My First Adult BSJ

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First of all, this all started because of my last Boom! shawl.

That yarn, all sorts of various colors, all mashed together–all meshed together–and it’s great.

That conglomerate of colors is what inspired me.  I wanted to make myself something

1 to take with me to the hospital as I will be there at least overnight

2 that was not asymmetrical and 3 that I won’t have to mess with to adjust and wrap around and yada yada

and 4 that I will enjoy and wear even after I am home, long healed, and on to other projects.

Enter my adult baby surprise jacket.

Now, I own The Opinionated Knitter book, The Complete Surprise book–and every other book Elizabeth Zimmermann wrote–although you can find even more information here.  I also have the knitting calculator for infants through adults–which I dearly love.  With your own gauge and a set of measurements, you fill in the blanks and poof! You have a PDF version of line-by-line knitting instructions for a personalized BSJ.  And as my children grow, or as I delve into different yarns, different needles, I can go back, redo everything, and get another line-by-line pattern suited to my needs.  It’s brilliant.  I also love the fact that I can have a longer sweater, a shorter sweater…whatever I want, whenever I want.  I highly recommend this tool if you plan to knit many BSJ…and apparently everyone in my family ‘needs’ one…and I am frequently told I shall be required to make them for the grandchildren one day as well…GULP!  (*Always* what one wishes to hear from one’s 16yo–much less one’s FIVE yo!! who says it because his sister says it!!)

Anyway…I found a terrific sale on  

I had actually gone just to check out the colorways available in Loops & Threads line of Charisma yarn–because locally there is very little choice and after my find at the thrift store, I knew there were  more colorways  I hadn’t ever seen before–and oh yes, MANY more than I had seen before…they had a 50% off sale on that yarn going, with a 20% off coupon–and I went from just looking at colors and pondering what the local store might have to saying, oh yes, I am ordering some yarn right now.

The yarn comes in packs of three skeins–so I ordered six different colors–and sat back to wait for the yarn to arrive…worrying the whole time about am I going to be able to accomplish this whole sweater before my surgery?

I did create a new ABSJ pattern for this occasion as I have never thought of making it in bulky yarn before–and I had a shawl made from the same yarn, on the needles I planned to use for the sweater (US 13)–that Boom! shawl was my gauge swatch for this project.

The yarn arrived Saturday, February 24.  Eighteen skeins, in six variegated colorways.   Approximately 109 yards per skein for a total of 1962 yards (approximately).  I wound up one ball of each color so that I could be sure I used each colorway before repeating any.  I put all the wound balls in a bag and drew them out one at a time at random, not looking when I put my hand in the bag to grab a new ball as I needed it.

I cast on that night.

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Adult BSJ in process….

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My goal was to work one section (there are 4 main sections, with a couple sub-sections) and work through at least one ball of yarn per day.

I managed to make it through at least one section per day, sometimes more…and I made it through more than one skein of yarn every day.

I worked on the jacket every day…and I finished it up last night (March 1) — so it took me six days of not really working all that hard to get this thing finished, just sitting for an hour or two at night and knitting to help calm my brain, and now it is done.


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Now to sew up and weave in ends of my adult BSJ

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I chose to have 3/4 sleeves–because I forever get my cuffs in everything and I always forget to roll up my sleeves or the rolled-up cuff comes undone at the worst possible moment.

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Preview before sewing

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I chose not to knit in buttonholes because I didn’t want to put buttons on it…I don’t normally button my cardigans so I decided to forego that, this time.

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All done…yay

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It took seven whole skeins of yarn–plus a small amount of an eighth because I ran out of yarn as I was binding off…I am grateful that I used so many different colors throughout the jacket so that the bind off didn’t look out of place.  I think I will call it approximately 777 yards of yarn used here.  So I have plenty of yarn left….mwhahaha…and I have ten days before surgery–technically, I can knit up another one of these things.

While I was knitting the first one, I was thinking maybe I would leave the strands where one skein of yarn ended and a new one started dangling, as I did on my Boom! shawl.  By the end of it though, I wove in all the ends.  It just felt better with this one.

While I was knitting, I was also thinking maybe I will put a collar on this one…do I want a large collar, a tapered collar, what…in the end…no collar.

I never contemplated buttonholes, although I did spend a great deal of time while knitting pondering buttons.  Because I like pretty buttons.  Yes, I am a crow…uh huh.  I get it honest.  I come from a whole family of crows.

Now…I am thinking of the next sweater…although my youngest insists I start on HIS sweater next…he wants something like the strange brew sweater–and I promise that after I finished this sweater for my hospital stay, I would start working on his sweater…

BUT–I can plan my next ABSJ.

Next time, I plan to split the skeins in half…and break up the color patterns even more.  I might do what I did for the Boom! shawl.  Since I had all those partial skeins from the thrift store, I just wound up the colors randomly into one big ball and worked from the ball until the yarn was all gone…I might do that.  At least now, I know how much yarn I need for the basic sweater.  And I have no issues running to the store to grab another random ball or two of Charisma if I need it as it comes down to the wire with …say, the third ABSJ I will make…lol…because this is an addictive knit.

I think next time, I might leave the ends of skein threads hanging, like on the Boom! shawl…but we’ll see how I feel when I get there.  Although I seriously do want to do one with a collar.  No plans for buttons at all…because that’s how I am.

I was also contemplating doing one of these sweaters in one single colorway too–as the Charisma colorways are gorgeous…but, we’ll see.

I would also love to do one of these in wool…because that just feels good to me.  Charisma is light and squishy and warm…but wool has its own thing…

As for skills to make this sweater, using my measurements and pattern, I had to know how to:

Cast on


Purl (although this was for the bind off and I was so worried about binding off loosely enough I knitted instead of purled)

double decrease

double increase

pick up stitches

bind off

Yep, that’s it.  Just in case you want to know before you make one of your own.






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Tabitha Low

Writer, Artist, Journey Creatrix