Monday, October 06, 2008

Where Craft and Comedy Meet

Erudite Mondays at HalfSoled Boots
Volume 6, Number 2

Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne

All right. Let's skip right to the point, shall we?


Thank you for your attention. If you wish more details, see below.

I haven't read the first Mason Dixon book...I got the vague impression, when the internet was buzzing with it, that it was a celebration of dishcloth cotton, in all its humble simplicity. It's related, in my mind, to all those state-themed dishrags people used to give to the Yarn Harlot when she was on tour. (I imagine they still do.) I had never visited the M-D website, either, so when I realised there was another one coming out, I had no plans to read it.

So for the second week in a row I'm admitting that I was mistaken. This book, just like A Fine Fleece, is freaking fantastic.

I have once or twice had knitting books that were good enough for me to read them all the way through like a novel, but I have never seen one this funny. I sat down to flip through a few random pages, catching lines here and there, and what I saw was so very hilarious that I turned back to page one and spent the next hour on the couch, reading the entire thing through. Midway through one section - the one about the traditional knitted Christmas stocking with Hunchy Santa on it - I was draped over the arm of the couch for support, laughing silently and painfully, unable to draw breath, with tears streaming down my face.

There's a great chapter on knitting for kids. It addresses that question of what to do once your intended recipient has reached what the authors call "the Age of Reason", and is no longer willing to be dressed like a doll in goofy, cutesy handknits.

There's a really wonderful chapter about the glory of state fairs, and the anguish of second-place knitting. Thankfully, the red ribbon-winning sweater is included...and I love it.

There are a few designs I'm longing to make for my daughters. I think I'm going to start the shrug with some stash cotton I've got, as soon as I'm done Ruby's hat. And the Avengers dress is darling: I'm trying to think which of my girls is more likely (less unlikely?) to wear it.

I really like this Advent calendar idea, although whether I'd knit it or not, realistically, I'm not sure. It's a lot of knitting and a lot of felting - 24 of these trees - not to mention the space it would take up. Maybe I could knit one tree and make 24 numbered buttons for it?

And the Margaret Gansey...this thing is beautiful. The sweater is knit, with purl rows providing the horizontal lines, then the wearer's desired message is chain-stitched over the knitting. The featured piece has three quotes on it: "You must be the change you want to see in the world", "The means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek", and "Never doubt that a small group of citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."*

The chapter on steeks and stranded knitting is a good one - some of the usual suggestions for lying down with a stimulating beverage to recruit your strength, but otherwise the advice is sound. And one of the patterns from this section hit me like a two-by-four printed with the words MAKE THIS:

There are so many great things in this book. The highly-amusing colour wheel is one:

and the tables for top-down raglans are another.

I got such a kick out of this knitted Swiffer cover

and the one on the dog as well. The photo is captioned Flip him on his back, give him a push, and that dog is earning his keep.

Thanks Kay and Ann, for a useful and hilarious book full of inspiring patterns and beautiful photos. When your next one comes out, I shall preorder.

Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines gets:

Reread: Oh yes
Given to Others: Yes
Bookplate: Yes


* In order of appearance: Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Margaret Mead


Gwen said...

LOVE the polka dot blanket. I would have decided to make one, but my children haven't yet learned the words that I tend to use while knitting... so perhaps you could just make it for me. Easier for all involved, right? Thanks.

kate said...

OK, Gwen made me laugh :-)

Love this book, loved the first one. All about the fun and the knitting going together; poking fun while having fun while knitting great patterns (with a variety of skill levels). Yes!

Ames said...

I thought Kay's husband's quote on the MD blog was hilarious.

I love the elvish looking ditty on the little girl with brown, curly locks.

Stace' said...

I'm so excited about the Margaret Gansey. I'll send you my measurements right away.

Annalea said...

Thanks so much for making me laugh today, Shan. Heaven knows I needed it.

I own the first Mason-Dixon knitting book . . . it's funny in places, too; but mostly it's about debunking the whole "No, I couldn't I really knit that!" myth. (Oh, and while there are plenty of patterns for dishcloth cotton, there are also plenty of patterns for Louet linen yarn . . . beeyootiful, indeed. ;o)

So, now I have another book to add to my Amazon cart. Sigh. I wish we were earning more gift certificates! ;o)

lizbon said...

Love the book, by the sound of it, but really love the review. BUY THIS BOOK. Ha! Those color wheels are hilarious...

Mine would be like this:
purple, violet, scarlet, vermilion, jade, indigo, turquoise, dove, ink

knititch said...

but you are so much fun as well. i love the christmas tree idea if knitting the whole bunch is a bit much. great idea, shan.

Kristine said...

I am in love with the polka dot blanket. Robb and I were discussing last night that Lucy needs a wooly blanket to sleep under in for winter...I'm envisioning it in shades of Lamb's Pride...

Now I just need unlimited fundage, and I'll be good to go. :)