Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Baby's Surprise and Last Minute Longies

Knitting, or any creating really, for little ones who haven't been born yet is so extra special to me. Every stitch is an opportunity to imagine what that being will be like, to send a wish for a beautiful, joyous life, to imagine that little body filling out the folds of the fabric as it is created. The sweater grows stitch by stitch, just as baby grows day by day. And as the knitting grows it lays gently on that swelling belly as if already keeping the little one inside warm. The other beautiful thing about knitting for new little ones - if your gauge isn't quite right, well, they'll grow into it at some point, won't they. Such instant gratification. So forgiving.

I felt myself a tiny part of a long tradition of knitters as I made this sweater for baby Eli, my first Baby Surprise Jacket. So many thousands of knitters have created their own version of this garment created by the inspirational, and so so funny Elizabeth Zimmermann (I read Elizabeth's books like some might read David Sedaris - laugh out loud in public funny. Who knew knitting could be this humorous?). I was fueled by the thought of these knitters before me as I worked on this sweater; just as I was fueled by the thought of the countless women who have given birth before me as I birthed baby Eli. There is a richness that comes from such a legacy.

I worked from Elizabeth's original 1968 newsletter instructions published in The Opinionated Knitter using Madelinetosh Tosh Vintage hand-dyed wool. Not only do I love the colorways of this wool, I love the soft structure it lends to the garter stitch in this pattern. The buttons are porcelain "stencils" from the turn of the century that I found at Becky Lyon's vintage and antique button and clasp sale at Linden Hills Yarn this fall. Ravelry notes for the sweater are here.

Turns out those last-minute longies were not so last-minute after all. I whipped them up (with plenty of time to spare) using my leftover yarn from the Baby Surprise Jacket and some random blue from my stash for the i-cord. Once again, I sing the praises of the sheepy pants pattern I used to make these and several gifts for friends' babes. So easy, well constructed, and with lots of options to customize. These are about as simple as they could be, but I wanted to ensure they'd be ready in time to keep those tiniest legs warm during the Minnesota winter. Here are my notes for the longies.

There's nothing cuter than a little one in hand-knits, don't you agree? And given how fast this boy is growing, I better get those needles up and running again - just as soon as I figure out how you find time to do that when you are mama to toddler and newborn...


  1. once he is big and strong enough to hold on, you can get a lot of knitting done while breast feeding (you know this). everyone always asks how i find time to knit with the two little ones running amok...to be perfectly honest, i find it's the only thing i *can* do. they have learned to respect it (i imagine they don't recall life without it), and while it requires some concentration, it can easily be picked up and put down frequently. the perfect mom-of-infant-and-toddler activity! it's truly the only thing that brings me comfort on very challenging days with them--there are many. so don't neglect your needles! the bsj is beautiful!

  2. I can't cast off fast enough! I am too eager to begin a baby surprise. Your color combo is fantastic, and with those longies... YES.

    Blessings, Debbie

  3. Beautiful blog! and I love those longies.