A Child Surprise Jacket

In November I put out pleas here and in Ravalry for a certain color and dye lot of a green Cascade 220 sport yarn that I’d run out of a ball short of finishing the Child Surprise Jacket I was knitting for my grandson. After searching a few weeks I ended up buying all new skeins of the new lots of green, now dyed in China instead of Peru where Cascade yarns had been sourced and dyed for years.

The disaster took a positive turn: once I’d removed the needles from the original and I was able to lay it out flat I realized that I should go down a needle size but cast on more stitches to allow for the growth spurt my grandson was going through during the intervening months. Instead of #6 / 4mm needles I used #5 / 3.75mm 40″ circulars with the knit count of 24(k). That is one of the wonderful things about Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Surprise Jackets: you get to figure out the right numbers of stitches for the correct size.

In January we got the news that our son and family was to be transferred to the warm part of the Southwest. I devoted more evenings to knitting, racing against the time they’d leave cold snow country. Then Gus called asking us to fly to Boise to stay a few days with the kids while he and MJ looked for a house in the new city.

The night before we were to fly it was finished, except for the i-cord seaming of the sleeves to bring it all together. By bedtime there were still several inches  left to do and I knew that I didn’t want to wrestle with the technique while flying so I tucked it, yarn and needles into the suitcase that would be checked in, which also contained beads and beading tools – items Ed didn’t want to risk having confiscated if we took it as carry-on. I grabbed a ball of yarn from the bag that Ed had given me for Christmas, copied the first page of the pattern from the book he’d bought that has the sweater pattern he liked, found the right needles and put them in a project bag that fit into my purse.

Between several good people praying for my nerves and brain to be calm, taking the drowsy form of Demeral and knitting rows of K1, P1 for the beginning of the back, it was a good flight on a turbo-prop plane. When we saw it taxi up to the terminal Ed casually made a remark about its size to the older gentleman waiting next to us. He launched into glowing details about what great, sturdy planes these were; he’d rather fly through storms in them than a larger plane. What comfort hearing those words gave my trembling nerves! I know that God brought him to sit beside us just so I could have wonderful reassurance from a guy who had been a navy pilot towards the end of the Vietnam war.

That evening Wes tried on the sweater, trying not to mind the bristling needles and hanging ball of yarn. DSC_0012
Sunday afternoon Ed got out the beads for them to make make necklaces for mom.

DSC_0052By the time they’d finished making necklaces the sweater was dry.

Wes posing in his superhero stance. The black band slightly above his elbows was the original cast on edge. The first sweater that I’d almost finished had upper arms that seemed like they’d be too tight for this sturdy fellow so I cast on 10 additional stitches before marking the increase points. The additional on the arm part set the shoulder slightly behind the center shoulder line but doing so made for ample room in the upper sleeves. I wish I’d thought to do the two rows of blue around the perimeter of the sweater as I did at the last minute on the sleeve cuff. But the body was already cast off (and all the ends woven in) before I picked up the stitches along the cast on edge of the black sleeve band to lengthen the arms.
DSC_0069
Monday Feathers had gymnastic class, an event that enthralled both Ed and I in that gym bustling with activity everywhere we looked. Groups of boys and girls ranging from kindergarten through high school in moving through stations of various apparatus and mats.
DSC_0089Feathers likes the balance beam best but she was sandwiched between two girls blocking her from our view.

More shots of the sweater and kids in action.
DSC_0146Here’s a back view of it.DSC_0150Wesley wanted to wear it all the time. Seeing his joy and enthusiasm for it makes me want to cast on another one.
Oh wait, first a sweater for Ed.

Author: Wanda J

I never dreamed my life would be entangled with fiber and the tools used to produce fibery items. When I bought a boat shuttle Ed looked at it, decided to make a better one and the rest is history. For a decade he made shuttles, crochet hooks, knitting needles, until his spindles became so popular that he had to devote his time to making them, as well as Great Wheels. Free time is spent reading, trying to coax food from the ground, and playing in the creek near our place. I love long walks and camping far from crowds. Playing my fiddle beside a stream or with good friends brings sweetness to my soul. Sundays we try to set aside for worshiping God with our small Quaker meeting.

9 thoughts on “A Child Surprise Jacket”

  1. Wanda, the sweater is fantastic! How wonderful it must feel to have him love it so much. Sounds like the trip was a happy and safe one. Thanks for sharing the wonderful pictures!

  2. It was you that had sown the seed in me for casting on a BSJ!! It looks great on Wesley, I am amazed at how long you had to do the sleeves…he’s going to be a tall superhero!!

  3. The sweater is beautiful. I’m sure he will be telling everyone “my grandma made this for me.” I can’t believe how big he and his sister are getting!

  4. You did such a wonderful job with that sweater. It looks great on Wes and it looks like he loves it a lot. It’s always so awesome when you make something like that knowing that it’s going to be that loved. I made a blanket for my nephew and that is hands down the most loved item I’ve ever made. I feel bad though it’s got a hole in it and no one can get the blanket away from him long enough for me to fix it.

  5. You did a wonderful job. Just beautiful! I just bought the A -B-C-SJ pattern.
    I just don’t understand how the sizes work and how much yarn to get.
    I want to knit a sweater for a 2 year old. What pattern do I follow? If you can help, that would great . Thank you Maurya
    maurya.hagert@gmail.com

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