The Toddlerized BSJ

I wanted to knit another Baby Surprise Jacket but didn’t have an actual baby around to make it for.  So instead, I toddlerized that sucker for Maggie!

toddlerized bsj

Following is an in-depth look at how I did it and everything you need to know to make one, too.

Things You Should Know

  • You must have a copy of the pattern to follow along.  The Baby Surprise Jacket is available in The Opinionated Knitter, Knitting Workshop, a couple of back issues of Knitter’s and as a $3 single pattern leaflet from Schoolhouse Press.  You have no reason not to own your own copy. [Ravelry]
  • It would be very helpful if you have already knit a regular BSJ without modifications.
  • I have a hunch that two- and three-year-olds have the same chest circumference as sweet little infant babies.  Mine did, maybe yours do, too.  That’s good here because then the key numbers in the pattern don’t change.
  • Like EZ says, slip the first stitch of every row.  I do it knit-wise, though I have never been quite sure this was correct.
  • I eliminated the sleeve increases, and instead began with 18 additional stitches when I cast on.  This is explained briefly in The Opinionated Knitter on page 106.
  • Overall there are very few changes to the original pattern, but the little tweaks I’ll discuss below make all the difference in the toddlerization process.  Keep your headlights on.
  • Gauge: 19 sts = 4″ over garter stitch.  With the sport weight yarn I used [Hello Yarn Fat Sock, Marzipan, 2 skeins] this gauge produces a stretcy, loose and nearly lightweight material.


Change #1 Provisionally cast on the specified number of stitches using a smooth yarn.  I did this by casting on (long tail, as usual) with cotton yarn, knitting a row, then joining in the sweater yarn and starting immediately with row 1 of the pattern.  Cotton is important for the cast-on if you’re using wool for the sweater, so that the provisional stitches are easier to free later on.


Solid green yarn above is the provisional cast-on.

Now knit the pattern as normal, through decreases and increases until you get to the point in the pattern that says “…work on center 90 sts. only, for 10 ridges…”

Change #2 This section of the pattern determines body length and for a toddler you’ll want it a bit longer.  I knit the center section for 14 ridges.

After picking up stitches along the edges of the section just completed continue again as written except for:

Change #3 Make the sweater slightly wider by knitting more ridges before the buttonholes.  I did nine ridges before the buttonholes and two after.  NB: I only made buttonholes on one side, but that is neither here nor there, and makes very little difference in the end.

Now for the fun part.  Or the tedious part, if that’s how you wish to look at it.  I thought of it as fun because without all the tedium you just have a pile of knitted garter stitch that doesn’t look like anything.  Although come to think of it that doesn’t sound too bad.  Moving on.

The order of things to follow, in brief.

  • Cast off live stitches.
  • Put all provisionally cast on stitches on threads until you are ready to knit them.
  • Lengthen sleeves.
  • Join tops of sleeves to back and seam.  Simultaneously.
  • Bind off remaining stitches.

Here’s how I did it.

From the right side, and using a needle one size smaller than you used for the body, cast off using the i-cord cast-off method using three stitches (I used the one described on pg. 55 of The Opinionated Knitter).  Begin at the neck edge, continue down the front edge, around the back bottom edge, up the opposite edge, around the neck to where the sleeve joins the back.  Here, I’ll show you.

The star shows where to begin and the arrow shows the direction of the knitting (not that I needed to explain that to you, smart knitter that you are).  When you get to the end, leave the last three i-cord stitches on a holder.  Like this (except put them on an actual holder, not a needle, because the needle will indubitably fall out).

top of sleeve

Now the time has come to liberate those cast-on stitches from so long ago.  Put the stitches from both ends of the cast-on row — the stitches before the first line of decreases and after the second line of decreases — onto separate holders.  That is where you’ll lengthen the sleeves.  The center stitches go on their own holder.

To lengthen the sleeve, join in the yarn on one end section and knit back and forth until the sleeve is the desired length.  I added thirteen ridges and probably could have done a few more.  Do not bind off.  Repeat on the other sleeve.

toddlerized bsj

Oh, please don’t look so confused.  We’re getting there now.

You are ready to join the top of the sleeve to the back using a three-needle i-cord cast-off.  Count the number of stitches on the sleeve top (excluding cuff), then put a matching number of back stitches on a needle ready to join.  Begin at the star…

…and perform the magical trick known as the three-needle i-cord cast-off down the top edge until you reach the cuff.  Go back to regular i-cording around the cuff edge until all the stitches are cast-off.  Finish off the i-cord then sew it neatly where it meets the corner.  So far so good.

toddlerized bsj

How beautiful is that seam?  And no sewing needle required!

But back to business.  Do the same for the second sleeve, but this time start at the cuff, i-cord cast-off around, then join the top sleeve stitches to an equal number of back stitches with the the three-needle i-cord cast-off.    You will also i-cord around the second half of the neck to join up with the beginning of these i-cord escapades. Thusly:

We’re nearly there now.  All that’s left to i-cord is the remaining live stitches at the back of the neck.


Some Other Notes

  • When you i-cord cast-off around an outside corner, add a row of i-cord that doesn’t connect.  This helps keeps those corners neat and square.
  • If you have remembered to slip the first stitch of each row, it will be so much easier to do all the i-cording.  If you have forgotten, well there’s not much to do.  Use a tiny needle to pick up the stitches, maybe?  That might work.  Try not to forget the slipping.

I had such fun making this sweater and wrestling with the finishing details.  Please enjoy this little unvention of mine and let me know if you try it, have any trouble with the instructions or have any suggestions.  I bet if you toddlerize your own BSJ, you’ll probably do some unventing of your own along the way.  Yippee!

toddlerized bsj

One last picture for good measure.
OH!  I almost forgot.  There’s one little “mistake” that I know you won’t believe me when I say I did it on purpose.  I did.  If you find the mistake you may award yourself 15 Cool Points.  Good luck.

How to do it: Slipper Soles

Have you ever worn felted slippers? If you haven’t, you’re missing out. Felted slippers are the bomb. I’ve made a bunch of pairs and I wear them all the time: In the winter because it’s cold, and in the summer because the AC makes it cold. I had to make a new pair for myself recently because my old ones had developed their own bad case of air conditioning.

Make your own slipper soles!

I know you can buy ready made slipper soles, but I had trouble finding the right size for my slippers. There are also many different ideas and tutorials on how to make the slipper bottoms slip-free (in Ravelry forums, just search “slipper soles”).

But I thought it would be fun to do a tutorial here on the old blog. A change of pace for me, and a bit of a treat for you. If you are a visual learner like I am, just scroll through the pictures — you’ll get the idea. Now, let’s get started!

How To Make Your Very Own, Custom Fitted, Slipper Soles

What you’ll need:

  1. A pair of newly felted, dry slippers.
  2. Paper for making a template.
  3. Scissors.
  4. Marking pen. I used an extra-fine tip Sharpie.
  5. One sheet of suede. I got mine at the craft store for $5.99.
  6. Leather punch, size 5/64″. I got this at the craft store, too, as part of the Mini Punch Set. It was $8.99, and I’m already scheming to use it for more projects.
  7. Tape measure or ruler (but “eyeballing it” works for this project).
  8. Block of scrap wood.
  9. Hammer or heavy mallet.
  10. Sharp sewing needle.
  11. Embroidery thread in a color to match your slipper.  **UDATE 1/30/08: My embroidery thread is not wearing well, and one of the heel pieces has come off.  I am going to try using leather thread, if I can find that at the craft store, and I’ll let you know how it goes.**

Here’s some of the supplies ready to go.

Make your own slipper soles!

The first thing you need to do is make a template. Trace around the bottom of your slipper onto your template paper. For the toe piece, draw the template piece about 1/2″ in from the edge that you traced and long enough to cover the ball of your foot, curving the corners. Do the same for the heel piece. Cut out your templates, and lay them on your slipper to make sure they reach just to the edges, but not over the edge. Here’s my templates on my old slipper, checking to see that the problem areas will be covered.

Make your own slipper soles!

Next, use your marker to trace around your templates onto the wrong side of the suede.

Make your own slipper soles!

Make your own slipper soles!

Then cut them out.

Make your own slipper soles!

With your marker, on the wrong side of the suede, mark where you will punch the holes. My dots are 1/8″ from the edge, and 3/8″ apart. I did not measure the marks until after I made them; it’s really easy just to eyeball this part.

Make your own slipper soles!

I keep talking about the wrong side of the suede, and in the picture above you can clearly see the difference. The piece on the right is the smooth, even, front side of the suede. The one with the marks on the left is uneven and more rough to the touch.

Alrighty. Now on to the fun part, in which you get to hammer really loudly and aggressively! I did this step outside for some reason, but I suppose you could do it anywhere suitable for hammering. First, practice with the punch set on a scrap of the suede.

Make your own slipper soles!

Once you get the hang of it, you’re ready to start punching the holes. Place the puncher directly over the first dot, and hammer it through the suede.

Make your own slipper soles!

At first it took me seven or eight hammers to make the hole. After a few holes, though, I got into a good rhythm and the job went faster than I expected.

Make your own slipper soles!

With your holes punched, you’re ready to sew them on your slippers. Using embriodery thread (all 6 strands) and a sharp needle, sew through all the holes around each piece.

Make your own slipper soles!

In that picture it looks like the needle goes into the fabric below the hole, but it doesn’t. Put the needle into the fabric next to the hole you just pulled it through, and bring it out through the next hole. Because the fabric (the felted wool) is thick it takes a little muscle to make sure the thread goes into the fabric, not just into some fuzzies. (If anyone can tell me the name of this type of stitch, I’ll add it. What can I say? I’m self-taught.)

That’s the job! You’re done!

Make your own slipper soles!

Phew, that was fun. Since this is my first tutorial please let me know if something isn’t clear. I’ll let you know how these babies hold up to my rigorous wear.