What hasn’t already been written about Elizabeth Zimmerman’s 1968 ground breaking design, the Baby Surprise Jacket? So many people have made this. So many people have marvelled at the origami style wonder of knitting something that is flat, with a few waves and which turns miraculously into a jacket.
It’s clever. It really is. Knitters will forever be discovering the magic and utter cleverness of it. I am not the last. And this is not the last Baby Surprise Jacket I will ever knit. I see myself knitting this for babies forever. And I see myself saying to new parents, as I did today ‘this is a very special, very clever baby knit. Trust me, it’s awesome.’
Here is how it looked before I folded it. It’s the olbigatory ‘before’ shot.
Knitting this was the same leap of faith it is for every knitter who tries it for the first time. Just follow was the pattern says. Increase when you’re suppose to. Decrease when you’re supposed to. I changed colours when I felt like it, with no real sense of whether it would work or not. And so I ended up with this.
And at the back it looks like this
And on the baby it looks like this. Little Julian, who is recipient of my first BSJ, posed most handsomely for photos today.
And then we had a cuddle so he could show it off some more.
Julian is still very small, and his parents speculated that this jacket wouldn’t fit him for some time. Then, because he was in a cheerful mood, we thought we’d try it on him and to be honest, there’s not a lot of room in it for growth. It’ll stretch a bit, but not a lot. I thought that was quite illuminating. If he was a big baby, sure, but he’s not. He’s tiny. It made me stop and think about future Baby Surprise Jackets and how I’d ensure they would fit other babies. It’s a 5ply piece (Bendigo Woollen Mills Colonial); on 3.75mm needles. I’m a tight knitter. I think in future all 5ply versions should be on 4mm needles at a minimum. Something to think about, for sure.
If you’ve been reading my blog since 2008 you might recognise the wool. It’s made from two left over balls of the stuff I used to make my long-suffering Steeked Jacket. Those who were around then will remember it took more than a year of my life to knit this.
I’m really, really happy I found something to make out of the left overs. When I started knitting Julian’s jacket, Sean said ‘wow, it’s great to see those colours again.’ Time is a great healer. We’ve both forgotten the scars of trying to get that beast off the needles!
All I know is that this was such a fun knit and the possibilities that lay ahead are rich and varied. There’s a reason this has been a popular and inspiring knit for more than 40 years. Julian’s dad is an engineer. I tried to explain to him how this happened – this knitting miracle. He’s a guy who’s shown an interest in the past in wonder of a knitted sock heel, that sort of thing. Today he said ‘I could knit a BSJ for myself, couldn’t I?’ I said he could. It’s been done before, a man-sized version.
Father and son would look fabulous together.
Me, I can’t wait to knit another one.
Thank you Julian for inspiring me to knit my first Baby Surprise Jacket. This won’t be the last.