Book Review: Mason-Dixon Knitting

Reported by Jen Geigley

Mason-Dixon Knitting is a collection of knitting stories, patterns, advice, opinions and humorous enthusiasm. Reading through this book made me feel like I was knitting with two beloved aunts or neighbors, so if you’ve always secretly longed for that ‘bond’ with a fellow knitter, you’ll love Mason-Dixon Knitting.

Authors Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne are founders of the knitting blog where they share correspondence and adventures in knitting with each other and hundreds of thousands of visitors who check in regularly. The two writers met online (Kay lives in Manhattan and Ann is a Tennessean) and they share their story of online forum friendship and love for all things knitting in this friendly book.

The Mason-Dixon Manifesto is this: Peace, Love, Natural Fibers. (Not necessarily in that order.) Inside these pages you’ll find all kinds of stories from the writers and their friends, plus 34 knitting patterns for you, your loved ones and your home (along with knitting humor at its very best and anecdotes about the friendships that often form out of this hobby.)

There is a section that explores teaching children to knit and sharing your hobbies with your kids.
The writers also talk about knitting for the common good and getting involved in knitting circles and the knitting community, which is a huge part of knitting for me!

I was extremely excited to start knitting after reading through the patterns and looking through the colorful photos, but choosing what to make was so hard! I longed to make a blanket but decided to start out with a few smaller projects first. I began with the ‘baby bib o’love’ pattern, which was a quick and fun knit (and would make a great gift).

Then I knitted the ‘ballband dishcloth’ after being completely inspired by the fantastic color combos shown in the photos.

Here’s my version of the dishcloth, which was so much fun to knit and will totally brighten up my kitchen.

I’m really excited to make more of these using all kinds of different colors and I really enjoy knitting something so functional.

Although I stuck to knitting the quick and simple projects from the book, I definitely was reading through the other patterns and I plan to knit some of the bigger projects as time allows.

The bedspreads and log cabin blankets in particular are incredibly beautiful and well-diagrammed in this book.

The patterns throughout are very well-written and easy to follow, and even the more complicated patterns are really not that hard to make if you’re willing to put in the time and effort (and for a bedspread like the one pictured here… it would be so worth it!). You can find the errata/corrections for the patterns in this book here.

While reading, there was constant encouragement from the authors to take the basic patterns and ideas described and make them your own. Which left me inspired, and I kept coming back to the pages that had photos of these rag yarn balls.

They just totally intrigued me!

I decided I had to try to make something out of my own recycled fabric yarn. So I found some fabric scraps, ripped them into strips, tied them end-to-end and voila!

I ended up knitting a small skinny scarf out of my rag yarn on large needles for my daughter and I to share.

(And I think that Ann and Kay would be proud!) Now, I just have to teach this kiddo how to knit.

Inspiration, Guidance, and 30 Projects to Knit

Featuring: Technical hints; Great (knitted) things you will do; How to cope with disaster; Must-knit T.V.; Mistakes you will definitely make; Knitting for the common good; Knitting something that looks like something else


  • Lots of real-life patterns that everyone will want to knit make this a great resource.
  • The friendly humor is engaging and every knitter will relate to the stories and sidebars.
  • Everything from knitting with children, to knitting for your family, to knitting for charity is covered in its pages.
  • This book gives you the skill sets to knit the patterns included and encourages you to take those ideas and run with them, making this an inspirational read.


  • There are a large number of ‘big’ projects in this book (like blankets, bedspreads and rugs) that will require lots of yarn and a big time commitment.
  • There are lots of pages that are devoted to ‘the story’ throughout this book, so if you’re looking for a patterns-only resource, this might not be for you. (But I assure you that the anecdotes shared are fantastic and worth a read!)

Format: Softcover, 160 pages
Mason-Dixon Knitting: The Curious Knitter’s Guide is available at
What patterns have you knit from Mason-Dixon Knitting? We’d love to see – please share the links to your photos and projects!


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4 Responses to Book Review: Mason-Dixon Knitting

  1. Avatar
    craftymom205 May 21, 2010 at 8:14 am #

    Right now I am knitting the burp cloth from this book. Very easy and quick.

  2. Avatar
    Ellie A. May 21, 2010 at 8:21 am #

    Hmm might have to look for this book I would love to be a knitting mama.. HMMM OFF To Amazon I go 🙂

  3. Avatar
    IamSusie May 21, 2010 at 2:35 pm #

    Such a cute little model in that darling scarf! I love the ballband dishcloth pattern and I knit those up all the time.

  4. Avatar
    Concetta Phillipps May 21, 2010 at 9:46 pm #

    Loved your review! Your assessments are accurate – especially con #2 (including the caveat LOL). This is an older book but a definite classic.