Monday, July 1, 2013

Baby Surprise Jacket - Elizabeth Zimmerman Inspiration

After I first learned to knit I came across this most unusual knitting book:
Knitter's Almanac, by an Elizabeth Zimmerman.
There were knitting patterns, well, if you could call them that, interspersed with little diatribes and diversions.
I found it enduring and bought it on the spot.
I devoured it when I got home.
"ONCE UPON A TIME there was an old woman who loved to knit.  She lived with her Old Man in the middle of the woods in a curious one-room schoolhouse which was rather untidy, and full of wool."
This Elizabeth Zimmerman was full of such strong opinions.
She was an engaging writer, sharing both wisdom, and a lively British wit.
In particular, she had strong feelings about knitting baby things in wool.
"Pass by the synthetic yarn department, then, with your nose in the air.  Should a clerk come out with the remark that All Young Mothers In This Day and Age (why can't they save their breath and say "now") insist on a yarn which can be machine-washed and machine-dried, come back at her with the reply that one day, you suppose, they will develop a baby that can be machine washed and -dried."
After reading that, I knitted many lovely baby things in wool.
And I learned how to wash them 'properly.'
Reading such things changed they way I thought of plain old knitting. 
This was no longer a hobby for me, but an art. 
After that I read her book, Knitting Without Tears
In her words:
Chapter 1.
The Opinionated Knitter
MOST people have an obsession; mine is knitting.  Your hobby may be pie-baking, playing the piano, or potbelly-stove collecting, and you may sympathize with my enthusiasm, having an obsession of your own. 
Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn't hurt the untroubled spirit either.
[And my favorite:]
If you hate to knit, why, bless you, don't;
Follow your secret heart and take up something else. 
These books were such a blessing!  When I learned to knit almost 15 years ago, I learned in isolation, no teachers, no knitting peers.   Her books made me feel that someone understood me!  I read along, and knitted along, and she became my companion: a friendly voice as I worked along.
After all these years of knitting baby things, I finally knitted her very creative and original pattern, the Baby Surprise Jacket
It has stood the test of time since it was first published more than 20 years ago because of it's classic lines and look.
Well OK, AND, the fact that when you are done you end up with a weird blob of fabric that doesn't look at all like a sweater
until you fold it up, here and there, and sew two easy seams and,
Voila! A beauty.
Thus, the Surprise part.
This is my first BSJ, for sure, but it won't be the last one I make.
To go with it, I knitted my own adaptation of the Wurm Hat, which is quickly becoming a favorite newborn hat - especially since it is stretchy enough to fit the incredible size variations of babies heads. 
Knitting Loveliness indeed. 
Thanks EZ, for being my companion when for so many years I knitted alone.
Your words still keep me company as my stitches glide along the needles.



Frontier Dreams Keep Calm Craft On
Ginny's Yarn Along
Tami Ami's Finished Object Friday
Natural Suburbia's Creative Friday   and
Wisdom Begins in Wonder's Fiber Arts Friday


  1. I love EZ and hope to someday try her BSJ. Your pictures make my heart swoon. Beautiful!! Thank you for joining us at KCCO!

    1. Thanks Nicole,

      I am really enjoying KCCO, and getting loads of inspiration from all who share.

  2. This sweater looks and sounds similar to one that I crochet. I make a hexagon, and fold it a certain way, and sew up two side seams. So easy. This knitted one looks great!

  3. LOve EZ and I don't know how many 'surprises' I have knit. Enjoyed your thoughts, Amen to each one.

  4. Such a cute ensemble. Love the colors!

  5. I had not heard of Elizabeth Zimmerman, but your post has inspired me to go and investigate. Lave the little jacket. Rustic and charming.

  6. I love this jacket, it is so cute! You are invited to share this with Show Your Stuff:

  7. BSJ was my very first sweater experience years ago. I still love it. Your sweater is super cute!

  8. It really is a classic piece. Love it!

  9. "Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn't hurt the untroubled spirit either." I like that! :-) The baby cardigan is lovely.