Reverse Engineering

“I could make that.”


How many times have you said that while watching movies where the costuming is heavy on the knitted sweaters, scarves, vests, and gloves?  How many times have you been shushed during a movie when you gleefully point out the beautifully executed sweater during a dramatic scene?  Or how about when you find yourself staring at someone on the subway who is wearing a cardigan with really interesting color work?  Or when you see a winter fashion show with oversize knitwear?  Or maybe you just want to recreate a fabulous sweater you purchased and wore to pieces.


Truth:  people have been copying fashion trends for centuries – probably millenniums.  People copy other people’s hairstyles, clothes, mannerisms, shoes, and vocabularies all the time for all of time.  So it is with knitting.  Reverse Engineering is the process of figuring out what steps to take to create a garment or item that copies something you have seen without a pattern.  Coping a written pattern is cheating and against copyright law.  With reverse engineering, you are going to use all of your knitterly know-how to create a garment that looks like the one you see.


You will need some pictures of the item you are trying to copy.  Try to get pictures of the front, back, and side along with any close ups of details.  I am going to use a gray hooded sweater that Hermione Granger wears in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part I as my example.  Hermione first appears in this sweater at 01:10:02.

First, I collected my pictures by taking screen shots of the movie.  Then, I took them into a photo editor and brightened them a little, upped or decreased the contrast, etc…until I felt like I could get some good information from them.

IMDB for Deathly Hallows Part IIMDB page for Emma WatsonWebsite for Jany Temime (Costume Director)

J.K Rowling's WebsiteHermione's Gray Hooded Sweater

Now, what do these pictures tell me?

HGHS Deconstruction 1

HGHS Deconstruction 2

HGHS Deconstruction 3


One good blog I found about the brioche stitch that I came across while researching for this blog is The Purl Bee by Purl Soho.  The first image on her brioche stitch page is one of the ones that made me think that Hermione’s hood really was knit in brioche.  Brioche makes a double-thick fabric that looks the same on the front and on the back.  It doesn’t curl, and it shows the grooves more distinctly than a one-by-one rib.  Check out her blog for instructions.


What we don’t know about the sweater:

  • If it’s knit in the round or knit flat with side seams
  • Gauge
  • Why there is a seam up the back of the hood.  This suggests that the hood is knit in two halves.  Most hoods I’ve seen are knit in one piece until it’s time sew the top together.  This may mean that the whole thing is knit on straight needles for ease.  Then the hood would have to be knit two pieces.  In order to knit the hood in one piece, and only sew up the top, the knitter would need a circular needle if the hood is knit right from the body, which, given the plaque in the front, this hood seem to be.

My third point seems to have answered my first point.  This sweater is most likely knit flat.


Now that we have dissected this sweater into it’s parts, it is time to decide whether to write up a new pattern for it from scratch or see if you can create one from existing patterns.  Both of which are subjects for later blog posts.  So tell me:  have you ever reverse engineered something you saw in the movies?  Did it involve a lot of trial and error?  Was it fun?  Did you like the results?  Tell me about it in the comments!





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