Old Patterns, New Eyes

By Kay Gardiner
May 15, 2019

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  • Hi! I would love to knit the dishcloth, but the pattern seems not to be available for my region ( the Netherlands). Any way I could get it anyway? Thank you!

  • Feels like the first time, feels like the very first time . . . now I have that Foreigner song in my head. Thanks. 😉

    • Ha ha…..

    • When I read this, I realized that your toe up slip stitch heel socks are my dishcloth. Almost always a sock on needles in my bag! Thank you Kay and Wendy!!

      • Ha! Wendy’s toe up sock pattern was what I used to learn how to knit toe-up socks. Another thanks to Wendy!

  • I am currently knitting my fifth Moderne Baby Blanket – three for my grandson ( he lost the first two ), one for my grand daughter, and now one for my stepson and his wife and their little girl who will arrive in October. Blanklies are wonderful for all the ups and downs of childhood!!!

  • That dishcloth is the best. I think I could make one with plastic airplane cutlery and string if I got desperate enough on a long flight. This is unlikely to be an actual issue because I bring enough projects in my airplane carry on to last me roughly a month if I knit for at least 10 hours of day.

    • I have two linen dish/face cloths in my drawer that I knit a few years ago because a friend gave me the yarn and pattern. I don’t know what to do with them. I also don’t know what I would do with dish cloths which I think would be fun to make but then what? Please enlighten me what you use them for.

      • Anything you would use a sponge for is fair game. The wash and dry in the machine and repeat. Linen might be nice in a shower as a skin cloth as well we use the cotton ones in the kitchen.

      • The ballband dishcloth is a great kitchen utensil! More texture than a sponge, so it gets those dried up bits of schmutz off your counters without scratching the finish. Ditto cast iron pans.

        • Thank you both for your replies. Now I’ll have to get some yarn and make some ballband dishcloths.

      • After their “household life” is over , they are great for car washing

      • I … wash the dishes.

        • My first thought…

        • My first thought as well. However, the majority of the people for whom I’ve made them save them because “they’re so beautiful they don’t want to ruin them”. One exception, I made 6 for one friend who turned around and gave me a 15-minute critique (over the telephone) of what I could do to make them better. She did this all because they were not thin enough to wash her mom’s good glasses. Needless to say that was the last thing I ever made for that person.

    • I knit with some bamboo skewers from an Indonesian restaurant on the Eurodam during a cruise!

      • Love it!

  • I have your book and haven’t looked at it in years! It’s out a I will be making dishcloths and other patterns soon! Thanks so much for the reminder!

  • Tried and true! It’s like seeing old friends on your blog. ( I haven’t actually knit a ballband dishcloth but I have a couple beloved In my kitchen so it seems inevitable someday) xox

  • I am still completely in love with your first two books. I periodically bring them out to browse through and reread all the funny bits. I’ve shown them to non-knitters just so they can enjoy the humor. Who can ever forget the article about tarty Barbie dolls?

    • I agree Elizabeth! The tarty Barbie doll story is my favorite! & the tiny sweater is adorable! I wouldn’t mind having that pattern.

    • Yes! I completely agree, especially about the Barbie doll story. “What that doll needs is a cardigan,” is one of my favorite lines EVER.

  • As a long time MDK fan, I have your original books (Autographed! From the time the Yarnery brought you to St. Paul). I have knit both these blankets (the Moderne as a collaborative project) and a few ballband dishcloths.

    Still a fan. ❤️

  • As I am sorting my stash after the floor project I have found quite a few balls of dishcloth cotton so I have to make a go bag!

  • No. no. no, the Mason-Dixon books are not hard to find. They’re eye-level in my craft room bookcase, between the Ann Budds and all the Rowan magazines.

    • Haha that’s exactly what my first thought was, “no, I’m pretty sure I know exactly where they are, on that shelf in the living room that the toddler likes to hide trucks in”.

      But being serious, the first book, at least, is widely available in libraries local to me (which can not be said of all knitting books). Anybody else can check if the same is true for them here: https://www.worldcat.org/oclc/1028370737 (and if not, interlibrary loan is generally more powerful than most people realize)

  • Thank you but no. Not available for my region the site states….

  • I have that first book & just yesterday I picked it up for the first time in about 4 years! And I was actually looking at those very blanket patterns and thinking, “l have never tried one of those blankets “. Guess I will now! I’ve also made the ballband dishcloth, they are wonderful.

  • This blanket, though. Beautiful!!

  • We have BallBand rugs knit with doubled Peaches and Cream Double coned Cotton that have been in use for years.

    • Ballband rugs! Brilliant! What size needles for two strands of Peaches and Cream?

    • That is a great idea! Not sure my hands are up to the challenge of doubled cotton yarn, but I won’t know if I don’t try. Needle size?

    • Same here. What needle size did you use. Ann and Kay, this may deserve a post of its own (hint, hint).

  • Yes and yes. I love a log cabin; the knitting is simple while the color play is endlessly satisfying. But dishcloths are magic. They have special soothing powers. When I’ve been too tired or stressed or brain-dead or sad to even think about patterns and yarn choices and swatching, I make dishcloths. I have dishcloths made in hospital waiting rooms, dishcloths made in the wee hours when the baby finally slept but I couldn’t, dishcloths made in the stunned void of sudden loss, and dishcloths made on happy vacations at the beach. (They are especially good beach knitting.) I love them all and I use almost all of them. There are a few that still seem too special to use and I think, maybe next time…

    • Every word here is truth! Dishcloths can get you through it all, and I’ve knit so many of them on the beach.

    • I’m glad I’m not the only person with hospital, ER, mourning knitting although mine is usually an acrylic preemie hat. I can finish one of those in the time it takes the ER to examine a sick husband, take him for x-rays, and then we wait for the results. But a cotton bag with a Ballband Dishcloth in progress lives in the pocket of the driver’s door of my car for emergency knitting. I’ll be casting on Car Warshrag #14 this evening while grandchild-sitting.

  • I get so distracted by the new shiny patterns out there, it is so nice to ease into the older ones like a pair of your favorite sweatpants on a Sunday afternoon. And that finished blanket… gorgeousness.

  • Hey Kay! I’m off topic here.. but it’s a flashback comment to your recent ‘knit to this’ about VERSAILLES. Yup- I watched it too. Delicious distraction. And now Netflix offers A LITTLE CHAOS, a film about a lady garden designer for that very same nutty place. I think you’ll love it!

    • Oh thank you! I always need a new Lazy Sunday possibility.

    • Yes to A LITTLE CHAOS–weird and great!

    • Just watched that this weekend. Alan Rickman as King Louis!!

  • Your first book was my very first knitting book. I have knit many Ballband dishcloths and cannot live without them. For those of you who have never used a knitted dishcloth try it – you will never use a sponge again!!!

  • The original MDK was the first knitting book I ever owned and my go to for curing any loss of knitting mojo. I’ve made too many dishcloths to count and everytime I whip one out I mutter “Must. Use. The. Handknits.” which is probably the best knitting advice I’ve ever heard. It is a literary/kniterary masterpiece!

  • Every time I see Mason Dixon Knitting, I almost immediately stop what I am reading and presto clicko ! I am having a visit with my friends! This morning, we are joined by Holly, Nora and Beulah ( they aren’t knitters, but the love yarn and MEOW). It is a grey and drizzly Oregon Coast morning…. packing for a quick trip to Palm Springs… first and most obvious,I must take several projects ( airport and airplane projects….some linen for out by the pool). I guess clothes and save room in case I buy some yarn
    Lovely visiting with y’all

  • Haven’t made a ballband in years, but I think I will start one this afternoon! And I will grab your first 2 books to look over again as well. My grandchildren may just need some new afghans too! Started knitting dishcloths (actually a little larger for pan separators) on a cross country driving trip a couple of weeks ago. Forgot what a nice easy project they are. And swiffer mop covers too….hmmm.

  • Have knitted two log cabin blankets for my grandchildren embellished with embroidery,pom-poms and tassels. They love them.

  • Sometimes you just want to knit a dishcloth. A little stash of kitchen cotton is valuable when a bit of stillness is required. Sometimes even old school with a couple of wooden straights. AND at the very end, a worn out dishcloth is fine getting tossed in the compost heap (a plastic scrubber, not so much).

    I’ve been working on a taupe on taupe on taupe MDK moderne log cabin blanket for years and years. Steady(ish) progress.

    • Triple Taupe–sounds divine!

    • Taupe Couture! (sorry)

      • #somuchtaupe

  • There is definitely about the log cabin! Thank you so much for putting in your first book, which was also one of my first knitting books. And I too love the dish cloths both to knit and use.

  • I made a bunch of extra long ball-band dish cloths when my daughter was little. Add a neck tab and button on one side, and you have a colorful, washable bib.

  • My two favorite knitting patterns of all time! And same as others have said, the MDK book one was my first knitting book. Awwww, I’m such a fan of Ann & Kay!

  • Is there a particular brand of cotton yarn you recommend, since the original appears to be discontinued ?
    I DO have the book, and I love dishcloths – somehow never made any.

    • Yes, sadly, ye olde Peaches & Creme cotton is no more. We stock Rowan Handknit Cotton in the MDK Shop just for dishcloth-making.

      • Excellent! Thank you.

  • Hey, how did you know that I just reached (again!) for your first book on my own personal library shelf? I still remember the thrill of finding it on a public library shelf when I was a new knitter, even before I knew that you had a blog. It more than lived up to my very high expectations! And your soothing explanation of the Ball Band pattern was just the nudge I needed to venture away from endless scarves. Anyway, I now find that I need to make a quilt afghan out of a stash of Lion Brand Amazing yarn–also sadly discontinued. (Such a good budget yarn!) I have a specific need for this afghan to look rustic and grandma-y, so will probably stick with a more traditional pattern this time around rather than the elegant Moderne. I am still deciding between a join-as-you-go log cabin and blocks. BTW, when the local-ish LYS closed a couple of years ago, they donated many of their new books to local libraries. One of the MDK books was added to the collection of my library, so we purchased and donated the other one so the library would have the full set!

  • Wowza on that gorgeous blanket! Two weeks, did you say? WOWZA!
    I once bought a CONE of Fiesta, and I’m still using the washcloths I made in – I’m guessing – 2007. Then I switched to solid colors so I could test stitch patterns in a washcloth before committing to something with a billion tiny stitches (socks). The very end of that Fiesta became the multicolored trellis for my filet pole beans last year.

  • I love looking for and purchasing the cotton yarn for this project. I love the color combination possibilities which are endless. I also do a few rows of one color and then switch it around. I now use number 6 needles, 39 stitches, and 11 color sections. I remember seeing one is Kay’s wishing introduced a new color just for one “brick”. Loved that!

    I currently live in a place where the laundry room is at the end of my hall. Rather than going back and forth apartmentlaundry room, my current ballband comes with me (zen and the art of knitting). I’m doing this lately because I want to make a set for the owner of one of my beloved LYS’s, who has recently moved to a new home.

  • Now I feel very smug that I bought both your books way back then and don’t have to scurry around the Internet to obtain them. While I am not a log cabin maven nor dishcloth devotee your words sprung an idea in me to knit a log cabin dishcloth to use up all those bedraggled Sugar n’ Cream skeins left over from some previous craze. Provided I can survive picking up stitches in cotton. Now I am going over to Ravelry to see if there are 1000 of these already:).

  • P.S. This Log Cabin is stunning. Who knew primary colors plus black could look sophisticated (apparently you did:-).)

  • My husband doesn’t wear handknits (gasp!) as he runs hot, but I want to make him something. So I started a log cabin – the fussy cuts- only yesterday. And now there’s this. So perfect!
    It’s really addictive, especially in the Kureyon yarn, when you never know what will happen next.
    Thank you for promoting the awesomeness of the log cabin!

  • I surrender! Amazon has been contacted about my need for MD Knitting book 1 and 2. A blanket is in my immediate future … and who knows what else.

    • Hope you get this. Go to betterworldbooks.com. I got two of the books there two days ago, including the first one.

  • After seeing the log cabin blanket again I got out my 2 MDK books. I love Absorba but Peaches and Cream double worsted is discontinued. Any suggestions for a replacement.
    Thank you.

  • This is the only one of my many knitting books that has been stolen! Yes, I am still a little bitter.

  • i’m the madwoman who has accosted both Ann and Kay at Edinburgh Yarn Festivals to thank them for the Log Cabin Blanket pattern in the first Mason Dixon Book.

    i”ve currently got another blanket on the needles … which i think is number 31 (thirty one) .

    i make them approx 95 cm/36 inches square (Drops Karisma is my go-to wool) and give them to new babies in my family, grandchildren of friends, babies born to my children’s friends etc.

    nice and easy to knit (even after a glass of wine while watching a sub-titled Scandi-noir murder mystery)


  • I made about 15 log cabin dishcloths when I learned to knit years ago — I credit them with the hours and hours of repetitive practice that made me a competent knitter. May perpetual light shine upon them now; being cotton, they made it into my compost pile last year and now feed my vegetable garden. This inspires me to make some more! Great idea to keep a dishcloth-in-progress in the car.

  • That blanket is GORGEOUS!

  • Ooh, I wasn’t a big fan of Joseph’s Blankie of Many Colors before, but this converted me. Love that the granddaughter art directed the whole thing. Wonderful collaboration across generations.

    As for the first book — not too hard to find if you go to: http://www.bookfinder.com. I bought the book soon after getting it out of the library as I wanted a copy for myself. Bookfinder came through — as it does on so many other books (this is not always a good thing!)

  • I made ballband dishcloths as washcloths waaay back, thanks to mdk. They’re now dishcloths, continue to do a great job on counters. It’s great to have handmade cloths for all purposes, and this particular design cleans a treat. Maybe I need to do more…

  • This was a delightful wake up & read. It’s been a while since I knit a
    dishcloth but with summer approaching, I’ll be packing a couple of skeins of cotton & needles in my go bag. There is a certain zen joy in knitting a dishcloth, or a baby genius burp cloth.,

  • I went to a baby shower this week and thought “I should have made a bib and burp cloth!” I stocked up on dishcloth cotton during a sale and it is still waiting for its life’s purpose.