Log Cabin: Ideas and considerations

Log Cabin: Ideas and considerations

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—

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



Fringe and Friends new-year knitalong: Preview and plans!

Fringe and Friends new-year knitalong: Preview and plans!

Ok, announcement time! If you had a theory about the next Fringe and Friends Knitalong based on my former teasing, you may still be right … eventually. But for this next one, I’ve decided it’s high time to do something I’ve been talking about forever, plus this time I want to base it on a technique rather than a specific pattern (or even a garment type). How many times have I said I want to knit a big stash-busting blanket? Except there’s the minor drawback that I don’t actually want to knit a whole blanket. However, I am endlessly intrigued by Log Cabin construction. So this time around, I’m inviting you to join me for a little log-cabin free-for-all! Keep reading: This is even more exciting than it might sound!


In a nutshell, log cabin is a method of knitting — based on traditional log cabin quilts — where you knit modularly, picking up stitches along one edge of a square and continuing to knit, then proceeding to build off the other edges, so the work expands organically rather than being seamed together, and without any intarsia. (Although there are cases where you might knit large blocks of log cabin and then seam those together.) It’s patchwork for knitters.


My friends Ann Shayne and Kay Gardiner over at Mason-Dixon Knitting — two of the smartest and most entertaining knitters I know — have very strong feelings about log cabin, so I’m teaming up with them for this one, and the starting point will be their fourth Field Guide book, Log Cabin, which contains an overview of how log cabin construction works, with assorted variations and three patterns, from which boundless things could be made. You are welcome to follow any of those,  or any other log cabin patterns, such as, say, the Albers Cowl or the Mitered Crosses Blanket or the Log Cabin Shawl. But what I love about using log cabin as the basis of this is that YOU CAN MAKE ANYTHING you might dream up. In addition to the myriad ways there are to knit log-cabin style, just think of all the things there are in the world that you can construct from squares or rectangles — washcloths, pillow fronts, blankets, wraps, sure. But also cowls, box tops, shrugs, ponchos, ruanas. You could inset a panel in something, or knit a yoke and sleeves and join it to two big log-cabin blocks for the body. Truly, there is no end of ideas, and I can’t wait to see what you all might think up!

On top of that, whatever you make could be monochrome, ombré, tonal or rainbow-colored, in garter or textures. (More about that later.) And in addition to being rife with possibilities, this is a totally beginner-friendly idea, and makes room for those who want to make garments as well as those who do not. You could even be a quilter or crocheter or weaver and still play along! It is 100% up to you! And of course, you’re not required to work from stash, but that is one of the great benefits of this sort of knitting/crafting.

Between now and kickoff, we will be peppering you with ideas and food for thought, but the best starting point is the pocket-sized Log Cabin Field Guide, with its tutorials, and two posts on the Mason-Dixon blog: Start Small and Things Get Interesting.


We’re all headed into the thick of holiday bustle and holiday knitting, and we want to do this during selfish-knitting season, which means you have from now until the end of the year to conceptualize, swatch, paw through your stash for yarn and color palette ideas, and formulate a plan. And we’ll cast on January 1st.

That’s also when I’ll announce the rest of the panel, but you’ve probably already guessed Ann and Kay are on it!


To knit along (or crochet- or quilt-along) simply use the hashtag on Instagram or wherever you post: #fringeandfriendslogalong. You’re welcome and encouraged to share your planning between now and then, but try to refrain from casting on until the official start date if you want to be eligible for prizes and all of that.


Sure, probably! We’ll have details at kickoff time. ;)

. . .

I think this is the most excited I’ve ever been about a FAFKAL, and I’ve been mighty excited about them all. Like I can’t stop thinking up ideas, and have had to forbid myself from opening up my stash bins and starting to gather yarns until I’ve crossed off certain other more urgent matters from my to-do list. But you will see me scheming here soon. How about you — are the wheels already turning in your mind?




And the winners are …

Summer of Basics winners

I’m not the least bit sad that summer is over and September is here, but I am sad that Summer of Basics is coming to a close! I’ve been so blown away and inspired by what everyone was making, and just by how many people jumped in and really challenged themselves, that I fully expect to suffer withdrawal as it begins to die down. (And I definitely have post-project depression now that my fisherman sweater is done.) Most of all, I’m hugely thankful to everyone who took me up on the challenge. I wanted to push myself this summer, and I might very well not have completed either my first button-up or my first pants if not for having such good company in which to tackle them.

But now it’s time for prizes! You know how I feel about this: The real prize is the garments you made and the experience you gained and the fun you had on the #summerofbasics feed. (Even real-life friendship. Geez, tearjerker right here!) But we do have some great giveaways to announce, just to gild the lily. For my part, I was smart enough to make Fringe’s contribution a random drawing — I am so glad I don’t have to actually judge, because you guys have made it way too hard! The three remaining prizes will be announced on the respective prize donors’ blogs this week as follows:

Wednesday: Best Modification/Alteration to be announced on the Kelbourne Woolens blog
Thursday: Best Combination of Garments to be announced on the Grainline Studio blog
Friday: Best First Garment (knitted or sewn) to be announced on the Fancy Tiger Crafts blog

So make sure you check in at each location to see who won, as well as what the fine ladies of Kelbourne-Grainline-Fancy made!

And for today, the winner of the random drawing for the $100 Fringe Supply Co. gift certificate is <drumroll> @stephaniebastek! This skirt Stephanie made with her mom’s guidance and her grandmother’s thread was one of my favorite stories along the way, so I smiled wide when I opened my eyes and saw what my finger had landed on. Go read it. Stephanie followed this (her first sewn garment) with two lovely dresses. (This skirt is Colette’s Zinnia pattern.)

. . .

Despite everything I just said, I’ve decided to add some fun bonus prizes just because there’s so much amazing stuff in the feed, I wanted to be able to call attention to a few more people. So the following participants are each getting a Fringe Field Bag in the color of their choice:

• The “Someone Distract Her While I Steal Her Stuff” Award goes to: Actually, nope, I can’t pick. There are too many contenders!

• The “That is TOO MUCH” Medal goes to: @callmedwj for her matching pup-and-me sweaters

• The “I Love Her Attitude” Prize goes to: @whitneyknits, go read that caption

• The “Upcycling Genius” Grant goes to: @radiolazyy for this absolutely stunning jacket made from three old pairs of black jeans, wider shot of all three drop-dead gorgeous garments here. (Honorable mention to @tanneicasey for her hand-stitched, handmade espadrilles fashioned from her kid’s old jeans)

• The “Why Didn’t I Think of That” Certificate goes to: @beththais — I would never have thought to get that chic little sleeveless top out of the Reeta Shirtdress. So good!

• The “Workplace Chic” Commendation goes to: @mariecarter, and I can’t believe those are her firsts!

• and the coveted “Damn, She Makes Pregnancy Look Good!” Badge goes to: @claireallenplatt

If I’ve just mentioned your name, please email me at <contact@fringesupplyco.com> to collect your prize!

. . .

A lot of people have asked if I’ll be hosting this challenge again next year, and I think that’s a pretty safe bet. Seriously, thank you so much for making it such a blast! Thanks so much to Grainline Studio, Fancy Tiger Crafts and Kelbourne Woolens for the amazing prizes! And if you missed the full three months of wonder, at least check out the #sob17finisher feed. I promise you’ll feel inspired.


PREVIOUSLY in Summer of Basics:

Here and there

Lykke "Driftwood" DPNs and crochet hooks

This has been quite a week. In addition to the events in the news and the impending eclipse, I’m sure a lot of you are in the thick of back-to-school and all of that. With everything happening — especially surrounding the fundraiser — I didn’t manage to pull together an Elsewhere for today, but there are a couple of things I want to make sure nobody missed:

– Most important: my thank-you note and what happened next with regard to the fundraiser. I still feel completely bowled over (in the best way) and so inspired by what transpired on Wednesday. You’re amazing, amazing people.

– Also super important: Monday’s further details on how to submit for Summer of Basics prizes. (13 days left!) The finishes are rolling in and they’re so good! See #summerofbasics

– And in long-awaited shop news: We now have Lykke “Driftwood” double-pointed needle sets and crochet hook sets available! Omg so gorgeous.

Have a fantastic weekend—





It’s almost Summer of Basics prize time!

It's almost Summer of Basics prize time!

Somehow it’s already the middle of August — two-and-half weeks (or two weekends, as I think of it!) till the official end of the Summer of Basics Make-along. There are already more than 2000 posts on the #summerofbasics feed — y’all have been busy! — so I want to take a minute to zero in on how to submit for the chance to win a prize. (Last-minute pattern suggestions if you haven’t started yet.) The prizes themselves are recapped below, along with what hashtags to use, but since everyone’s been making multiple garments, posting multiple photos, over the course of multiple months, we’d really appreciate it if, whenever you’re finished, you made one final post summarizing what you did and using the appropriate hashtags.

You can do this any way you like, but here are some suggestions and examples taken from the feed:

1.) Take one photo that includes all three finished garments — they could be on hangers or a clothesline or in a “flat lay” on the bed or floor, whatever works. See @valendra25‘s post above as an example (she’s not finished yet but you get the idea) — and she’s used the multi-image function to include one pic of the fronts and one of the backs! Which is awesome.

2.) If they are able to be worn together in a visible way, take a pic of yourself wearing them all! I like the way @liwarlin did side-by-side images of herself with and without the sweater. You could also do that with the multi-image function, as well as actually pairing them up like she did.

3.) Take multiple photos and use the multi-image function to include them all in a single post like @toastedthread did here — go swipe through her images to see. I love that she included a flat lay (so we can see the bra from under that tank!) and also her original plan. We’ll be looking for your progress shots in your feed, but the notion of using multi-image to recap and tell the tale is really fun, so consider something like that!

Make sure you tag your finale post #sob17finisher, along with #summerofbasics and any other applicable prize tag below.

As an alternative to Instagram, you may do a blog post (or Ravelry, etc) about your three finishes and leave a link in the comments below, and just include the appropriate hashtags so our judges know which ones to consider for which prizes.

MOST IMPORTANT: If you’re submitting for the Best Mods prize or the Best First prize, please make sure to tell us the details of that! Especially the mods, since your cleverness and success in what you did will be the deciding factor and we won’t necessarily be able to discern that from the photos, so tell us about it in the caption!

Let me know if you have any questions — and thank you all for being such awesome companions in this little adventure!

. . .


To be eligible for any prize, you need to have completed 3 garments within the June 1-August 31 time frame. (Please do not enter garments you’ve previously finished.) To enter any of the categories below, use the appropriate pair of hashtags when posting your finished garments. Please only use the prize tags that your garments qualify for:

Best Modification/Alteration
PRIZE: 4 skeins of Fibre Co’s new yarn for Fall from Kelbourne Woolens
The winning garment might be either knitted or sewn, but the prize is yarn so only enter if you’re into that! Be sure to tell us what changes you made from the pattern(s) you started with.
HASHTAGS: #summerofbasics + #sob17bestmod

Best First-Timer
PRIZE: 4 sewing patterns + $50 gift certificate from Fancy Tiger Crafts
It’s cool if you’re a knitter entering your first sewn garment or sewer entering your first knitted garment, or it can be the first garment of any kind you’ve ever made!
HASHTAGS: #summerofbasics + #sob17bestfirst

Best Combination of Garments
PRIZE: $100 gift card from Grainline Studio
We’ll be looking for 2-3 pieces that work exceptionally well together. They might be sewn, knitted or a combination, but the prize is sewing patterns, so only enter if you’re into that!
HASHTAGS: #summerofbasics + #sob17bestcombo

Random drawing
PRIZE: $100 gift certificate from Fringe Supply Co.
I’ll draw a name at random from all qualifying posts!
HASHTAGS: #summerofbasics + #sob17finisher

Winners will be announced in early September.


PREVIOUSLY in Summer of Basics: Hot patterns and last-month ideas





Great scenes from the Summer of Basics so far

Great scenes from the Summer of Basics

You guys realize next week is August? And you know what comes after August? SEPTEMBER! We’re almost through summer, and already 2/3 of the way through the Summer of Basics Make-along. There have been so many great garments and moments and photos on the #summerofbasics feed so far, and I thought today would be a good time to share just a few:

TOP ROW: From @ashleybennett88, this is such a clever way of solving the tricky problem of shooting pattern+fabric choices, while also spelling out her three-part plan for SoB. (NOTE: She’s just getting started — you can, too!)

SECOND: Likewise, this is such a gorgeous photo and sweet scene by @paddleboatstudio, which also happens to be a killer idea for showing off finished garments. Hannah appears to have been something of an SoB overachiever in June!

THIRD ROW: The “look at my new PANTS!” twins, @bethtais (her intro post here) and @sv_azimuth (her original plan here)

FOURTH ROW: Such a great, summery WIP scene by @hi.hilde, who is knitting her first-ever socks (her full plan here)

BELOW: And proving that “basic” doesn’t have to mean either boring or neutral, there’s this amazing shot of @callmedwj in her rainbow cardigan, which clearly not only thrills her but will work with everything in her closet and get a ton of wear. Basic at its finest. ;)

What are some of your favorites so far, and how are your projects going?

Great scenes from the Summer of Basics





Summer of Basics: A feed full of well-laid plans

Summer of Basics: A feed full of well-laid plans

We’re already a month into the Summer of Basics Make-along and the #summerofbasics feed is beyond amazing. You all are beyond amazing. All I have to show for myself so far is half of a sleeve (and a damn fine half-sleeve it is) whereas some people have already finished a couple of garments and others are still mulling their plans. All of which is perfectly dandy! This is meant to be casual — jump in any time. Before we get any further from the official start line, though, I had the urge to highlight a few standout planning posts and the people behind them—

Clockwise from top left; click through for the full images and to read all about them: @rachelbeckman, @shedabbles, @jennaashburn, @thestoryclubpdx, @valishungry, @a.klat, @kirsten_weis, @cutikula.

I particularly love the sentiment behind this remark from Jenna Ashburn: “Less than a year ago I would have said [making jeans] is something I could never do, but no one ever got a perfect pair of low rise skinny jeans with that attitude.” Perfect of not, I’m saying amen! to everyone who’s doing something they once thought unthinkable, whether that’s sewing a straight line or knitting a first garment or whatever the case may be.

PLEASE NOTE: None of the above has anything to do with any of the prize selection at the end — each of the sponsors will be making their own prize selections and mine is a random drawing. (Prize details are here.) As I said, these are just some of the many plans that jumped off the screen at me and that I wanted to share, especially for those who might not be following every post to the feed.

What are some of your favorites? And how are you own plans going so far?


PREVIOUSLY in Summer of Basics: Charting a course for my fisherman sweater