Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Svale BSJ and the Ducky Sweater

Back in 2010 I decided to venture on the famous Elizabeth Zimmermann Baby Surprise Jacket (aka BSJ on Ravelry). I made one for Johanna, the daughter of Grad school friends, and for Elmer, the son of dear friends back in Finland. I used some lovely yarn left over from other projects. For Johanna's I used Dalegarn Svale left over from some dresses I had made:

The cotton/rayon/silk blend is lovely to knit with, and I had so much fun! The buttons were from my LYS (Local Yarn Store), when Yarn LLC still had a branch on Whitney Avenue, within walking distance of both home and campus. I did not know if Johanna was going to be a girl or a boy when I made this, but decided that if I loved the colors for the Hillmans, then chances were they would appreciate them, girl or boy. Besides, Mum and Dad Hillman are not very gender hysterical at all, and especially not with colors I imagine... I finished Johanna's Svale BSJ in May, according to my Ravelry archive, and apparently knit it in seven days! It was fun and fast, I remember that!

In fact, only a few months later I knit Elmer's BSJ from more leftover yarn, this time a gift from Laura of Lankadontti fame: Novita Nalle. Hence the Ducky Sweater came to be:

I of course love, love, love the colors here (wild!), and the hood with the I-cord. For the buttons I had duckies in mind - rubber duckies being the cultural emblem of us Swedish-Speaking-Finns, and the family this went to are part of the Duck Pond, just like me. OMG: there is a Wikipedia article on the pondishness!!!

Anyways. My friend Missknitter and I went to Stitches East just about the time I was ready to think about buttons, and found these AMAZING ducky buttons:

I wish I had grabbed a card from the merchant - or put it in a logical place to find later - so I could a) give credit here, b) get more! These are so much more articulated than the duckies from JoAnn, my usual button haunt. I love buttons here in the US! Not something you see listed as one of the benefits to immigrating to the US, that: "Upon moving to the US, a marvelous plethora of over-the-top and often sickly cute and utterly desirable buttons will become available to you at ubiquitous stores like JoAnn crafts and Michael's..." Too bad, really. The crafting culture, wildly different from Back Home (I sense a future post in this...), in North America is really fascinating. A big part of it is the commercialization of crafting, which has produced such magical things as the ducky button.

I mailed Mummy and Daddy Johanna and Mamma and Pappa Elmer the sweaters, and of course they very much appreciated them. Johanna's Mum showed it to a knitting friend, who commented on the interesting design. Yay! It made me, and still makes me even though the kids have outgrown the sweaters ages ago, so happy to think of them wearing them.

That is always one of the highlights of knitting stuff for Finns - they all automatically appreciate handmade items. It is just such an ingrained part of our culture. Not to say peeps here in the Americas don't. Many do, and I dare to claim ALL my friends and relatives very much appreciate handmade gifts and items in general - Johanna's parents are great examples! But there is an amazing amount of individuals who actually prefer store bought to hand made in the Americas. I know, shocking. I should have given warning before making such a terrible disclosure. I don't think I actually associate with such people, but I have met them. I should have taken photographs and done interviews...

OK. Enough cultural analysis!

What did I like about the BSJ and making it, I hear you ask?

I should have taken WIP (Work in Progress) photos to illustrate this: I love how the sweater is knit in one piece and then origamied into a sweater!  The only seams are across the shoulders. I, of course, love colors, and I love the way the striping emphasizes the structural design of the sweater. You can see in Johanna's Svale BSJ how the stripes go straight across the back, and then come and "turn a corner" on the sleeves and the front.
I also love the ease with which one can use up leftover yarn for it in fun and creative ways. Many BSJs are knit in self-striping or self-patterning yarn, according to a quick Ravelry browse of the 16908 projects, in 3891 queues, and while the results are marvelous, I really like the opportunity to use stash yarn and be all creative with it. In fact, I might have to start a new BSJ pretty soon, just so I can revel in the origaminess and destashiness of it all!

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