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It’s Friday, and we’ve reached the last stop on our tour of the projects from MDK Field Guide No. 19: Marls. We saved the best (dickie) for last. We love this thing like a baby, and hope you will, too. 

Dear Cecelia Campochiaro,

Please forgive us for plotzing when we first learned of your idea for the Field Guide No. 19 project that is now known as the Swarf.

And also for raving incoherently during that Zoom call where you showed the sketch to us.

And that other Zoom call where we shrieked when we saw the gradient of marled stripes, in Woolfolk’s heaven-sent yarn, Tynd. (It was dispatched to MDK World Headquarters by actual angels. That’s what we’ve been told.)

While we love a newly invented garment, Swarf is just a new name for an old idea—a very clever idea called the dickie.

The genius touch here is the long front. It looks like a sweater even when your coat is unbuttoned.

When it’s cool but not cold outside—jacket weather, but not full-on puffy coat of doom season—it’s lovely to have a soft, warm collar encircling the neck. A dickie provides warmth and a flash of style, with nothing to bunch up when you stick your arms into a coat. We’ll want that bundled-up feeling later, when it’s colder, to be sure. But in spring and fall, and on milder winter days, an illusion of sweater is exactly the right amount of sweater.

It’s surprising how versatile a partial sweater—or an augmented scarf, depending on  your perspective—can be, especially when you’re running errands that take you in and out of buildings, or walking the dog.

And there’s one other great benefit of the Swarf lifestyle—a swarf is a speedy, fun knit. With hardly any shaping, it’s a breeze from start to finish. You get to play in soft fields of marls, without distractions.

We are declaring it: this is the Year of the Dickie. And our pattern of choice is your luxurious, marl-enriched invention: the Swarf (Ravelry link).


Ann and Kay


Browse the shoppable lookbook for Field Guide No. 19 here.


  • I wonder if everyone knows what a dickie is? I do, I’ve worn them, but I’m old! I don’t think they’ve been a staple in a women’s wardrobe for a long time.

    • Wore a dickie often as a young girl

    • I’m of an age eligible for Medicare. I bought a set of dickies (3 colors) in high school, and thanks to the magic of acrylic I still have them. I like the Swarf design.

    • I’m 45 and know, but I too wonder if not many younger than me know.

    • Agree!

  • Nice idea! How about extending the back to get a tabard. Still saves you from knitting the never ending sleeves and also provides warmth.

    • I agree with your tabard suggestion, and I-cord ties would work nicely. It couldn’t be too hard to figure out and would be wonderful.

  • I think this is the prettiest color combo I have seen. I wish this was a vest or sweater.

    • Those colors are gorgeous! How about a yarn bundle.

      • Agreed! Please please please…

  • Oh yes, I remember dickies! When I was young, I remember photos of a cousin who was a teacher in the 1930’s wearing these lovely little organza two-button dickies to make a suit jacket neckline properly modest for the impressionable students, so she said.
    And I remember dickies from the 60’s, that tucked into v-neck sweaters. I had them in several colors.
    The wrinkle of the latest iteration is that they are worn untucked so they can make a fashion statement on their own. Very clever!

    • I LOVE this! To me it is totally chic. The architecture is elegant and unique. A showstopper marking the wearer as a confident person who sets her own style. I’ve already started knitting mine and cannot wait to wear it. Oh, and those colors…drool worthy.

  • I wish this was sleeveless with side seams….more like a tunic. How great would this look with a long-sleeved cotton tee underneath? Love the color and stitch pattern!

    • I’m decreasing for the neck now, and playing yarn chicken. I added a couple of marls, not thinking about needing more of the last one for the shoulder and neck.

    • I think that is definitely possible. Obvious solutions…Wider, so added pattern repeats. Longer in the back, so copy the front. Then…side seams or the tabard suggestion? (The Carol Feller design from a previous Workbook used buttons on the sides.) I am going to work this out because I love this color combination and the neck design. I know I am a “shell” (sleeveless) person, not a dickie person. I really want to be able to wear this without a jacket. And that is the best part, taking this masterwork of color and just making a few minor modifications. The body is basically a rectangle.

  • Dickies are back! Last winter, my husband asked me to knit something for his neck that extended down to the v where the zipper stopped, to keep him warm shovelling or blowing snow (Canadian winter). I knitted an extended turtleneck tube – good – and then found a 1940’s Australian Airmen’s pattern, designed to be knit at home for men overseas which extended a bit down the back and further down the front – better. Now this! Maybe not for snow shovelling, but I would really like one (so great when you experience both cold (weather) and warmth (aging) – and such pretty marls. I’m on it, after I finish everything else in the queue.

  • Tried this on at World Headquarters and it’s ingenious. Underneath an open jacket or blazer, or I’d love to try it underneath a denim shirt. Like a puffer best only work underneath rather than on top. Cool beans.

  • Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!! THIS is a Dallas weather ‘sweater’! And sooooo soft. Next on my needles after Swoncho sleeves is Swarf microswstching (genius, I tell ya!) the divine Tynd!

  • This is my favorite project in FG19. I also plotzed when I first saw it, and then raved incoherently, so I reckon it’s an entirely reasonable reaction. I will absolutely be knitting this, although I hope to finish my shawl-in-progress first! (I may not be able to resist the clarion call of the Swarf, though.)

  • I am enamored with the woven wall behind the swarf! Don’t get the wrong, the swarf is fabulous but that woven WALL!

  • This is so pretty. I love wearing scarves, but they can be difficult to style sometimes. Plus, I wear a labcoat for work. This looks like a great way to stay cool when and still get to wear your knit ware with extra layers. Thank you!

  • Love this so I casted on immediately! However. My front middle is more than 13.5” so I added 5 knit stitches to each side and the garter edge actually helps it lay flatter as well as adding a couple of inches to the width that will be covered by whatever I wear over it. I also added 16 rows ( the full pattern repeat) to get 2” more length. Maybe this will help for others:)!

    • Does this mean you’ve already completed a swarf? (Oh, autocorrect, you are a nuisance but I caught you this time!)

      • In process!

  • I’m currently knitting a cowl with Tynd and it is heavenly!!!!

  • A tabard! Why didn’t I think of that, You could put two button holes on each side down near the bottom and make it more vest-like. Or add tabs if you need more room near the hips. This Field Guide is looking better and better.

  • Way back in the Dark Ages (also known as grade school) I wore dickies. Just the right amount of fabric to warm my scrawny cold neck! This pattern is genius and I’ll be adding it to my long list of “wanna knit”.

    FYI, per my hubby whose hobby is metal machining “swarf” is also the definition of:
    fine chips or filings of stone, metal, or other material produced by a machining operation.
    “a curl of metal swarf”

  • Such a clever idea and someone’s below to extend the back is not bad either. Love this!

  • Pure genius. ‘Nuf said.

  • Yes to the Year of the Dickie! I love it when practical garments become cool again! Rowan has a new yarn out, and some patterns for it on Ravelry – one is a dickie called Jaeger – what fun!!

  • When I was in my Catholic grade school, and required to wear a uniform (green and black wool plaid skirt with matching vest, white blouse), we were allowed to wear dickies under the blouse, and for another little bit of individuality, we could wear knee socks to match the color of the dickie. So I can’t use the word dickie for anything I put on my body at this time of life, but swarf….maybe that will work for me. Lovely colors on this one.

  • I ordered five shades of Mohonk Light, with Bone intended to be the lightest. I am disappointed that it is no lighter than Mourning Dove. Is California Poppy any lighter? I could not find a phone # for you…

  • this is a lovely garment, perfect for someone like me. My back overreacts to the cold. so I’d make the back longer as a tabard I’d us part of the neck making a mock turtleneck so it fits under a coat better. the marling is lovely I love the blending of colors.

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