I had my plans all made for the long-anticipated launch of Field Guide No. 16: Painterly. I was going to start with the Kites Throw, in the cool colorway, which appeals to me precisely because its pale shades (Kaffe calls them “chalky”) are outside my normal color choices.
I usually avoid anything that can be described as “dusty” (been there, done dusty in the 1970s) or pale, or pastel. But chalky? Chalky sounds so alluringly beachy, like shells and sand. And Kaffe’s definition of a chalky palette includes a pale burnt orange and a harvest gold (again, been there, done harvest colors, in the Brady Bunch aspirational kitchens of my youth)—which I find exciting, and definitely not-pastel.
So last Friday, on Official Launch Day, I was toeing the starting line, eager to cast on the kites at last.
And then, while scrolling through Instagram images from our valiant test knitters, Fate intervened.
Fate in the form of a tiny cushion.
One test knitter, Danielle Baines, might have thought she was doing the Cliff’s Notes version of a test knit when she made a single repeat of the Village Scarf chart in Field Guide 16, and fashioned it into a hackysack-sized throw pillow. But for me, Danielle’s miniature house was love at first sight.
And so it was that the Village Scarf chart—a single repeat of it—was my first official foray into the colorful waters of MDK Field Guide No. 16: Painterly. I grabbed my nubbins of leftover Felted Tweed, cast on 27 stitches, and began construction.
I am smitten beyond belief. It may take a subdivision of these wee houses to get this chart out of my system.
How It Started
I love the logic of this house motif. It’s almost instantly memorizable, with the door and window in blocks 5 stitches wide, and increments of 6 rows. It’s great practice for working with short lengths of yarn and pulling from the tangle. The window doesn’t even take a meter of yarn.
Although I’ve done my share of intarsia in my life, I watched and re-watched Jen Arnall-Culliford’s videos, to get myself in the proper frame of mind, and to ground myself in Jen’s unflappable calm.
Is it tangly? Yes. Is the tangly-ness a problem? No. Keep those lengths of yarn shortish—I cut them about a meter long to start with, and adjust as I learn how much yarn a spot of color needs. When I ran out of yarn on the main color of the house, I spit-felted a new length onto it.
How It’s Going
Despite the bedraggled appearance of the ends as you knit, weaving them in is a matter of a few minutes, and perfect mindless handwork for Zoom calls.
The differences between the house on the right and the house on the left are: weaving in ends, and a couple of blasts with the steam iron.
It’s extremely satisfying. In this year of staying home, this little motif calls to me.
Where It’s Going
If you’re new to intarsia, or have found it challenging in the past, my advice is to start with a wee cabin, 27 stitches wide. And when you’re confidently switching colors, consider the Village Scarf.
It’s really something. In multiples, the houses become almost abstract.
Our test knitters were really drawn to this pattern, and adapted it to cushions large and small and, my favorite—very small.