Tips and Tricks for Knitting Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Baby Surprise Jacket

The Baby Surprise Jacket pattern by Elizabeth Zimmerman can be found in her book, Knitting Workshop. This a very interesting pattern to knit, enjoyable, and easy to construct. I’ve knit the pattern a few times, and it’s definitely my favorite baby sweater pattern.
I’ve added some notes to my pattern, and I’d like to share them with you, to enhance your experience with knitting the Baby Surprise Jacket.

Any stripes made in the first half of the pattern, while the decrease rows are being worked, will show around the sleeves and across the upper back of the sweater. Stripes put in later, during the increasing rows, will end up down the front of the sweater and around the lower back. Stripes in the ten ridge section will appear only around the body of the lower part of the sweater and not up and down on the fronts.

After the ten ridges of garter stitch are worked on the center ninety stitches, the instructions indicate that the rest of the stitches should be picked up and knit to form the button bands and bottom border. This procedure in done in two different rows in the pattern, but I prefer to cut my yarn and, working on the right side, knit the stitches on the holder, pick up ten stitches along the garter ends, knit across the center ninety stitches, pick up ten stitches at the garter ends, and knit the stitches from the other holder. This forms the beginning of the button band in a single row. I prefer to do this, even though it means extra ends to bury, because it is more balanced, and it’s easier to make stripes match and come out evenly without the extra row on one side.

I space my buttonholes in the buttonhole rows as follows:

Knit 3, YO, Knit 2 together, then knit 8, and form the next buttonhole. Continue to knit 8 between the buttonholes (not including the knit 2 together) until the last three stitches, and make the last buttonhole. To match the buttonholes on the other side, use the same spacing, but knit 2 before making the first buttonhole, and make the last buttonhole when there are four stitches remaining in the row.

Elizabeth Zimmerman was a knitting genius, and I certainly wouldn’t presume to improve upon her work. Her patterns, because she believed in thinking knitters making thoughtful choices, do leave some details to the imagination and judgment of knitter. These are the small details I’ve calculated myself that help me to make Baby Surprise Jackets that I’m very proud to give as gifts.

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