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April 27, 2011 / keeponspinning

Baby Surprise Jacket Knit-along, plus overdyeing colored yarn.

Earlier this week I was typing out a few hints for my friend Mrs. Foss, as she prepared to start her first BSJ.  So many of us have enjoyed dyeing yarn together than I thought maybe now we can knit something together, too.  The BSJ is perfect for that, since it’s fundamentally SUCH an easy knit, but …

If you’ve never made one, the instructions are a little vague.  Working through the confusing rows together makes it fun and easy.  Plus, over the years of many, many other groups doing BSJ KAL’s, the collective wisdom has grown… spreadsheets, videos, ravelry groups…

The pattern is copyrighted, so I can’t just type out line by line instructions here… everybody needs their own copy first.  THEN we can work through the tricky parts.  You can get a DVD with the patttern in it on Amazon, or, even better, buy your own copy of The Opinionated Knitter.    Both, plus just the separate pattern as a leaflet, are also available right from Schoolhouse press, the publisher.  Be careful on that website, they have books and yarns you’d never find anywhere else, and it’s all wonderful.

It takes a slow to average knitter about 12 days to make a BSJ.  What would you think if we started on Mother’s Day, May 8?  That would give everybody time to collect their pattern and yarn, and we’d be all done well before Memorial Day?  I was thinking we definitely need to have prizes for this KAL, and have already started talking to vendors.  We’ll have awards for things like “best FIRST BSJ” and “Most masculine BSJ”  “Creative metamorphosis of mistake into design element prize” and things like that…. Anyone who wants to contribute a wonderful prize, just email me at esdehority at aol dot com .

My BSJ is going to be for George.  Even though he’s three, he’s still shaped like a baby, and with his Down Syndrome, has relatively short arms… so the original BSJ shape fits him well.  But he’s outgrown his last one, which was made of handspun merino and baby llama (see above)… This one needs to be from bigger yarn.  (you can use ANY weight yarn for a BSJ… skinny yarn makes a little sweater, fat yarn makes a big sweater…)  I had a cone from Colourmart that I’ve been saving for something special. It’s a merino silk blend, but as an industrial yarn mill end, needs some work before it’s handknitting-ready.

I know I want stripes on my BSJ… they help define the structure of the garment, plus they make it better as a teaching example…. so I wound off a bunch of skeins to overdye.

Industrial knitting yarns on cones usually feels like old kitchen twine… stiff, skinny, not soft at all.  This is from all the oils in it for processing.  I scour mine in the sink with the very hottest water I can get and LOTS and LOTS of Dawn dish soap.  You can see and feel the changes as the oils escape from the yarn.

So the skein on the left is before scouring, the skein on the right is after.

Now it’s totally soft enough for putting on my baby, and it’s a very light weight but thick yarn.  My swatch in garter stitch gave me four stitches to the inch on size 9 needles. 

Now time for overdyeing.  Many people think that you can only easily/successfully/creatively dye white yarn.  This is so not true!  It’s harder to get some deep colors onto already vividly colored yarn with easter egg dyes, but it’s possible for sure.  With a full professional dye set up in my laundry room, though, I wasn’t limited by the seasonal colors :-)

There are two main problems with my kind of dyes, though.  First, they are not non-toxic, and require their own utensils and pots.  Secondly, they also require math.  Not hard math, but math just the same… dye formulas based on WOG (weight of goods) and percentages of dye in your stock solutions, and adjusting pH based on the acid you choose to use... My favorite dye book is “Color in Spinning” by Deb Menz.  She talks mostly about dyeing unspun fibers, but everything can be applied to dyeing yarn.  She makes the math and the chemistry, as well as color theory, very easy to understand.

 So here are my yarns for our BSJ KAL.  They all started out the turquoise color on the far left.  I got the other colors by using, from left to right, pink, purple, black and yellow on the scoured turquoise yarn.   With George’s blond hair and blue blue eyes, I think these will be great colors for his sweater, don’t you?

25 Comments

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  1. Ginny / Apr 27 2011 3:35 pm

    I’m in!!!! I have wanted to knit this jacket but was intimidated.
    I just need to decide what yarn I want to use.
    I may dye some with kool-aid this time…

  2. Esther / Apr 27 2011 3:37 pm

    Hypothetically: if a knitter has knit a few BSJs but has never actually FINISHED one (doggone buttons!)… And if that same knitter wete to actually join this dye-along/knit-along…. And if that same knitter were to actually FINISH a BSJ (buttons and all), woukd that count as a *FIRST* BSJ?

    I will contribute a tatted lace cross, and maybe even tatted earrings, to the lrize collection.

  3. Esther / Apr 27 2011 3:40 pm

    PS: as if you couldn’t tell, I have problems typing on this computer. Additionally, for whatever reason, I cannot back up and edit. My only editing option is to delete in entirety and retype. I choose typos over re-typing.

  4. Kristina / Apr 27 2011 3:59 pm

    I think they’ll be beautiful! I am in love with the BSJ. I knit my first one about a month ago. I currently have two more to be finished (the knitting is done, but the sewing still has to be done), and they all three need buttons. I’m finding the BSJ a wonderful short project that uses up all my bits and pieces of yarn as stripes. I would love to knit another one as a knit along!

  5. Esther / Apr 27 2011 4:18 pm

    >
    > Landmark Math for the BSJ
    > Total stitches in a BSJ (counting cast on/off
    > as stitches): 15,079
    > 10% point: row 9
    > 20% point: row 19
    > 25% point: row
    > 25 (funny coincidence!)
    > 30% point: row 32
    > 40% point: row 47
    > 50% point:
    > row 60
    > 60% point: row 71
    > 70% point: row 82
    > 75% point: row 91
    > 80%
    > point: row 99
    > 90% point: row 107
    > and… TADA…
    > 100% point: row 115

  6. Caroline D / Apr 27 2011 4:28 pm

    Elizabeth, how can you say this is easy? You are out of your mind!! You need to be a chemist, a mathematician and a person who understands that knitting patterns are not written in English but in some weird incomprehensible language for those who speak “knittingese”. My mother always says how easy it is but has failed (as have 4 other good knitters) to teach me to knit. I am therefore resolutely sticking to my various sewing machines and my non-knitting. Love reading about the BSJ though!

  7. Desiree / Apr 27 2011 4:41 pm

    With my wool allergy, I always feel left out of those dyeing experiments.

    This time, however — I promised George pants! I can make matching pants!
    I need the measurements though.

  8. harriett / Apr 27 2011 5:15 pm

    I’m with Caroline! Plus, I learned a long time ago…your “easy” is my “I must have been out of my mind to attempt this! I’ll just read along with Caroline…maybe I could help Esther sew on buttons!

  9. Esther / Apr 27 2011 6:06 pm

    Dear Harriett,
    My question was merely hypothetical. I didn’t actually admit to the world that I have yet to finish a single BSJ that I have enthusiastically started and bravely knit.
    Some day you must notice Rowena’s penchant for hypothetical questions, especially as they pertain to refrigerated cookie dough of uncertain heritage and unknown age.

  10. Nancy / Apr 27 2011 6:43 pm

    The assignment for my very first knitting class was a teddy bear sweater WITH buttons. What were they thinking? Can that count as my BSJ? Please? I’m now back to knitting dishclothes-knit a few, pearl a few, a few rows of sraight knitting, back to knit a few…. Prayers and love.

  11. Tanya / Apr 27 2011 9:12 pm

    Those colours are beautiful! The BSJ is going to look so cute. :D

  12. ellie / Apr 27 2011 10:49 pm

    Gorgeous colors! You are a mad, creative genius, you are!! Can’t wait to read along with you and Elizabeth F as you create these lovely sweaters. I love knitting and miss it awfully; I need an in-person knitting tutorial to get me unstuck on the sweater I began before we found the brain tumor: looking at the video tutorials now, and even reading through instructions is too difficult (triggers the vertigo something awful). But! I love reading about knitting! Thank you so much for sharing :-)

  13. Holly / Apr 27 2011 11:38 pm

    I have had this pattern for over a year! NOW I have an excuse to start! Now for the yarn…..

    When do we start?

    Holly

  14. Carmen / Apr 28 2011 4:36 am

    I want to do this, but I fear the BSJ!

  15. Kathy / Apr 28 2011 1:42 pm

    Count me in! I just ordered my pattern and I will go through my stash of yarn to see what I might want to use. I am a relatively loose knitter — I usually have to go down 2 needle sizes to make the gauge. Is this a pattern I’ll need to swatch to be sure of sizing? I have a niece and a nephew to be born this summer, so I’m thrilled to make a jacket for each!

  16. Kathy / Apr 28 2011 1:47 pm

    I might Kool-Aid dye some yarn, too.

  17. Kathy / Apr 28 2011 1:58 pm

    One last question — how much yarn will one need for a BSJ? I want to make sure that I get some more before Mother’s Day if I’ll need it. Thanks!

  18. simplytrece / Apr 28 2011 2:43 pm

    Oh my goodness – I love how lush and rich the over-dyed colors are!!

  19. Jamie / Apr 29 2011 3:43 am

    I’m in! Serendipitously, I cast on a BSJ over the weekend.

  20. Mamalion / Apr 29 2011 2:02 pm

    Oh, oh, oh, can I do this? Love the jacket, but I’m scared of EZ patterns….

  21. Marcia / Apr 29 2011 8:39 pm

    I am in! I have never made a sweater, and I take care of a beautiful little girl who would love this!

  22. KC / Apr 30 2011 12:12 pm

    I’m with Kathy. How much yarn do we need?

  23. Al / May 2 2011 11:44 am

    I recently purchaced The Opinionated Kintter and just started my first BSJ. I got off track with the decreasing and placement of my stitch markers. So, I am thrilled you are doing a knit along for this project. I’m ripping out and starting fresh with you guys ;)
    Thank you!!

  24. Louise / May 2 2011 8:38 pm

    I just received my Schoolhouse Press A-B-C-SJ pattern today! I can’t wait to start. I have always wanted to make a BSJ but didn’t have the pattern. This Knit-along was the nudge I needed.

    I also live in NC. My son Raphael (18) and my daughter Lydia (21) go to school at Belmont Abbey College, very near Charlotte. Three of my older children have already graduated from there.

    George is going to look gorgeous with is new BSJ. I need to try overdyeing yarn someday.

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