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Dear Ann,

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!




  • Eagerly awaiting to see if any of the jackrabbit knitters make a mod to the neck. Because I am not a fan of turtlenecks. But I am intrigued by the sweater.

    • I am also not a fan of turtlenecks and did modify. I knit the neck about half of the recommended length. It is still cozy but not in a restrictive way. I also did an I-cord bind off for the pocket so it wouldn’t roll. I’m thinking about two pockets.

      • I-cord trim for pocket(s): great idea.

    • Me too, Kirsten! Basically I have no neck so v-necks and crew necks work better for me!

    • I don’t like turtlenecks but I love a loose funnel neck so I’m not modifying. But I’m sure someone will!

  • Already so jealous!!! Old friend is on my list but the timing is not right for me to begin *and* I’m still not sure which color although for sure it will be something bright and cheerful as I spend my days in the front office of an elementary school (big grin) and my current favorite is Citron, but I sure wish I’d gotten a bundle of joy!

  • Would this be too difficult for someone new to “wraps and turns”?

    • And do mark each one as suggested. I’ve always marked mine – makes TV knitting so much easier.

    • I have been very nervous about wrap and turn techniques too. Stitch markers have been a big help to me. I like Kay’s way of showing what’s been done. I also put a different stitch marker at the next turn point so I don’t overshoot.

    • There is a very good MDK post from Patty Lyons about short rows. PATTY ASKS PATTY ABOUT SHORT ROWS AND BIND-OFFS.

      Every time I do short rows it is new to me.

  • Great timing! I’m almost to that section, and now I’ll have a bucket o’ stitch markers at the ready!! I agree that the color choice was a Big Deal. I went with Merlot, one of my favs and will also go with all the black in my closet also!

    • I’d like to knit Mabel in the color shown in the sample, which appears to be black. Atlas has no “black.” Is this Truffle?

  • Geez, what a great but so simple I should have known it, tip.
    I love doing wrap and turns but the hunt for them on return and second guessing adds so much time to my knitting. Too much time.
    Great tip.

  • That pocket is crying out to be done in a different color or as a patch of intarsia or fair isle…oh, the possibilities!

    • Stay tuned for Sunday’s post!

    • There’s an idea! Too bad Kay’s already knit the pocket, but she could do the sleeves in a different color. She could even do each sleeve in a different color — say, one in Wintergreen and one in Clementine. Oh, Kay…

  • ah, and ode to NYC black. One day, I realized I have a wardrobe of black skirts and black dresses (and I am not in perpetual mourning) and said to myself ‘enough.’ Time for some color. Some vintage styling. I’m trying. Of course, there has been nowhere to wear anything for two years now … and my Metrocards expired. Both of them.
    But I know you will accessorize with color!!!

  • Those bright stitch markers are an especially good idea with a dark color. You’re brave, knitting so much black!

  • To take the markers one step further……match the markers on each set of wraps. Knit across, wrap, red marker; purl across, wrap, red marker. Repeat with blue markers, repeat with green markers. That way you know at a glance how many sets are completed and you never have that sinking feeling of “Did I miss a wrap? Did I miss a pickup? Where the eff am I anyway?”

    • Smart thinking!

    • Love this idea!!

  • I too love to wear black. Your photos show that in Truffle, each stitch is visible: the stocking stitch is not a sea of ink, and this makes knitting in this favourite shade possible for those of us who can’t distinguish individual strands in true black. Very promising!

  • Just finished a class on the 4 ways to do wrap and turns: standard wrap and turn, Japanese, German (DS) and Shadow (which was new to me). The Shadow method is wonderful, you will never confuse the double stitch for anything else. Look it up on You tube it will rock your world.

  • Hello Kay! How many skeins did you need to knit this sweater? Thanks

  • A question about Atlas colors: will you be re-stocking those that are currently sold out? Or is this a “when they’re gone, they’re gone” scenario?

    • Restocks are coming. Navy and Cedar are already back after Field Guide subscribers got to them.

  • There are so many great tips in the letter and the comments! I have been on the fence about starting another project and might just have tipped.

  • Would love to do Old Friend top down on my Brother bulky

  • Great tips Kay. I can always use a little help.

  • This is on my list (I typed lust, but that is also true) As a black/grey girl, I’m trying to branch out. This written as I sit in black leggings and grey cabled Riasa, by Alison Green.

  • I love this pattern. But the events of the day have left me agitated. Until I read this post. Now I’m ready to knit and let it go. Thank you.

  • I adore black (NYC commuter) and detest my neck (never contemplated my neck until teaching on Zoom). Therefore I’ve learned to love turtlenecks and plan to knit this one sometime soon.

  • Boy, this monogamy thing is so difficult!!!! Can we make “omniknittery” a word? Thanks for another nudge for my queue….

  • Although I ordered Barn Red which is beautiful, I would have preferred the navy blue and are you going to have a wait list for the yarns that weren’t in stock ? And if you plan on such a list, how would I be notified when the was in stock ? I’m hooked on Atlas

  • What an awesome pocket tip! Am not fond of switching so this gave me the joy of playing with this lovely wool AND making sweater progress.. I did my pocket last night and now know that my size7 needle was spot on for gauge

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