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One of Mary Jane Mucklestone’s most famous sweater designs is Stopover, which a passel of MDK readers tackled earlier this year.

(Stopover: even looks good blurry.)

Mucklestone herself, however, doesn’t seem to do much stop-overing. Just during the first six months of 2016, she criss-crossed the U.S., from Maine, where she lives, to North Carolina to Alaska and to points in between. By October, she had been to the Shetland Islands thrice, in partnership with Gudrun Johnston, aka the Shetland Trader. “Stopover” itself was inspired by a trip to Iceland in 2014; next, she’s plotting a trip to poke around Patagonia.

(NBD: Mary Jane knitting beside a glacier.)

The peripatetic Mucklestone traveled with her family as a kid, “and textiles were always my favorite souvenir. You can always find some fabulous textile wherever you are,” she says. “It might be totally unexpected and nothing you are used to—and contain endless inspiration.”

Mucklestone’s career in textiles started in the fashion industry in New York City, which is where she moved from her native Northwest. But after her move to rural Maine with her then-small children in the 1980s, she couldn’t translate her big city skills.

“Knitting was something I could do,” she remembers. “I didn’t have enough money ever to buy sweater quantities of yarn. So I would go to the sale bin. I had all of these weird balls of yarn that were just pretty colors and I’d just try to figure out how to use them all. It made me make up patterns and learn things.”

(Mary Jane’s Station Wagon Blanket anchors Field Guide No. 1.)

From those weird, pretty balls, her career as a stranded colorwork guru was born. Her first three books—Fair Isle Style, 150 Scandinavian Motifs, and 200 Fair Isle Motifsgive a knitter all of the building blocks she could need to roll her own design. Mucklestone’s latest book, Geo Knits: 10 Lessons and Projects for Knitting Stripes, Chevrons, Triangles, Polka Dots and More, was published in October. Mucklestone’s classes give knitters even more permission to play with color—and to embrace the happy accidents that inevitably occur.

“In the classes I teach we often knit the same thing, like everybody will knit the same little wristlet, but everybody will have her own colors. I’m always imploring my students, ‘Please don’t rip it out! Or if you really want to rip it out, ask me first because I’m not going to let you rip it out. Even if you don’t like it, one of your classmates will.’

“People often find out that the project they hated is the universal favorite—and that gets them to look at their own choices in a different way. That is empowering if you’re a person who likes to swatch, which I do, because you feel less limited. Often people will say, ‘I don’t have the right colors. I have to go buy some new ones.’ You might. But you might just be able to use the colors you have in a different way that might not be your initial plan but that can be pleasing,” Mucklestone says.

“I think there’s no bad knitting project, to tell you the truth. You say it is way too big and the arms are really, really long? Then cut it up, turn it into felt, and make something else. Those really long arms could be a series of beer cozies! It’s never a lost cause. Unless it was such a horrible experience that you want to have the satisfaction of burning it up.”

That “no bad knitting project” ethos is the one Mucklestone takes on the road. Her Instagram feed is full of inspiration for both unexpected color combination and for dreamy travel destinations. Her wanderlust brings fresh inspiration to all who collect fibery souvenirs like odd balls of yarn as we plot Stopovers of our own.

Mary Jane Mucklestone's genius Striped Garter Blanket
The Station Wagon Blanket is an heirloom blanket in our favorite workhorse yarn: Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Worsted. Knitted in strips, for a plaid effect when the stripes meet at the joins. No sewing: the seams are joined with a three-needle bindoff that is part of the graphic design.

P.S. The video in the header, by Mary Jane Mucklestone, is a love song to the lopapeysa, Iceland’s national sweater.

About The Author

Adrienne Martini, the author of Somebody’s Gotta Do It, would love to talk with you about the importance of running for elected office or about all of the drama of holding a seat on the Board of Representatives in Otsego County, New York. Adrienne blogs when the spirit moves her at Martini Made.


  • MJ rocks! Her workshops are a blast. Hope she has another book in the works.

    • I think she might……

  • I finished my stopover sweater months after the knit along was over (just a couple weeks ago). It’s the first sweater I made that fits me and my first fair isle. Thanks MJM and MDK!

    • Wow! Congratulations! It’s the fear of not fitting (and/or it making me look like a cow) that has kept sweaters off my needles for too many years.

  • Love the NBKP concept. I need to remember that. Between that the the self-care articles with MDK who needs a therapist?

    Even tho I hate the cold that video made me want to live in a land where EVERYONE wears those gorgeous sweaters. And who knows, I may even try one this year!

    • Like knitting itself, we try to be cheaper than therapy!

  • On this frigid day in NYC, the woman in the next cubicle is wearing that exact sweater in those exact colors. Her mom caught the Stopover fever last winter and cranked out a bunch. So today, I actually was able to feel that wool. Cool.

    • That is really kind of freaky! Small world we live in. I love that Stopover is recognizable, and so common that you can actually see one in the wild.

  • I ran across Mary Jane’s latest book and made a mental note to put it on my wish list on Amazon in case I don’t get it for Christmas. She eases you into new techniques very gently and convincingly in that book. Re the cubicle sweater story, I saw the well-known Picovoli tee by Grumperina on someone in a store and ran the woman down to verify it. We became friends for quite while as a result. Famous knitting is everywhere, it seems. Chloe

  • lovely talented inspiring awesome mj. xxx

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