Gosh, what is it about that Mason*Dixon Knitting book? It just grabs me! Well... I keep grabbing it, at least. The simple patterns are really just the frameworks for my own imagination. How clever those two gals, to put these things into a book that inspires endlessly. Permission granted for flying off the handle! Permission granted to be gaudy! Permission granted to let go and be yourself! Permission granted to reveal your innermost secrets...in your knitting!
OK...so you really want to try watermelon and grape together? Or mango and chocolate? Why not? Want to put cotton and mohair in the same project? Go for it! You've heard the "experts" who urge us to be ourselves. I think that is what Kay and Ann realized when they wrote their book. It holds a key for unlocking the creativity in knitters; I am a beginner knitter, I believe. I enjoy trying new things, and I readily seek challenges, as I find my skills increasing. BUT, when I just need to knit, to calm myself, to soothe myself, to put troubles out of mind, I want knitting that I don't have to work too hard at.
(About one third of my stash.)
Then I want the pattern to be easy; I want it to be adaptable, flexible. I have a great stash, and a retired husband. I bought so much yarn while he was still working that I would be ashamed to be seen in a yarn store right now (OK, OK, that's a lie, but you know what I mean); I can't justify my desire for more yarn. So I see the log cabin pattern and begin poking my nose into the different bins of yarn until a project coalesces in my imagination. I have made five log cabin blankets since purchasing the book. They are all different in most respects; each a totally different knitting experience from the one before. And I have learned something new from each; what a pattern!
Barbara Walker's mosaics fascinated my mother. She talked about them a great deal, even when she could no longer knit them. So one quiet evening, I pulled out her book and gave it a try myself. Her explanation and clear instructions were excellent. I found making my swatch tedious, but not terrible. I put it away months ago, and thought, in the back of my mind, I would never pick up that sort of knitting again. In fact, I told my brother a few days ago that I was not interested in doing that because it was far too much work.
Enter Mason*Dixon Knitting and the Nina Shawl, a creation from Phyllis Howe. Oh, my, what a pretty thing! And the color combinations and yarn combinations were varied and...inspiring! I have looked at those pictures many, many times, but was in the mood for a new project two days ago, and saw those pages again; everything clicked into place. I poked around in my stash and came up with a shocking assortment of mercerised cottons. I made a change to the pattern right off the bat: I cast on 160 rather than 120 stitches, making it somewhat wider than the original. My imagination was in full bloom, and despite the mosaic work or intarsia or Fair Isle technique required by the checkerboard, I was filled with enthusiasm.
I have made a number of Kay and Ann's projects now: enough to know that I can do whatever I please, and it will come out just fine; I am no longer timid. I am enjoying this new-found freedom of expression and find it envigorating. You've heard about models who age well: good bones. Well, Mason*Dixon Knitting has good bones, too!