I finally finished the Dinosaur Surprise Jacket!

Timmy likes his sweater!

  • Pattern: Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Baby Surprise Jacket, available in several places but mine was from The Opinionated Knitter
  • Yarn: My sort-of-bulky 2-ply handspun from Spunky Eclectic superwash merino in Dinosaur and Special Brown
  • Needles: Denise size 10.5, but size 11 for caston and bindoff
  • Mods: A few extra rows at the end for better overlap of the button band, lengthened sleeves as detailed below

(That is my beloved Tilted Duster I’m wearing.) I’m editing this post later to add this, which is now the featured photo for the Baby Surprise Jacket pattern on Ravelry.  What an honor!  This photo and the one above were taken by my sister Pat, who taught me to knit and is finally on Ravelry now!  Yay!  There are more cute Tim and Andy pictures on her project page.

The Dinosaur Surprise Jacket, finished!

I lengthened the sleeves by picking up stitches at the cast on, and knit garter stitch in the round on Magic Loop, then finished with 1×1 ribbing. Each sleeve is about 4″ longer (he’s pretty lanky), and I think the fit is pretty good. He insisted on putting it on over a sweater he was already wearing, so it looks bulkier than it would be otherwise. The neckline is definitely too big though, so next time I seam BSJ shoulders I will do straight one garter ridge per purl stitch, rather than trying to fudge it so it lays nicely.

Back view of lengthened sleeves

The join is not quite invisible. I read that a long tail cast-on makes for a less visible join, and a provisional cast-on would be even better. Another suggestion I read was to knit the cuffs first, then cast-on the stitches in between. Also, I would have cast on an extra 9 stitches on each cuff and then decrease in the lengthening process, because in the pattern, you increase to create a blousy effect on the short cuff, so for me, that wide part ends up around the elbow.

Front closeup of sleeve

Oops. It’s not too noticeable when worn.

I found some fun dinosaur buttons at JoAnn’s. They pick up the green part of Amy Boogie’s Dinosaur colorway really nicely.

Close up again

I plan to knit another BSJ soon, but for an actual baby (a college friend is expecting a baby boy), so I won’t need to fiddle with the pattern nearly as much!

Since I finished one project, I decided to cast-on for another. It’s the Boatneck Bluebell from Stefanie Japel’s Fitted Knits, and I’m using Malabrigo worsted merino in Brown Berries. It’s the yarn my sister picked out to knit a sweater for me, but she doesn’t have time to knit these days, so she gave me the yarn to knit a sweater for myself. I love the colors! Pink and brown are just so elegant together. And soooooo soft! I know it’s going to pill like crazy (like my Tilted Duster), but that’s okay.

Boatneck Bluebell in Malabrigo Brown Berries

So far, it’s a nice easy knit. I’m enjoying the top-down raglan construction, though I have had to frog back twice now, first because my gauge is off (19 stitches/4″ on a size 8 needle), and I ended up with a 32″ measurement instead of the 33″ it’s supposed to be, so I added two more increase rows. Then I’ve been fiddling with the placement of the horizontal purl ridges under the bust. If you follow the pattern exactly and you’re knitting the smallest size, those ridges end up a lot higher than on the sweater pictured in the book. So I tried adding rows to make those ridges lower, but it turned out not so flattering for my not-so-abundant figure. From looking at all the examples on Ravelry, it looks good on a lot of people without modifying the pattern to try to look like the picture, so I will try it that way and see how it goes.

Boatneck Bluebell raglan increases

I feel bad casting on for something else while I’m still working on my hubby sweater, which is almost up to the armholes, but I needed something mostly stockinette for when I can’t concentrate on it as much.

In my last post about this project, Necia commented on the way garter stitch eats up yarn, especially in bulky, which I think is true. You get a firmer fabric, so it makes sense that it takes up more yarn. Plus, she mentioned that spinning with more twist per inch than commercial yarn eats up more roving too, and those two points probably sum up the reason I ran out of yarn after a pound of roving spun up into about 460 yards..Anyway, Amy of Spunky Eclectic tried valiantly to get me more roving in time for Christmas, and she did get it to me in a timely fashion, but I was so swamped with other holiday stuff that I just didn’t get it done. But now I’ve finished knitting the pattern. I hereby present my garter stitch blob:

Garter Stitch Blob

And surprise! It’s a jacket!

Surprise!  A jacket!

I’ve seen other pretty Baby Surprise Jackets with i-cord or crochet trim, but I like the way it looks “unfinished,” plus I don’t want to add to the weight of an already heavy garment. So I decided on a no-frills shoulder seam. Since I have no experience seaming horizontal to vertical garter stitch, I searched around online for guidance. The most helpful article I found was a post by the Yarn Harlot which showed pictures of the way she stitched each side. I had more vertical garter ribs than horizontal bumps, so I stitched two vertical stitches together a few times on each side. Here’s how it looks:

Shoulder seam

Now with the shoulders seamed up, I was able to put it on my victim finally! Luckily, he put it on willingly, since he’s seen me working on it and is old enough to understand what it’s for. And he likes it!

He likes it!

The fit in the body is surprisingly generous, but the sleeves are really short. I will be lengthening them, for sure. Plus, I haven’t bought buttons yet. I really need to find a good place to buy buttons. I ended up buying cheap buttons at Walmart as temporary ones for my Tilted Duster, to be replaced when I find prettier ones.

Dancing in his surprise jacket

Here’s a side/back view:

Side/back view

And here’s one I just couldn’t resist. Please don’t be offended. He doesn’t mean it!

Oops!  An unintended rude gesture

So after spinning and knitting the whole 8oz of Dinosaur, and the 8oz of “special brown” superwash merino from Spunky Eclectic, I still ran out of yarn! I even unraveled my swatch and got a few rows out of that. So close to the end too, all I have left is 3 rows! I thought about just leaving it at that, but my sister Pat said that I’d be happier with it if I truly finished it, and she’s right. I still want to lengthen the sleeves too. So Amy is kindly dyeing more fiber for me. Again! I asked for another 8oz which will be plenty, with leftovers for something else, maybe a hat to match.

Dragon Surprise Jacket, not quite finished

Lessons learned: For your first time spinning yarn for a specific project, find a pattern that gives specific gauge, sizing, and yardage! AKA, not the Baby Surprise Jacket. Also, downsizing the Adult Surprise Jacket may have been a better idea than trying to knit a bulky Baby Surprise. But this was definitely fun and quick to knit, so whenever a baby occasion comes up, I’ll be happy to whip up one of these again.

I’ve reached row 57 of the pattern, and here’s how it looks so far.

The Dragon Surprise Jacket grows

At this point, the sleeves are basically done (except they need lengthening later), and I am turning at the armpit to continue the front and lower body. I put another brown stripe here, will finish up the Dinosaur, and then knit the rest in brown. I’m omitting the “nappy” increases, since Tim is only in diapers for naps and bedtime now. Woohoo!! It’s taken a lot of candy incentives, but he is even pooping in the toilet regularly now. I think it’s been maybe a week since his last poopy diaper. He wants to be a “big boy.” I’m so proud of him!

Sleeve and

Back to the knitting… I’m still not sure if I’ll have enough yarn to finish this, but I will knit on anyway. I have a small skein of Dinosaur left, as well as two skeins of brown. I hope I hope I hope!

My “special brown” yarn was ready for knitting, so I added stripes to my Dinosaur Surprise Jacket. It turns out that I was more successful in spinning it bulky this time, so there is a bit of differential between the brown and the not quite bulky Dinosaur.. Also, I got 215 yards vs the 240 I got before from the 8oz. Oops. I hope I still got enough yardage.

Brown stripes on Dinosaur Surprise Jacket

The more I work on this, the more I fall in love with it and hope that it will fit Tim! At this point, it looks like it will, but I will have to lengthen the sleeves. Here’s a close-up.

Brown stripes close up

In a comment on my last post, Amy of Spunky Eclectic said she didn’t know about being called a hero, so how about fiber genius and very nice person?? 🙂

The additional superwash merino fiber that Amy of Spunky Eclectic dyed for me arrived today! Can you believe it took less than a week?  She titled it cleverly, “special brown.” 🙂

8oz Spunky Eclectic

In my previous post about the Dinosaur Surprise Jacket, I had said I’d stop knitting to wait for a brown stripe, but I did get a little impatient and knitted two more rows. Here it is with the predrafted “special brown” fiber. I think it will go together nicely.

Predrafted roving with the Dinosaur Surprise Jacket

I was so excited I spun up two bobbins of singles today..

Singles on the bobbin

then plied up two skeins of yarn. I think I managed the get the wpi roughly the same.

2-ply sort of bulky weight

They are washed and hanging to dry now. Hopefully they’ll be dry by tomorrow so I can continue knitting!

As soon as my yarn was dry, I wound my Dinosaur handspun into center-pull balls.

Dinosaur wound up for knitting

Here you can see all of the colors.

Handspun Dinosaur!

I swatched it for the Baby Surprise Jacket and got 14 stitches/4″ with 10.5 needles, and a nice fabric. With the smaller needles and all that garter stitch, I would have gotten body armor. Hopefully, it will come out the right size.

Dinosaur swatch

I realize that is a very small swatch, but I felt I had to be stingy with my handspun, and I wanted my cast-on edge to have brownish hues, which came up at that point! I cast on with a size 11 needle using the cable cast-on, which allowed me to pull it snug and neat without worrying that the edge would be too tight. This is what I have after 8 rows. I love the way the colors are blending together.

Baby Surprise Jacket beginning

Here’s a closeup:

Baby Surprise Jacket beginning detail

I’ve already used up a lot of yarn for just this much! I will definitely need more, and Amy of Spunky Eclectic has graciously agreed to dye some more superwash merino fiber for me. It will be predominantly the darker brown, with some of the lighter shade too. I know it will be gorgeous!

After browsing through some of the 1200+ BSJ’s on Ravelry, I decided that I want to have a brown stripe at this point, so this project will be on hold until I get more fiber to spin. Can’t wait!!