Happy new year! And happy Log Cabin Make-along kickoff/cast-on day! I’m so thrilled to finally introduce the rest of the panel and get this party started. You already know log cabin eminences grises Ann and Kay from Mason-Dixon Knitting (authors of the portable and adorable Log Cabin Field Guide) are in the mix. Rounding out the panel are two more of my favorite characters from yarnlandia, Veronika Jobe of YOTH Yarns and — a crocheter! for the first time ever! — none other than Cal Patch. You can see exactly what we all have planned below, and I am already crazy about how different they all are.
Even though I announced this one way further in advance than in the past, I still don’t quite have all the ducks in a row — the outstanding matter being prizes. I’m leaving it a cliffhanger for the moment but will fill you in on the plan (and timing) for that at the end of the week. However, I will be featuring standout plans and WIPs here on the blog in some fashion, as always, so make sure you share yours on Instagram by using the hashtag #fringeandfriendslogalong in your caption when you post. (If you have a private IG account, you might want to make a separate public one for this, if you want everyone to be able to see your posts!) And note that you can also now literally follow hashtags on IG, so (if that works as advertised) you’ll never miss a single contribution.
If you’re still looking for ideas, see Ideas and Considerations and Imagine if this were Log Cabin-ized, including all of the suggestions in the comments on those posts. And you can find all of the blog posts related to the Make-along right here, any time you need it, also linked in the right rail of the blog over there. 👉🏼
Also, knitter/programmer Kelsey Leftwich has created a Log Cabin Generator, which is fun to play with — let her know what you think. And at the end of today’s post on MDK is a whole big roundup of all of their past log cabin-related posts — a total trove.
Ready? Here we go! —
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KAREN TEMPLER of this here blog (Instagram: @karentempler)
Master plan: My actual master plan is a grandiose and colorful idea about using the ninepatch method (detailed in the Field Guide) to create a nested-crosses motif (inspired by my favorite pillow) splayed out on a big cocoon cardigan or something like that, but I’m not ready to commit! Ever since I tossed off that little quip about how you could knit two washcloths and seam them into fingerless mitts, I’ve been consumed with ideas about how to refine that idea. So that’s what I’m doing, with the intention that I’ll publish the pattern in the near term (for those of you sitting on the fence or looking for something small but thrilling to do), after which I may decide to dive into the bigger idea.
Yarn: What’s pictured here is random bits of stash yarns (undyed Snoqualmie, heathery grey Hole & Sons and tweedy black Shelter) but I don’t know for sure! I’m torn between really really wanting to do this from stash and really really wanting to pull off a very specific look, which is …
Palette: … inspired by this Ace&Jig textile I’m obsessed with called Mural, pictured above, which got me thinking about how to distribute the color changes a bit differently than what you usually see in Log Cabin. Mural is ivory, soft grey and black, with ivory running throughout so the whole thing is hazy and muted and absolutely gorgeous. I really want to figure out how to emulate that here, and not have it quite so stark as my swatch. Which brings me back to the dilemma between what’s in my stash and what might better achieve this little goal. We’ll see what I wind up doing.
Concerns/trepidations: Well, I’ve never knitted any log cabin before, which is why I’m telling myself to take a bite before shoving a whole pie in my mouth. But halfway into my swatch, I was already entirely addicted. So I guess my concern is how I’m going to get myself to do anything but this in the coming weeks!
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Master plan: I would share a drawing, but I am eternally bad at pen and paper. You might think how is this lady a creative! Thank goodness I’m making a rectangle. A good ol’ fashioned scarf and wrap. Simple, classic shape … can’t go wrong and easy to explain.
Yarn: I am using a limited run small-batch yarn created for YOTH by Abundant Earth Fiber. The yarn was dyed in the wool by us and then spun into the most luscious heathered and marled goodness along with squishy and beautiful natural cream. It’s not available yet, but my hope by participating in this log-along is that I will have a lovely pattern and yarn to release when I’m done. Perfect timing.
Palette: Mine is definitely predetermined by the yarn we collaborated on with Abundant Earth Fiber: monotone moody blues and cream for the scarf size, and earthy golden mustards and cream for the wrap size. My inspiration behind this project is my love of buffalo plaid, a board checkered plaid pattern, and I wanted to recreate the look of this woven pattern using a gradient of marls and solids.
Concerns/trepidations: I’m pushing the boundaries a bit with calling this project a Log Cabin, but I hope that this helps folks see the different styles and endless options when a couple traditional styles are tweaked and morphed together. I guess you could say my log cabin project is about as simple as you can get — a bunch of squares connected to make a rectangle. I’ve read a bit on Log Cabin history, studied up on the wonderful Mason Dixon’s Log Cabin Field Guide, and I’m finding that the true essence of Log Cabin is the building of repeated blocks that come together as a whole and create a dynamic bigger picture when looked at from afar. Fingers crossed my scarf and wrap can live up to that.
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Master plan: I’m making a … hmmm I’m not sure what to call it exactly! A cowl/neckpiece/mini poncho/bandana cowl. In my head I’m calling it the “log cabindana” but I haven’t said that out loud yet. It’s a neck scarf that dips down front AND back, because I’m always chilly in the chest/neck area.
Yarn: I’m using scraps, in the spirit of real log cabin quilting. Plus I’m a scrappy girl.
Palette: I’ve pulled together a pile of scraps with a palette of muted colors and neutrals, reminiscent of a woolen quilt.
Concerns/trepidations: Um, no. But now I’m concerned that I should have concerns …
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Master plan: A blanket. I haven’t made a blanket in a while, and log cabin blankets are the most sublime kind of blankets to make. It will be one of a kind, drawing from ideas featured in not one, not two, but three of our MDK Field Guides.
Idea 1. The basic design will riff on one of my favorite blanket patterns ever, Kay’s Ninepatch Blanket from Field Guide No. 4: Log Cabin. I’ve loved this idea—a blanket with a wonky color rhythm, with squares of varied sizes—ever since Kay showed me the quilt that inspired it.
Idea 2. I’m obsessed with the knit-purl textures that are central to Field Guide No. 5: Sequences. Cecelia Campochiaro figured how how to make complex fabrics that can be created easily, once you get the hang of her clever techniques. I want to make the squares using sequences that I pull out of my head.
Idea 3. And then! I want to make this blanket without using mitered squares—not because I don’t adore this technique, but because sequence knitting in miters would be a tricky thing to pull off.
Eliminating miters opens up the construction possibilities. The blanket no longer needs to be made in squares with nine patches. It can be made in long strips of squares. Long strips are a sequence knitter’s best friend. If I work the blanket in long strips, the blanket starts to become easier to assemble. A long strip of squares knitted in a variety of sequences, with a variety of colors? That is my idea of fun. And yes, Karen points out that long strips are a feature of the Station Wagon Blanket in Field Guide No. 1: Stripes.
Can these three ideas meet in one blanket? Can log cabin and sequence knitting and long strips exist in the same project? I won’t rest until the answer is known.
Yarn: Tweed. A rustic, worsted-weight, flecky, nuppy tweed. Tahki Donegal Tweed. This worsted-weight yarn was launched in 1968. It’s one of the great, classic tweeds, made right there in County Donegal, Ireland. By presumably Irish people who have tweed running in their tweedy veins. I have made blankets, sweaters, random squares, all sorts of projects involving tweed yarns. Tahki’s tweed is great for a blanket, because it’s sturdy stuff. None of this floofy fakey tweed business. It is made from 100% new wool, period. It’s not merino and it doesn’t want to be, goddang it. I want a blanket that will hold up like a Yeats poem.
We’ve just added Tahki Donegal Tweed to the MDK Shop — one of the happiest days yet in my new life as a yarnmonger. I’ve been carrying around the dozen shades we’re stocking like they’re guinea pigs of woolly hope.
Palette: I’m starting with a universe of neutrals plus greens. The improvisational nature of log cabin makes me think I may go off the specific grid of colors laid out in the Ninepatch Blanket schematic. I reserve the right to crack open my Deep Stash Tweed for supplemental colors if necessary. Overall, I find that when I start a log cabin blanket with a pile of yarn that looks great together, it’s hard to go wrong.
Concerns/trepidations: A blanket is a lot of knitting. But I have done this at least five times before, so I know I’m strong for it. A lot of people don’t understand how addicting log cabin knitting is. And sequence knitting has a just-one-more-row fascination to it. I want to cross the finish line on this knitalong with two yards of Donegal Tweed left, a worn-out size 8 needle, and me gasping from the fragrant, 100% new wool.
I have a lot of questions to answer. Will the various sequences hold up visually and read as squares? Will the colors fall in an amiable way? Will I ever fix dinner again, or will I vanish in the delicious Bermuda Triangle of log cabin sequence knitting? Stay tuned.
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Master plan: I’ve made a ton of log cabin blankets, so I’m tempted to go in that (always happy) direction, but the idea of a garment that uses log cabin structure has been in my mind for a long time. Debbie New’s book Unexpected Knitting has a log cabin pullover, and at least one runway collection in the past 10 years has included a sweater featuring a log cabin block front and center. (I know this because people email me all log cabin imagery.) I was intrigued by the idea, but not attracted to these sweaters. I want something a bit more subtle, where the log cabin graphic doesn’t shout. The drawing in your sketchbook of a simple, sleeveless top that essentially is two squares sewn together, with arm and neck openings, inspired me. I decided to start with an existing pattern, Dianna Walla’s Vasa, which I’ve knitted before. Instead of knitting the two rectangles straight up from the bottom, I’m constructing them using log cabin, starting with a center strip and building the fabric around that strip. I’m going to just keep knitting, adding strips until I get to the dimensions of a boxy pullover that fits me well.
Yarn: I’m using Jade Sapphire’s Sylph, a lightweight blend of linen and cashmere, mainly because I’ve wanted to knit everything in this yarn since discovering it a year ago, but also because I think the shimmy and drape of Sylph will counteract the blockiness of log cabin.
Palette: I’m going with a single color, Eddy, which is a kind of greenish-greyish-beigeish. (I’m already second-guessing this decision. Will I miss the color play of log cabin? Wouldn’t it be more fun to use two tonal shades, or a gradient?)
Concerns/trepidations: My main concern is: Can this be done successfully? I don’t want this sweater to be gimmicky or contrived. I want the log cabin construction to function as surface design, and for the sweater to otherwise be a flattering, wearable top. I’m using the “courthouse steps” arrangement of the log cabin strips to make a less blocky block, and even as a small swatch, the fabric has a nice loose swing to it, so I’m hopeful!
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Ok, everybody — see you over at #fringeandfriendslogalong! And of course we’ll have more to share both here and there in the coming weeks, including prize news/details back here on Friday—
PREVIOUSLY in Log Cabin Make-along: Imagine if this were Log Cabinized