Old Friend Is the New Friend
My first project from MDK Field Guide No. 20: Atlas may be my first step into Erika Knight’s world, but it’s not a baby step. It’s a long, confident stride. It’s a whopper, in fact.
It’s the Old Friend Pullover.
Erika’s concept for the Old Friend Pullover—a generous, enveloping piece to be worn and shared, a wardrobe staple that will grow old with me (the best is yet to be)—meant that I wanted to make it in a color that I’m prepared to wear on the regular for all my days.
There is one color to which I’ve been devoted throughout my long sojourn in New York City: basic black. I can’t quit it. No matter how many times I try on the coat/trousers/jacket in some gorgeous color that is not-black, the question I ask is, “Do you have this in black?”—and that’s the one I take home. I would love to be that dog walker in the park wearing a neon pink puffer in a sea of past-their-prime black sleeping bag coats—but that’s just not my journey.
The Atlas palette does not have a true black, but it has something better, a near-black called Truffle.
Truffle is definitely a black, but it’s got more colors in it. It has an undertone of chestnut brown, and in some light conditions, I see plum and mulberry tones. Where a classic black might be severe, Truffle is soft. It makes me feel like I’m branching out, yet it will slide effortlessly into my closet and play well with everything else in there.
I guess I wear my color sense on my sleeve. When we got our first shipment of Atlas, Allison packed up a case of Truffle for me without even asking. So I’m well fixed for my Old Friend.
Truffle Acres (of Stockinette)
I’d like to give a shout out to all the knitters out there who’ve chosen the Old Friend Pullover as their project in the Erikalong, our knitalong (Knight-along!) of Erika Knight’s wonderful projects in Field Guide No: 20. We who are about to knit a whole lot of stockinette salute you!
Luckily I have lots of Stockinette Situations sprinkled throughout my life. I fairly flew through the back of the sweater, between work Zooms and finishing my binge of Rita (no spoilers, but self-acceptance is powerful, and it’s for everybody).
Favorite detail: the ribbed trim on the edges of the open parts of the deep hem.
Here’s hoping the front and sleeves fly by just as effortlessly.
Clip & Save: Tips & Tricks
It’s still early days for my Old Friend, but I already have two tips.
Tip the First: Pocket Swatch
I’m very literal about patterns, so if it says start with the back, I start with the back. But clever knitters out there have pointed out that if you knit the Old Friend’s patch pocket first instead of last, it’s a good swatch, even for the swatch-averse such as me.
Tip 2: Markers for the Short Rows
On the back, as you approach the shoulders, there is a section of wrap & turn short rows. You wrap a stitch, and then turn around and knit or purl back in the other direction, as the name suggests.
The tricky bit is the instruction to knit or purl “to [number] stitches before wrapped stitch from previous row, wrap & turn.”
I have a hard time seeing the wrapped stitch from the previous row, especially in a dark color. I worry that I am going to barrel right over it and mess up the short-row shaping.
Solution: markers. In my size, I am knitting or purling to 3 stitches before the wrapped stitch from the previous row. So, every time I wrap and turn, I work 3 stitches in the new direction, then place a marker.
When I come back to the marker, I know that the next stitch is the stitch that has to be wrapped before I turn. I wrap it, replace the marker, turn, work 3 stitches, place another marker, and carry on working that row.
This is how it looks when you’ve done this a whole bunch of times. I leave the markers in while I complete all the short rows. The markers make it easy to knit (or purl) to the ends of each shoulder, working the wraps together with the wrapped stitches. No more squinting at wraps!
Like most tips, this one will make most sense when you’re actually doing the thing, so: clip & save, so you’ll have it when you need it.
If you’re knitting an Old Friend, please pop a photo in the Lounge for me—let’s make everybody jealous!