Old Patterns, New Eyes – Mason-Dixon Knitting

There are certain knitting patterns that have dug themselves right down into my DNA, to the point that if you locked one of my offspring (who don’t knit) in a well-lit room with a ball of yarn and a pair of needles, they’d start knitting one. “Here, it’s a dishcloth?”

Sometimes months or years go by without me knitting one of these patterns, and then something happens to make them fresh again. And off I go, like it’s the first time.

Case in Point Number 1: The Mighty Ballband

There are over 10,000 Ballband Dishcloths on Ravelry, and only about half of them were made by me. I still remember the day in December 2003, in a Walmart in Wichita, when I picked up a couple of balls of dishcloth cotton in colors I couldn’t resist (Faded Denim and Fiesta, if memory serves). Right there on the yarn label was the pattern for this dishcloth: a public domain, tried-and-true recipe that is fun to knit and will never let you down when you need to wipe down a counter. It has given me a lot of zen-on-demand over the years.

I go for months without knitting one, but when I find myself without a portable project, there is always a Ballband Dishcloth marinating in my Go Bag, a zippered emergency pouch that contains 2 balls of cotton yarn, needles, and a dishcloth at some stage of done-ness. I finished this one on the train to Providence last weekend, and left it behind as a thank you/Mothers Day tribute to my host. Who doesn’t want a hand-knit dishcloth?

Case in Point Number 2: Log Cabin Blankets

It seems like a long time since I’ve knit a log cabin blanket. I must rectify!

Recently a dear friend of a dear friend asked for help. Josephine is a knitter, but it’s been a while. She wanted to knit a blanket for her baby grandson. Could I recommend a pattern?


I recommended the Moderne Log Cabin baby blanket in our first book. I also recommended that she knit it in Rowan Denim. (It’s now discontinued! Sob!)

It seemed like it took no time at all before Josephine was ready to work the i-cord edging. (I converted another knitter to applied i-cord—she loved it.) But now Josephine had a new problem: her little granddaughter wanted a blanket, too. And her granddaughter had specifications in mind: lots of colors, like a rainbow, with pink, plus silver.

The answer was obvious: Joseph’s Blankie of Many Colors. This pattern, from our first book, is the first log cabin I ever made, and it’s still my favorite for free-form color play. All Josephine had to do was go to the yarn store, pick up a skein of cotton yarn in each of the colors on her granddaughter’s list (including silver), and get knitting.

Josephine is fast. A couple weeks ago this photo came across on my phone.

Josephine’s granddaughter art-directed this project the whole way, sometimes by phone as Josephine traveled for work. Her granddaughter chose the next color as Josephine went from strip to strip, around and around. And this photo is proof, I think, that she liked the result.

Our good old first book is a little hard to find, but all the skills for making your own blankie of many colors are in MDK Field Guide No. 4: Log Cabin. Learn all the log cabin skills by making the six Log Cabin Cloths, or just cast on cloth number 1, and keep going until it is the size of your desired blanket.

Don’t forget the pink and silver.

Categories:   Knitting