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Dear Ann,

This is my Old Friend Pullover praise post, and it’s also an important public service advisory:

Finish a sweater.

If you have to start a whole new sweater in order to finish one, do that. You will not regret it. But if you’re a knitter with one or more partial sweaters stashed in a project bag in a dark corner of your closet and/or heart, fish one of them out, and finish it. It’s so, so satisfying. All of a sudden, a sweater appears!

Last spring, I had only finished the back of my Old Friend Pullover when I got sidetracked to make . . . I don’t even remember what! Dishcloths! Temperature blankets! Honeycomb Scarf and all things honeycomb related!

When I went back to Old Friend, in the heat of the summer, it seemed like there was a whole lot of wool, and a whole lot of knitting to go. But I knew I wanted to wear it to Rhinebeck, so I got back on the horse.

As I worked, I worried, in a gentle way, about how it was going to fit. I always have doubts about how a sweater is going to fit. Don’t you? Doesn’t everybody? Fit is the elephant that is always in the room with us knitters. We love knitting sweaters, so we try not to think about it or talk about it much, but it’s always a leap of faith. A sweater can fit well, in the technical sense of being the correct size for your body, and still not be the fit you want, you know?

I have gotten better at knowing the shapes and lengths and eases that work for me, but I can never know for sure until I put on the sweater.

But it all worked out.

Photo by J. Bergmann. Resting mom face by me.

I love the fit. It’s plenty roomy, but it skims, it doesn’t engulf.

The shaping of the shoulders seems to be the magic key—Erika really nailed it. I love the way it feels, the overall drapey mood.


The pattern is Erika Knight’s Old Friend Pullover from MDK Field Guide No. 20: Atlas.  I made the 5th size.

The yarn is Atlas, and the shade is Truffle, which is a near-black, slightly darker than it appears in these sunny photos.

I made two modifications.

I knit the sleeves shorter than prescribed for my size. I just eyeballed them, but they came out great— it’s better to be lucky than good.   I like to scrunch my sleeves up to the elbows, so it’s important not to have more sleeve than I can scrunch.

I also made the funnel neck about two inches shorter than the pattern specified. This is super easy to do. You just stop sooner after you’ve finished working the neck shaping.

Favorite Things About This Sweater

The shoulders. Somehow, the shaping makes me feel all collarboney. (The perfect backdrop for a Statement Necklace, if one is so inclined.)

The neck. Coziness without tightness: the jaw is grazed but not gripped, and gentle folds of fabric glide over any other gentle folds a person might have.

The pocket! It is delightful. The backstitching on the outside worked out better than I could have imagined.

The long side vents. Without the vents, a sweater this long might have a tendency to cup the hindquarters, if I can say that on a family website.

This sweater has taught me that the details make such a difference. I’m so grateful for Erika’s vast experience designing garments that elevate a look from slouchy comfort to stylish spark. I feel like a million bucks in this thing.

Look for me and my Old Friend all over New York City this fall. We will be inseparable. I feel like I need new sunglasses or boots or something, just to keep up with the sweater.

And remember to finish a sweater. I’m begging you!




  • Looks amazing on you! I’m inspired!

    • Beautiful Kay! I’m feeling better about the elephant in my room as I’m knitting my OF in Peat. I’m only 5’ and not modifying the length at all because of those great deep vents. Neck and sleeves…. I will follow your lead. But I’m always amazed when a finished sweater actually fits!

      • As another 5’ person I’m watching for your finished sweater. With the neck and sleeve shortened and the split sides it should look really good with leggings.

  • Love the sweater! I am now feeling very inspired to hunt down any languishing half-knit sweaters that I have long since set aside and finish them.

  • Wow Kay! This is BEAUTIFUL!!! I love the resting Mom face caption under your picture. It makes me smile.

  • Get the sunglasses AND the boots because that sweater, as the kids say, slaps.

  • Wow! You…and the sweater…look terrific.

  • Kay, I like how you knitted the neck. Very smart. You look fab in that sweater!!

  • What a great sweater – I think it would be something I would wear a lot too – and I love the colour you chose. Funny you mentioned getting something new to go with it…I recently finished my Swarf, which I love, and for which I bought a new fall jacket to wear over it!

    • Swarf + jacket ftw!

  • Love that sweater!!!!! And it looks fabulous on you!!!!! Great hints and great motivation—many thanks!

  • Well, you have inspired me to get started on that sweater sitting in a bag in my “ making room”. I’m getting up and out of bed now!

  • Inspirational! I, too, put my Old Friend aside in the heat of the summer. As it happened, yesterday I had to sit in a hearing for 6 painful hours—-but Old Friend accompanied me and kept me sane! I brought only 2 balls of Atlas with me, and ran out, with nothing to keep me grounded for the last 20 minutes. But we survived together, and now OF and I are on a roll!

    • 2 balls of Atlas is a lot of knitting!

  • I can’t decide if I love the sweater or your glowing description of it more. The vent ! The neck! . I feel like new sunglasses that are either aggressively big or super tiny ,dark and round are called for. Hope it’s sweater weather in Rhinebeck!!

  • Yay! And suddenly you have a thing of beauty. I had been worried about the engulfing part…but why?? It’s Erika Knight! Particularly her shoulders. (It’s always the shoulders). Thanks for all the fitting details, Kay, illustrating that even with a master designer, we must still know our own bodies. So appreciated.

  • Beautiful job! It’s the engulfing part that worries me, with my lack of verticality. How much ease? Yes to sunglasses and boots!

    • I’m at 12 inches of ease, if that helps. The shortening of the sleeves and neck were the clutch moves for me. I’m 5′ 5″.

  • I have never in my life felt all collarboney. I may need to knit this!

    • It’s a state of mind….if not of body lol

  • Yay, your OF is an FO! I can relate to the worry about fit. I’ve knit one pullover and I never wear it. It doesn’t fit like I want it to. I have a pullover I abandoned earlier this year because I’m worried about the same thing happening. Oh well 😉

  • “…gentle folds of fabric glide over any other gentle folds a person might have.” – Oh Sweet Mercy…THIS!!! This perfectly describes my forever style goal!!

    Your OF is lovely, and I stand in awe that you knitted such a dark color while gripped in the desperate heat of summer.

  • Okay. SOLD! I’m casting on.

  • Glad we had this talk!

    • lol! I do go on!

  • I love mine waiting for cool weather!

  • Kay its fabulous on you, chic if I must elaborate. And the skirt! Gorgeous and perfect together, thanks for sharing the mods, well done.

    • Thank you Beth! And good luck at the Church, I wish I were there!

  • It looks fabulous on you! I just finished mine too, and I’m loving how it fits as well! It’s been my goal this summer/fall to FINISH my sweaters that have been on my needles too long, and I’ve managed to complete 3 so far!!!! I love it when they fit! I too am getting better and picking the correct size and knowing what will look good on my body!!!!

    • So glad to hear you love your Old Friend! It’s just a happy-making sweater. Now if the temperature would just drop 10-15 degrees…

  • Thanks for the inspiration! Old Friend is waiting in the queue as my New Years cast on. Two sweaters to finish before then but I CAN do it! Any chance of a sale on Atlas?

    • Field Guide subscribers got a coupon…

  • Kay, please turn off your webcam into my crafts room! I’ve got sooo many sweaters that are thisclose to being done that’s embarrassing. Last week, I vowed to not start anything new until I finished my WIPs. Then my Gauge Dyeworks sweater yarn arrived & I cast on so the toddler it’s intended for can wear it before he graduates from high school.

    • I love knitting toddler sweaters! They are so satisfying and fast. You’ll be back to your WIPs in no time. Perhaps you need to find a way to reward yourself for finishing something – a new tape measure, a fun audiobook, a jaunty walk while wearing said FO? Celebrate the wins!

  • Kay, your Old Friend looks fabulous on you. I would never think to make anything baggy or boxy for myself, but this pattern is a whole new ball game. Thank you for sharing. I love MDK.

    • It’s a great sweater and looks so classy on you. Thanks for inspiring and motivating me.

  • Looks great!! I have two almost finished sweaters. Going to my LYS for a tutorial to get my over the hump. I’m watching Darby and Joan and the Joan character reminds me so much of Kay . . .

  • Kay, I think you should have gone into advertising.

    • Honestly I think I sort of AM in advertising. SPREADING THE JOY OF KNITTING….

  • Great job. Beautiful sweater.

  • OMG, you found the swatch pocket!

  • Beautiful! I’m working on my OF right now, and I’m just starting the sleeves. I’m also going to shorten the neck and sleeves. I can’t stand sleeves that are too long, but couldn’t resist this beautiful pattern.

  • I am obsessed! Perfect color, perfect fit, perfect sweater. I must make one.

  • Wow. Maybe I could actually try this after all. Your descriptions really help, Kay. I’m short (5′) and sort of well, round. Most sweaters that are rather boxy just look totally dumpy on me, and frumpy, as they engulf me in wool.

  • I appreciate the elbow-in-the-ribs-nudge to finish projects! I have three cardigans calling to me from their bags. One was started 5 years ago. My daughter started knitting just a few years ago and just completed her 3rd sweater in about 6 months. I’m inspired by her lack of fear of just pushing ahead and knitting to completion compared to my, “uh oh…I don’t know how to do this part” and put -it-down and cast-on-something-else attitude. Your wry humor makes me giggle and inspires me. And the OF sweater looks so comfortable, cozy and I’m sure will be a grab-and-go staple in your wardrobe!

  • Love it!! I have to get back to mine now! And definitely looking forward to the backstitched pocket, so fab! Maybe after my lighter weight (Texas, y’all) Fireworks sweater that just needs 1 1/2 sleeves for some more instant-ish sweater gratification!

  • the phrase “plenty roomy but it skims”. Terrific for fall season…. so have fun with this one!

  • Ok, you sold me on this sweater! Now I really want to knit one! It looks great on you and I can see lots of styling options. I have to know how I’ll wear something before I can knit.

  • I love everything about this, the sweater, the post, and the comments. What would I do without MDK?!

  • You look like a million bucks! It’s a beauty and the fit is perfect. Well done.

  • I hope to see you at VK Live in February in your Old Friend sweater!

    I completely hear you on fit vs fit-and-flatter anxiety. There are times where I look at your sweater (Shakerag Top comes to mind) and I love yours more than I love mine! Yours is swingy and drapey, and mine fits, but I wish I had way more ease. Although I was limited by the yardage in my stash choice.

    Kudos on your FO!

  • Dammit Kay! Now I want to knit another sweater! I live in Nashville TN where Ann can tell you it’s rarely cold enough to wear a pullover. I may just defy the odds and keep my thermostat at 60 so I can knit and wear the pullovers! I’m a sock knitter, not a sweater knitter! I’m so confused! It’s lovely and looks great on you!

  • That is a go-with-everything beauty! Jeans, leggings, pencil skirt, cute denim mini – but definitely cool boots and shades.

  • I definitely understand what you mean about sweater fit. It took for a few years to figure out how much positive ease I prefer and silhouettes and body lengths. I’ll be unpacking my sweaters this weekend and I know there are a few I won’t unpack this year, or maybe I’ll frog them, because I just don’t reach for them. They may “fit” but not the way I now prefer.

  • Love that sweater!! Ok, ok! The chill in the air this morning and your post are a message – sew in ends and put on buttons this weekend and ya-da! Last sweater knit will be complete!

  • Kay this is why I love MDK! You normalize the “knitters guilt” and make it “shameless” to have a UFO sitting in your “must knit” pile while you knit start another project. It must be a true knitter who can’t wait to start a new project but it is always great to finish one too. Now I have to start Old Friend Pullover today (after I work on Marble Mount sweater that I promised myself to finish it by Summer-2021)

  • This may be the perfect sweater! It reminds me of one I bought several years ago and wore to pieces. And as usual, you had me laughing out loud at “If you have to start a whole new sweater in order to finish one, do that.” I’m so glad I’m not the only one! And fit…YES. I also push those worries to the back of my mind. I read somewhere that getting the shoulder fit is key, so trying to pay more attention to getting that right. I’m also trying to be more aware of fiber properties and how that may affect the overall fit: if I’m knitting with alpaca I now know to consider a smaller size if I want to avoid a tent! I find it so helpful to read other knitters’ notes on projects.

  • This really looks fantastic on you!! This is one of my favorite field guides, and is on my Christmas list!!

  • Oh Kay! I wanted to just go out and buy boots witih you and I haven’t even bought the yarn or the pattern yet!

  • Finished object AND a thing of beauty! Now I think I need to knit one but first I need to knit the second sleeve on my Easel sweater that is waiting in one of my project bags!

  • This is fabulous. I always love your knitting choices and this one is a new favorite. We have similar frames so when it looks great on you, I know I can pull it off too. Thanks for being the one to lead the way!

    And get the boots.

    • I’ve knit one sweater in my life from a very complicated pattern and when done? It fit a person 1/2 my size. How to measure for size? How much extra to allow? Somewhere I read that you allowed 12” of extra… how did you know to do that? I do love this sweater but am too afraid to commit without knowing how to figure out a size that looks great like yours does.

  • I needed to read this as I struggle to finish my duster. Thank you

  • Love it! I can do it, I think I can, I think I can…I will!

  • Beautiful sweater Kay. I have never made a sweater for myself and find it is time. I will be sending in my order for yarn tomorrow. Wish me luck, as I will need it. And you do look fantastic in your sweater.

  • That sweater pattern is awesome. And the article just made my Monday morning with a sweater fished out of some dark drawers. I will finish it now,and use a couple of the old sweater ideas on 2 more sweaters in hiding. Or shall I cast on some dark wool also hidden in the basement drawers. Thank you for having such great posts.

  • I have a remarkably similar sweater that I finished last year (?, 2020?) after starting-and-stopping for literally years. I don’t love it but I love the fact that I DID IT so much that I still wear it. I added this style of side vents to mine and it is a great add. (It will not be appearing in Rhinebeck; there’s another that might)
    But, yes!, finish a sweater. Even if it’s not perfect it’s so rewarding to finish one!

  • This is such good advice. Last year I finished 3 sweaters that I had started over the last 10 years. I felt so powerful to have a set of new sweaters in my wardrobe!!!

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