Ebony and ivory (2018 FO-4)

Ebony and ivory (2018 FO-4)

I know it seems like I’m just knitting Log Cabin Mitts here, but that’s not how it feels to me. There’s something primordial about it. I’m having a reaction. Succumbing to an addiction. Scratching some itch that I don’t quite understand and am enjoying more than I can describe. I mean, the knitting is really fun, and the finished mitts are super cool and useful and feel good on my hands, so on that level they’re an obvious delight. There’s also something almost subversive about it, since I add onto them in life’s interstices — knitting a patch in a stolen moment here and there. But more deeply, they’ve stirred the old graphic designer and art director in me. Plotting out a succession of compositions and color combinations (and photos thereof) is feeding my creative self in a way I haven’t felt in awhile. And when I’m not knitting them, I have intense withdrawal. I literally dream about them, and my hands yearn for them when I’m doing other things. I can’t think of a parallel experience.

With the multiples — which show no sign of letting up anytime soon — I suspect I may have embarked on an epic art project of some sort, the shape of which hasn’t fully revealed itself yet … if there is one. (I’m imagining my obituary: Elderly woman found dead in her sparsely furnished home, next to boxes containing hundreds of pairs of fingerless gloves …) For now, I’m content to just keep making them, as often as possible! Exploring the possibilities presented by my Porter Bin of odds and ends, which I’ll keep dipping into for as long as doing so feels this satisfying.

This pair — number three to reach completion — is the most graphic one yet, and I adore them. The undyed wool is Tolt’s Snoqualmie Valley Yarn and the off-black is Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Cast Iron. (Here’s this pair on Ravelry if you’re inclined to put a like on it!) And I’ll tell you about that toffee-colored one in progress, soon …

Of course, it’s also really fun seeing so many of these showing up in the #fringeandfriendslogalong and #logcabinmitts feeds, as well as on Ravelry. Have you cast on yet?

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PREVIOUSLY in Log Cabin Mitts: Glorious grey, the originals, and the free Log Cabin Mitts pattern

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New Favorites: Colorwork mitts

New Favorites: Colorwork mitts

Not that I want to distract you (or me!) from your Log Cabin Mitts plans ;) but there have been so many amazing fingerless gloves patterns published in recent months that I’ve decided to break them into small groups! Today, let’s talk about these colorwork gems—

TOP: Pinwheel Mitts by Ella Austin is small-scale allover stranded colorwork, used to magnificent effect on long gloves

MIDDLE: Frost Flowers by Dianna Walla involves just a little bit of worsted-scale colorwork around the hand, combined with generous ribbing and an afterthought thumb

BOTTOM: New Year’s Mitts by Veronika Jobe features beautiful use of a mosaic stitch pattern (no stranding or intarsia) blending a solid neutral with a variegated yarn and gorgeous shaping

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Unrelated shop news — or, related in the sense of containing many great patterns, including some excellent mittens — the big beautiful book Woods is back in stock. And Lykke Driftwood crochet hooks are now available individually!

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Plain and Simple

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Glorious grey mitts (2018 FO-2)

Glorious grey mitts (free knitting pattern)

And my second finish of the year is … log cabin mitts! I’m off sweaters, you guys — only knitting these from here on out. Or until I blow through my entire bin of DK/worsted-weight yarn, at least. Seriously though, this has been a week and I’m flying to Denver this morning for about 10 minutes, so for today I wanted to quickly A) show you my newly finished mitts and B) say the biggest THANK YOU for your response to my Log Cabin Mitts pattern, which was camped out at #3 in Hot Right Now yesterday, thanks to all your fave-ing and queueing, which was the nicest possible thing that could have happened. And there are already multiple versions showing up in Ravelry and on the #fringeandfriendslogalong feed. I’m deep into my ebony-and-ivory pair and happy to see others doing color! For those wondering “what was the deal with the timeline and prizes again?” I would like to direct you to Timeline and prize news. Plenty of time to jump in!

IN SHOP NEWS: In addition to the beautiful new Pam Allen book, Plain & Simple (discussed yesterday), we have the black Porter Bin back (yay!) and, finally, short Lykke interchangeable tips available in standalone pairs! And we have many sold-out lengths and sizes of the fixed circulars back in stock, as well. Other recent arrivals include sashiko thread, Little Seed Farm balms, sheep scissors, “A.L.J.” … so many of your favorites. So if you’ve been looking for something, check Fringe Supply Co.!

Have a fantastic weekend, everyone — see you back here next week …

• Log cabin mitts in Hole & Sons yarn (no longer available, but see its cousin, Isle Yarns)
• Worn with Junegrass Cline
Field Bag from Fringe Supply Co.

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PREVIOUSLY in FOs: Logalong mitts

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Log Cabin Mitts (free pattern)

Log Cabin Mitts (free pattern)

Alright friends, the wait is over. Today I give you the Log Cabin Mitts pattern, in all its addictive glory! I mention in the head matter on the pattern that these are cleverly constructed (if I do say so myself) and a great use for small amounts of yarn. What I didn’t mention is that once you start, you can’t stop! Their bite-sized, garter-stitch nature makes them ideal for just always having one going, to be reached for at those odd moments where you can’t pick up whatever you’re really knitting, so instead you’ll just add a patch onto your current square. And before you know it, voilà, you’ve got another pair finished. (How do I know? I started my fourth set on Monday night.) Not to mention, you can pretty much just keep a WIP in your pocket and no one will ever know.

Download the free pattern right here!

They’re also ripe for color play, of course. The pattern is written for 3 colors in a certain arrangement, but you can color them in however you like. Look, I even made you a coloring book! Print this out and have a blast filling it in a hundred different ways—

Log Cabin Mitts (free knitting pattern) by Karen Templer

Here are some I colored in to get your wheels turning. The black/natural one in the upper left is what I started on Monday night!

I’m proposing a little #mittalong as a sub-along to the #fringeandfriendslogalong. I’m getting my head checked, don’t worry — but in the meantime, please use the hashtags #mittalong and #logcabinmitts when sharing on Instagram, and tag @karentempler just to be safe.

If you love these Log Cabin Mitts, please take a moment to like or queue it on Ravelry, to help let the world know it’s there! And I absolutely cannot wait to see what you make with it.

Log Cabin Mitts (free knitting pattern)

RELATED LINKS:
How to avoid, minimize and weave in ends
“Interview” about these mitts
Fringe and Friends Log Cabin Make-along timeline and prize details

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PREVIOUSLY in Free Patterns: Jumbo Basketweave Cowl, redux (all patterns here)

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Queue Check — January 2018

Queue Check — January 2018

It’s been my goal for my blue Bellows that I would knit it start to finish (other than the partial sleeve-swatch) within the month of January. For two reasons: 1) I’d like to wear it. I have a bad habit of finishing sweaters just as it becomes too warm for them, and have to immediately put them away for next year. And 2) my sister and her family are going on a ski trip in March, and at Christmas I offered to knit them each a hat. In order to have any hope of having all four hats done on time, I’ve set myself a firm start date of Feb 1. Meanwhile, the cardigan is in jeopardy.

I was on track to have the back piece finished and bound off on Friday night, soaked and onto the blocking board before I went to bed, so it’d be dry and ready for next steps by Sunday morning. The collar on Bellows is a project unto itself, so it was imperative that I take advantage of a little window of opportunity Sunday morning to (at minimum) get the shoulders seamed and the collar stitches picked up, so I could knit that over the ensuing couple of evenings and be done on schedule. ALAS, at the last minute, I realized I should have been listening to the voice in my head that had been saying all night “this seems like a lot of fabric.” I am often smart enough to check stuff before bind-offs, and so just for good measure I spread the back out next to me on the couch and popped the unblocked front piece on top of it. And yup, I had gotten carried away the night before. I’d been dutifully pinning a marker on every 10th row, knowing the fronts were 60 rows from ribbing to underarm and thus that my sixth marker would mean I was ready to begin shaping. (Ref: Count, don’t measure.) And yet I’d knitted 70 rows. Did you know that marking your rows for easy tracking only works if you actually count your marks?

So I lost half of my Saturday to removing the bottom ribbing and first ten rows, and getting it back onto the needles before re-knitting the ribbing downwards. I thought this would be faster than ripping back 44 rows at the top and reknitting them on Saturday night, but that would have been the wiser move. Rookie mistake: I didn’t realize knit-purl rows aren’t so easy to rip upwards. In the end, fixing it this way took just as long and cost me a bunch of aggravation and a fair chunk of yarn. During which I also realized I might not have enough yarn for the collar anyway! So it’s not currently where I wanted it to be, and is now vulnerable to being shunted aside while I turn to the four-hats project.

Meanwhile, one of the hats is actually started — ostensibly the quickest one. It’s Lancet in charcoal-colored Quarry, and I say “ostensibly” because it’s a sort of annoying chart — wide and fussy and not predictable or memorizable — which could slow me down. But still, chunky gauge.

I’ll tell you about the whole set of four hats when I haven’t already gone on for three paragraphs about my 10 extra Bellows rows! And the other thing that has magically appeared during my time on my mini-stepper this month is most of another pair of my log cabin mitts, this time in cherished Hole & Sons leftovers from my vintage waistcoat a few years back. Mitts pattern imminent …

Unless any of the four hats prove conducive to mini-stepper knitting, the log cabin-while-exercising will continue into Feb.

Bellows pattern by Michele Wang in limited-edition yarn from Harrisville Designsall Bellows posts
• Lancet by Jared Flood in Quarry color Slate
• Log cabin mitts in Hole & Sons (no longer available, but see its cousin, Isle Yarns)
Lykke Driftwood needles from Fringe Supply Co.

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PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: December 2017

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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Someday vs. Right Away: Cables, please!

Someday vs. Right Away: Cables, please, for the love of knitting

It dawned on me the other day that I am stuck in the longest stockinette spell of my knitting life — by a looooooong shot. I looked it up: Not only have I apparently not knitted a cable since finishing my Bellows in February 2015 (!), I haven’t even knitted a textured stitch pattern since Hermaness Worsted, last Summer. There was some colorwork last Fall, with my Cowichan-ish vest and my Laurus, but that’s just fancy stockinette. I have literally knitted nothing but stockinette for over a year.

Think about that for a minute.

No wonder I’m so desperate for a cable to knit! I think there will have to be cables involved in my Top-Down Knitalong sweater. Or if not, I’m casting on something like Bronwyn, up top, immediately thereafter. But now that I know how long it’s actually been, I don’t even know if I can wait that long. The logical thing to do, for an immediate cable fix, would be to pick up my poor abandoned Seathwaite (bottom left) from October’s hatalong. (I set it aside until I could find a quiet, daylight moment to do the join round, and have yet to accomplish that.) But over the weekend I also saw Dianna’s version of Ysolda’s Inglis Mitts (bottom right) and had major nostalgia for my mitt knitting days.

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PREVIOUSLY in Someday vs. Right Away: Crochet skills