Reverse Engineering a Scarf

An interesting project has come across my desk. Last week a charming fellow came into the yarn shop and showed me his scarf. It was a beautiful hand-knit cream coloured aran scarf, slightly discoloured with age and sporting a few holes. “I’m sure you could repair it,” he told me, “but it’s so thread-bare, I was wondering instead if there were anyone who might replicate it instead?”

You betcha, someone might. I might. (Pretty pretty please!)

I examined the scarf and decided it was probably done originally in aran-weight. I counted the # of stitches across (35), weighed it (94 grams), and measured it (precisely 100 cm by 15 cm, what a perfectly neat size!) all gave me a good starting place. He wanted to continue to wear his scarf until the replica could be made.”It’s cold. I need it,” he told me. “Can you work from a picture for me? You’ll know more than I how close a match it really is.” First of all, yes I can absolutely work from pictures, and second: it’s going to match exactly, have you met me? Of course he’d only met only just had five minute prior, but he learned quickly enough.

He selected the same cream colour in Borgo de Pazzi’s Cedro (a personal favourite of mine, but also by far the closest match to what had been used to knit his original piece.  Once he was sure I had everything I needed, he thanked me and tucked his scarf into his coat. It suited him perfectly – cheerful, polished, a little bit formal but not a bit stuffy. I’m very happy he’s going to soon have (I hope!) the joy of wearing his favourite scarf while being able to retire this well loved original.

Once home, I fired up StitchMastery and began fiddling with stitch combinations. I was very grateful I’d thought to photograph the back as well as the front, because it made the task considerably easier. Note to self EVERYONE: always photograph the back when reverse engineering. Because purl stitches, by their very nature, sit at the back of the fabric it can be hard to count them in a dense and busy fabric, but on the reverse side they stand out clearly as knit stitches. Always photograph the back. 

It took two test swatches to make sure gauge was bang on and yet another one to perfect the stitch pattern, but it’s smooth sailing now.

Have you ever reverse-engineered a knitting project? Drop me a line and let me know!

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The Calla sweater pattern is up!

I finished my lace cardigan test knit a few weeks ago, but I’ve been delaying this post until the actual launch of the pattern! I tested the cropped version in a size small and I couldn’t be more pleased with the results. Thanks to MKL for a wonderful first-test knitting experience, it was a lovely pattern and there was lots of support along the way (particularly when I didn’t understand the concept of congruent set-in sleeves…). So without further ado…here it is!


I once considered joining the fronts, but I actually liked the lines in the end. I’m a touch self conscious of looking too skinny these days, so it sort of evens me out a little bit.


The picot hem is a personal addition, that was easy to add into the pattern and I preferred it to the rolled sleeve.

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Once I got going with the lace it actually is very hypnotic. But, as I’ve posted about before mistakes were punished. Fortunately I made it to the end with my knitting sanity well intact and all the yarn overs in all the right places.


It makes a nice way to wear my knitting in the summer, and so far it’s proven pretty popular with my friends. Mum even says she wants one over her own, which I’ve learned by now is actually the ultimate compliment from her on anything I make. It’s light, it’s cute, it’s feminizing, which I don’t really have in my wardrobe as much as I’d like, so that’s a plus. I imagine it would go nicely over a sundress. Of course…I’d have to own a sundress first…

Okay, time to get down to brass tacts:


Pattern: Calla by MKdesigns. Live today – go check it out!

Yarn: Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in Tea Rose, 335 yards.

Needles: Knit flat on 40″ circulars, 3.5 mm & 4 mm. In the end I really enjoyed working with the cotton, so I guess it’s a “getting used to it” thing. In fact, I think there may even be more cotton in my future. 🙂

I modified the sleeves to include a picot hem. Instructions for the modification are as follows:

Sleeve mod: Short rowed picot hem
When armpit depth is 7” end with WS row facing.
*Work in pattern to marker, sm, k to marker,
turn (RS facing) k to marker,
turn (WS facing) p to marker,
turn (RS facing) k2tog, yo repeat until 2 stitches before marker, k2tog
turn (WS facing) facing p to marker,
turn (RS facing) k to marker,
turn (WS facing) bind off as purl stitches, do NOT cut yarn and pull through final loop. Leave that stitch on the working needle, pick up and purl three stitches along short row edge. Remove marker
Repeat from * once more
Work in pattern until the end of the WS row.
Next round (RS facing) *Work in lace pattern to marker. Pick up and knit three stitches along short row edge, remove maker.
Repeat from * once more
Work remaining stitches in lace pattern.

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Pretty in Pink

My lace cardigan…it’s done, it’s blocked, it’s been modelled and photographed. Proper FO post to come when the pattern is launched, but for now just a sneak peek of it on the blocking board…

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The weather is finally turned nice and spring like, so there has been an explosion of pink in Toronto – mostly thanks to the cherry blossoms.

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My walks around the city now include a pretty excellent impromptu flower show, so while I wait for the official release of the pattern (hint: it may or may not be May 25th) to show you the cardigan in all it’s pink glory, have a picture of the bleeding hearts growing near Casa Loma:

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When I start to see flowers like these, I’m sure the snow is gone for good. While I enjoy a good cold winter, there is something absolutely glorious about the spring that comes after.

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What Do You Want To Be?

I was stash diving about little while ago (it’s a small stash, relatively speaking, there isn’t much to go through…) and I came across a yarn I didn’t recognize.


Apparently Ravelry didn’t recognize it either, because it wasn’t in their yarn database. I have no recollection of buying it and there is only one hank, so I suppose it must have been a gift. There was a tag (with the price obviously torn off…).


The company is based out in PEI and, from what I can tell, doesn’t produce massive quantities of yarn. It’s certainly wool, two-ply, very bulky and far too scratchy to wear next to the skin. And for the last few weeks it’s been practically jumping out of my stash saying “knit me!”

So, my little friend, tell me: what do you want to be?


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You can take the knitting away from the knitter…

…but you can’t take the knitter away from her obsession.

So, several weeks ago, I hit (what my Reverend so graciously referred to as) “a bit of a set-back” with my mental health that required me to be, well, hospitalized. A fact I’ve been very open about with my friends and family, and something I don’t feel the need to keep hidden from anyone who is taking the time to read my blog. (Including potential future employers. Are you out there? I sincerely hope so. I do not plan on being sick for the rest of my life.)

It’s no secret that I’ve been suffering from depression for a little while, and when it became rather severe at the end of November I decided to seek help. The staff at the hospital were wonderful, and I was able to be in a safe place while they sorted out my medications (vastly improved) and learn better coping strategies, (all the rhetoric my mother has been spewing for years about the benefits of mindfulness and meditation? Turns out it is shockingly helpful. She has kindly kept her “I told you so’s” to a minimum…) But one very big draw back to living in a psychiatric hospital is …. no knitting. No yarn, no needles, for obvious safety reasons.

What’s a knitter to do?

I did have a notebook full of graph paper at my disposal, and a vast variety of very dull pencil crayons. So, instead of knitting I wrote patterns instead. Let me tell you this – trying to design patterns without the use of anything to measure gauge is a real shot in the dark. I have pages of designs – some complete and some just little doodles of an idea – and all of them might be rubbish.

It started in a fairly straight forward fashion – I wanted a hat to match my previously published pattern Snowfall Mittens.


Following that, I had a picture of a pair of mittens on my Ravelry page that I had made over five years ago for a friend.

3180662484_992aa681af_zThe design was my own improvisation, but the pattern notes are long gone, so from the picture I recreated the charts:

IMG_20141219_161511With any luck – and a little test knitting – perhaps I’ll be able to publish this pattern, too.

From there I started improvising with flowers and roses…


Some days it was too difficult to draw anything. On those days all I could do was lie in bed, cry, and attempt some semblance of prayer that God would help me. Eventually that idea channeled itself into a mitten design of an angel praying, based on a crochet pattern I’d found via Pintrest. Copying out the praying angel was almost like the act of praying itself, and it refocused my mind onto something other than how miserable I was.

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When I was feeling a little bit more hopeful I started looking forward in my life, which in an of itself was a big milestone and indication of improvement. I thought about New Years, about Valentines Day and began messing with ideas for Valentines Day themed mittens.

V-Day collage 2The best pattern however was based on a request from Cassie. Peter Pan-themed mittens were not something I’d ever heard of, and they proved to be by far the most challenging thing I tried to design during my stay. There are countless iterations of children flying, and Peter Pan’s profile that were absolute rubbish…and after many hours of “wasted” time, I finally come up with these:


Do you recognize Peter and Wendy? The decreases along the top feature an acorn (for Peter) and a thimble (for Wendy)


And of course for the palm design I wanted the second star to the right…


This pattern is actually almost entirely written, and Cassie was delighted with the design so (unlike a lot of things I doodled) these might actually get made.

I’m at home now, feeling much better, and finally back in possession of my yarn and my needles. It doesn’t seem possible that there are so few days left until Christmas…fortunately for me, my Christmas knitting was mostly finished before life went to hell in a hand basket. I just have two baby sweaters to work on, so they are currently what’s occupying my needles. It seems I’ve under-estimated the size of a two year old, so my hands are happily (and rather quickly) working away at a Christmas sweater for him…


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Petit Pois Pattern


One of the best things about the Indie Designer GAL is falling in love with all kinds of new patterns from designers I hadn’t necessarily heard of before. The daily games on the forums lead to lots of fun guessing patterns and designers based on clues provided by the mods. You have to be quick to get your guess in first – but today I managed to log on at just the right time and nab one! My prize for guessing correctly was a free pattern from Katya Frankel Designs. She had so many great ones; it was difficult to choose! I finally settled on Petit Pois, because when all the winter/holiday knitting is finished this would make a great knit for spring:

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(c) Katya Frankel

She has many other great ones – my queue is growing by leaps and bounds!

(My knitting is also going full tilt – more details on my GAL progress to come later!)

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Ravelry Gift-A-Long 2014

Getting back into knitting meant getting back into Ravelry…I’d forgotten how addicting that site is. Literally hours spent browsing projects and patterns. (Their pattern browser has gotten much more sophisticated since 2010…I’m in awe.)

…and that was before I found the Ravelry 2014 Indie Design Gift-A-long. From November 13 through to November 21st, 293 designers offer their patterns at at 25% discount, followed by a great Knit/Crochet-a-long! There are still two more days to take advantage of the pattern sale and there are some wonderful patterns out there from all over the world. 80skeins created this awesome info-graphic summarizing the event:

infographGAL2014I had to join in the fun. From their list of designers/patterns I’m planning on making:

Not all the yarn for my projects has arrived yet, but I’m hoping it will soon so I can cast on!

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