Before We Knit

Elizabeth DeHority has graciously offered to help us through the knitting of a classic Baby Surprise Jacket (there are 14,564 pictured here). This jacket is knit from an Elizabeth Zimmermann pattern, which can be found in the The Opinionated Knitter or in the video (also available at Amazon here). If you are a new knitter, I highly recommend that the pattern you purchase is the line-by-line  ABCSJ pattern available at The link will take you to the page. You have to scroll to find the pattern. I'm sorry, but there is no direct link to the product. The line-by-line pattern is much easier to understand than EZ's original rendering.

Please let us know if you're joining us. You don't need a blog to join. You can post photos of your progress to the You can post pictures to the BSJ Knitalong Flickr group.



If you do have a blog, please put a small button on your sidebar and grab a large one for your progress posts

Here, again, are button codes. I think they are copying correctly but let me know in the comments if you have problems with them:

Here are codes:



If you are still having trouble with button codes, I beg your pardon and your grace. Please leave a note in the comments and I promise to work on it.

Look for a post detailing prizes real soon. In the meantime, Elizabeth DeHority answers more of your questions below:

We've talked about what a knitter needs to know to start a BSJ… really and truly, if she can cast on and do a knit stitch, she can knit this whole sweater.  There are a few other stitches and things that we'll need, but none are hard and we'll have videos of all of them.
Here are two more frequent questions from email and my ravelry messages:
1.  Why do I need to do a swatch if I don't have to make my knitting match a certain number of stitches per inch?
Good question!  First of all, some people ARE trying to make a specific size sweater, and therefore need a certain number of stitches per inch,  I want my sweater to be about a size three, but shorter (for George, who has short upper arms like many people with Down Syndrome)  Therefore, I needed to be sure that my yarn and my needles worked together to give me 3.5 stitches per inch.  But even if you don't need a certain gauge, a swatch is valuable.  First of all, every knitter is different, and the size needles you need to make a nice fabric from a particular yarn might be very different than those recommended on the ball band.  And what if there IS no ball band?  Several knitters who have signed up are using handspun.  They really have to experiment to decide what needles give the best results.  Also, since your sweater will be babywear, it will get washed.  And washed.  And washed.  Even machine washable yarn changes quite a bit after that first wash.  Or what if you're trying a new yarn and you discover after washing your swatch just once that it gets all distorted or pilly?  You might not want to spend so much time and effort until you exchange your yarn for something more durable.
2.  I want to make stripes.  How do I do that?  How many rows until I should change colors?
There are some color-changing guidelines ("when" in the pattern conveys to "where" in the sweater) in the ABCSJ pattern.
You can change colors whenever you want.  I'm alternating 10 rows of my main color with 6 rows of contrasting colors, Elizabeth Foss is changing colors every two rows, Ginny and my mom are using self-striping yarn. 
If you're knitting only two rows with a new color, you are going to carry your yarn (both colors) up the side of your work. To keep things neat, every time you switch colors, just give the yarn a little twist with other color before knitting the first stitch.
If you're knitting more than two rows, it works best to cut your yarn, leaving a nice long tail to weave in later.
Pull about the same amount of tail from your new color.
Tie a loose knot close to the edge of your work, and just start knitting.  When we sew it all up and do the finishing, we will talk about weaving in ends.
There is one other thing to think about when you plan your colors.  If you change as you start a right side row, the rows with the odd numbers, your color change will be a solid line, like this:

If you start your new color when the wrong side is facing you, when you are about to start knitting an even numbered row, your color change will look like this:



Either way is fine.  I have made sweaters with all the changes on one side or the other, and I've made sweaters with changes on both sides.  often if I'm using a muticolored yarn, I want to make the changes on the wrong side, to mix the colors up more.  My sweater this time is all solids, and I want the stripes to be smooth, so I'm going to change only when I'm starting odd numbered, right side, rows.
Leave questions in the comments below and we'll answer there. That way, everyone can benefit from the answers. no doubt, there will be questions as we move along. My mom borrowed my The Opinionated Knitter book to knit her sweater, and she looked at the pattern there (which is not the all written out kind) and said, and I quote, "This should be fine, looks pretty straightforward to me"  I'd hope it would be easy for her; she's the one who taught me how to knit, and I think she's knit even more whole big fancy sweaters than I've knit plain little baby socks.  By the way, happy mother's day, mom :-)



  1. Betty says

    So excited! My friend and I are trying to follow along. We are still waiting for her pattern to arrive. How do we join if we don’t have a blog?
    I’d like to make a sweater for a one year old, what yarn would be best without having to alter the pattern so much?
    Oh, I couldn’t see the buttons or the pictures of color change, just the jpeg numbers?
    Thanks so much! Thank you Elizabeth H. for leading us despite your tiredness and busy life (we are praying for you!) and thank you Elizabeth F. for being so inspiring in all that you’ve knitted in such a short time!
    Many Blessings, Betty

  2. says

    Whoa. Those are big glitches. I see them, so I’m really glad you told me you don’t. I promise to reload it all real soon. First I need to feed my children and load the washing machine and get morning going. I’ll try to be back before lunchtime.

  3. says

    I already have my first question! I’m using the Opinionated Knitter pattern, and while I should be able to muddle along, I’m a bit worried about the stitch markers. I noticed that Elizabeth Foss has two on each side in her picture. The placement in the newsletter pattern is between the slipped stitch and the k2tog, which seems an odd place to put it. Should I just keep moving it to beyond the psso? I’m just nervous that I will get to the m1 point and it will not be where it needs to be!

  4. Lara says

    I have a question–Elizabeth, are you making a toddler sweater for Sarah Annie? I have a little guy, probably about the same size–he’s 2 and about 23 pounds dripping wet. The pattern says “fewer sts/in will increase” it to a toddler size….How do I do that? I haven’t bought yarn yet, because I thought that might be part of the solution. :) I’m a beginner–knitting only since Jan. I tend to knit tight and need one needle size larger than the one suggested. Thank you so much–I’ve been looking forward to this!

  5. says

    I’m also waiting on my pattern, then a trip to the yarn shop (hurray!). I can’t work out how to add a button to my sidebar, but I have a link at the top of my blog that will hopefully work. Looking forward to getting started!

  6. says

    If you can delay starting until later tonight, I’ll put up a post that shows exactly how/where to put those two markers to safely navigate the first 10 rows.

  7. says

    I am knitting for Sarah Annie, for the fall. I’m knitting in bulky weight on 10.5 needles and I’m far enough along to feel pretty confident it will fit my 24 pounder.

  8. crystal says

    Will be joining the knit~a~long .
    Exactly when does it start ?
    Have done my swatch and have everything ready ~I have the book The Opinionated Knitter ~ do I still need to get the line by line pattern ?

  9. says

    Thanks, but I found the info I needed in the questions on Ravelry. It looks like I’m doing okay. I’d wait, but I have a good hour of knitting scheduled this afternoon. Oh, I mean my ob appt ;)

  10. Midge Sweeney says

    Elizabeth’s mom is going to do her best with Elizabeth’s yarn and pattern. Does that mean I am joining?

  11. says

    I am wanting to make this in about a size 4 toddler…should I just make the baby one, or is there a simple way to size it up. I think I am making it more difficult than it should be :)
    I haven’t picked out my yarn yet because I am not sure what yarn to get to make it for a size 4. Think it’s a bad sign that I already need help? :) :)

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