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

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—

1. YARN / GAUGE
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.

2. COLOR
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?

3. PATTERN
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.

4. SCALE
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!)

5. SHAPE
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.

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PREVIOUSLY in Log Cabin Make-along: Striped cabin

Top photo © Terhi Montonen, used with permission; pinboard here

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New Favorites: Striped cabin

New Favorites: Striped cabin

I’m trying SO HARD not to get sucked down the log-cabin rabbithole just yet. Honestly — in addition to how much time I could easily spend just dreaming up ideas for the Log Cabin Make-along — I’m afraid if I decide on a course of action too soon, I won’t be able to resist casting on before New Year’s. However, I ran across this Misha & Puff pattern and nearly fell off my stool, and had to share it right away. They call it simply the Heirloom Blanket, and the palette is exquisite, but I am so wowed by the deft incorporation of speckles and stripes here. This one is entirely made of mitered squares seamed together (which is all fine and dandy) but could also be done with the ninepatch log cabin technique found in MDK’s Log Cabin primer.

I can imagine making this beauty at wrap size and never not wearing it.

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: (Holiday) hat mania!

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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!

WHAT IS LOG CABIN?

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.

THE PLAN

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.

THE SCHEDULE

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!

HOW TO PARTICIPATE

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.

PRIZES?

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

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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?

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