June 18, 2007


Note to non-knitting partners, spouses or SOs of obsessed knitters: If you don’t want to get The Pregnant Pause of Mild Annoyance followed by The Withering Look of Instant Death, don’t say to the knitter, as you’re both heading out the door, “Oh, gee, I don’t think you need to bring your knitting with you…”

I don’t know what TMK was thinking. Perhaps she was trying to keep things simple; perhaps she was trying to save me the trouble of hauling so many bags around; perhaps, after six years of my knitting, she still doesn’t get quite how this’all works; perhaps she wanted to hear the Pregnant Pause of Mild Annoyance and get The Withering Look of Instant Death, in which case I was happy to oblige...

Did I knit during that particular outing? No. Not a stitch.

Did I carry more bags with me than I needed, and were those bags inconvenient, especially the overly large, pink, supermarket-type one which rustled loudly every time I moved my legs? Yes.

Was this a very short outing for which I could have easily left my knitting at home? Yes.

Did I know there was a snowball's chance that I would get to knit even one stitch? Yes.

Was TMK right? Blah, blah, blah, Fifth Amendment. Blah.

But that’s not the point.



The highlight of the weekend: Buying a cordless controller for TMK’s PlayStation II. The idea is great in principle, and TMK reported that the controller worked very well...until the moment she plopped herself back into her recliner and settled in cozily, ready for yet another round of fighting evil phantoms, shadows, wraiths, imps, and other soulless creatures, and pointed her hands at the PlayStation—only to find that she had left the controller in another room. Apparently I don't have the copyright to the Pregnant Pause of Mild Annoyance...

On the up side, if TMK gets particularly worked up fighting uber-demons while using the corded controller, she has been known to yank the entire PlayStation off the shelf. This is no longer a problem. Frankie and I—who both startle easily—are grateful for this.

As for me, while TMK busied herself fighting evil phantoms, shadows, wraiths, imps, and other soulless creatures and not pulling the PlayStation off the shelf, I busied myself wrestling with the Baby Surprise Jacket pattern.

SURPRISE! Just because a million other people have knit the pattern and say it's easy doesn’t mean I can do it.

SURPRISE! This is the first pattern ever, in six years, for which I’ve had to use this. And it doesn’t help. It just gives you two places where your count can be off, instead of one.


SURPRISE! This is the first pattern that made me think garter stitch was confusing. Garter stitch, people! The simplest of the simple, the ABC's of knitting! In fact, the garter stitch was getting to me so much that, at one point, as I was perusing the last few rows, I discovered I had accidentally purled half a row, resulting in some stockinette. How do you purl accidentally? It takes a lot of concerted effort to purl: Bringing the yarn forward, inserting the needle from top to bottom instead of bottom to top, inserting the needle in front instead of in back, wrapping the yarn around all catty wampus… And yet.

SURPRISE! As much as I love my copy of “Knitting Without Tears,” sometime Elizabeth Zimmerman drives me loco. Now, don’t go getting out your torches, pitchforks, hot oil, tar, and feathers, Dear Readers and EZ fans. If you’ve ever seen this pattern, you will know that there is much increasing, decreasing, shaping, and picking up of stitches, and your stitch count changes every row. And yet the pattern is very casually written, as is EZ’s wont, to the point where crucial details are left out. Argh. (Perhaps a light should've gone on when Jessica told me she teaches a class on this sweater. An entire class. On one pattern.)

SURPRISE! Because the original instructions are so sketchy, other kind-hearted souls have tried their hand at filling in the gaps and have posted their discoveries and notes online. Which I then find, only to discover that they've interpreted the pattern completely differently from the way I have, by which point I'm left sobbing in the corner.

SURPRISE! EZ can in no way be blamed for this, but knitting from the stash can sometimes lead to color combos that are ass. Proof:


However, if my calculations are right, when this thing gets folded up origami-like, the stripes should stop being so stripey and straight and frigid-looking and become more organic and accent-y. Please God.

On Wednesday, a new meme that I was tagged for so you can, yet again, learn more about this complete stranger than you ever knew about your own family. In the meantime, off to update the list of Dulaan 10,000 or Bust participants who finished!

Posted by Ryan at June 18, 2007 11:30 AM

Please put me in the 5 ror bust completed list (and Sue too if she is on it) I have to mail them this week, but I promise we have more than enough. WAAAAAY more.


Posted by: anj on June 18, 2007 12:39 PM

Call me an ass - but on my monitor your color combo looks loud but fun. I have knit a few of the baby surprise jackets (and even and adult sized one) and find that my biggest tip is to somehow mark the side that you are calling the RIGHT side. Then just count ridges from there (1 ridge = 2 rows). It is just magic when you sew up those shoulder seams.


Posted by: Beth in Seattle on June 18, 2007 12:50 PM

It is not a color combination I would wear (red hair, it just would not work for me...) but for my son, yes my son, I would have put that on him as a small child.

I have only been knitting for about a year and a half, but my kids have learned to ask before we leave somewhere, if I have my knitting. Oldest child, with her permit, and wanting to drive everywhere, makes sure I always have some knitting in the car. Soothing for both of us. (Be careful of large white vans driven by teenagers in Renton...)

Posted by: PICAdrienne on June 18, 2007 01:25 PM

Maybe she was just feeling silly when she said that to you. ;^)

Every time I hear the name of that pattern, I wonder how a baby can be a surprise. *L* It will be lovely once it's done, Ryan.

Oh and you're far more interesting than my family.

Posted by: Cookie on June 18, 2007 01:31 PM

Don't feel bad about the garter stitch flub. Everyone always recommends feather-and-fan to newbies because it's sooooo easy, yet I mess it up more often than anything else and I'm an experienced lace knitter. I think the brain must go numb or something...

P.S. Knitting bag = insurance policy. If you have it, nothing will go wrong. But leave it at home and you will no doubt get stuck somewhere with absolutely nothing to do. ;)

Posted by: Denise in Kent, WA on June 18, 2007 01:32 PM

I tossed my seven sewn fleece hats in with Anj's collection of amazingly cute hats, and she speaks truth: She'll be sending a LOT of hats off to AZ.

Posted by: Ann Rose on June 18, 2007 02:11 PM

I am addicted to the BSJ (also have a bit of OCD, since I carefully wrote out every line of the pattern as I went (the first time). I have now made 10 of them and can't seem to stop, even though there are no babies anywhere in sight. This link to the BSJ knitwiki will really help you. I like the hint of breaking the yarn and joining again when picking up the second 10 stitches...


Posted by: jee on June 18, 2007 03:28 PM


The pattern made me crazy too, the link above gives you a row by row, blow by blow description. I love the WIKI page though, wish I had seen it sooner for sizing!

Posted by: Linda Doggett on June 18, 2007 03:28 PM

I'm done, I'm done! More than done since I did more than five. I've got ten items, and my mom is sending me one more item. They're being mailed off by the end of the week (payday, y'know).

Posted by: Kathleen C. on June 18, 2007 03:39 PM

You can add me to the "finished" list. I'll post about it tomorrow.

Posted by: Ruth on June 18, 2007 03:57 PM

I feel your frustration, Ryan. Today I ripped out the first 8 rows of the BS jacket for the 6th and final (for now) time. Is it too easy? Do our brains have the need to make it harder? I'll try again, but only after a few baby hats and booties, which will soothe my pride. Looking forward to seeing the stripes on your finished jacket.

Posted by: Mimi on June 18, 2007 06:10 PM

My goodness, you're funny. I mean, really, truly humorous. I love reading your blog. I wish Elizabeth Zimmerman was still alive and could read this entry. She'd get a big chuckle out of it, I'm sure.

Think maybe you're overthinking the Baby Suprise a bit? I dunno, just an observation....

My box of 24 items went in the mail on Saturday! Whoohooo!!!


Posted by: MaryB on June 18, 2007 06:53 PM

You've got to take a look at my latest post. I just finished a BSJ for Dulaan and I sent my box in last Friday. I think with the BSJ pattern you do have to read it carefully, but if you do it really does make sense. Good luck with yours!

Posted by: Kristin on June 18, 2007 10:14 PM

The colors---like the knitting---won't make sense until you knit enough to fold into the sweater. Then they will be fabulous!

I seriously frogged 6 times on my first BSJ. I think the results are worth the frustration. And you'll fly through the second one.

Press on, m'dear.

Posted by: Gail on June 18, 2007 10:30 PM

I'm with you, Ryan. I found EZ's BSJ pattern woefully inadequate and sketchy. I just finished my first one last night and I never would have figured it out without the online resources, especially the row by row notes, and I am a very good pattern reader. I usually am the one who figures out what others can't. Very humbling but I feel much better knowing you had similar problems.

Posted by: Donna in Virginia on June 19, 2007 07:09 AM

Hi! I shipped my stuff off this weekend! I made it! Please put me on the finished list!!!!

Angela Grant

Posted by: Ang on June 19, 2007 09:25 AM

I've made a couple BSJs. Try this website for some help: http://www.3gcs.com/adcock/free%20patterns/BSS%20Notes.htm

It gives you a row-by-row stitch count so if you arse it up, at least you can tell before you've gone too much farther.

In the Spring Vogue knitting there are some BSJ modifications from Meg Swansen, but I haven't tried them yet. (Will soon...just leared I have a nephew on the way. Fall babies...the best news a knitter can get. :-)

P.S. I also get the eye rolls about bringing the knitting every time I leave the house.

Posted by: Lisa F. on June 19, 2007 10:57 AM

hmm...i have a couple of versions of this that made it more understandable. if you want to see them, let me know. btw, i love the colors!

Posted by: marti on June 19, 2007 11:51 AM

Ahaha, I'm SO GLAD to find I'm not alone! I tried the Baby Surprise Jacket once. I remember thinking, "The surprise must be that THIS PATTERN MAKES NO SENSE."

I've attempted six EZ patterns, and only one (the double-knit potholder) was successful. I wish someone would release a "director's cut" of her books, with all of her patterns translated into... well, actual patterns.

Posted by: Erika on June 19, 2007 12:22 PM

You mean there is hope, er I mean help, for those EZ patterns???? I've lost my way three times on that baby jacket.

Posted by: skeetshooter on June 19, 2007 01:31 PM

Oh, no, I NEVER leave the house without my knitting bag, two books and a magazine. What if you should have a break-down and have to wait while the husband trucks out to get help (we don't got no steenkin' cell phones)? What if the elevator should stop mid-floor? What if the speaker's dull, the concert bad or 35 people got to the doctor before me? When packing for a trip I throw a few clothes into a bag - then spend days organizing the knitting basket and library. Doesn't everyone?

Posted by: Dale-Harriet in WI on June 19, 2007 01:47 PM


I just packed up the 28 hats and 4 pairs of mittens (does that count as 8 items????) and it will all go out in the post tomorrow.

If you'd like (since I know you have the pattern) I would be willing to give you my row-by-row, blow-by-blow-with-stitch-count and notes-about-where-you are-in-the-pattern BSJ spreadsheet. Just drop me a note and I'll wing it over.

Now I can go get started on Dulaan 2008!

Posted by: Sweet Caroline on June 19, 2007 08:00 PM

I've made one baby surpise jacket. I'll probably make more, because, oh it's cute and fast and now I know what to watch out for. Let's just say the decreases didn't make that nice straight angle. Design feature. I swear.

I gifted it anyway of course. Who was to know I didn't mean it?

Posted by: Gwen on June 19, 2007 10:07 PM

Oh, I forgot - I finished.

Posted by: Shannon B on June 20, 2007 02:43 AM

'Can't stop laughing at the image of the big pink krinkly bag hitting your leg...

I am at a point of needing full concentration to get past problems in no less than all four of my Wip's - the kind of concentration that requires sitting alone in a room in the perfect state of mind to get through a knitting conundrum - no way can I move forward on any one of them if I am somewhere "on the road" but there is just also no way I will go out without at least one project, my pattern folder and my notions case stuffed into my purse.

Posted by: Marie on June 20, 2007 11:40 AM

I think you and I feel the same about that pattern and EZ. Check out my blog post from May 10th, Surprise...It's a jacket.

Posted by: Lisa on June 25, 2007 02:15 PM
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