Do you closely follow knitting instructions?

Okay, I confess: my tendency is to knit the “perfect” item.

The first time.

Up tight knitter? Who me? 😕

Sometimes I follow the instructions exactly. And sometimes I adapt them as I knit. Following the knitting instructions exactly is not as important to me as the finished project.

Ideally, I can try on a project while knitting, making adjustments as needed. Finishing a big project only to decide it doesn’t look right or doesn’t fit quite right — and can only be fixed by copious ripping and re-knitting — is not my idea of fun. Too much like wasting time.

There are some projects, like Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Surprise Jackets, that defy attempts to fit as you go. At least that’s my experience. 😉

Adapting the Adult Surprise Jacket knitting instructions

A few weeks ago, I started my first adult surprise jacket (asj) using hand spun wool.

Adult Surprise Jacket on needles

After completing two baby surprise jackets (bsj), I felt ready to tackle this project.  This link details my adventures with the knitting instructions for my first bsj.

I did the math, and decided to try the wider sleeves. I couldn’t find any examples of the wider sleeves, and it just “felt right.”  The wider sleeves added over 30 stitches to each row.

ASJ still on needles

ASJ still on needles

Folded ASJ on needles

Folded ASJ on needles

The surprise jackets are interesting and challenging simultaneously. I’m just beginning to understand how they are constructed as I knit.  Measuring seems to involve mostly math before starting — until you finish the increases.

This pattern is especially challenging to make adjustments as you knit. If you get partway done, it could be hard to change the size without starting over.  With long rows of knitting, that could indeed be frustrating.

Thankfully, I didn’t have that particular challenge.

What did I adapt?

  1. When I completed the increases, I decided the sweater was long enough without the suggested additional rows. If you look closely you’ll see the mitered corner in the front ends at the bottom of the sweater.
  2. Instead of adding sleeve length, I also decided I like the wider, elbow-length sleeve reminiscent of a kimono for working around the house, especially with a sweater underneath.

    ASJ knit with wider sleeve

  3. I opted for an I-cord edge without buttons.So no buttonholes to calculate and no buttons to sew on!
  4. I bound off the shoulder seams in a different color, and ended up doing some sewing to get it to look right.

With long rows requiring a 57 inch circular needle, it really doesn’t matter if the row is off by a stitch or two. Of course, it’s nice to have an exact count, sort of like winning at solitaire.

After some delays in the knitting which had nothing to do with the pattern, it’s finally finished! 🙂

ASJ Front knit with adapted knitting instructions

ASJ Back knit with adapted knitting instructions

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