The Baby Surprise Jacket knitting pattern has enjoyed consistent popularity since Elizabeth Zimmermann published the pattern in 1968. The project is knit in one piece; thoughtfully placed shaping and two stitched seams transform the knit into a jacket. The pattern has been adapted over time, adding collars, hoods and pockets, and upsizing for larger children.
Tips for Construction
Use either a cable or long-tail cast on method for a flexible edge. Use a provisional cast on for a seamless join if you plan on adding length to the sleeves. Count stitches regularly and don't second-guess yourself when the shape of your work in progress seems odd. Until the jacket is sewn together, it will resemble a wavy rectangle. Using a row counter helps you to to track your progress, as the pattern instructs the knitter row-by-row. Utilise different coloured stitch markers to differentiate the right and left side of the work, as both sides look the same. Change yarn colours close to the cast-on point to create stripes at the ends of the sleeves. Change yarn colours after working the pattern's neck shaping to create a stripe that will show along the front of the jacket. Work the pattern increases even in the cast-off row for a sharper corner at the front of the jacket. Bind off your stitches purl-wise for a finished edge that better matches the texture of the rest of the garment.
Tips for Customization
Lengthen the sleeves by picking up stitches along the cast-on edge after the jacket has been sewn together. Work in the round, alternating knit and purl rows until you reach the desired sleeve length and bind off. Create a fold-over collar by picking up stitches along the neck edge after sewing the jacket. Knit 15 rows, then bind off all stitches. Pick up stitches along the neck edge as you would for a collar, adding stitches at the back of the neck for the first few rows to create a hood. Knit to the desired height, then Kitchener stitch the first half of the hood stitches to the other. Knit rectangles and attach them to the jacket for pockets. Create button holes on both placket edges and use ribbons or i-cord to lace the front of the jacket as an alternate closure. Skip the button holes and sew in a zipper for a different look. Add a frilly crochet edging to make the jacket more feminine. Use heavier weight yarn and larger needles to create a larger jacket for a toddler or child without altering the pattern.