We’re full of beans today, because we get to launch the first post in a series we’re calling I Made It with Atlas. In the coming months, we’ll showcase designs that knitters we admire have chosen to make with MDK Atlas. Our lead-off knitter is MDK’s own Cristina Shiffman. For nearly 20 years we’ve been watching the patterns that Cristina chooses to knit, the yarns she knits them in, and her occasional cheeky modifications. Cristina has an eye for what’s good. We hope you’ll be as inspired by her as we are.
—Ann and Kay
As MDK’s editorial and social media manager, I’m at my computer and on my phone a lot. When I knit, working from a Field Guide or a book is a much-needed antidote to all the screen time, so I looked to my bookshelf for inspiration as Ann, Kay, and I hatched plans for this new series. One title looked especially inviting: Knitting for Radical Self-care by Brandi Cheyenne Harper.
I’d had Brandi’s designs in mind ever since I prepared her A Portrait in Objects and Samantha Brunson’s Crafting Resilience for publication. Knitting and wearing Brandi’s sculptural—almost monumental—Audre Cowl was a powerful, empowering experience for Samantha. I wanted my own piece of soft armor.
Being in a brioche frame of mind all summer promoting MDK Field Guide No. 21, guided me directly to the Sojourn Shawl. Brandi gets to the heart of what makes knitting engaging and satisfying with her reconstructions of simple garment shapes: Sojourn is her bold re-working of the traditional triangular shawl. Instead of knitting up from the tip or down from a huge number of stitches, Sojourn is worked in two pieces from wing-tips to center.
But which color of Atlas? Which shade would evoke the “respite” and “gateway” echoes of the word “sojourn”? Brandi writes:
Imagine each project a new city you get to visit from your own home, from a blanket in the park to a train ride to work. And in moments of doubt, there is always a restful place within yourself, a retreat where all things are possible and only peace awaits you.
“Restful” perfectly describes ferny, woodsy, deep green Peat.
At the widest end of the left and right pieces of the shawl, short rows add the gentle wedge that forms the collar at the neck.
Brandi provides step-by-step instructions and illustrations for the long-tail tubular cast-on and for all of the brioche stitches, the increase, German short rows, and the recommended seaming bind-off, so I didn’t need any screen time to brush up on techniques.
brilliant shaping—mirrored sides with a striking, stabilizing seam up the middle
This is a meditative knit for any knitter who has already completed a Brioche 101 project like the Cushiest Cowl—the shaping falls quickly into a pleasing rhythm, and it’s easy to keep track of where you are.
Atlas is an easy-on-the-hands pleasure to knit. It blocks like a dream, relaxing into the soak and springing back into crimpy Rambouillet glory once it’s dry.
Yes, I want to make one in every shade of Atlas.
We’ve set up an “I made it with Atlas” topic in the Lounge here. If you start your own Sojourn Shawl, feel free to leave any questions you may have in the comments here or in the Lounge.