For the past couple of years I’ve been planning to make a Christmas sweater for the boy featuring the main character from his favourite Christmas movie: Die Hard.
(Die Hard is totally a Christmas movie btw, it’s set during an office Christmas party!)
Anyway, I decided this year was the THE year.
I found a sweater pattern I could place the intarsia pattern into…so I bought all of the yarn for it then had to create the knitting chart. Hmmm. Now my computer skills are limited to checking email, sending emails, clicking, double clicking. The image needed detailed cropping, converting to monochrome image, and refining. So, I had swallow my pride and ruin the surprise and ask the boy for help 😦 It was actually a good thing though as the main colour I’d chosen for the sweater didn’t really go with the image.
I re-ordered more yarn and got going on knitting as soon as it arrived!
I officially started knitting this on October 10th as per my Instagram account…but then got a little slack and didn’t really do a huge amount for a long time – it took me almost a month just to do the ‘Die Hard’ writing on the bottom (finished this on November 4th)!
Meh, it was fine though, I was planning to have it done for Christmas so had LOADS of time. Nope. The boy then asked if I could have it finished for an annual festive do that we have with friends. This year it was on December 11th which meant my deadline was brought forward by 2 weeks. Oh no.
The following five weeks consisted of knitting at every spare moment, on my commute, lunch breaks, watching TV and basically not socialising or doing any housework. Probably the most intense period of knitting that I’ve ever done.
The front I only did at home, I don’t think taking a knitting chart and 5 balls of yarn on a train would have made me a popular commuter!! When I was out and about I would knit the back and the sleeves. It was a plain stockinette and I did them on circulars rather than straights so as to not poke people in the arms on the train.
After the knitting was done, I had to do my favourite thing in the whole world…weave in ends!! Yay (not). I took 3.5 hours. Ugh. Then came the blocking and seaming which wasn’t too bad. I only finished seaming the night before the party…talk about cutting it fine!
Overall, it was a pretty darned satisfying project to do. It was also nice that that intarsia only involved five colours (I say only, my first intarstia project ever was Santorini by Rowan Yarns which involved twelve colours). I would have enjoyed it loads more if I didn’t have to do pretty much the whole thing in five weeks and honestly, when I did finish it was I was more relieved than excited. But, seeing the reaction on social media and by friends and family made it worth it. Plus the boy absolutely LOVES it and has already worn it three times and it’s not even Christmas Day yet!
There is a surprising lack of patterns for plain sweaters for men, like, a serious lack! I ended up going for a James C. Brett pattern for a Christmas sweater with raglan sleeves that was knitted in four pieces. The design in the pattern was a picture of Santa, which was now going to be replaced with John McClane.
Unfortunately, as the pattern is copyrighted I can’t give it away but the pattern is:
James C. Brett Mens Sweater DK Knitting JB 191.
NB My knitting chart ended up being 18 rows longer than the original pattern so I had to adjust the front and the back accordingly. I continued knitting for the extra 18 rows before the raglan decreases. Luckily my boy is pretty tall so the extra rows didn’t make the sweater look too long. If you are going to use the chart and don’t want the extra rows then you could omit the ‘Die Hard’ lettering at the bottom.
I decided against using the yarn that was recommended in the pattern, it suggested using James C. Brett Top Value DK which is 100% acrylic. I figured that if I was putting all of this effort into making this sweater then I’d want to use something that would hold up well and last longer.
I ended up going for King Cole Merino Blend DK which is 100% wool yarn. Thought it would also be useful to keep the boy warm during the cold wintery months. The colours I chose were:
Cranberry – main sweater colour.
As mentioned above, I needed help creating the image. Here’s how it was done:
1. We found a decent high quality image of the Die Hard DVD cover through an internet search.
2. We used an image manipulation programme called Gimp to crop out the buildings so we were just left with John McClane holding his gun.
3. Still using Gimp, the image was converted to grey-scale.
4. We uploaded the image to Free Pattern Wizard to convert the image into a knitting chart. There are a bunch of free pattern generators but this one was pretty good as it lets you choose how many colours to include and the size of the chart.
NB For the ‘Die Hard’ section, I redrew it onto squared paper as the pattern generator had made it with three different colours.
Ta da! Now I had a knitting chart!