Yes, finally, the photos that I promised eons ago. First, here’s the opening attack on the much-loved Baby Surprise Jacket by Elizabeth Zimmerman. As just about everyone who’s made this will tell you–the pros: all garter stitch; the cons: the terse, inscrutable yet absolutely correct pattern holds nobody’s hand, and there are few points where you can look at your work in progress and say “Yes, that’s what it’s supposed to look like.”
Thankfully there are plenty of places where you can get coaching as you work your way through this pattern. Some people work together in knitalongs, some have developed charts and spreadsheets, some have formed yahoogroups and Ravelry forums, and some enterprising yarn stores are holding classes and workshops.
If you want to receive a tutorial from the horse’s mouth, as it were, EZ’s daughter Meg Swansen has recorded a lovely DVD (which I purchased, and which provided me with numerous epiphanies throughout), taking the viewer step-by-step through the BSJ process from cast-on to cast-off, plus a few added extras like collars and finishing techniques.
All of this makes the BSJ sound like Mount Everest and you’re looking at climbing it in just your swimsuit. The truth is, you don’t need any of these helpmates. The pattern really does speak for itself–literally.
For example, one helpful hint is to sit down and read the pattern out loud, pausing wherever necessary to envision what you are doing with complete clarity. Do not try to imagine the finished product (you’ll just drive yourself crazy). Just concentrate on each direction line by line.
Another helpful hint is to go through the pattern and do whatever math is necessary at the appropriate points. When EZ tells you to increase 10 stitches evenly across a row, divide the total number of stitches that you’ll have on the needles and note where the increases will need to be. If you like, break out the pattern line by line as some people have, indicating how many stitches you start with, where you increase, where you decrease, where you put stitches on holders, where you pick them up.
I would suggest that the worst thing you can do, which I imagine many people attempt, is to sit down with your yarn and your needles and start working from the pattern without any sort of preparation. This is where, I think, many knitters bog down and become intimidated and tell themselves that it’s far more difficult than it really is.
Here’s an actual example: “At 114 sts, inc.10 sts in one row evenly spaced across center section.” In this case, the center section is between two lines of increases (M1, knit, M1). Count the number of stitches excluding the two stitches around which you’ve been increasing. Let’s say the number is 80. Divide it by 10 and then figure out how you would place the increases evenly across. (Hint: do not start with an increase, and do not end with an increase.) The right answer would be: k4, m1, (k8, m1) 9 times, k4. You should have increased 10 times, and you should now have 90 stitches.
If reading that made your eyes cross, you might want the DVD. It’s worth the money.
And here’s the other fabulous photo I wanted to share with you. The delicious chocolate treat that erases all others from memory–Tim Tams, fresh from Australia, courtesy of my beloved Asif. This photo is several weeks old, so these little yummies have long since vanished. (It was all I could do not to eat them in one night.) I don’t think I could live in Australia, but these seriously make me consider it.
I must tell you, I’ve been very moved by your comments and by the e-mails that you have sent me individually about the Kern video and Tucker’s letter. I am delighted that this is catching people’s attention across the continent. On a cheerier note, I’m always amazed at the remarkable cover versions of current pop songs that you can find on YouTube. I’m not a Jonas Brothers fan (I guess I’m not a preteen girl after all), but this, by Frankie J., is as lovely as anyone could possibly hope for. And the last few seconds are especially sweet.