Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Button Quest

My nephew and his wife just had a baby girl, and this great aunt was prepared. Well, almost prepared. I had knit two baby sweaters, one for a girl and one for a boy. I decided I would wait to buy the buttons until I knew which sweater I was going to need. I wish that I could say there was some brilliant reasoning behind this plan. The fact is, I just hate to sew on buttons.

Yesterday I could procrastinate no longer so made the painful decision to go to Fabricland. I am allergic to sewing, so a trip to this store puts me way out of my comfort zone. The helpful thing is it has recently moved from a location 25 minutes away in a part of town where you were never sure if your vehicle would still be in the parking lot when you returned, to a storefront a five minute drive down the hill. I forced myself into the car and headed out the door saying I would be back in a few minutes.

The Canada Post outlet is in the drug store next to Fabricland's new location, so I decided I would go in there first and buy the mailing packet for the baby gift. I got in the line-up and was pleased to see there was just one person ahead of me. However, fifteen minutes later that person was still ahead of me and the lady being helped at the counter had just finished her change of address application. I glanced at the person ahead of me and was horrified to see she was also holding a change of address application. I was just about to turn around and leave when she kindly offered to let me go ahead of her if my business was going to be quick. I said it was and stepped to the front of the line.

This was where things started to go south. When I went to use my debit card to pay for the Express Post envelope it said there was a PIN error. This was odd since it hadn't even asked for my PIN number. The clerk retried but got the same message. Clearly there was something wrong with their machine. The result? I ended up having waited in line for 20 minutes and didn't have a thing to show for it other than elevated blood pressure.

I regrouped and walked over to Fabricland. Getting the right buttons is as important for the look of a finished object as the knitting itself. No matter how great a knitted project looks, in the end the buttons will make or break it. I wasn't sure which buttons were going to work best so I decided to buy three different kinds. That is how strongly I felt about the button choice. I wanted to see what they looked like when they were sewn on before I made a final choice. I headed over to the counter, inserted my debit card, and got the same message I had at the postal outlet. That was the moment I knew this trip down the hill was going to be a bit longer than the fifteen minutes I had expected.

All was not lost though as I was able to pay for the buttons using my Visa, a brainstorm I wish I had also had at the postal outlet. Gritting my teeth I headed into town to the bank to straighten out my debt card meltdown. I will spare you the details, but lets just say the line-up at the bank made the postal outlet look good. Two hours later I returned home with buttons and a working debit card.

This is Elizabeth Zimmermann's famous Baby Surprise Jacket (BSJ). Since this pattern's debut in 1968 tens of thousands of these have been knit. To give you an idea of how popular this pattern is there are almost 15,000 BSJ sweaters posted on Ravelry, and Ravelry has only been in existence for four years.

All the aggravation of the afternoon faded away when I took the baby sweater outside for a photo shoot. It's hard to go wrong when you knit one of the most popular patterns ever, a pattern designed by the world's most famous knitter. Congrats to Blake and Nicole!


  1. Very sweet heart buttons which match the sweater perfectly. I have an almost completed BSJ which has been sitting in a spare dresser drawer for about one year now. The only thing missing are the buttons.

  2. Such cute buttons, and love the chive backdrop!!

  3. Perfect buttons and setting. You waited for the chives to bloom to take the picture, right?

  4. I live far from anything and use this website for buttons.
    I also hate sewing them on but I usually get buttons so cute that I don't mind so much!!

  5. @lyndagrace - That is pretty funny that you have a buttonless BSJ sitting in a dresser drawer. What is it about putting on buttons that seems to repel knitters?

    @kate - The buttons weren't anything special or expensive. They just seemed to suit the sweater somehow. Thanks!

    @Mary Lou - No, actually the chives blooming is a coincidence! I had stuffed the buttonless sweater away until the baby was born, and it just so happened to be when the chives were blooming. :-)

  6. @amelia - Thanks for that website! I have one more buttonless BSJ waiting for buttons, so maybe I can find some there.

  7. Lovely sweater and a great picture. My debit card wasn't working in Walmart the other day, but I'm too embarrassed to tell you why. It had nothing to do with funds, either. I'll tell you later. ;)

  8. I love the colors in the sweater. It will be a beautiful keepsake for your great niece. From talking with fellow knitters, do you know if it's common to enjoy knitting and be allergic to sewing? I know the sewing allergy is very wide-spread in the general population...but I didn't expect that to be the case among knitters. Just curious. My sewing is limited to fixing ripped hems and seams.

    Wow, a simple change of address should not take that long. It's amazing how a quick trip can morph into a test of your patience. You handled it very well. I hope you treated yourself to a cup of tea w/honey when you got home.

  9. This summer I MUST make a BSJ! Yours is lovely.

  10. @Ric - Thanks! I hope it is both a good keepsake and practical. In other words, I hope it gets worn a lot! There are knitters who love to sew, and knitters who hate it. We are an eclectic bunch.

    And you are right. The first thing I did when I got home was make a cup of tea. :-)

    @Maureen - I think you would love knitting this sweater. EZ was a genius.