New Favorites: Summer blues

New Favorites: Summer blues

So I’m thinking about summer sweaters, and what jumps into my path right on its annual cue? Crochet. Namely, these two cuties from Wool and the Gang, both simple as can be—

TOP: Walking On Sunshine Sweater, which is just so much beachy goodness that I find myself wanting it even though it’s all the things I don’t like on me! (Boatneck, drop-shoulder, wide sleeves … and yet.)

BOTTOM: Hot in Here Dress, which is tunic length, but I would do it cropped and bigger/boxier (And wear with a tank or camisole underneath!)

I’ve still never knitted/crochted a WATG pattern but I’m super into that recycled denim yarn used for the top one, while the bottom one has me wondering whether you could crochet with Kestrel. Anyone ever tried it?

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New Favorites: Raffia

New Favorites: Raffia

Summer is coming, and I am totally into this collection of super-simple crochet patterns that Wool and the Gang has released for their new yarn, Ra-Ra Raffia. I have a big trip coming up this summer (tell you about it soon!) that I need a crushable hat for, which is basically a life-long wishlist item. I do not have a head for hats, so we’ve talked before about how if I could bring myself to crochet one, maybe I could actually get it to fit me right! This perfectly plain one makes me want to give it a try:

TOP: Joanne Hat looks so chic in black and a little like an upside-down planter in natural, but the latter might be more practical

BOTTOM: Paper Gangsta is a classic crocheted market bag that, once again, is making me want to make such a thing! (For knitted options, see: Market bags)

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Elsewhere

Elsewhere: Yarny links for your clicking pleasure

Happy Friday! This has been one of those weeks that I’ve felt like I was dragging myself through quicksand trying to get through my to-do lists, so I’m extra excited about the weekend and some creative time!

But first, I’ve got a healthy stack of links for you to click around in today—

– One of my very favorite projects from the #fringeandfriendslogalong is @sari_n_’s blanket (photo above), and she’s now posted an in-depth video on YouTube talking about how she’s going about knitting it

– Also, Bonne Marie Burns has published the pattern for her beautiful rendition of “courthouse steps” blanket (20% off with code LOG for a limited time)

– I’m so excited that the long-awaited Vintage Shetland Project has come to fruition, and can’t wait to get my hands on a copy

– How are your favorites faring in MDK March Mayhem?

Here’s a guest list I wish I’d been on!

– “I’ll try anything,” I told her. “Just don’t make me stop knitting.”

– Meanwhile, studies continue to show knitting reduces depression, anxiety and chronic pain (thx, Rach)

– Pretty excited about Denim Days

Yes, please

These swatches. And these.

– “If you have ever wanted to crochet an eyeball …” is my favorite random phrase from Insta lately

– and What’s in your tool pouch? A little or a lot? (Tell me here or there!)

Have a fantastic weekend — see you back here next week!

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PREVIOUSLY: Elsewhere + Mitts No. 6

Mini Porter + Elsewhere

NEW! the Mini Porter, limited quantity

Happy Friday! First things first: There’s a fun little oddball in the webshop today, which we’re calling the Mini Porter — cutest thing ever. It’s a happy accident, basically — the lemonade we made from a batch of wrongly cut canvas that was intended for Porter Bins, so the quantity is inherently limited. Get one while they last! (Also new or back in stock of late: black Porter BinPlain & SimpleWoods and A.L.J.; Lykke Driftwood interchangeable short tips and crochet hooks both now available individually; Wool Soap!; and mini matte scissors in highly amusing sheep shape.)

And, a wee Elsewhere:

“I love your look! Who’s the farmer?”

How the Faroe Islands got their landscape onto Google Street View (hint: sheep!)*

What Brandi said

Love this interview with a bespoke jeans maker

Gimme

Style muse of the week

I’ll have this crocheted blanket, and the pup to go with

– and I want to make a bullet journal so I can have a page like this

Have an amazing weekend, and remember: Just a few more weeks till I start doling out Logalong prizes! See you on the hashtag? #fringeandfriendslogalong

*gravest apologies — I’ve lost track of which of you sent me this link!

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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!

. . .

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.

. . .

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. 

. . .

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

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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:

. . .

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)

. . .

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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