I can’t take full credit for the pattern here. Someone else designed the original cable pattern and the lovely garment you shall see at the end of this post was made by the friend who initially started off the experiment in reverse engineering. The fabulous choice of yarn and colour is all his.
Some weeks ago, over some knitting and fine cake, a friend showed me a picture of a cowl he loved and wanted to be able to make. The original cowl also costs a few hundred pounds from a designer store. It also had a fairly intricate cable pattern built into it, so was not something that you could get from a traditional pattern library to adapt. Some reverse engineering was required. The internet handily provided a nice flat image of the cowl so I could see what was going on.
Now, I don’t know how anyone else goes about reverse engineering a cable pattern, but I used coloured pencils. A cable is basically sets of stitches which are entwined. It’s like plaiting. In this picture, I could see that there were four strands in the cable, and that each strand was three stitches wide. So, I set to work with my pencils, one colour for each strand, to trace where they crossed each other. Sometimes a strand crossed two other strands, which meant that there were 9 stitches in the cable crossover. As the crossing strand went to the front, this meant it was documented as C9F. Sometimes the travelling strand crossed all of the other strands, making a C12F. From there on in, it was a simple matter of counting the vs in each column to get the row count.