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A circle of sources, a baby's surprise

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The greenish blue color is yours alone, courtesy of the knitting store clerk who said this is just the color babies are wearing now.

Elizabeth Zimmermann, who revolutionized modern knitting, explained how to make this jacket in one of her instruction books. Sort of. Her instructions are not what you'd expect – sleeves, front, back, sew them up. She tells you what to do in the first seven rows. "See what you are doing?" No, I mentally reply. "Work will start to look very odd, indeed, but trust me, and PRESS ON," she commands.

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The Internet helped me press on. On a knitting website ( 16,000 knitters have already made Baby Surprise Jackets and posted pictures of them, in all different colors. Jaunty and unafraid, they call it a BSJ. They chimed in with all sorts of help. Many said to get different instructions that tell you what to do for each row. Those instructions came in the mail. There's a picture of the first little BSJ ever, which Ms. Zimmermann made for her grandson. Very cute. Guess who is explaining what to do, row by row? That same grandson, grown up.

I still needed help. One woman on the website said a little boy living in her house tried on the BSJ and cried when she tried to take it off him, so she knew it was meant for him. This woman grew up without a lot of spare wool to knit with. She told how she and her sister would knit a square, unravel it, and knit it again, just for practice. I thought that was more helpful than advice. That made me remember that knitting's for everyone and is a very cheerful thing to do, even with one little piece of wool.

A lot of knitters said it was really easy.


Irene and Laura looked at it every week when we knitted together. They couldn't see how it would become a sweater. I couldn't either.

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