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A circle of sources, a baby's surprise

Inspired to make a jacket for a newborn, an uninitiated knitter realizes it takes a village.

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The Internet helped me press on. On a knitting website ( 16,000 knitters have already made Baby Surprise Jackets and posted pictures of them, in all different colors. Jaunty and unafraid, they call it a BSJ. They chimed in with all sorts of help. Many said to get different instructions that tell you what to do for each row. Those instructions came in the mail. There's a picture of the first little BSJ ever, which Ms. Zimmermann made for her grandson. Very cute. Guess who is explaining what to do, row by row? That same grandson, grown up.

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I still needed help. One woman on the website said a little boy living in her house tried on the BSJ and cried when she tried to take it off him, so she knew it was meant for him. This woman grew up without a lot of spare wool to knit with. She told how she and her sister would knit a square, unravel it, and knit it again, just for practice. I thought that was more helpful than advice. That made me remember that knitting's for everyone and is a very cheerful thing to do, even with one little piece of wool.

A lot of knitters said it was really easy.


Irene and Laura looked at it every week when we knitted together. They couldn't see how it would become a sweater. I couldn't either.

But they would add, "You're so brave to do this!"

Then Irene took me to Gloucester, Mass., where I found the bunny buttons. They made me feel better.

Then I finished the knitting and cast it off the needles. It was a potholder gone berserk. Before I sewed it up, I had some fun.

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"What is this?" I challenged my boss.

"Well," he said, pushing it around on the counter of the store where we work. "It's ..." Then he folded it right up. "A sweater, of course." He even had an idea for how to put buttons on. He's a farmer who can fix a broken tractor, so, really, he is probably just about as smart as Ms. Zimmermann. He told me stories about the special mittens his grandmother had made him. They were fuzzier on the palms of your hands. So I'm sure he's sending along that fuzzy good will to you.

Then your grandmother came over. She liked it. She is going to make one, too. For you, maybe.

If she does, act surprised, OK?

Best of all, she gave me your address. Now all that's left is for the mail carrier to bring it to your apartment.

So that is how it took a village to make Lily a sweater.

But, really, your mom and dad get to raise you. So talk to them if you don't think it's cool enough.

Lots of love,

Second-cousin-twice-removed Maggie

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