In 2006, I bought Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne's Mason Dixon Knitting book the week it came out. I read it cover to cover, like a novel. I had been back to knitting casually: a hat here, a scarf there, perhaps a baby sweater, since my third child turned five in 2003 and was given a knitting kit for her birthday. And it was nothing like the knitting I had done as a child when my Grandmother taught me, or even as a teenager, or more rarely, in college. It was easy to find great yarn and books of patterns I couldn't wait to knit. I constantly had a project on the needles. I had gone through the holding two or three different yarns together to knit a scarf phase, a felting phase, and a regrettable exercise with some questionable yarn that resulted in a confetti textured baby sweater for a friend's daughter that I still have serious pangs of guilt about. I was ready to move on, but not quite sure what to.
Ravelry, the knitter's Mecca, wasn't in existence when I purchased my copy of Mason Dixon Knitting. It was that long ago! And the book changed my entire approach to knitting. The patterns were useful, lovely, even heirloom quality items. I was instantly drawn to all of them. I was particularly drawn to the afghans, but the projects seemed to large for a working mom with three young children. The Bubbly Curtain called my name as well, but seemed similarly large and unmanageable, despite its practical appeal. So I settled on a much smaller Moss Stitch Linen hand towel, and purchased the yarn for it, Louet's Euroflax Original sport weight 100% linen.
I moved on to new projects, but I never knit the hand towel. Inspired by Kay and Ann and their adventurous approach to knitting, I made a cotton dress for my daughter and designed a simple skirt pattern in a riotous array of Be Sweet yarn that my daughter wore every day for a month after I finished it. Seriously. Every day. I was made brave as I read and reread sections of the Mason Dixon knitting book. The casual can-do approach to knitting inspired me to pick up projects that had previously seemed out of reach. I knit my first pair of socks, fell in love, and knit several more. I knit a Clapotis, even though it took me months. It was a wonderful time for me as a knitter! But still, I never picked up the linen yarn, which was dazzlingly white and very pretty.
Earlier this month, I went searching for that yarn. Suddenly, I had to knit the hand towel. I reorganized all of my yarn, which lives in cubbies in a walk in closet in my studio. There it was, in the back of one of the cubbies with my Sanguine Gryphon, waiting for me.
It's wound now, and ready to be my September 1 project. I know from experience that knitting with linen can be a bit slow for me, so I suspect I'll knit this on and off with other projects. But I am so excited to be knitting it at long last. And so grateful to the long ago discovery of a book that his given me so much and continues to give.