MDK Field Guide No. 18: Beginnings

By Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne


Karida Collins makes it all so simple. The mission? A collection of designs so elemental, so distilled, that every knitter can make them. Whether you’re new to knitting or a seasoned veteran, these six patterns will make you very happy. Let’s begin again, with these artful, modern, clever—and easy—projects.

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With Field Guide No. 18: Beginnings, we celebrate the idea of a new start, that joy that comes when trying something for the first time.

We have had the best time working with Karida Collins on this idea of newness, and especially the idea that sometimes, the simplest projects are the most delightful.

These projects require nothing more than knit, purl, decrease, increase, and yarnover. There’s a simple cable in there, too, and that’s as fancy as it gets. But look at what amazing effects can come from these most basic of stitches.

Knitting is forever new—each project has its own moment when we decide we’re going to jump in. Have a look at these six ideas—there’s endless fun to be had here.

Scarf-Cowl Duet

A gorgeous swath of knits and purls. This is moss stitch, that classic stitch pattern that creates a chewy, reversible fabric. We love the texture here, which makes the most of whatever yarn you choose to work with. Make it as a scarf or as a cowl if you sew the ends together.

Diagonal Mitts

Mitts are one of the most satisfying projects to make and to give. They go really fast, and you can be done in a day. And! When you give a pair to a friend, you will be hearing from that friend for years to come, about how cute their mitts are, how they can’t believe you made them, how they’re so special, how brilliant you are.

These Diagonal Mitts begin as simple squares of garter stitch (all knit stitches, no purls!) worked on the bias—simple increases and decreases form the square. A quick fold and a seam transform the squares into cute little hand warmers. There’s even a thumb hole.

Everyday Cowlette


Here’s a short masterclass in some of the most elemental techniques in knitting. This project shows you what happens when you change needle sizes, when you go from knitting flat to knitting in the round, and when you work knits and purls in a rib pattern. It results in a cowl that we really love: textured, distinctive, and fast to make.

Simple Swoncho


Sweater + Poncho = Swoncho. As a first sweater or your fiftieth, this modern pullover combines so many things we love: knitting in the round, an inventive silhouette, and decorative stitch moments along the way.

Debut Pullover

Knitting in the round can be done from the neck down or from the hem up. Here we begin at the bottom and knit upward, getting the hang of it. Sleeves come next, then the swirly knit-purl pattern that lends texture and dimension. Up to the neckline and voila! It’s the sweater you’ll reach for all the time.

Flash Cap

Low-dose colorwork is one of our favorite things. This zigzaggy design comes and goes in a flash, and it allows for no end of color experiments.