We’ve learned a lot over the course of making five Field Guides. I’m not going to say the learning curve has been steep, but my hamstrings are sore.
An early lesson: we couldn’t make all the samples ourselves.
In fact, we couldn’t make any of the samples ourselves. I can’t knit anything without blabbing about it in real time, which would spoil the fun. There are secrets I will take to my grave, but I cannot stay quiet about what I’m knitting.
A wonderful side effect of this mission-critical self-restraint is that when I finally do get to cast on something from a new Field Guide, I’m SO. EXCITED. The pent-up desire to knit that thing is very strong.
Last Friday at midnight, the official release date of Mason-Dixon Knitting Field Guide No. 5: Sequences, I cast on my long-awaited Parallelogram Scarf. It was a little ritualistic, but fun.
On Saturday morning, I sat in a coffee shop with my friend Judy, showing her how the Parallelogram Scarf pattern works and helping her start her own Parallelogram. (This took 10 minutes. It’s easy, but there’s a bit of a trick with starting the row where the color changes.)
See the right edge of the scarf, where the color changes are? It’s clever: the change happens on the fourth stitch of the row, so that the carried-along yarn isn’t hanging off the edge, looking messy and getting caught on buttons when worn. Instead, it’s a neat little chain, just inside the edge. It’s a feature!
Expert knitter that I am (!), I managed to mess up the sequence early on. It’s a k2, p2 repeat, but it doesn’t make k2, p2 ribbing. Somehow, though, there is a 20-stitch moment of k2, p2 ribbing in my scarf (right in the middle of the photo above). It’s a feature!
I’m having a grand time. The Freia Fine Handpaints yarn is delightfully light and well-behaved.
Not All Heroes Knit Capes
As I was knitting along, making slow, steady progress, I started to think admiring thoughts about our sample knitters.
Here’s how it works: we send the sample knitter the yarn and the draft pattern. We express, in as non-panicked a tone as possible, that the photo shoot is coming up a little sooner than we’d like in an ideal world, but that the sample knitter should do the best she can.
A couple of weeks later, a perfectly blocked sample comes back.
Or in, the case of the Parallelogram Scarf: THREE perfectly blocked samples, one in each of the sample colorways.
How did Julie Lindsey do it? Not one whimper was heard from Chicago. I was impressed then, but now that I’m knitting my own Parallelogram, I’m in awe.
Sample knitters of Field Guide No. 5, we salute you!
Pat Brower made all the Freak Flags, no questions asked. no muss, no fuss.
Julie Lindsey, whom we met in Chicago that one time and recruited to be one of our first sample knitters. three pristine Parallelogram Scarves were not a problem for Julie; They even arrived dry.
Haley Parker heads up the Swirl Hat Department of Field Guide No. 5. She claims she had fun. (haley is wearing: Roger by nell ziroli.)
Nell Ziroli, simultaneously knitting on and swanning in The Corrugated shawl. Apparently the Crave Caravan yarn feels ok.
Early Tips on the Parallelogram Scarf
There is an optional provisional cast-on. This is to avoid a curve in the diagonal edge of the scarf, which could occur if the cast-on is too tight. After knitting for a few inches, you undo the provisional cast-on, and bind off the live stitches on that edge. More cleverness!
Wanting to participate fully in all clever things, I used the provisional cast-on (see pink edge of the scarf above), but honestly, I know that I never cast on very tightly, and I probably could have done without it. If you are confident that you don’t cast on too tightly, I think you can skip it. If you’re a worrier, use the provisional cast-on for peace of mind. If you have Fear of Missing Out, use the provisional cast-on so you can brag about it.
Tea towel credit: Jen Hewett, who seemingly coordinated her block-printing palette with our freia fine handpaints kit.
There is also an instruction about using markers to distinguish the increase end of the row from the decrease end of the row. I didn’t use them. It’s easy to tell where to increase (at the end of the first row of a color) and where to decrease (at the end of the second row of a color). As soon as I worked the first increase and the first decrease, they were highly visible. I may make more mistakes, but increasing or decreasing at the wrong end is not going to be that mistake.
This is going to be my take-along, sociable knitting this holiday season. I think it’s going to last me to Christmas!