Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Baby Surprise Jacket

Tia and RohanElizabeth Zimmerman’s Baby Surprise Jacket
At last, a finished object to report! I’d seen this famous jacket before but this is the first one I’d ever knit. It was for Tia and her newborn little son, Rohan. I took it over to them at the RPA Hospital tonight, and wonder of wonders, it actually fit! I’m also happy to report that this is officially the first knitted item the baby’s ever worn (as poor Tia was too sick to knit for most of her pregnancy). It was knitted out of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino and I used size 3.25mm needles. Read on for more pictures, including yours truly holding a truly unhappy newborn.ThingStep One: Knit this thing. Doesn’t look like much, does it? I couldn’t even figure out which bit I was knitting for a while, which interfered with my plan to use stripes. Finally I just decided to throw in some random stripes and hope they turned out well.

FoldedStep Two: Fold it up. Believe it or not, that floppy thing actually folds up into this little jacket. The only seams you have to sew are the two shoulder tops.

FinishedStep Three: Finished! Here I’ve completed the shoulder seams and added buttons. In an elaborate attempt to avoid actually having to sew, I decided to try picking up along each shoulder and then doing a three-needle cast-off. It worked pretty well! Probably took me a lot longer than it would’ve to just sew the thing, but I’m nothing if not stubborn.

BackThe back of the jacket.

Shoulder detailThe only problem I had with my shoulder joining method was that picking up on the back side of the shoulders created a weird little strip of stocking stitch on an otherwise all garter stitch garment. I decided that Rohan probably wouldn’t mind, but I may try to find a workaround for this in the future.

RohanSo tonight the Snook and I headed over to the hospital to deliver the jacket to the little nipper in person. He was all swaddled up asleep when we got there but that didn’t stop Mum from dressing him up right away. How cute is he? I’m sure he’ll outgrow it quickly, but for now he’s got one cozy little cardigan to keep him warm.

Me and RohanAnd five seconds later, there I was in a chair with a baby in my arms. He really didn’t like being woken up though, and he really didn’t like being that far away from his Mama. Poor little thing started to buck and cry, so here I’m like, “Hurry up Snookums and TAKE THE DAMN PICTURE ALREADY!” As soon as I handed him over to his dad Daniel, he turned into a little angel again.

Tia and Daniel are doing great, by the way, and it’s wonderful to see them so happy with their new little family. It blows my mind to think back to a year ago when Tia confessed they were trying for a baby, and all the complications and problems that arose. But there in that little hospital room, I got to see the happy ending to the story. Welcome, Rohan Porter.

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  1. Hello, Congratulations on the beautiful jacket! I am the proud owner of a book with the Surprise Jacket pattern. I cannot seem to fathom out the pattern…cannot make sense of it. Just wondering if you could possibly help me out please? It is just delightful. Love your stripes!

  2. ’tis me again! Thought I had better let you know where I am up to with the Surprise Jacket…I have knitted the beginning and up to “At 5 ridges inc. 9 sts (K3,M1) across end sections. (Does this mean the stitches to left and right of stitch markers)? Then I cannot fathom “After 22 decr. (90sts), work 3 rows even, then start to inc. at same points, by M1…….help!

  3. Okay, so by “ridges” she means the ridges created by knitting two rows of garter stitch. So when she says “5 ridges”, she really means ten rows in total. As for the “end pieces,” it helps to think of the thing you’re knitting in three parts. There are the two short bits on each end and then a big bit in the middle. Your decreases (and stitch markers, if you’re using them) are the dividing points. So you could rewrite that first troublesome line as:

    After 10 rows, (K3,M1) nine times, knit til your decrease point, do your decrease, knit across the center section as normal, do your decrease, knit til there are 27 stitches left, then (M1,K3) nine times to the end.

    Does that make sense? So you’re still doing your decreases as normal through this; you’re just adding in a single row of increases on those two end bits.

    So then the next bit is supposed to happen whe you’ve done the decrease 22 times. I never keep track of things like that, so helpfully she’s told you that you’ll have 90 stitches on the needle. So after you do that little increase line, you just go back to knitting and doing the decreases like you did for the first five ridges, up until the point where you have 90 stitches in total on the needle. Then you’ll knit three ridges even (meaning no decreases at all, just straight knitting across and back), and then you’ll switch to increasing at those dividing points. So instead of “sl1, k2tog, psso” to decrease two stitches, you’ll be going “M1,K1,M1” to increase two stitches.

    Hope that helps!

  4. Thanks Kris…much appreciated. Will soldier on tomorrow. Regards, Nola.
    PS Thought you said you were not a good correspondent!

  5. I’m a terrible e-mailer, but for some reason I find comments a lot easier to respond to! 🙂

  6. Kris I am up to increasing at markers each alt. row until 114. Now she says to inc. 10 sts in 1 row evenly spaced across centre section for BACK FULLNESS. That’s OK, but what does she mean “at 152 sts, shape NECK….How do I get to 152 stitches? The rest seems fairly hard to follow too…can you please give me a few more tips please Kris?

  7. You keep doing the increases. I think the problem is just that she doesn’t clarify real well that you’re supposed to keep doing the increases (or decreases) every two rows until she says to do otherwise. So once you’ve got 114 stitches, you’ll knit across the end piece, do your increase as normal, then increase 10 across the middle, do your normal increase again, and knit the end piece. Then you knit across the wrong side as usual, and go back to doing the “increase on the front side, knit plain on the back side” thing that you’ve been doing. Make sense?

  8. The jacket is now COMPLETE!! It is beautiful! I remained sceptical throughout the knitting process. Wondering whether it would turn into a monster. What a wonderful surprise to see it turn into a jacket when folded.
    Thankyou so much for your good help and patience. I must agree that the pattern is fairly cryptic. I would not have worked it out without you. Come on girls, give it a go!!

  9. That’s great! Happy to help. Post a picture so we can see what it looks like. 🙂

  10. I sent you a pic at your address because I don’t know how to post a pic here. Seems like I need your advice again Kris. Nola

  11. Can this jacket be knitted on two straight single point needles?

  12. It *is* knitted on two straight single point needle, Jacque. No other needles are necessary.

  13. Hi, I just finished one of these amazing jackets, it didn’t look like much until finished. Super pattern!!!

  14. Thank you soooooo much. Here I am at the 114 stitch point trying to figure out what I do to get to the 152 stitches, and you have answered thequestion. Much appreciated!!!!

  15. Hi Kris. I am also making the surprise jacket. I am at row 12. I saw your responses for 10 and 11. so then the next bit is suppose to happen when you’ve done the decrease 22 times. Does that mean follow row 11 with the m1’s as well as the decrease’s or just decrease as before or decrease once in the middle

  16. Thank you Chris. I am making the surprise jacket and I got stuck with 114 stitches, yes, she does not clarify about how to get to 152 but you helped me.
    Thank you so much…

  17. This blog- SAVED- my sanity. I, too am a beginning knitter- and LOVE the B-SJ. Thanks for the advice and because of it- I am moving along. Great advice for us -newbies! 🙂

  18. Thank you so much for posting this, it’s been a HUGE help!

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