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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The case of the unfinished cardigan

The case of the unfinished cardigan

I keep thinking I’m right on the brink of being able to do an FO post about my blue Bellows sweater, but instead today I’m giving you the UFO version. Reader, I shelved it.

This is a classic case of “so near, and yet so far.” The sleeves and body were finished two weeks ago. I got more yarn for the collar, calculated my mods, then labored over that for a few nights last week, wrestling this blue wool octopus in my lap. This weekend was one of those rare cases where I actually had a couple of hours each on Saturday and Sunday that I could choose to spend knitting or sewing. Saturday, I dutifully finished up the collar. Sunday, I started setting in the sleeves. And as I was doing it, I went from thinking about how many other things I should be doing with that time (namely, the hats), to how many other things I wanted to be doing right then (uh, making myself a new pair of pants), to how absolutely devoid I am of any notion of what to wear this with. I’ve been saying all along that I imagined it would mostly get worn with leggings and slippers on the couch on bitter cold nights, and that’s all well and good. But I’m having to face the actual, stark reality that, other than couchwear, nothing. Blank. Nada single outfit in mind.

Don’t get me wrong — it’s a killer sweater. It’s both bigger and bulkier than my first Bellows. I love my mods, and it seems like it will fit exactly as I intended. It’s just a surprisingly odd shade of blue. Beautiful, but odd. In my head, it’s the same light blue of the sample sweater. But in reality, it has green and purple undertones that make it weirdly hard to pair with anything else in my closet. It would be ok with ultra-faded denim … if I had any. With the dark denim I actually own, it seems kind of dour. (At least right now; that combo might seem fine next fall. Fingers crossed.) And it’s somehow just slightly off with everything else.

Given that the window is just about closed on it for this year anyway — I mean, there might be another day or two before spring officially arrives — I started genuinely resenting the precious time I was spending on it. So I stopped and assessed. The sleeves are set in and look fantastic. Still to do are seaming the sleeves and the sides, sewing down the pocket linings, giving it another full-sweater blocking to settle the collar and seams, weaving in the ends, and sewing on buttons. And at that point, I said to myself, “Self, put it away.” You can finish it and figure it out next year.

This is not like me — I live to cross things off of lists. Having an open item like this is enough to keep me awake at night for the next eight months. But I feel good about this decision. I’m putting this guy and the purple lopi sweater (still awaiting its refashion) into the closet, folded neatly and out of the way. And I’ve made a note on my calendar in October to pull them out and get them ready for the return of the cold weather. I can imagine how excited I’ll be to have two near-sweaters waiting for me then, like a gift.

Bellows pattern by Michele Wang in limited-edition yarn from Harrisville Designsall Bellows posts

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PREVIOUSLY in Projects: The February hats project

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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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