 3.75mm

I’m a little disappointed by the yarn. Hard to resist the pretty Noro, but I figured I ought to go with something washable – for the obvious reason as well as the fact that I’m not sure how the neighbors would do with hand-wash. Pretty colors. As it knit up, the greens and blues were more dominant than I expected.

I’m working on size 5 needles, which is smaller than what EZ recommends. Size 6 got me gauge, but since I made the sweater for a baby who came a month early, I thought it merited the stop-down.

My first day knitting, I got well-past the R11 increases. I wasn't happy with how the increases looked, though, so the next day I ripped back to re-do the increases. I had originally done my M1s by picking up the bar and knitting it, which leaves an obvious inconsistency in the stitch and a hole in the fabric. Read up on some of the BSJ KAL sites and learned a lot of good things, including the fact that the increases work best if you pick up the bar and then knit it in the back, twisting the stitch to eliminate the hole. Worked like a charm!

The other thing I learned from my reading is that EZ recommended doing the mitre-sequence stitches (sl1, k2tog, psso) with the slip “as if to purl.” I did my mitres with the slip as if to knit. Other BSJ knitters say it doesn’t matter as long as you’re consistent, so I resisted the urge to frog the entire thing and decided I like the way my mitres look.

Otherwise, I found pattern very simple. Many people seem to get worked up about placing the stitch markers and counting – some create elaborate spreadsheets to help track stitch counts. I have to admit that this got me worried. However, I found that the first row and then the first row after picking up the edge stitches were the only critical ones for either marking or counting. Once I got the establishing row set up, I could see where the mitres needed to fall. Markers just got in the way – so I eliminated them. I did keep a pencil at-hand and made tic marks on the pattern each time I completed a decrease/mitre row. I didn't track EVERY row, though, just the decreases, since EZ has you proceed through 22 rows of decreases. It’s easy to tell by the stitches whether you’re on a decrease/mitre row or not – and I could always rely on the location of my cast-on tail if I got confused.

As for the yarn… the fabric worked up fine — and the new mom likes it — but I really dislike working with this fiber. I’m allergic to latex, and I suspect I may have a problem with acrylic, too. Maybe not if I’m just wearing it, but the friction of the yarn on my fingertips as I knit made my fingers burn. My lips felt swollen when I worked on this project, and my eyes burned, too. I had a similar experience with the Moda Dea Sassy Stripes for C’s legwarmers, so I don’t think I’ll work with acrylic again.

Have to say, I really enjoyed this pattern. The construction keeps you interested the entire time. Wish I hadn’t spent all my knitting time regretting the yarn selection. It worked up as a dense variegated with lots of quick color change, so it didn’t do much to augment the construction. Took C to the store and picked out some cute little heart buttons. The pink isn’t really in the yarn, but it works nicely and helps identify the sweater more clearly for a girl.

I thought knitting and construction were a breeze. For this one, it’s best to find your way intuitively through EZ’s pattern than to get too wrapped up in finding all the useful comments, corrections, and spreadsheets. I wouldn’t have corrected a thing about the pattern. Found it charming!

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