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?