Mason-Dixon Knitting: Outside The Lines

Mason-Dixon Knitting: Outside The Lines

This is the second Mason-Dixon Knitting book, the sequel to one of my all-time favorites.  I was worried that the second book wouldn't live up to the first, but it totally did.

Filled with gorgeous photos and all the chatty story-telling content you could want, "Outside the Lines" is an excellent successor to the original.  Both books are a lot like sitting down with a fellow knitter for the evening.  There are patterns, certainly, but they take a back seat to discussion of techniques, style, and the finer points of creating a knitted coat that doesn't sag or look like just a really big sweater.

Let's face it: if you want patterns, you can find them.  There are more knitting patterns in the world than you can shake a stick at.  Certainly more than a thousand knitters could collectively knit in their lifetimes.  (Maybe a hundred thousand.  Depends on how fast they knit.)  

What I like in a knitting book is the other stuff.  If you too crave those introductory paragraphs at the top of the pattern that describe how the pattern came to be, then the Mason-Dixon Knitting books are right up your alley.  From a full page digression into the influence of 1960's television on their sense of style, to Ann's four-page story on creating, knitting, and submitting a child's sweater to her local county fair, this book is all about narrative.

The usual Mason-Dixon Knitting obsessions are here, along with some new ones.  From the "something old" category we have denim yarn in the form of adorable knitted blue jeans for older children, an intriguing new dishtowel pattern, things which are felted, and the "light blue and chocolate brown" color combo.  New obsessions include Fair Isle, cables, and swatching.  (I wonder if Shayne and Gardiner are tired yet of people pointing out that they use the term "fair isle" when what they really mean is "stranded colorwork"?)

I'll be honest with you, I'm not sure if I will be knitting as many of the patterns from this book as I did from the first.  A lot of the patterns in the first book were invitations to go wild with colors, and the patterns in the second book seem much more specific.  More pattern-y, if that makes any sense.  

It's hard to say - and too early to predict, since I think I remember thinking that about the first book, too.  Only to look back a little while later and realize I'd knit half the patterns.

(One thing is for sure: I really wish I could afford to buy seven balls of Muench "Touch Me" yarn so that I could make the Flapotis.  This is the yarn and technique which is featured in a cabled scarf in Interweave's Scarf Style, a pattern that I have drooled over for years.  But I always worried that the cable would get lost in the felting process.  

Flapotis allows for that gorgeous crushed velvet look post-felting, but without the worry about the cable, and in a fun flappy pattern to boot.  But MAN have you priced that yarn?  It retails for about $18 per ball.  I'm not likely to knit a $126 scarf any time soon.  But I sure would like to!)

However, I enjoyed reading this book.  A lot!  And it's very re-readable.  Honestly, I wish more knitting books were like this one.

Models: MDK-OTL, Electric Boogaloo earns a D on the Model Ethnicity Scale, with "64% white folks." (By my count, 16 pictures show models who do not appear to be white, compared to 44 pictures of models who do.)

64% may sound pretty lousy, but it's the best percentage I think I've ever seen in a knitting book.  So yay for that!