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January 14, 2007


A while ago, my sister told me a story about when she first started knitting. She and a friend encountered a pattern that said to knit in garter stitch. Being new at the whole knitting game, they weren’t exactly sure what garter stitch was. They searched high and low and after consulting as many resources as they could, they found that garter stitch meant simply knit every row.

They had a good laugh at that.

That’s what this baby tomten jacket was. Garter stitch. Garter stitch. Garter stitch. Not a stitch of purl in the whole thing. Which was actually fine with me, if a bit boring over the course of making it. I guess that explains the stripes – a break in monotony. But motononous isn’t really the best way to describe it. I spent a lot of time knitting with anticipation. Get to the armholes. Get to the hood increases. Get to the sleeves. Get to the finishing. A good sort of anticipation, knitting away the hours in plain old, monotonous garter stitch. I certainly gained a greater appreciation for the simplicity of just knitting every row.


Pattern: Modular Tomten Jacket from Knitting Without Tears by Elizabeth Zimmermann.
Yarn: Patons Classic Merino Wool (pink & green), Cascade 220 (blue). These yarns were all leftover from other projects.
Needles: US 5, bamboo. I knit back and forth on a circular for the body and hood and switched to straights for the sleeves.
Started: December 23, 2006
Finished (but for the button): January 2, 2007


Some highlights:

Those hood increases make the biggest difference. It snugs right up to the back of Maggie’s neck just perfectly.

Weaving in garter stitch was a cinch. It was a moment of pure knitting joy, learning that I could actually do something that I was fearful of doing. The key, I think, is waiting until the children are fast asleep.

The sleeves are green not because of my great sense of color and design, but because of my resourcefulness. The pink was running low, so I switched to green. I think EZ would be proud.

The pattern calls for a zipper, and I decided a button works better for now. First, the NC climate doesn’t really necessitate a baba to be bundled up too much. Second, I think it looks cute hanging open like it does. Third, I really wanted to use a toggle style button. Fourth, I can always add a zipper later if I feel like it.


The sweater is big on Maggie. As she grows, she probably won’t get wider. I’ll hopefully be able to roll the sleeves down and it will fit again next winter. And since next winter she’ll be running around like crazy, maybe I’ll replace the button with a zipper so the jacket stays on her better.


When I first finished this up back at the beginning of January, I couldn’t stop looking at it for, like, three days straight. I kept laying it out on the floor and calling every family member over to ask them how great it was. The glee of the project has worn off, and I’m left with a great sense of accomplishment. Seriously. It was so simple to make, but it is so beautiful and useful.

Wait, I feel that glee coming back. I’m going to go lay it back on the floor to look at it again…

Garter stitch rules!

31 Comments leave one →
  1. January 15, 2007 12:00 am

    Love the colors! Leftovers are great, aren’t they?! Your daughter looks adorable in it!

  2. January 15, 2007 12:14 am

    It is perfect. It looks wonderful on her. Nice job.

  3. January 15, 2007 12:36 am

    What a fantastic jacket! It’s so adorable on her – I bet it will fit for years.

  4. January 15, 2007 2:58 am

    This is more than great! Fantastic Jacket! I have a little son and I shall knitt him also Jacket like this!

  5. January 15, 2007 3:05 am

    so cute, both of them!

  6. January 15, 2007 11:01 am

    I found you on the EZ sight and loved the jacket. The colors work great together but the little one in the jacket is the cutest!
    Sheri in GA

  7. Lynn in Tucson permalink
    January 15, 2007 12:13 pm

    It’s beautiful! What great colors!

    -Lynn in Tucson, who followed your links from Zimmermania

  8. January 15, 2007 12:36 pm

    I love the jacket and understand your glee! Does the pattern tell you when to change colors? I know you decided on the green due to running out of pink. If I remember correctly EZ invites you to experiment. Does she tell you to buy 3 colors of yarn and give yardage needed?

  9. meg permalink
    January 15, 2007 3:54 pm

    I Love the sweater! I am making it right now and have enjoyed it but am wondering if you can tell me more about how you did the sleeves? Did you bind off or put the sleeves on a holder and then when working the sleeve knit one from the holder with the current stitches? How did you do the hood increases? Great sweater, great colors and beautful liitle girl:)

  10. January 15, 2007 8:26 pm

    This is gorgeous. I found your blog at Zimmermaniacs. I just tried to make a Tomten for myself, but I found that worked on size 10.5 needles, the garter stitch comes out waaay too stretchy and it isn’t a good look. Unfortunately, I had gotten as far as the hood before discovering this. :/ Anyway, I might try again on smaller needles or with seed stitch. I just love your tomten and plan to make one for my 20-month-old daughter too.

  11. January 15, 2007 11:59 pm

    Congratulations on an absolutely fabulous tomten jacket! I love how you added stripes and demonstrated a resourcefulness that EZ would be proud of. I’m a huge EZ fan and look forward to knitting a tomten jacket.

  12. Sheba permalink
    January 16, 2007 12:34 am

    My goodness, it is lovely, and your daughter is beautiful and looks just great in it. Lovely colors, beautiful photos. I found you on Zimmermania and followed you here. I have been hoping to do a tomten for my nephew soon. Happy knitting.

  13. January 16, 2007 5:01 pm

    Wow! Your Totem turned out wonderfully. I love the play of color–even if some of it was due to necessity. Thanks for the book comments. BTW–finally finished seasons 1&2 of Veronica Mars and am dying for the show to start up again…one more week!

  14. January 16, 2007 5:19 pm

    This is so completely adorable. Well done!

  15. January 16, 2007 5:41 pm

    Your Tomten Jacket is so adorable! I just made one for my cousin’s little boy and after seeing yours, I am sooo wishing I knew a little girl to make one for! I have those same colors of Patons in my stash right now! Argh! Maybe I’ll just have to make one anyway, never know when I may need a baby gift! Anyway, just thought I’d share how much I love your jacket! EZ would be proud!

  16. January 16, 2007 7:07 pm

    Beautiful Tomten, and beautiful little girl! I’m so glad it’s big on her, because she’ll get to wear it for much longer. Well done!

  17. January 17, 2007 11:53 am

    That is such a fabulous knit! I love the style of the post, too. You may have sold me on Tomten…but I have one and a half more Wallabys to knit, first! I thinkm by the way, that your little one MUST have a Wallaby. Don’t you?? Hmm?

  18. January 17, 2007 5:19 pm

    You told me you did not have much time to knit! You really have some wonderful knitting in your house.

    Thanks for the comment about my dog. We have many great memories of her.

  19. kathleen permalink
    January 17, 2007 11:23 pm

    Okay…I’m officially frightened now. I was searching the web in a late pregancy induced insomnia stupor at 2 a.m. this morning and serendipitiously followed a sewing blog of someone’s to a store that had a photo of EZ’s Tomten Jacket. I was enthralled. I MUST knit it. Soooo, this evening, I google Tomten jacket and find zimmermania….scrolling down the page I stop dead in my mouse clicking to see my NIECE in all her chubalicous glory gracing the pages… the jacket I MUST knit. Mandy, I’m so glad you are my S-I-L.

  20. Mel Austen permalink
    January 21, 2007 2:34 pm

    Your Tomten is beautiful (well, not quite as beautiful as your little girl)! I linked over to your site from Zimmermania. My daughter is probably about the same size as yours, and I was wondering if you would mind telling me how many stitches per inch you knit it at. Please??!!


  21. Chelsie permalink
    January 24, 2007 6:06 pm

    Mandy! i’m late to this party, but I had to comment and say that not only do you have excellent taste in pattern… these colors are fantastic! I don’t think that I would have thought of the combo – or pulled it off as well as you did. It looks awesome… and holy cow! The Mag is looking so very grown-up and pretty!

  22. January 25, 2007 9:05 pm

    I keep checking out your tomten…I think I’m going to make one for my daughter in brown and pink. Did you do applied i-cord to the edge all the way around? I’m trying to plan out when to use pink and when to use brown…thanks for your ideas!

  23. January 31, 2007 4:29 pm

    I just found your blog, and that is the cutest version of the tomten I’ve seen! I must get that book.

    Adorable little tot, too. =)

  24. Jill permalink
    February 3, 2007 7:50 pm

    I don’t know that I would have ever considered this until I saw yours! It’s so cute (as is the wearer!) I’m wondering what size needles you used and how many skeins total? The yarn specs in the book are a bit vague! I’d love to make one for my 3-year old.

  25. March 3, 2007 1:47 am

    This Tomten turned out so cute! I think it’s the combination of the colors and the toggle button that catch my eye; it looks much more modern and fresh than I imagined it would. Thanks for the inspiration… might have to make one for my own little baba.

  26. nancy permalink
    March 3, 2007 10:21 am

    Hi! I join the ranks in admiring your tomtom. I am making one now and wonder… Is the hood a total of 28 ridges or 28 AFTER the increases? and…. what was your stitches per inch.. I am making one now at 5 sts per inch and it is tiny… thank you again for sharing. don’t you just love that Paton’s merino. It is one of my favorite yarns. and last but not least. is that applied i-cord edging? It’s the prettiest one. .

  27. Christine permalink
    September 9, 2008 5:54 pm

    I totally LOVE your Jacket it’s second only to how beautiful your little girl is!
    I have bought the book and started a practice jacket….onr thing i’d like to ask is did you edge the jacket? as my end stitches always look a bit raw…

  28. Heather permalink
    September 24, 2008 10:52 pm

    Hi there! I love your tomten! I’m knitting one right now and I’m hoping you can help me. The pattern says to work a short RIDGE. Does that mean that two rows need to be short rows, or does it mean a short row and then a regular row? If you could advise, I would really appreciate it! Thanks.
    – Heather in Washington

  29. mariangels permalink
    March 22, 2009 9:55 pm

    Hi there,

    I wonder whether you’ll get round to check this. I’ve been using your blog as inspiration for my Tomten, which is coming in a strange size. Anyway, I’ve got the same question as Nancy, about the hood. I’ve done the 28 ridges (with my proportions, it is 36), and am not sure whether it is 28 after increases or 28 with the increases.
    How did you do it? (if you remember….)

    thanks a lot,


  30. Adriana permalink
    October 29, 2013 9:44 pm

    Going to make it! Liked reading this story.


  1. Some things I want to make « Caffeinated Knitter

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