It’s all in the details.

I’m in still in the middle of doing a lot of page proofing at work, but some friends invited me down to NYC for a day. I decided I could go as long as I took the train and worked on my proofs instead of driving. And since it is just the page proofing, I decided I needed a knitting project to bring with me. Since most of the ones I have in my WIP pile were rather large or required me to pay attention, it was time to start something new.

In the new Vogue Knitting, Meg Swansen presents a baby cardigan that she found in her mother’s journals. Called EZ’s Surplice Baby Jacket, it’s a similar idea to the Baby Surprise Jacket. I had some yarn from my recent safaris that I’d chosen for a baby cardigan, so I was all set. However, starting to follow the pattern, I was reminded why I don’t like Elizabeth Zimmerman patterns.

Now, she’s got some innovative construction techniques and creative ideas, but she’s a lousy pattern writer. I realized that the problem is that she wasn’t detail-oriented. I know her philosophy is that you can just sort of go with the flow in knitting, fudge here and there, and it will all work out. Problem is, that’s great if you have a command of your craft and understand how to fudge to get good results. You need to be confident in what you are doing. If you aren’t, if you’re a novice or someone who just isn’t able to read their knitting, it’s a recipe for tears and frustration. You need a lot of set points to tell you if you are doing it right.

Fortunately, I have a good command of knitting techniques and I do pay attention to details. So here I’ll give you a short list of things to know about this pattern. I’m sure it will grow longer and into it’s own small page by the time I’m finished.

  • There yarn requirements don’t give you any measure of yardage. Can’t subsitute easily. I’m winging it, I’ll tell you how much it takes when I’m done.
  • The pattern is all garter-stitch, so it talks about ridges instead of rows, where a ridge is 2 rows. But the first few times it gives you a ridge count, it puts a row count in parentheses. Couple this with the initial instructions for two sizes with the second stitch count also in parentheses, you’re left potentially making the mistake of knitting fewer rows for the smaller size, thinking the parenthetical row count was for the larger size. Know that you knit the same number of rows for both sizes (so far as I’ve gotten).

I’m also confused about the language used for two increase options. I’ll have to google “running-thread” increase. Because I’ve never heard of it before.


  1. Chris:

    Oh, I think by running-thread increase she means picking up the strand of yarn between the stitches, from the row below. She also does paired loop increases, which she calls M1s (illustrated in Knitting Without Tears).

  2. stacey:

    How frustrating. I have read some of her more basic patterns (sock, hat) and winging it on those is not a huge deal, but on something like a sweater that doesn’t have a typical shape, that could be annoying!

  3. Frarochvia:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one underwhelmed by her patterns…

  4. Kim:

    I just knit that sweater for a friend’s baby–it was the very first EZ pattern I’ve ever knit even though I own Knitter’s Almanac.

    It is disconcerting at first, when you are just reading the pattern, because it’s impossible to visualize the finished garment. But somehow, when you’re knitting it, you do see what the heck is going on. And when you’re done and you’ve assembled it, it’s really cool.

    I did sub yarn with a heavier gauge worsted wool and just adjusted as I saw fit–so yes, this pattern is probably not for beginner knitters.

  5. Ann:

    Chris has it — it’s a “lifted” increase — you get a hole. I researched this for the baby surprise jacket I knitted last year. Good luck!

  6. Katie:

    It’s my first EZ pattern, too, and I have to admit I’ve been a bit frustrated by it, too. I don’t think all the information for the two sizes is in there, either. It isn’t so difficult to work out what’s going on, but it certainly could be easier! :-)

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