Plus: get the help you need to read and follow knitting patterns
Note: back in 2015, Knitting for Charity asked readers for their “knitting bucket lists.” The Knitting Bucket List Challenge series followed, offering assistance to those knitters so that they could acheive their bucket lists. This post is one such challenge! For more Knitting Bucket List Challenges, click here!
“Baby surprise jackets,” was the response of one Facebook fan named RL in regard to items on our knitting bucket lists. “I have a terrible time following patterns, though.”
I had heard of the Baby Surprise jacket – a celebrated knitting pattern written by perhaps the most famous knitting writer of all time, Elizabeth Zimmerman. But I didn’t really know anything about the jacket. So I decided to investigate.
A magazine originally published the pattern in January 1968. Zimmerman since then published it in many of her own books, including The Opinionated Knitter and Knitting Workshop.
Ravelry actually has a group specifically devoted to the original Baby Surprise jacket. You can find it here. You can also find a very thorough Baby Surprise jacket “wiki” that may be tremendously helpful when you decide to knit the pattern. It includes where you can find the pattern and tons of helpful tips and resources.
Alternatives to the Baby Surprise Jacket
I’ve found a number of free patterns based on or inspired by Zimmerman’s Baby Surprise jacket. (A few of these require the original pattern, which I linked to below.) You can find these listed here.
Ulina: Available in both English and German, this jacket is a great way to use up fingering weight yarn remnants.
Baby Surprise Jacket Preemie Sized: This is not only a terrific way to practice the jacket pattern, but it also makes a wonderful charity project.
DROPS Jacket and Pants: The DROPS Design studio has a ridiculous number of free patterns for jackets, so it’s not surprising that they have this one available as well. As a nice bonus, this pattern also offers a matching pair of pants, so you can knit an adorable outfit all at once!
(Note: the pattern says “From $18.40” at the top — that is not the cost of the pattern; it’s the cost of the materials. The pattern itself is free.)
Baby Surprise Snowsuit: Want to extend the jacket into a snowsuit? Check out this clever addition. (Note that you’ll need the original pattern in order to knit the extension into a snowsuit.)
Baby Surprise Jacket, Stockinette Version: This is another pattern where you’ll need the original pattern to start, then you’ll take off from it into this variation. This is a delightful alternative, since many prefer the look of stockinette to garter stitch.
Seamless BSJ: This pattern takes the original Baby Surprise jacket pattern and makes it seamless! (You’ll need the original pattern for this one as well.)
Here is a link to purchase the original pattern if you so desire. The pattern includes multiple sizes and many additional details. It’s well worth the $12 cost (at this writing).
Bonus: How to Read a Pattern
RL also mentioned that she struggled with following knitting patterns. From my mail and comments, I know that this is a common problem.
As it happens, Vogue Knitting published the ultimate guide to reading and following a knitting pattern. You can read it here: How-To: Pattern Reading
Now, I’ll bet you’re ready to tackle patterns… and knit that Baby Surprise Jacket!