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Mason-Dixon Knitting
by Kay Gardiner and Ann Meador Shayne


Overview - Enjoy the practical advice, real-life knitting instruction, and irreverent humor of Yankee Kay Gardiner and Tennessean Ann Shayne, the duo behind the renowned knitting web log masondixonknitting.com. The ladies of Mason-Dixon Knitting will take you on a thrilling adventure through Knitopia, a place where knitting and creativity unite through the zaniest knitted items imaginable.  Read more...

 
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Overview

Enjoy the practical advice, real-life knitting instruction, and irreverent humor of Yankee Kay Gardiner and Tennessean Ann Shayne, the duo behind the renowned knitting web log masondixonknitting.com. The ladies of Mason-Dixon Knitting will take you on a thrilling adventure through Knitopia, a place where knitting and creativity unite through the zaniest knitted items imaginable. Kay and Ann reveal that a pattern is a starting line, a launching pad, the front doors of Saks the day after Thanksgiving: oh, the potential!

Mason-Dixon Knitting is a collection of unbelievable patterns, a how-to manual, and a crazy quilt of hilarious narrative, all in one. In this book, Kay and Ann chitchat their way through a series of more than thirty incredible patterns. Drawing creative inspiration from their surroundings, they present colorful blankets, sassy nightgowns, a delicate curtain, and much more to reveal that knitting can weave its way into just about every aspect of life. Most of these projects are the epitome of ease, but you can make them as simple or complicated as you prefer.

Kay and Ann invite you to use your creative vision to interpret each pattern and give it your own personal touch. Full-color photography of these delightful home- and family-inspired knits accompanies each project. Along the way, Kay and Ann will introduce you to incredible knitting personalities, share their own knitting experiences, and present eye-popping knitting phenomena. Mason-Dixon Knitting explores the humor, fun, and outrageous possibilities of a realm in which knitting is much more than a craft--it's a lifestyle.


Review from Knitter's Review:
The notion of bloggers writing books makes me nervous. Not because I doubt their skill, but because good blogs are often as much about a close-knit community as they are about content.

When you isolate that community on paper, it can read like a private conversation with a Chosen Few that leaves the rest of us feeling decidedly left out.

But when I heard that Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne were writing a book, I was intrigued. Gardiner and Shayne are the two voices behind Mason-Dixon Knitting, an ingenious blog based on the ongoing correspondence of two friends (they met in an online knitting forum, and one lives in New York while the other resides in Tennessee—hence Mason-Dixon). Their blog is a warm and welcoming place, and their creative endeavors never cease to inspire me.

But could they do a book as well as they did a blog? And how would they manage to convey the concept of two voices?

A Sneak Peek
The book is slated for a late March release, but I got my hands on an early copy at TNNA last week. I tucked it in my bag and promptly forgot about it until later that night when I was back in my hotel room and getting ready for bed. Having already read the room-service menu not once but twice, I figured I'd let Kay and Ann put me to sleep.

But they didn't. An hour later I was still wide awake, relishing every word and unable to believe the book could be this good.

Don't Fence Them In
This book defies categorization. There's an unspoken (and outdated) notion that knitting books should only be about patterns, history, technique, or people—and few authors are able to break the mold. This book does so beautifully, and I hope it will lead the way for more like it.

It has patterns from the authors and gifted, adventurous contributors, but it's far more than just a how-to book. It has personal stories, but they're always perfectly placed within the context of a project, a lesson, a bit of advice, or an inspiration. It has interviews with, essays by, and profiles of inspiring people Kay and Ann have met over the years. And it has lists and tips, both lighthearted and serious.

Best of all, a delicious sense of humor runs throughout the book. It isn't forced, nor is it sarcastic or slapstick. It's just plain funny, from the Timeline of Knitting History ("1896: Siobahn Ogwnngyfleioghnn knits so poorly that she accidentally discovers the cable stitch") to Novelty Yarn We're Working On ("Pound of Woe: 50% burlap/50% fiberglass").

Navigating the voices of two different authors turned out to be easy. Whereas the blog entries usually begin, "Dear Ann" and "Dear Kay," each chapter begins with the name of the person doing the writing. There were still moments when I could feel Kay tapping on Ann's shoulder, or vice-versa, and whispering suggestions—which is part of the fun of this book.

A Springboard for Exploration
It's assumed that you already know how to knit, or that you will soon be taught by someone who does. The book starts with extremely easy concepts—the dishcloth, washrag—and then gradually stretches them further and further into the realm of exploration.

What happens if you knit a garter stitch square, cast off all but one stitch, turn it clockwise, and pick up and knit stitches along the new edge, and repeat again and again and again until you've knit up all the yarn in your stash? The answer is "log cabin," and their exploration of this simple technique left me obsessed.

Some of the things will seem easy to all but the rank beginner. Even then, I recommend you surrender to the process and try them anyway. You never know where they'll lead.

Cool to be Kind
Within these pages, Kay and Ann have managed to capture all the goodness and wackiness and generosity that can exist among knitters, especially online.

You'll meet friendly, creative, generous, and prolific people of all ages and from all walks of life, united by a concept that's right on the front cover of the book: "Created for knitters everywhere who share the give 'em hell spirit of just picking up the needles and making stuff."


Reprinted with permission from Knitter's Review

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 0307236056
  • ISBN-10: 0307236056
  • Publisher: Potter Craft
  • Publish Date: March 2006
  • Page Count: 160

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BookPage Reviews

Inspiration for simply elegant projects

Believe it or not, the low-tech craft of knitting has a high-tech presence on the Internet. Online knitting magazines, knitting podcasts and countless knitting blogs are great ways for those of us who practice this solitary craft to find ideas, inspiration and connection with other like-minded folks. No one knows this better than Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne, whose wildly successful blog masondixonknitting.com not only brings together two knitters—one from New York, one from Nashville—but also brings in knitters from around the world.

In their new book, Mason-Dixon Knitting, Kay and Ann infuse every page with the friendly humor, personal stories and down-to-earth style that have made their blog so popular. This book is great for those of us who tend to take our knitting too seriously (one sidebar is titled "Mistakes You Will Definitely Make"), or who think knitting has to be difficult or complicated. The projects included here are mostly simple ones—dishcloths, hand towels, felted baskets—but, more importantly, they are projects that people will actually use, not just fold up in tissue paper and cherish from a distance. It's also important to point out that "simple" does not equal "boring." As Kay says, knitters can use their patterns like good cooks use recipes—as inspirations to make the projects uniquely their own, as complicated or as straightforward as they like.

For me, the most motivational section of the book deals with the variations on the log cabin blanket pattern. For years, I've suffered from Fear of the Afghan—even a baby blanket seems like an unbearably tedious process that results in one big square. The log cabin blankets that Ann and Kay include here, though, are exquisite in their simplicity but infinitely varied in their design. With Kay and Ann's encouragement, humor and common sense, even new knitters can overcome their fears and feel capable of creating something entirely their own.

 
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