While it's been quite a dry and mild winter in the Boston area, the last few weeks it's gotten a lot colder, leading the Somervillain to spend much of her time indoors. The outgrowth of this (in addition to catching up with her video library of favorite romantic comedies and period dramas) has been lots of progress on needlework projects, several of which happen to have been inspired by iconic original designs.
One of these is Elizabeth Zimmerman's "baby surprise jacket," introduced to me by our friend Claire. I admit up front that my favorite thing about this pattern is its name. But it also has the exciting distinction of being knit in a single piece, a sort of undulating rectangle, which is then folded in on itself in mysterious origami, fabulously becoming a boxy little cardigan. This ingenious design eliminates the tedium of stitching in the sleeves, and also does away with the armhole seams that can be especially bulky on an infant.
Zimmerman designed the pattern in 1968, and its era is reflected in its earthy-hippy style. I made the sweater for a Berkeley newborn, so this heritage is perfect. I felt encouraged by Zimmerman's exhortations to avoid pastel yarns, which she argues are unflattering on little babies (and also stain easily), and made the bold choice of a heathered brown. Again, it helps that this baby lives in Berkeley (though the sweater would fit in up in the Scottish highlands, as well).
I chose neutral shell buttons to provide some contrast and pick up the white flecks in the wool.
The jacket knit up longer in the torso than I anticipated, and the neck opening seems awfully teeny ... also the placement of the buttonholes looks a little awkward to me. I'll have to wait for feedback on these potential flaws from the sweater's new owner though ... or perhaps from his mother, as he is not yet two months old.