Sunday, January 04, 2009

Fire on the Baby Surprise Jacket

First off the needles this new year is a gift for Tom's niece's first baby, due to arrive mid-February. The yarn is Socks That Rock Fire on the Mountain. It is the iconic knitting/origami project, Elizabeth Zimmermann's Baby Surprise Jacket. It is knit in one piece and requires only two short seams along the arms. It is a completely original design. It is bloody ... quirky.

Quirky. I'm a little afraid of the love EZ inspires across the knitting community and so I hesitate to call the pattern poorly-written. Even though EZ was a kind of genius and freed many to look at knitting in new ways, the Baby Surprise Jacket pattern could be a lot less ... quirky.

Elizabeth Zimmerman had a mathematical mind. She was a visual thinker. I am a mathematical illiterate who passed high school geometry by the skin of my teeth. All those standardized tests with spacial thinking components? Hated 'em. The knitting itself is simple and all garter stitch. Still, it took the intervention of two kind souls to coax a Baby Surprise out of me.
I will add my own voice to the chorus of thank yous for Dawn Adcock's cheat sheet. To figure out how the !!@%!@%!^% to fold the Baby Surprise Jacket, I also needed this video.

I live near Elizabeth Zimmermann's schoolhouse knitting workshop in Pittsville, Wisconsin. My hair stylist spent part of her childhood there in the 1950's. She has only vague memories of Mrs. Zimmermann. This surprised me. EZ is a larger-than-life figure in the knitting world. As a neighbor, though, she was probably just that lady who lived in the schoolhouse and knit a lot. Pamela promised to ask her mother, though. If Pamela's mother recalls anything about EZ, I'll post it.

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