11 February 2012

One of my Creations: A Knitted Birthday Present, full of tangled wool and lots of crumbs

I've been scribbling this blog for 5 months and 8 days, not that I'm counting and within my ramblings about fashion and my determination to own a pair of Louboutin's, I have not really shared with you things that I have made. Since I wanted this to be a fashion/ everything vintage/ sewing blog I'm not doing that well am I.

Now for the first thing that I am going to show, you may remember me telling you that Mr.Boyfriend's birthday was on the 23rd of December and how extremely annoying that it is. Well I for some obsecure reason I decided to knit him a waistcoat using a vintage pattern that we had found when we were looking through my Grandma's knitting book. I think I must have been a bit tipsy when I decided to do this, either that or distracted by an Asos sale.  Being a man he really badly hinted that he liked it and wanted me to make it. I wanted to make him something for his birthday and I did have something else in mind, men eh. So I changed my plan to do this instead , believe me at 2am one on the evening on the 21st of December I was starting to regret this.

I decided to go and see my Grandma who is a knitting queen to decipher the pattern. The pattern that he chose was one with a curved bottom ie a complete bugger (sorry Mummy Second Hand Rose) to do. When someone that has been knitting since she was 4 on matchsticks (I don't think she will be too happy if I tell you her age) and has made anything from a tiger coming out the forest on a jumper to premature baby hats tells you that she wouldn't attempt it, it makes you think.

 So with her help I went through a vast collection of knitting patterns which I blogged about here and found one that a) looked like the one he chose and b) wouldn't make me end up giving it him to his 50th birthday instead. So there I was armed with a pattern from the 60s, two knitting needles which my Grandma kindly lent me out of the 100 she has and a trip to the wool shop needed.

I will find any excuse to go to the wool shop, it is a complete treasure trove for me, I'm like a blackbird, except I get attracted to the bright colours of the wool. I could spend hours in there and 6 months of my clothes allowance. My mum who too loves wool came with me to restrain me from buying 10 whole jumpers worth. In the 1st pattern that Mr.Boyfriend liked the waistcoat was burgundy, so my plan was to use burgundy as the main thing and have the rib as black and the trim around the neck and the arm holes as black. The pattern that I was using was 4-ply, but I wanted to do double knitting because its thicker and a boyfriend with pneumonia is not the best Christmas present a girl could have.

We went in the charity shop next door, its not normal for me to not to go into one. You can read about it here, I won't ramble on again about the treasure trove and being chat up by 70 year old, believe me it was an experience. I found these gorgeous vintage buttons, six of them in perfect condition that seemed ideal for his waistcoat. So I had an afternoon full of shopping and hours of reading and deciphering patterns, trust me it is an art form. I had the wool, the needles, the buttons and the pattern all ready for me to use to turn into a waistcoat that one of the Beatles would wear, well that was my aim.
I began by again looking through patterns with my Grandma, not to find an actual pattern but to find a pattern to do within the wool ie. knit one, pearl one etc. After an hour and a half of looking through (she had zillions of examples) and looking at her cardigans and asking 'how did you do that??' with a confused look on my face, I decided to test my top 5 patterns out on some wool.

These are all a mixture of knit one, purl one, knit two, purl two etc. I decided to go with knit two, purl two (second one down) because I wanted a sort of striped effect within the wool.
So armed with a knitting pattern, 500g of wool and an episode of Dad's Army, I began my quest to make the perfect waistcoat that would make Mr. Boyfriend fall in love with me even more and buy me the whole new Christian Louboutin collection, wishful thinking eh.

I started with the back and did 10 lines of a black rib. I absolutely hate doing the rib, you have to change what you are doing every stitch, knit one, purl one, knit one, purl one, again and again! This may seem weird since I've decided to do knit two, purl two for the whole waistcoat, but at least you get to do two stitches before you have to change the way you are doing it! Yes I know I may seem a bit nuts, The Priory I need you.

Mr. Boyfriend has a 38 inch chest, I found this out when I casually asked him what shirt size he buys and he just said Medium so I got my trusty tape measure out to measure his chest. When he was not looking I also found out how long his neck to the bottom of his back is, no one wants a waistcoat to be more like a tankini do they. I followed the 34 inch pattern which made a 38 inch waistcoat, this meant I had to do 106 stitches each row, which made me want to snatch every piece of junk food away from him so I wouldn't have to do any more stitches. I was just happy I wasn't making it for Barry in Eastenders.

Me being my father's daughter had to work out how many stitches I would have to do, so 106 for approximately 96 rows (6 rows to an inch) is 10,176  stitches and that's just to the armhole! The whole back ended up being around 16,000 stitches, so when I finished it I celebrated with a packet of Fox Biscuits and a hot chocolate, oh I know how to live. The sides weren't as hard with 60 stitches, well that was until I got to the armholes. It was like deciphering the enigma code, but harder.

'Every fourth row decrease one stitch on the curved side. Decrease one stitch every 6 alternate rows and then decrease two stitches every fifth row and then decrease three stitches every 4th row', now you try doing that after you've had a few vodka shots.

It turned out that the silly pattern was wrong in telling me that after doing this riddle that I would have 30 stitches, I had 46. So a freaked out visit to Grandma Second Hand Rose and one of her homemade fairy cakes helped me rectify the situation. She said 'Sometimes patterns can be right buggers', she's like the Knitting Dalai Lama.

After finishing both the backs and sides I had to do the rib all the way up the top, around the neck and around the armholes which meant you had to pick up lots of stitches. To do the rib up the sides I had left 10 ribbed stitches free on a safety pin at the bottom so I could easily do the rest of the rib, which included buttonholes on the left hand side. Again the pattern gave me a riddle on how to do them but I just used Grandma Second Hand Rose's trusty technique of knitting two stitches together and making the whole bigger with my fingers, take that Mr. Pattern.

After sewing it all together and adding five buttons, Mummy Second Hand Rose came to the rescue and embroidered 'Knitted with Love' on the inside of the bottom of the back for me. If it was left to me he would be lucky if he got it by 2014.

The knitting that took up a lot of December and every waking moment the week before Christmas was finished. Truth be told I didn't know what to with myself but the Porridge Box Set and An Affair to Remember came to the rescue.
After showing it to everyone I could find including the Postman and de-Jaspering it, seriously his fur gets everywhere I wrapped it up in the nicest tissue and wrapping paper I could find, with a nice purple bow ready for him to open.

When he came over for his birthday I tried to act cool when really I wanted to hand it to him immediately whilst jumping up and down screaming at him to rip it open. Thankfully a hot chocolate and a mince pie calmed me down and I casually said to him 'So do you want to open your presents now?'. We went through the usual 'You shouldn't have got me anything', 'But I wanted to' conversation that I'm sure every couple goes through. As he opened the present my heart was actually pounding, although it may have been my desperate rush down the stairs and back up again to get his presents that did it.

Grandma Second Hand Rose had come down to see him and give him his birthday present, (she is his biggest fan) so I got to show her the 26,300 stitches piéce de résistance that made her endure about a hundred phone calls of me sobbing down the phone to her and desperate visits, which resulted in her having an empty biscuit tin.

Well Ladies and Gentleman the reaction was good, it was more then good and he put it straight on telling me how amazing at knitting I am and how lucky he was, he knows if he didn't I would personally strangle him with the leftover wool. Since then he has worn it almost every time I've seen him and has apparently got many compliments about it. I've been knitting since I was about six and have made many things but surprisingly this is the first garment I have made all by myself, well nearly anyway. I'm very pleased with the result and love it when I see it on him, he knows that if he doesn't wear it I will make him endure a Legally Blonde and Bridget Jones session, what more could a man want.

Second Hand Rose


  1. That looks amazing ! Very talented !



  2. I am absolutely so impressed with this! I cannot believe you made it all by yourself, it's brilliant, and looks like it could have been freshly bought from Topman!! Your boyfriend is a very lucky man! Xx

  3. Woah I am so impressed! You are so talented at knitting!! Your boyfriend is very lucky, it looks very professional :)

    Love, Elizabeth xx


  4. U are amaizing!! i wouldn`t have anough patience to even try hahah
    well done dear xxx

  5. Your scribblings are hilarious. Congrats on knitting a whole sweater by yourself! Wish I could knit too. Mr. boyfriend is really lucky to be boyfriend SHR.


  6. I awarded you the Versitile Blogger award - it's on my post recent post :)

    Love, Elizabeth xx


  7. Hi lovely,
    you are so talented!
    Btw I received your package today!!
    I totally love all your gifts:)
    Thanks a lot,dear
    Fashion tea at 5

  8. The waistcoat looks amazing! I would love to see some more photos of you and your boyfriend together! Your styles look like they really compliment each other :)



I hope you have enjoyed my scribblings! Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think, they will be repeated constantly to anyone who will listen! Don't forget to click the follow button and add me on Twitter @Second_HandRose and Instagram: second_handrose XxxX