To Frankenstein a Sweater

I apologize for the length of time between my last post and this one. My trusty laptop has stopped functioning, and I’ve got my fingers crossed I’ll be able to revive it.

In my last post, I wrote about how to Reverse Engineer a sweater, or more specifically, how to asses the elements that you’ll need to know to reverse engineer a sweater. In my example, I used a sweater worn by Emma Watson as Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I.  Today, I’m going to write about how to use existing patterns to create a pattern to recreate the sweater of your dreams – or in this case J.K. Rowling’s dreams.

First, we need to start with the basic sweater shape.  The hood, the stitch pattern, the gauge – all that can be superimposed on the basic sweater shape.  As we discovered last time, this sweater is most likely a set in sleeve style with some waist shaping.  So, the first thing we need to do is find a basic pattern for a sweater with set in sleeves.  I am going to use Ravelry for this search.  If you don’t already have a Ravelry account, I highly recommend you get one.  It has one of the largest online databases for patterns, both online and printed, I have ever seen.  You can even buy patterns through Ravelry on an individual basis, not to mention the great forums for connecting with other knitters.  Anyway…got a little sidetracked there.


The first thing I’ll enter into the database is “set in sleeve generator”.  A pattern generator is a series of instructions that allows you to follow a pattern, but gives you the tools to customize your own gauge and measurements.  However, that is not getting me the results I’m looking for, so next I’m going to try searching for a “basic sweater” and then use the filters to find what I’m looking for.  I am using the following filters:  waist shaping and set in sleeve (look under construction, and then under sleeve).  I have found thirteen matches, many of which are cardigans.  After applying the filter “free”, I am down to 6 matches.  I’ve already found some that might work, but just to make sure I’m not missing something, I’m going to take the word “basic” out of my search to see if that will yield more results.  Now I have 254 results, so I’m going to want to narrow that down.  Let us assume that we want to use worsted weight yarn – a standard weight for sweaters, so I will add worsted as a filter under yarn weight.  That narrows us down to 41 matches, which I will now scroll through to find the plainest sweater without a low neckline.


Here is what I’ve found:

  • #103 Basic Scoopneck Sweater
    • Pros
      • very simple sweater without a lot of details I’ll need to take out.
    • Cons
      • Size three needles!  Much to fine for our winter sweater.
      • Costs $6.00 – probably better to find a sweater pattern for free if we’re just going to modify the crap out of it.
  • Verve Pullover
    • Pros
      • beautiful simple sweater without a lot of details I’ll to take out.
      • Knit on size six and five needles – not great, but do-able.
      • Wide range of sizes – very important if, like me, you’d prefer other people to do the sizing math for you when possible.
    • Cons
      • Costs $7.00
      • Requires Sport weight yarn, when we are looking for worsted.
    • Seems more like a pattern I’ll want to knit later independent of this project.
  • Grace
    • Pros
      • Available for free
      • simple design
      • worsted weight yarn
    • Cons
      • looks a little more boxy than we’re going for
      • While it is free, it is only free to members of the Knitrowan website
    • Overall, not a bad choice as long as signing up to be a member of the Knitrowan website is free.
  • 22-23-6 Turtleneck Sweater
    • Pros
      • It’s free!
    • Cons
      • It’s in Japanese!  but it is fully charted, and there is a link to a thread for translation requets
      • Needs to be lengthed
      • There is a cable pattern on the sleeves that needs to be removed
      • Sleeves are a little puffier than the sweater we’re trying to create
    • Not a good fit.
  • Waiting for Spring
    • Pros
      • It’s free!
      • Length looks great!
      • knit in the round up to the sleeves so there are no seams to sew
    • Cons
      • has a narrow lace/cable section that needs to be taken out, but looks like that could be done easily

Based on my notes, I think I would be inclined to go for the Waiting for Spring or the Grace sweater, but probably the Waiting for Spring because I don’t want to go through the hassle of signing up for another website just to access the pattern.


Now that we have the basic sweater pattern down, we need to look for the specific characteristics, namely the hood.  First we want to find a sweater that has a neckline that is similar.  Remember, now that we have a base sweater figured out, we want to find something in the same yarn weight if at all possible to make it easier.  As it so happens, the first sweater I ever knit has the same kind of hooded neckline, so I don’t have to go through the process of searching the ravelry database.  However, if I didn’t, I would apply the same techniques I used above:  make a broad search, and then add filters to refine the search.


The sweater I am going to use for my hood model is Under the Hoodie by Kristin Spurkland, published in Debbie Stoller’s Stitch ‘N Bitch:  The Knitter’s Handbook.  Now the hood from the pattern and the hood from Hermione’s sweater do have some distinct differences.

HGHS Deconstruction 2


Hermione’s hood has a seem all the way up the back, and we determined that the hood was neither knit in stocking knit stitch, nor does it have a border like Spurkland’s.  We are simply using the pattern as a guide for dividing the front to make the crossover collar as demonstrated in  the image below, point 2.


HGHS Deconstruction 3


As this image suggests, we will need to knit the hood in a brioche stitch.  This includes the stitches where the divide happens, but all the stitches not included in the divide should remain as stocking knit stitch.


So for review.

We are going to use the Waiting for Spring pattern, minus the lace/cable inset.  Increase the width of the the lower ribbing.  Knit as as the pattern says to until we get to the point where we need to divide, where we will switch to the Under the Hoodie pattern, except all hood and collar stitches will be knit in brioche instead of stocking knit stitch.  And when we knit the sleeves, we will lengthen them significantly, and increase the number of rib stitch rows.


Sounds pretty straight forward, right?  It is mostly, but there will be some stumbling points.  I can already tell, that I’ll want the circumference of the neck to be a bit wider than it is in Under the Hoodie.  This will contribute to the the hood being wider, as it is in the movie.  This may mean that I will need to bind off more stitches for the back neckline than the pattern gives directions for, and it may mean that I will have to increase the number stitches for the plaque in the front where the two sides of the hood overlap to form the collar/neckline.


Creating a pattern from a number of patterns is not always a smooth ride.  It will require you to really understand how the parts of the sweater are coming together so you can modify it if necessary.  Think of the patterns that you are using to create the sweater with as templates that may need to be altered so they can come together to create one unified object.


Good luck!


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