Monday, February 16, 2015

Variation and control

Today's post is all about variation, I'm knitting the Baby surplice jacket, which is a variation on the famous BSJ or baby surprise jacket by Elizabeth Zimmerman in 1968. I like that, that EZ, as she is known to many knitters, developed a clever pattern and then continued to adapt and play and explore how else the ideas and shaping techniques could be used. I think that level of variation is to be admired, and explored.

I began to knit this with a different yarn, a sturdier yarn, but a few cm's in realized that newborn garments would only be acceptable if soft. Sturdy scratch yarn wasn't going to work successfully. So I switched to a soft Schoppelwolle, in a colour way called flower. It's so pretty and girly - I love it but find it almost too much, the colour repeat is bands of 2 bands of pink and one of leaf green separated by a white. It's so pink and green it's almost too much. The way increases are used to shape the sleeves of the Baby Surplice jacket results in the stripes emphasizing the shaping.


When folded up the increases above form a cute little sleeve. And the decreases set a few stitches in from along the front edges made for a simulated edge band. At this point in my knitting I realized I didn't want the tips of the shoulders to be green - I was happy with the green around the chest .... but not so sure I wanted green elsewhere. Problem was the pink section of yarn had ended and the next row would be knit in green unless I did something to alter that. So I wound off the next colour change and resumed knitting with pink.

Once the shaping is worked the garment is folded and the edges grafted, or sewn or otherwise joined somehow. EZ suggests either grafting or an icord cast off, and the simplest method is simply to cast off and then stitch the edges together.

The jacket is worked in garter stitch - which means that grafting is a little trickier than usualbecause the two edges being joined must be a purl and a knit and one side is grafted as usual the other in reverse. I grafted my shoulder seams, they are technically correct but the tension is not a perfect match for the rest of the knitting. I am hoping that will even up a little with wet blocking.


Before knitting this project I had cruised projects listed on Ravelry, there were so many variations, one I particularly liked was a soft rolled stocking stitch edge. Usually I prefer icord, but I realized that with the colour shifts in the yarn the icord would shift from white to pink to white to pink - whereas a stocking stitch rolled edge would be a constant colour along the edge.

Right now I am knitting the i-cord ties which extend from the front points. Again I am controlling the colour, making sure I pick up with yarn that is at the same point of the colour shift as the rolled edge, strong pink. Here I am happy for the I-cord to shift colour as the yarn changes.

Once I had decided to control the colour shifts it was easy, I decided the sleeve cuffs needed to match - so wound off pink until I had enough white to knit both cuffs. I decided the edge needed to be pink - so wound off until I had a string pink section. In the background you can see the yarn I am avoiding for now.

I've been knitting for years, decades - and sometimes I am surprised at the limits and constraints I've assumed when I knit. Before this project when knitting with variegated or self striping yarn I never even thought to alter the colours - for some reason I accepted I had to knit with the yarn as manufactured. Now I've made the leap to adjusting the colours to suit my aesthetic and the project - and its kind of a surprise that it has taken so long to do that. I'm prepared to accept I am a bit slow in working things out sometimes - but always surprised when I discover where or what I am slow about.

Take care - na stella


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