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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