Knitted Viggo Vest

I’ve been knitting for about three years now so I thought it was about time I started to venture out into items other than fingerless mittens, socks, scarfs and shawls. Last year I made myself a cardigan (which I wore whilst on holiday), but the Viggo Vest was my first project to gift to someone that needed to be a certain size.

One of my friends had her first baby earlier this year and I really wanted to make something for them. I started out with a plan to make a baby blanket, but the yarn I had in mind was too thick and dark and despite hours of plotting, planning, and watching, it just wasn’t working. Fortunately another lovely knitting friend came to my rescue and sent some leftover yarn from the item she had made for the same baby. It was some lovely Rowan Pure Wool 4 ply in two coordinating shades so I decided to ditch the blanket idea and make a striped vest. I choose the Viggo Vest pattern, partly because of this adorable photo – I mean who could resist?!

Adorable photo from Viggo Vest pattern

So, I got myself a smaller circular needle so that I could work in the round in the regular way rather than in magic loop as I normally do. I set to work and soon realised the pattern wasn’t quite as straight forward as I’d thought. Firstly, it’s striped and as I learned with my Nemo mittens that means I need to think about jogless stripes. It was a little tricky with this pattern because the stripes were only two rows deep, so I had to do a bit of research into how best to tackle this. In the end I settled with the ‘tug and twist’ method. Then, the pattern got a bit complicated. Well, not complicated, but just new to me. I had to do the shaping by casting off some stitches which got a little fiddly, and I had to pick up stitches to knit on the top ribbing sections.

Starting to cast off to shape for the sleeves

Then came the buttons. In reality not a difficult thing at all, but in my head it was. I didn’t have any buttons that looked right so I scoured my local haberdasheries until I found some. They’re a little bigger than what I was thinking of, but I struggled to find something that suited the colours and the style of the vest so I decided to make slightly larger button holes and got with bigger buttons. I thought it was going to be so complicated and put it off for quite a while, but one weekend I took the plunge… and realised that actually it was incredibly simple!

Buttons!

Buttons! It was a little out of shape so needed blocking, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much that evened it all out.

I bundled it up and sent it off, hoping and praying that it would fit the recipient. It had taken me a lot longer to make than I thought it would and of course in the meantime the recipient had been growing! Fortunately though, it fit, and the recipient’s Mum kindly shared a photo of him wearing it. Isn’t he adorable?

The vest being beautifully modelled

I’ve definitely conquered my fear of fitted clothes (well, for babies anyway!) so won’t be so afraid of similar patterns in the future. I’ll just need to start them earlier!

The magic of blocking

I have finally conquered my fear of blocking! Armed with blocking wires and eleventy million pins as the pattern requested (though I actually only needed about 20!), plus my new foam jigsaws and my little bottle of Soak, I successfully blocked my first lace shawl. I’ll write more about the Henslowe shawl in another post (I absolutely loved everything about the pattern and am sure I’ll make it again), but for now – look at the difference blocking made!

Pre and post blocking

Pre and post blocking

Dropped stitch scarf

On a trip to Edinburgh I found a lovely little yarn store called k1 yarns knitting boutique and spent a happy hour or so admiring (and buying) yarn and planning projects. The owner was really helpful and when I explained I was new to knitting she offered advice on what sort of projects I might want to try next. She convinced me to give sock knitting a go (that's for another blog post!), and flicked through some recent magazines. One had a scarf in which I loved, and I really regretting not buying the magazine. But a few days later I discovered I could get an electronic copy for the iPad which actually worked out cheaper than the paper copy and much more convenient. Then it was just a small matter of learning new skills – it looked like a really complicated pattern.

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I wanted to do it in a similar colour and found a yarn on special offer in Loop Knitting in London (another lovely yarn store!). The staff there helped me out and I got enough yarn to do the scarf. I still wasn't sure I'd be able to manage the pattern but decided to take it on the plane with me when I went to California in June – it was a 10.5hrs flight so I had plenty of time to try it out. It was my first time using a chart so that took a bit of figuring out, but the pattern was actually pretty straight forward once I'd got the hang of yarn overs and ssk (slip slip knit) – and starting using stitch markers to make it even easier.

First few repeats of the pattern

First few repeats of the pattern

I'd been alternating the scarf and other projects over summer but when I was on annual leave at the end of August I decided to try to get it finished. And I did! You knit the scarf to the end, and then drop the required stitches after you have finished – here's the scarf before the stitches were dropped:

Scarf before stitches were dropped

Scarf before stitches were dropped

Dropping the stitches is a bit terrifying (I was convinced I would have made a mistake somewhere along the 180cm of knitting which would create a big hole!), but thankfully it all worked out OK, and I love the final product. Here's a close up of the pattern with the stitches dropped:

Dropped stitch scarf pattern close up

Dropped stitch scarf pattern close up

The project was really enjoyable once I'd got the hang of the pattern, and really helped give me confidence in trying more challenging patterns. I won't be so scared of dropped stitches now!