Big words, I know, but Elizabeth Zimmerman's Surprise Baby Jacket must be one of the most knitted patterns ever. On ravelry alone there's a surprise baby jacket group with over 3500 members with topics on classes, buttons, help, and yes, finished projects complete with photos. And that last group alone has over 2400 postings. Holy cow folks, that's a lot of babies being kept warm with this one design. But the best thing about it is that each one is unique. And almost everyone puts their own touch to it. One of my favorites was posted by BUZZKNITTER who used a cherry red yarn and only one oversized button on the top giving the jacket a 60s couture look.
For the nonknitters reading along or for the new knitter who hasn't discovered this right of passage, the Zimmerman surprise baby jacket is wonderful puzzle to knit. Done in one piece with strategically placed decreases and increases (to form corners), the finished "flat" garmet is folded origami style with only two short seams to sew at the top shoulders. And voila (did I actually read that someone wrote Walla recently in their blog???), a beautiful jacket.
Since you're working in one piece and you've made corners, part of a single row goes down the front around the back, and back up the front. This allows for wonderful color work that baffles the average admirer.
The pattern only comes in one size, and by changing the yarn gauge you can make it fit a new born or a 7-year old. Zimmerman says to put button holes on both sides, assuming you don't know the sex of the child upfront. But if you do, just make them on the appropriate side. Left of boys, right for girls. Ah sexist conventions.
This one is for my friend Denise's baby - due any week now. I used Berocco Comfort so when the kid throws up on it (as kids are wont to do) it can go from washer to dryer and back to baby in no time.