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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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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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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