BSJ Blues

Buck Strong's picture

Uggh!!!! Is the BSJ really supposed to be this difficult? This is the second time that I have done this pattern and, again, I'm ripping things out for the fourth time. Is it me or do other people experience this too?


jwhassjr's picture

I love the BSJ. I think the

I love the BSJ. I think the instructions are classic Elizabeth Zimmermann and intended more as a recipe. There are many ways one can interpret these instructions and as long as you are consistent, I think the end result will be fine.

That said, I invested in the BSJ DVD with Meg Swansen, which was very helpful. She goes through each portion of the pattern and shows how to knit it and follow the pattern. There are also many extras, which make it a nice DVD (adult surprise, trimming, a bonnet, etc.). I felt it was a great investment, and it will definitely get you hooked on the genious behind this little sweater.

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

I make it a habit to avoid

I make it a habit to avoid markers on almost everything. If I put them in, there had better be a VERY good reason to do so. Like Shawn, I tend to just "read" my knitting and keep track of things that way. Maybe that is why I only needed to rip out the BSJ once and then move forward, trusting to the pattern. Still, that was a most frustrating pattern to begin with and I offer deep empathy and support, Geoff. -- Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

rc_in_sd's picture

Hi Geoff, I just finished my

Hi Geoff,
I just finished my second BSJ and I also found the series of 6 videos on youtube very helpful. Something else I tried on this second one was to do two decreases on either side of a "center" stitch, rather than the double decrease called for in the original pattern. (I just mean "center" as centered between two decreases, not the center of a row.) Specifically, I placed a marker right after the stitches the pattern says to mark. On right side rows, I'd knit to within three stitches of the marker, k2tog, k1, slip the marker, and k2tog again. It's decreasing by two stitches, but it happens over 5 stitches this way instead of 3. The advantages are that the marker stays where it needs to be from one row to the next, and it's a lot easier to see where you are without counting. One more variation I tried was that on wrong side rows, I purled the "center" stitch (which is immediately after the marker on the ws). This gave me a column of stockinette right where the mitering happens. I like the result, but to each his own. I got both of these ideas from ravelry postings, so you might find some more help there.

Good luck!

teejtc's picture

I find the markers annoying

I find the markers annoying and just use a line-by-line write-out that I made up 4 or 5 BSJs ago (will gladly e-mail to anyone with a legitimate copy of the pattern).... I enjoy the pattern but have to admit I feel a bit like an EZ heretic by having made up a written pattern ;-)

Grace and Peace,

TheKnittingMill's picture

Geoff, I muddled my way

Geoff, I muddled my way through my first one (which I posted a couple of days ago) by using your written out instructions. The marker thing drove me crazy so I did the "read your knitting" technique that Shawn talks about. However, I found these videos on YouTube by Lorilee Tallman and they are excellent! She explains things step by step. I really wish I would have seen them before making my first one. There are 6 episodes total. Here's the link:

If some sissy tried to kick my ass I would say, "Hey, Mary, go knit me a sweater before I slap you in the face!”
--Eric Cartman, South Park

HuskerChub's picture


OK, I've knit 20-30 of these things and actually have taught many classes on them. First, STOP, and put the straight needles away and get out a set of 24" circular needles, just do it and don't argue with me on this LOL. You will be knitting back and forth just like on straight needles, but the cable with allow the knitting to conform to it's true shape.

Next, take a deep breath and place the markers on the first row. Knit the next decrease row, and then STOP worrying about the damned markers, learn to "READ" your knitting. When you are getting close to the point of the first marker, LOOK at the knitting that is already there. You will see a "strange" stitch that kinda looks like ^ instead of a purl stitch, this is the double decrease. All of your decreases will stack up vertically on top of each other. Knit to where the tip of the ^ is directly under your next stitch to've gone one stitch too far, unknit one stitch, look at where the decrease is now in relation to the row your working. Every time you get to "this place" in the knitting you know that you have to do a decrease...once you get 5-6 decreases in place, it will become almost automatic as the work on the needles will start to form the corners, but only if you are knitting on circular needles! These corners become landmarks in your knitting that will remind you to start looking for your decrease point.

As for the increases, you will do the same type of reading of your knitting, however you are looking for sts that are less obvious at first but trust me will be easy to spot once you have 2-3 rows worked, as long as they are stacked correctly.
I hope this helps, I think that I really need to make some simple instructional vids for things like this....hmmm.

Buck Strong's picture

Well, I don't own any

Well, I don't own any straight needles; so, that's not the issue. I even wrote out the pattern line by line. The makers don't really bother me. The problem is that you really need to be counting all the time. I understand reading your knitting; however, this can also be an issue depending on the yarn you use (actually, I think that's the major issue I'm having now). Anyway, maybe it's just me but it doesn't seem to be user friendly. I'll get through it soon.

"A man may fight for many things. His country, his friends, his principles, the glistening tear on the cheek of a golden child. But personally, I'd mud-wrestle my own mother for a ton of cash, an amusing clock and a sack of French porn." Blackadder

steve kadel's picture

thsi may be sacrilege, but

thsi may be sacrilege, but the bsj annoys me and i'm over them. there, i said it.

all i know of love, is love is all there is

Aaronknits's picture

I figured moving the markers

I figured moving the markers around was going to be a pain in the ass when I read the pattern so I just didn't use them when I made mine and somehow managed to keep track of where the increases and decreases go. The more you work them the more it all starts to make sense and become rhythmic.

vsidart's picture

I found working around the

I found working around the markers with her increases and decreases confusing since you have to reset the markers each time. I now just increase/decrease on either side of the markers, and it seems to work really well. And honestly, if I do get confused, I just refer to your line-by-line to figure out where I am!

QueerJoe's picture

Now it seems I must try to

Now it seems I must try to make one of these.

I've never been a big fan of the look of EZ's designs, but now that making one of her designs is a challenge, I may need to try it.

gardenguy42's picture

I had the same problem so I

I had the same problem so I ordered the DVD of Meg Swansen knitting the BSJ and it cleared up a lot of the confusion for me. If you are so inclined it may help you also. Good luck!

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." -- Mahatma Gandhi

RobStrauss's picture

I've noticed there's a six

I've noticed there's a six episode video on youtube about this called
Baby Surprise Jacket by L2Belt. I've no idea if it's good or not.

TravelGuy's picture

Amen! I've tried the BSJ a

Amen! I've tried the BSJ a couple times and both times have taken it off the needles and started something else. The marker placement leaves me fustrated and the only alternative seems to be counting every stitch, which isn't going to happen (my attention span just can't handle it). And then to read posts on here about how much fun it is to make....makes me feel that much more inadequate!

I have a friend expecting baby #1 so I am going to have ONE more go at it. I just ordered the DVD on amazon that is supposed to explain just how "EZ" it is supposed to be. I'll let you know how it goes!

Be the change you want to see in the world...

MWK - Houston's picture

I've tried twice and still

I've tried twice and still don't understand the EZ part. Oh well I'm going to try once more. If you order just the pattern on line they do give you a line by line stitch guide - but lots of counting with that one.

Buck Strong's picture

I have the pattern from

I have the pattern from "Knitting Workshop" and the first time I did it I wrote it all out line by line. I typed it all up. I'm using that but it's still a giant pain if you don't count every stitch even with the markers.

"A man may fight for many things. His country, his friends, his principles, the glistening tear on the cheek of a golden child. But personally, I'd mud-wrestle my own mother for a ton of cash, an amusing clock and a sack of French porn." Blackadder