I started this a couple of weeks ago, to have something to knit while travelling and visiting, and also to use up some scraps. It's progressed so quickly that I have hardly had time to blog about it, and now here I am about to weave in the ends and seam up. It's just that fast!
First, the pattern: this is Elizabeth Zimmermann's classic Baby Surprise Jacket http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/baby-surprise-jacket knitted in aran weight yarns. I can't say enough good things about this pattern, though this is surprisingly my first time knitting it in garter stitch, the way it was written. I've tried the stockinette version before (some Ravelers have kindly posted their modifications) but it's just not the same. I'm knitting from the version in The Opinionated Knitter https://www.schoolhousepress.com/the-opinionated-knitter.html (a delightful book, by the way; it makes you feel like EZ is right there, knitting without looking at her work. It is funny how much a pattern written in the '60s elides, though: no notes about methods for casting on, binding off, or picking up stitches, few about increases and decreases, not a lot of detail about row counting (only "ridge" counting) and finishing. One can figure it out, and it always turns out fine, but going from knitting with contemporary sweater patterns that number in the tens of pages to an older pattern on a single page is a bit jarring.
Second, the yarns: I am combining Brown Sheep's Lamb's Pride Worsted http://www.ravelry.com/yarns/library/brown-sheep-lambs-pride-worsted (a nice solid single, in turquoise and brown) and Stitch Nation's Full O' Sheep http://www.ravelry.com/yarns/library/stitch-nation-by-debbie-stoller-full-o-sheep (a fuzzier, less compact single, in pink). The colours don't go too badly together, right? I was just going to do the turquoise and brown at first, but then I was running out so I added in the pink to make up the yardage.
Third, the size: I think because this pattern is written in garter stitch, and because it's so square, it (roughly) works to upsize by changing to thicker yarn and appropriately thicker needles. I ended up with a pretty large gauge, and I think the resulting sweater will fit H (a newly minted three-year-old, thank you very much). It's definitely not a baby size, which is fine, because H has already claimed it, tried it on, and told everyone in the vicinity that I'm knitting her a sweater.
Fourth, modifications: I did a lot of guessing and adding my own ideas only because the pattern isn't too specific. I used a long-tail cast-on (my usual) and a suspended bind-off from the right side (this looks neat and holds the garter stitch well). I mirrored my increases and decreases around a center stitch, and I'm planning to use mattress stitch for the shoulder seams. I put the buttonholes on the right side and made six (instead of five, as the pattern says), and H will get to pick out some buttons pretty soon. I'm not sure how I'll finish the neckline yet; it looks pretty rough so I think I'll have to do something.
Fifth, knitting this pattern again: I would absolutely knit this again; it's quick and satisfying. And such a good way to use scraps! It's also a bit boxy, so I'm brainstorming ways to make the increases a little less brutal. I also like the ribbed cuff I saw on some Rav versions. I really like the look of applied i-cord that I saw on Ravelry, so I might do that on my next one (an applied i-cord neckline edging with an i-cord bind-off along the front and bottom edges. I am also thinking about knitting an adult-size one for myself, but it is really boxy, especially in the sleeves, and I'm not sure it will get a lot of wear.