Logalong FO 1 : My fingerless mitts

Logalong FO 1 : My fingerless mitts

This goofy Fringe and Friends Knitalong tradition of my interviewing myself about my finished project — in keeping with my interviews of the rest of the panel — feels even goofier this time around, since I’m going first! And yet, here goes:

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At kickoff for the Log Cabin Make-along, you noted that you’d chosen a small project for yourself, fingerless mitts, to keep your first-ever Log Cabin project manageable. Now that they’re done, how do you feel about that decision?

I’m very pleased with myself for making that call, and have been having a blast with this little mitts project. What got me hooked on this idea was the construction challenge — exploring the various ways I could imagine of joining a square into a fingerless glove with a gusset, with the hope of finding a solution that was creative and polished and in keeping with the methodologies of log cabin knitting, all at the same time. And which would also be describable for others. (What I might have done were it just me could be different from what I ultimately did, which could be put into pattern form.) So I got to learn and enjoy the basics of log cabin knitting, while also solving this really fun construction puzzle.

I wanted a proper thumb gusset, not just a tube with a slot for the thumb (like these and these). And I wanted the right and left mitts — the log cabin patterning of them — to be mirror images of each other, which requires that they be worked differently. So in the end, it’s two book-matched squares followed by the fun of joining them into the round and sculpting the thumb gusset, which is done in a way that I’ve never seen before (although who knows) and am really proud of.

So you’re loving the process, but how do you feel about the finished object of them?

I am beyond in love with them. In fact, as I told Ann and Kay this weekend, they’re so pleasing to me on so many levels that it feels like they might be the only truly clever thing I’ve ever done in my life. Except I can’t really take much credit — unplanned bits of brilliance simply revealed themselves when I molded the first one into a tube. The top and bottom strips form extremely tidy cuffs, and the long vertical patch down the palm allows some stretch, like ribbing, so it hugs the hand really nicely. I do take credit for the sculpting of the gusset! The geometry of it all really lights me up, and the log cabin essence of them makes them unique and intriguing among all the hundreds of mitt patterns I’ve ever seen and loved. They are SO fun to make. Plus they lend themselves to so much creativity and variation as far as mapping out color and placement! They’ve given me that old “knitting is MAGIC” jolt. Not a bad way to start off a new year.

You were a little torn over yarn, wanting to emulate a textile you love on the one hand and wanting to knit from stash on the other hand. (Not literally, ha! Although that’s a thought …) How did it shake out?

I needed to knit more than one version so I had them to experiment with as far as the joinery and thumb construction. After finishing up the original one from stash yarns — which was the crudest of the rough construction attempts — I decided I really needed to see how it would work with marls, for less contrast. I already had natural Shelter in my stash, so I bought a skein each of the black and grey Shelter marls, and used those for the next iteration. Then being more torn than ever, I put a pic on Instagram and the marl version was overwhelmingly the crowd pleaser. Given that I’m planning to publish the pattern, I also thought it would be good to have the sample be in a specific, available yarn, so I went with the Shelter trio.

There will be lots more of these knitted from my random stash, for sure. I want monochrome ones, sequence textures, flashes of color … all the variations. These are an absolutely fantastic project for odds and ends.

Logalong FO 1 : My fingerless mitts

There are sort of two philosophies or camps in the #fringeandfriendslogalong community — those who are hell-bent on keeping stitches live (binding off and picking up as little as possible) and those who savor the bind-offs. Which do you fall into?

While I totally get the impetus and would love to try something free-form and live-stitch at some point (I’m sure it’s faster), I am definitely Team Bind-off-pick-up. I really like the little shadow line you get in the work, the way it emphasizes the geometry of it all. It adds an architectural character that I really really love. But what I never imagined was how you get that sense of satisfaction that comes with binding off any project — over and over and over. I think that’s a big part of what makes log cabin knitting feel so satisfying to me. The tidiness and that “done” feeling, with each completed patch. It feeds my OCD.

Plus picking up stitches is such an important skill in knitting, so the more practice the better, right?

You originally had a bigger, more complex idea in mind and said you might tackle it after the mitts. Is that next?

First I want to knit another dozen pairs of these, lol. And I’m so into all of the boxy sweaters happening on the hashtag, and tempted to do something along those lines. So I don’t know if the cardigan/cocoon/kimono idea will come to fruition or not. Only time will tell! But no matter what, there’s a lot more log cabin in my future. I’m truly grateful to Ann and Kay for recruiting me into the cult.

And about the mitts pattern: When?

As soon as I can finish getting it written, edited and laid out! I’ll be moving on it as fast as possible, because I’m so eager to see what others will do with it. If anyone wants to test knit in the nearer term, let me know!

Pattern: Coming soon [UPDATE: Here’s the free Log Cabin Mitts pattern!]
Yarn: Shelter by Brooklyn Tweed in Fossil, Newsprint and Narwhal
Pictured with: Vanilla cardigan

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To see how everyone else is faring, check out the #fringeandfriendslogalong feed.

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PREVIOUSLY in Log Cabin Make-along: Insights and inspiration from the feed

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Insights and inspiration from the Log Cabin Make-along

Insights and inspiration from the Log Cabin Make-along

I’ve finished my log cabin mitts, and am trying to figure out how I would/could maintain this blog if all I ever knit henceforth are more and more and more of them. Which is to say I am extremely pleased with how they’ve turned out (already started another pair, now that I’ve made this little discovery) and totally addicted to log cabin knitting. I hope to have photos to share next week, with the pattern soon to follow. Meanwhile, the #fringeandfriendslogalong feed continues to be a hotbed of creativity and inspiration and observation — already approaching 700 posts!

In addition to designer Julia Farwell-Clay’s incredible Richard Diebenkorn-inspired shawl-in-progress pictured above, influences cited have ranged from Paul Klee and Josef Albers to weaver Margo Selby (thanks, Cal!), a photo of Kirsten Dunst in Rodarte, indigenous textiles of Togo/Ghana, and yes, even a pay phone. Once you get log cabin in your head, inspiration is everywhere! The scale of projects underway ranges from a beer koozy to a circle skirt to sweaters and blankets galore. There are people exploring keeping stitches live and others savoring the recurring sense of satisfaction that comes with each bit of bind-off; some free-forming their blocks while others map out every detail; and still others starting projects without any idea what they might become (gosh, what a lot of pretty knits). And then there’s the log cabin meets Hello Kitty meets pussyhat hat.

Basically, you never know from one minute to the next what marvelous knitted block or insightful thought you might encounter! If you’re still on the fence, I would urge you to pick up some needles and a bit of yarn fluff from your stash, and knit a square. Then pick up sts along the side and knit another square. Then a rectangle alongside those. See what happens to your brain and where the exercise takes you! And like I said, I’ll be along soon with that mitts pattern, and then we’ll see if you can stand to not cast on.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, see the Log Cabin Make-along intro, Meet the panel and timeline posts. And whatever you’re up to this weekend (marching? knitting? cleaning house?), I hope it’s a good one! See you back here on Monday—

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PREVIOUSLY in Log Cabin Make-along: How to avoid, minimize and weave in ends

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Logalong: How to avoid, minimize and weave in ends

How to avoid, minimize and weave in ends

We all know one of the deterrents to any multi-strand or patchwork project — such as Log Cabin! — is how many ends it can leave you to weave in. Even the most sanguine among us — the ones who will extol the virtues of end-weaving as closure and bonding and meditation — can sour on the process when faced with too many of them. Ends are a fact of life, but not only are there lots of methods for weaving in ends, there are at least as many ways to minimize them! Which is what I’ve polled our illustrious Log Cabin Make-along panelists about for today. (There’s also lots of general community advice under How do you weave in your ends? and a good overview of basic methods in this Purl Soho tutorial.)

I have it comparatively easy. First: My fingerless mitts project consists of two 7-inch blocks — plus some appendages and fanciness — each made of 9 strips, so even if you changed colors on every single strip, the absolute project maximum would be 36 ends. (As compared to a blanket?) Second: Mitts have a wrong side. Nobody will ever see the inside of them, so it isn’t as critical for them to be artfully done. That said, all I’m doing is sliding my tapestry needle one direction under a stack of bumps, then back the other direction, as seen above. Done.

Were I more concerned about it (or more accurately, if I could remember to do it!), I would knit them in as I join each new color, which is done in the same way as trapping floats in colorwork. For this, I hold my working yarn in my right hand and the yarn to be trapped in my left hand. Every-other-stitch, for maybe 10 stitches or so, insert your working needle into the stitch to be worked and under the strand to be trapped, wrap the working yarn around the needle as usual and pull up the stitch. You’ve caught the loose strand in the backside of the stitch, and it won’t show on the front of the work. (Very Pink demonstrates an alternative version here.) Once you’ve trapped it a handful of times, snip off the rest of the end. For many people, this is sufficiently neat and tidy to be done even on a blanket or such where the back of it will inevitably be seen. If you want it to be more like invisible, or not to exist in the first place, here’s the rest of the panel with further thoughts and ideas! And of course, if you haven’t checked out the #fringeandfriendslogalong feed, I highly encourage you to do so!

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Logalong: How to avoid, minimize and weave in ends - Russian Join

VERONIKA JOBE of YOTH Yarns (Instagram: @yarnonthehouse)

One of my tackles with my Log Cabin project has been the many ends I’m producing. Now, don’t get me wrong! I actually find a peace and rhythm in duplicate stitching my tails in place at the end of a project, but when we’re talking 18 ends per 9-block square, that makes even me cringe. I have high hopes in publishing this beauty as a pattern and kit at the end, so cutting down on work that the common knitter dreads is key.

I started by posting on Instagram to see what my community had for suggestions — went through various comments and links, eventually landing on the good old-fashioned Russian Join. I am by no means an expert at the Russian Join, but I do have some experience under my belt with this technique. If you are up for wanting to try it out for the first time, I highly recommend watching one of the many YouTube videos out there and seeing the actual process. [Editor’s note: My first introduction to Russian Join was this Susan B. Anderson video.] Here are just my little tips and tricks that I found useful!

1. I like to knit to the end of my row where I want my transition to happen, mark it using a thin removable marker inside the plies of my yarn, and then unpick 6-8 stitches back so I have enough room to work with.

2. My preference is to overlap my yarn ends about 3″. Most tutorials recommend 2″, but I like to lean on the side of caution.

3. Not all yarns like to be invaded and create a nice opening down the center, so I just weave my end in and out of the plies in a various manner. Nothing too precise. The key is to get that end to lock in. Weave or slide in further than you think. If you end up having a little tail sticking out, don’t worry. You’ve left yourself a whole 1″ cushion and you can just snip it off!

4. You can easily tighten or loosen your gauge a bit to make sure that the transition lands right where you want it to once you start knitting.

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Logalong: How to avoid, minimize and weave in ends

KAY GARDINER of Mason-Dixon Knitting (Instagram: @kaygardiner)

I have a tough-love attitude about weaving in ends: I just do it.

With log cabin, which typically is worked in garter stitch, it’s not an unpleasant task, as it’s easy to hide the ends by weaving them back and forth through the “bumps” of the garter ridges. (The two photos of the WS of my piece show a mess of ends and then how neatly they disappear when woven in.)

I try to minimize the number of ends, for the sake of the integrity of the piece. It’s a game: When I eliminate an end, I win. One firm rule: I never cut the yarn after I’ve bound off a strip if the next strip is in the same color, as is the case with certain color schemes.

Logalong: How to avoid, minimize and weave in endsIn the case of my log cabin pullover, I’m knitting all the strips in a single color. If I were working the basic spiral log cabin block, around and around, I’d never have to cut the yarn until the main body piece was finished. Unless there was a knot or break in the skein (aka an Act of God), I’d have only 2 ends!

But my strip layout is done courthouse-steps style, with 3 sides that form a U shape. The pattern requires you to work the two side strips (which are identical) before working the bottom strip of the U. If you go back and forth knitting Side A and then Side B and then the bottom strip (C), you may end up with more ends than necessary.

After working the initial Side A, I cut the yarn. I start with new yarn to knit Side B. I do not cut the yarn after Side B; I then work Side C, the bottom strip that completes the U, then (without cutting the yarn), I work Side A of the next layer of the U.

Then I have to cut the yarn, go across the piece to the other side, and start Side B. But I knit 3 strips with only 2 ends—victory is mine!

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CAL PATCH of Cal Patch (Instagram: @hodgepodgefarm)

I’ll be the gloater here because crochet has the clear advantage of being able to hide ALL THE ENDS as I go! I should really write  a post about it — I have several tips — but this one shows the main part of it.

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ANN SHAYNE of Mason-Dixon Knitting (Instagram: @annshayne)

Blanketophobes whinge on about all the ends that a log cabin blanket generates. I say phooey.

When you change colors, just wet splice the yarns. If you’re working with non-superwash pure wool (like the Donegal Tweed I’m using), or alpaca, you can eliminate virtually all ends by wet splicing (or spit splicing, which just sounds gross but there it is).

In this blanket, I stop seven stitches from the end of a square and break my yarn, leaving a tail about five inches long. Then I splice the new color to this tail and knit to the end of the row. Voila: the new color emerges at just about the right moment. With no ends to fool with later. 

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Thanks, panelists! And I want to hear from the rest of you: What’s your strategy? Weigh in below!

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PREVIOUSLY in Log Cabin Make-along: How to crochet log cabin and Elsewhere

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How to crochet Log Cabin

How to crochet Log Cabin

There have been a couple of questions about how to apply log cabin to crochet, which I honestly hadn’t anticipated! I think that’s because, to me, log cabin seems like knitting emulating crochet. I grew up making granny squares, where you pick up stitches in your previous work, work your way around and around, change colors, add on as much as you like, until it’s however big you want it to be! So crochet feels inherently modular and freeform and adaptive to me, and log cabin seems like you’d just be filling in the strips/shapes with crochet stitches instead of knit stitches. But since I am not a seasoned crocheter (much less log cabin-er), and the questions got me wondering whether there’s more to consider than I realize, I put it to the official crocheter on our Log Cabin Make-along panel, Cal Patch:

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Log Cabin — in its strictest form — is about creating strips of color one after another. You knit a square, then knit another square, then knit a strip alongside them the same length and width as the two squares together. Then continue adding strips (laying logs) around and around and around, each one the width of the edge you’re working off of and always the same height. In knitting, it’s typically done in garter stitch because (as Ann pointed out to me the other day) stitch and row gauge even out in garter — 10 stitches wide will equal 10 ridges tall, or 7×7 or 30×30 or whatever scale you want to work with. So you can make a square 10 sts by 10 ridges, for instance, then another 10×10, then each strip is a multiple of 10 sts wide and always 10 ridges tall. How does that correspond in crochet as far as how to calculate how many stitches and rows to work along each edge. Is it important to stick with single crochet?

Well, my immediate thought is that I never assumed the height of the logs needed to be consistent! I should note that I’ve never read or learned any actual official guidelines of Log Cabin-ing; my main influences would be the Gee’s Bend school of improv quilting (example here or here) and Denyse Schmidt (example), who is also an improv quilter. That said, whether one wants their logs to be of consistent height is a separate decision from the stitch to be used, and its dimensions. I’m actually using Half Double Crochet for my project, which isn’t square at all, but it’s true that Single Crochet would be closer to square, though not exact. I tend to not concern myself with the actual number of stitches or rows, but rather work to a measurement. My rectangles will need to finish at certain dimensions to fit together properly.

Of course, there’s no reason you have to stick to those 1×1 dimensions, either — you can make narrower or wider strips or blocks, get all creative or improvisational with it, which starts to make sense once you’re doing it. True for knitting and quilting alike — and for crochet, yeah?

YES!!! That’s what I’m talkin’ about! I have always seen log cabin as a very loose, scrappy, improvisational technique. Clearly I’m not an architect! Did I mention that Wonky is my middle name?

Is there anything else you think people need to know before they try their hand at a crochet log cabin block? Or any particular resources you would recommend?

I would just dive in and play, at least to make a swatch, and then it will make much more sense (if it’s not already). The basic principles of log cabin knitting will apply to crochet as well, with the exception of actual stitch counts. Many knit patterns could probably be translated stitch for stitch into single crochet. One can definitely sketch and plan in advance, and map it all out, if that’s what makes one’s heart sing. But having taken a class with Denyse Schmidt in which you have to blindly grab your next strip out of a bag and use it whether you love or hate it, I prefer a more serendipitous approach (aka “winging it”).

One idea for actually fitting your crocheted squares/rectangles into something like a sweater, vest, hat or other type of project is to look at patterns designed for granny squares, since they are also blocks! That might get those wheels turning. (Examples here and here)

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Thanks, Cal! I’m sure there will be others with additional or differing opinions, so please do leave your thoughts below!

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PREVIOUSLY in Log Cabin Make-along: Highlights, timeline and prize news

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Logalong highlights, timeline and prize news

Logalong highlights, timeline and prize news

There are already more than 200 posts on the #fringeandfriendslogalong feed and I’m giddy with all the variety and eager for what’s still to come! Speaking of what’s still to come, here’s are those details I promised you—

Upcoming blog posts will include varying perspectives on how to handle your ends as well as guidance for crocheters, and I don’t think it will be very long before we start having panelist FOs to talk about! (And hopefully my little mitts pattern even sooner.) But let me know if there’s anything else in particular you’d like us to address as a panel.

TIMELINE

I don’t usually set an end date on knitalongs (blog content will come to a close around the end of Feb, but you’re always welcome to keep going) and I’m especially reluctant to do so with the Logalong since the range of projects underway is so broad. I mean, some of those blankets could take awhile! (Unless you’re Ann, a knitter possessed.) So there’s no firm end date, but we do need to set a date as far as …

PRIZES

I always say I’m conflicted about prizes because your finished object is your prize! — not to mention all the fun and learning and camaraderie along the way — but then I go and make up a whole bunch of extra prizes like I did with Summer of Basics because, let’s face it, prizes are fun. So I’m declaring the following prizes which will be drawn from all posts on the #fringeandfriendslogalong feed on February 28th and announced the following Friday here on the blog. Your project does not have to be complete at that time; I’ll simply be choosing from all contributions made to the feed between now and then.

One winner for each category will receive a $100 gift certificate* to Fringe Supply Co.:
• Best Laid Plans — for the most inspired or creative concept
• House Proud — for best photos/documentation
• Square and True — for best traditional use of log cabin
• Thinking Outside the Block — for best non-traditional use of log cabin
• Like Cabin (aka Mock Cabin) — for best adaptation/variation on modular knitting

Plus: I’ll do a random drawing of 5 posts from within the feed and those posters will each win a Field Bag in the color of their choice.*

As Jeff Probst would say, “Worth playing for?”

Bonus: Ann and Kay are giving away a Ninepatch Blanket Kit — details on how to enter that drawing are on MDK today.

EARLY HIGHLIGHTS

The photos above are a few of the many standouts from this week’s posts on the hashtag. I didn’t intend them to be color-coordinated, but the feed has a definite palette to it so far! Click through to each one to read and see more—

TOP: @sari_n_’s amazing improvisation

MIDDLE LEFT: @phoebe.lle’s fascinating sock-fixing plan (note to Phoebe: can I have this?)

MIDDLE RIGHT: @dottidee’s persistence

BOTTOM: @knit_frog_repeat’s lovely little schematics

And of course, there’s so much more goodness to be found on the full feed, so I encourage you to check it out even if you’re not playing along.

Happy weekend, everyone!

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*Note that your posts must be visible in the feed to be eligible, so post them using a public Instagram account and the hashtag #fringeandfriendslogalong. Contest is open to participants worldwide but all winners will be responsible for their own shipping fees.

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PREVIOUSLY in Log Cabin Make-along: Meet the panel!

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Log Cabin Make-along: Meet the Panel!

Log Cabin Make-along: Meet the Panel!

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!

. . .

Log Cabin Make-along: Meet the Panel!

VERONIKA JOBE of YOTH Yarns (Instagram: @yarnonthehouse)

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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Log Cabin Make-along: Meet the Panel!

CAL PATCH of Cal Patch (Instagram: @hodgepodgefarm)

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 …

. . .

Log Cabin Make-along: Meet the Panel!

ANN SHAYNE of Mason-Dixon Knitting (Instagram: @annshayne)

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.

Log Cabin Make-along: Meet the Panel!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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Log Cabin Make-along: Meet the Panel!

KAY GARDINER of Mason-Dixon Knitting (Instagram: @kaygardiner)

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—

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PREVIOUSLY in Log Cabin Make-along: Imagine if this were Log Cabinized

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Imagine if this were Log Cabin-ized

Imagine if this were Log Cabin

In dreaming and scheming about your project for the Log Cabin Make-along, there are a couple of ways to think about it: choosing from existing log cabin patterns (some of which are noted in Ideas and Considerations), or applying log cabin to other sorts of things. Whether you use the original Log Cabin block or any of the variations taught in MDK’s Log Cabin Field Guide (ninepatch, etc), what it leads to is squares. Those squares can be knitted at any scale and joined into bigger squares or rectangles or T shapes, so the most obvious and straightforward thing is simply to make a square or a rectangle. That might mean a washcloth, a blanket or a scarf, but it certainly doesn’t have to. A small square can be a kerchief while a big airy square can be a shawl (folded into a triangle or otherwise). Add a button to a rectangle and it becomes a little wrap. But there are also loads of garments that are as simple as squares/rectangles sewn together in various ways — the most rudimentary being two squares sewn together with gaps left for head and armholes — and there’s no reason the fabric couldn’t be log cabin. Think how great any of these would be if you knitted them to the pattern’s dimensions but in log cabin patchwork fabric rather than plain stockinette:

TOP: Inversion by Jared Flood is one of countless two-way cardigan patterns in the Ravelry database, pretty much all of which are composed of joined rectangles and/or simply a big T shape with strategic seams. In the case of Inversion, it’s just two rectangles. See also Purl Soho’s Prewrapped Wrap (free pattern) for a T version, or the magnificent Veronika cardigan

BOTTOM LEFT: Easy Folded Poncho from Churchmouse is a creative reinvention of the rectangle and a perfect blank canvas for some patchwork

BOTTOM RIGHT: My First Summer Tunic from Berroco (free pattern) — referenced with mods described in this Knit the Look post — takes the “two squares equal a box top” idea and adds drop-shoulder sleeves.

NOT PICTURED: World’s Most Basic Fingerless Mitts pattern by Me right here right now: Knit/crochet a 7″–7.5″ square in the log cabin style of your choice (aka a washcloth! there are six options right in the book). Fold in half and seam into a tube, leaving a 1.5″ gap (the thumbhole) 2″ from the top edge. Repeat for second mitt. (In other words, imagine these are a log cabin square seamed to fit as pictured.)

Of course, if you’re willing and able to think it through, there’s no reason you couldn’t go so far as to work simple armhole and/or neck shaping into your log cabin block, for something as rudimentary as a Sloper (minimal armhole and neck shaping) or Loopy Mango’s cropped pullover (no armhole shaping, minimal neck shaping on the front) — or as fancy as you’re capable of plotting out!

Really, the sky’s the limit. What are some of your favorite patterns or projects made up of squares or rectangles? And do you know what you’re making yet?

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PREVIOUSLY in Log Cabin Make-along: Ideas and considerations