Wednesday, March 11, 2009


While it's easy to acknowledge the cleverness of a knitter like one Elizabeth Zimmerman, there are times when one suddenly comes to truly appreciate her brilliance. I had such a moment after knitting her Baby Surprise Jacket (<==Ravelry link to my project page for this one).

Pattern: Baby Surprise Jacket by Elizabeth Zimmerman
Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock Heavyweight. Colorway: Jade
Needles: Addi Turbo Circulars, Size US5
Yarn & Buttons purchased at Twisted in PDX

As she says in the pattern notes, " looks like nothing on earth when you have finished knitting it. Sew up two seams and you have the nicest little garter-stitch baby sweater you could wish to see..."

In true Liz Z. fashion, her pattern instructions were a bit more free-form than, perhaps, I would have liked. Don't get me wrong: one of the things I LURVE about Ms Z is that all but commands knitters to become the Boss of Their Knitting. Really, her "unventions" all but challenge a knitter to remain fearful of their knitting. But I the case of this pattern, something just wasn't working out for me.

I was aware of the supplements available for this pattern, but I have a double dose of the Stubborn gene (which is dominant, as you may know), so my needles were set against making use of any of these. Until a friend surprised me by emailing one to me. Really, though, that was the best thing, as my refusal to use the supplement really meant that this project was sitting un-knit for a couple of months.

Once I swallowed my macho pride (has that ever been said before in reference to knitting, I wonder?), though, this crazy garter-stitch concoction went very quickly. And so clever, too! Decreasing to create miters, increasing to add fullness, more decreasing, then increasing...and so on. And really, when the knitting is done, it doesn't look like anything.

Fellow knitters not familiar with the pattern occasionally would ask what I was working on and then stare with puzzlement at the not-quite-a-parabola thinger hanging off my needles. It became really fun to lay it out and fold it up into what it would become, though.

True to Liz Z's words, though, sew up a coupla seams and voila! Baby Surprise Jacket! For those who are curious: I knit this for a dear friend's baby. While I'm not the kind of knitter to make something just because I can, I was curious about this little feat of knitted engineering, and was actually glad to have a legitimate reason to do so. :o)

Until next time, my knittas, keep on knitting because it's comforting, knit because it's fun, knit because it gives you something to do with your nervous hands, knit because you always wanted to learn how, knit something pretty, knit something tacky, knit something you've always wanted, but keep on knitting.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Circle Takes the Square: A Seamless Raglan Beanie

Circle Takes the Square is a basic striped beanie with squares framed and created by its raglan decreases. You can easily switch up the look of the hat with your color choice. It can be collegiate, hip, goth, or mod—the power is yours!

In striped knitting in the round (like this hat), I recommend carrying the yarn along the inside of the work (both for the sake of reducing the finishing work to be done and for ‘yarn economy’) and working the jogless stripes technique at the color change. It’s super-easy and incredibly effective in hiding the “hiccup” that can occur when switching color. The doubled decreases are worked side-by-side and create a “seam” that really pops and brings structure to the hat.

The full pattern is published here, but it's also available for download as a free PDF at the bottom of this post!

Sizes :
S (M, L) to fit a head approx 20” (22”, 24”) in circumference. The Medium is probably what would work for most adults.

18 sts and 24 rows/4” in st st on larger needles. For the ribbing, use a needle 2 sizes smaller than the one you use to get this gauge in st st. This will create a more uniform knit-stitch size between the ribbing and the stockinette stitch

• Worsted weight yarn in 2 colors, approx 80g of each. I used Cascade 220 in Jet (MC) and Ruby (CC) for the Black & Red version. I used Cascade 220 in Jet (MC) and Louet Riverstone in Caribbean Blue (CC) for the Black & Blue version. (You can use any worsted weight yarn that will get you the gauge noted above.)
• US 7 circular needle and/or DPNs and US 5 circular needle and/or DPNs OR the size you need to get gauge!
• Tapestry needle for weaving in ends.

Make It!
With smaller needles, CO 88 (96, 104) sts in MC and PM. Join to work in the round.
Rows 1-7: K1, [p2, k2] to last st. K last st.
Row 8: Switch to larger needle, K all sts
Row 9-15: twisting yarns at join, switch to CC and k all sts. Don’t forget to work jogless stripes on the first stich of the 2nd row in CC (7 rows total in CC).
Row 16: Switch to MC and knit as rows 9-15. Switch colors every 7 rows until hat measures
approx 3” (3.5”, 4”) from CO edge*. On last round, [K 22 (24, 26) sts and PM], repeat for all sts
on this round. Next round: begin decrease rows.

*Be the Boss! As written, the hat should just barely cover the top of the wearer’s ears. This is how I like to wear my beanies, but if you’d like your beanie to cover the wearer’s ears, then add about 1.5” of length. Continue striping until hat measures 4.5” (5”, 5.5”) from CO edge.

Decrease rows:
[Ssk, k 18 (20, 22) sts, k2tog], repeat around. 80 (88, 96) sts remaining.
Next round: k all sts.
So you’ll be working the decreases in this manner: k2tog on the right side of the stitch marker, and SSK on the left side of the stitch marker, then knitting all stitches on one row in between decrease rows (line-by-line directions below). Remember to change colors every 7 rows. It becomes really fiddly to work the jogless stripe for color changes once you start decreasing, but give it a go if you feel adventurous! Continue this way until you end up w/16 sts after decreasing, then work finishing.

Decrease line-by-line:
After working first decrease round and k all sts on the next round (as indicated above):
[Ssk, k 16 (18, 20) sts, k2tog], repeat around 72 (80, 88) sts, Next round: k all sts.
[Ssk, k 14 (16, 18) sts, k2tog], repeat around 64 (72, 80) sts, Next round: k all sts.
[Ssk, k 12 (14, 16) sts, k2tog], repeat around 56 (64, 72) sts, Next round: k all sts.
[Ssk, k 10 (12, 14) sts, k2tog], repeat around 48 (56, 64) sts, Next round: k all sts.
[Ssk, k 8 (10, 12) sts, k2tog], repeat around 40 (48, 56) sts, Next round: k all sts.
[Ssk, k 6 (8, 10) sts, k2tog], repeat around 32 (40, 48) sts, Next round: k all sts.
[Ssk, k 4 (6, 8) sts, k2tog], repeat around 24 (32, 40) sts, Next round: k all sts.
[Ssk, k 2 (4, 6) sts, k2tog], repeat around 16 (24, 32) sts, For the Small size, break yarn and finish according to directions below, for other sizes: Next round: k all sts.
[Ssk, k -- (2, 4) sts, k2tog], repeat around -- (16, 24) sts, For the Med. size, break yarn and finish according to directions below, for Large size: Next round: k all sts.
[Ssk, k -- (--, 2) sts, k2tog], repeat around -- (--, 16) sts, finish as noted below.

break yarn, leaving a tail approx. 10” long. With a tapestry needle, thread this yarn through all remaining sts and pull closed. Weave in ends, place on head, rock the block w/your fancy new hat!
I originally made this hat as a gauge swatch for a yet-to-be-made sweater. Actually, the sweater is about 3/4 finished, but the body is way too big and the neck is way too small (I made it top-down). I now have a copy of Knitting From the Top and I plan to use it as a guide when I re-knit it, rather than an online pattern generator that will go unnamed (for shame!!!). The original hat (the Black & Red one at the top) is already more than a year old, and I wear it almost every. single. day. I kind of love Cascade 220 right now! It's affordable, comes in A LOT of colors, wears well, and it doesn't feel too bad, either!

There's a band out there that goes by the name "Circle Takes the Square". I was aware of them when I named the hat, and the name fit, so it stuck. At the time I decided on the name I hadn't ever heard any of their music. Now I have. Suffice to say it's not for me. ;o)

This pattern PDF is available as a FREE download! Click the button below to download. You do not need to be a Ravelry member in order to download the PDF from this page.

Happy knitting!

EDIT: Visit for more knitting patterns by Homero Luna.