The thing about this whole upcoming Log Cabin Make-along is it’s kind of a lot to think about! Am I right? If you’re anything like me, you might be combatting too-many-ideas-itis — debating yarns, color, pattern, what it will turn into. Of course, you can totally 100% keep it simple and knit something beautiful from one of the many great log cabin-inspired patterns in the world. But even then, there are most of these considerations, all of which are fun to ponder—
1. YARN / GAUGE
What yarn you use and how tightly you knit it will determine the character of the finished fabric — this is no less true for log cabin than any other form of knitting. Traditionally, log cabin patterns call for good ol’ garter stitch knitted at a gauge that’s the norm for the weight of the yarn. If you’re working with bulky yarn, that would mean a dense, gooshy fabric, whereas fingering-weight yarn would net a light and drapey fabric. But there’s no reason you can’t play around with gauge! For instance, the Sommerfeld Shawl (included in the Log Cabin Field Guide) calls for lace-weight mohair knitted at a very loose gauge, which takes a traditionally squishy fabric and makes it gossamer instead.
If your goal is to knit from stash and scraps, you may wind up with a charming crazy-quilt sort of color scheme. Or if you have a palette you naturally tend toward, your leftovers may be inherently cohesive! On the other hand, you may be planning to bust open some fresh skeins for this and exercise complete control over the palette. Will it be bold and graphic, soft and subtle, monochrome, shades of sheep, black and white? Will it involve speckles or stripes? The possibilities are literally endless, and which way you decide to go may depend a lot on the other considerations here. For instance, are you making something to go with your couch or your wardrobe?
This whole form of knitting derives from quilting, and quilters are mind-blowing individuals. The myriad ways that simple blocks of color can be lined up with each other to form larger motifs and patterns is its own special rabbithole. With log cabin knitting, there are actually a few different basic blocks to start with — from original log cabin to courthouse steps, ninepatch, etc. Many of these are detailed in the Log Cabin Field Guide, but I recommend googling quilting patterns for inspiration about ways to use color and combine blocks. For example, check out this blog post and scroll down to Log Cabin Variations. The assorted motifs under the Chevron Blocks subhead alone have got my mind racing.
In addition to gauge, think about how large or small your strips and blocks might be — again, how subtle or graphic. For example, look at the diminutive mitered squares of Marianne Isager’s sweater, Winter, versus the oversized blocks of Mason-Dixon’s Moderne Log Cabin Baby Blanket or Purl Soho’s Half Log Cabin Ombré Blanket. Scale alone can have an enormous effect on the look of your project. (And look what happens when you break up large blocks with stripes, as Terhi did!)
And then there’s the question of what it is you’re making! Is it a blanket or wrap, or will you turn your squares/rectangles into something 3-dimensional? Whether that’s a hat, a cowl or a sweater.
I’m working on a post about just that — patterns composed of squares or rectangles that could be filled with log cabin patterning. So look for that soon! And I’ve also started a Pinterest board for Log Cabin ideas, which I’ll continue to add to — although the latest changes to Pinterest mean my notes on the pins are mostly buried. (Why are they so hellbent on making it unusable?!)
Meanwhile, what are you thoughts and ideas so far — do you already know what you’re making? Will it be carefully planned or made up on the fly? Remember, cast on is January 1st! Share your plans below or on Instagram with hashtag #fringeandfriendslogalong.
PREVIOUSLY in Log Cabin Make-along: Striped cabin
Top photo © Terhi Montonen, used with permission; pinboard here