Logalong FO No. 2 : Ann Shayne

Logalong FO No. 2 : Ann Shayne

Our second Log Cabin Make-along Panelist to cross the finish line is the lovely Ann Shayne, whose talent competition entry is her sure-to-be-prizewinning blanket combining Sequence Knitting textures with Log Cabin modularity. (That is, if she’s brave enough to go up against crowd favorite DG Strong at the state fair.) As you’re about to hear, Ann’s blanket is basically a 5-foot-square love letter to knitting itself, and she’s shared the recipe for it and lots more photos over at Mason-Dixon Knitting. Here she is to tell us all about how it came to be, and how it turned out — thanks, Ann!

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You’re the only one of the panelists to knit that most traditional of log cabin projects — the blanket. You’ve knitted a fair number of log cabin blankets before, and yet you found a way to make it completely new and not at all traditional. You’re also the reason we coined the term “Mock cabin,” as you were working from a mélange of inspirations: log cabin, sequence knitting, blankets done in strips, etc. Remind us how this idea came together in your head, and how do you feel about how it came together in 3D?

First of all, you need to know that this has been the most fun I’ve ever had knitting. The combination of a yarn I love, an open-ended set of knit-purl patterns, and a knitalong to motivate me: wow. I’ve never made a blanket in eight weeks. Thank you for this knitalong, Karen! Amazing.

I started with the Ninepatch Blanket (a pattern in MDK Field Guide No. 4: Log Cabin)—I like the play of squares and proportion in that blanket. But having just published MDK Field Guide No. 5, all about knit-and-purl sequence knitting, I couldn’t see making a giant garter-stitch blanket — I wanted to play with sequences. That meant an instant diversion from the Ninepatch pattern, but not from the basic idea of blocks knitted one onto the next.

By the time I finished figuring out the plan, the Ninepatch idea had morphed. I scaled up the squares so that the sequences would read better. I ditched the miters in the corners. I was all about the textures and variety of sequences. And colors — a big part of the fun in the knitting was playing with the placement of the eight colors.

You and I talked at one point about how vast you were originally going to make this beast, and ways you could edit it down a bit. You wound up trimming out a few of the originally planned rows for a large throw size — although it might seem smallish to the uncommonly tall members of your household. Are you happy you scaled it down, or wishing you’d gone all the way? (Of course, it’s modular — you can add on anytime you like!)

Extremely glad to have scaled it down—I believe it was you who pointed out that I could finish faster if I … just ditched some strips. It’s 5 feet by 5 feet, and it seems to be about the same size as my other knitted blankets. The TV room is starting to look like a knitted blanket store.

I love that you’ve used this very traditional Irish donegal yarn for your #traditionalnottraditional blanket. Your original comment on this is one of my all-time favorites knitterly observances: “I want a blanket that will hold up like a Yeats poem.” Happy with how that worked out?

I continue to adore this yarn. I just returned a few of the unused skeins to our Shop, and I was actually sad. Tahki Donegal Tweed has been around since 1968, and there’s a reason for that. This blanket will outlive me, and that makes me weirdly happy.

You also posed some questions to yourself at the outset of this: “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?” So … ?

The squares turned out well. Loved seeing the textures emerge. As the strips of squares accumulated, I started to care more about how the sequences would land next to each other. There are definitely varieties of knit-and-purl sequences — some are flat, some are dimensional. Some read really easily, and others are so subtle that it takes 30 rows of knitting even to know what the texture looks like. I’d like a mulligan on a few of the squares—subtle textures on a dark yarn don’t sing, and the pleated sequences need to be surrounded by non-pleated sequences.

The colors landed OK. I did a last-minute 180 on one of the strips, which caused two dark squares to land next to each other, which I had wanted to avoid.

Dinner fixing? Maybe next month?

You’ve been smitten with log cabin for years, whereas this whole sequence knitting thing is a new infatuation. How do you rank them? And what’s it really like to take two highly addictive knitting concepts and meld them into one project? I’d ask if you’ll ever be able to knit stockinette again, but you’ve just banged out a Carbeth.

Sequence knitting is something I’m evangelical about. Find peace through knit-and-purl patterns! Life is so great when you’re knitting sequences! I want everybody to try it, because there’s such surprise and fun to be had. And yes — it works, totally, to combine log cabin knitting with sequence knitting.

You also noted in opening remarks that you didn’t want to include miters in this blanket, which are central to the original Ninepatch Blanket you’ve modeled it on, “because sequence knitting in miters would be a tricky thing to pull off.” Still feel that way, or have you already formulated a new project that does exactly that? If not that, what is next for you and log cabin, do we know?

It’s going to be fun to figure that out.

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PREVIOUSLY in Logalong FOs: No. 1 – My fingerless mitts

Ann Shayne’s twisted sweater of life

Ann Shayne's twisted sweater of life

It’s very very early days yet, but so far the most interesting thing to come out of The Fiber Factor (Skacel’s web-based knitting version of Project Runway) is a little off-Broadway show going on over at Mason-Dixon Knitting. The FF challenges are being announced online, with the contestants given an appropriate number of weeks to complete their entries, so it’s happening in real time. Ann decided to play along at home. The first challenge is to “knit your life.” My response would be a blank stare, with my mouth hanging slightly ajar. No idea. Ann, on the other hand, has responded with a cable sweater, knit from the top down, whereupon the cables go the way life goes. (“There’s no pattern to [this sweater], that’s for sure.”) So simple. So brilliant.

I can’t actually say that this is any more clever than what the official contestants have come up with, as I can’t sit through the individual videos where they announce their plans. (Anyone want to summarize for me?) But I’m looking forward to the moment where the finished pieces begin to appear. Most of all, though, I can’t wait to see what Ann decides about her hem: “Beginning to have superstitious feeling that I can’t ever cast off this hem. Maybe I’ll just leave the stitches on a holder down there. Don’t want to end anything too soon …”

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