Sunday, June 7, 2009

Mom's Squishy Log Cabin

Seems like most of my blog here has had something to do with log cabin knitting. I guess that's just my current knitting obsession. I fell in love with the ones featured in the Mason Dixon Knitting book and started experimenting. My original "scrappy" log cabin is still in progress, and I keep it next to my spot on the sofa so that when I'm in between other projects or just don't want to have to think about my knitting at all I pick it up and work on it. It may not be finished until it's winter again, who knows. I'm on no deadlines, and that's what I love about it, along with it being an awesome way to use up leftover partial balls of worsted solids.

On May 1st, with Mothers' Day fast approaching, I decided to look at what I had on hand for something to make my mom. She really can buy anything she needs, that's the trouble with buying gifts for grownups. She's allergic to wool, but when I was just barely learning to knit I knit her a lap throw out of Lion Brand Homespun, and she loves that throw. She loves that it's washable, and gets softer with every wash, but she hates having to wash it because then she doesn't have it there next to her recliner for a bit. So as I looked through my stash and found several skeins of Homespun in complimentary colorways I decided I would use them to knit her a lap throw log cabin style. I had the tan, red, and purple, but decided I needed one more colorway to break them up, so I used my Joann's coupon to get the multi-colrway that incorporates all three of the original colors.
In true log cabin tradition I started with a red center square, then just chose whichever one I wanted to use next, never really following the same sequence, but just making sure I didn't use the same colorway for adjacent blocks. I started kind of late, so she didn't get it until the Saturday AFTER Mothers' Day, but it's the thought that counts, right? Now she can use this while washing the first one I made her, and vice-versa. Currently it's thrown over the headrest of her recliner, giving her a nice squishy place to lay her head while napping.

Here's the finished throw:

Here's a view from above:

I've been asked to try to remember what I did, perhaps write a pattern. What I will do first is to refer you to the book Mason Dixon Knitting. And also this tutorial from their website/blog, and the entry dated Feb 15 2004:

That will give you the basic premise behind the technique of log cabin knitting and start you on your way. You'll only be limited to your imagination and what needles/yarn you are using. Another bit of advice... don't use Homespun for your first attempt, expecially if you have never picked up stitches before. Homespun is fuzzy, and it was difficult to find where to pick up the stitches at time. If I were you I'd start with solid color worsted weight yarn or solid color bulky weight yarn. But if you're going to make the attempt, I guess I can make an attempt at a pattern, right? So without further ado here it is:

Mom's Squishy Log Cabin*:

For this blanket, you'll need 4 skeins Lion Brand Homespun, each a different colorway:

  1. Using red (or your first chosen color) yarn and a size 10 circular needle (just to help distribute the weight, you're not going to be knitting in the round here) cast on 12 stitches, turn your work and then knit back and forth, turning your work each time you get to the end of the row, until you have 7 garter ridges. On a right side row(your cast-on tail will be hanging from the "tip-end" of your needle) , cut your working yarn leaving a 4-6" tail and
  2. start knitting with your next color. Knit back and forth until you have knit 7 garter ridges of the new color. At the beginning of the next right side row, bind off until one stitch remains on the needle. Keeping the right side facing you,
  3. turn your work one quarter turn clockwise to the right and using your next colorway knit the final stitch on your needle. Keeping with that new colorway (cut the 2nd color leaving 4-6 " yarn tail) pick up and knit a stitch between each garter stitch ridge until you get to the end of that side of your rectangle. Turn your work and knit back and forth until you have 7 garter ridges. On your next right side row, bind off loosely until one stitch remains on your needle.
  4. Turn clockwise and using the next color you've chosen knit the remaining stitch. Then with that new color pick up and knit a stitch between your garter ridges, and then pick up and knit a stitch along the side of your original cast on stitches. Turn your work and knit back and forth until you have 7 garter ridges with right side facing you. Again bind off loosely until one stitch remains, cut the working yarn leaving a 4-6" tail and
  5. turn your work to the right (remember: each time you turn your work to the right, it is just a quarter turn). Using the same color you used for rectangle #3, knit the final stitch on the needle, then pick up and knit one stitch between each garter ridge of rectangles 4, 1, and 2. turn your work and knit back and forth until you have 7 garter ridges, ending at the start of a right side row. Bind off loosely until a single stitch remains on the needle, then
  6. turn work one quarter turn to the right. Your original color is now the center square surrounded by 4 rectangles, each a different color than the center, and no color is touching a square of the same color. Using your red (or original) color yarn, knit the final stitch on the needle and pick up and knit one stitch between each garter ridge of rectangle 5, pick up and knit each cast off stitch along the top of square 2, and pick up and knit a stitch between each garter ridge along rectangle 3. turn your work and knit back and forth until you have 14 garter ridges, and continue in this fashion. When you get all the way around and have a knit 4 sections each with 14 garter ridges, the next series of rectangles will have 21 garter ridges. Once you have gone all the way around the square again, it's time to start your border. Using the yarn of which you have the most left on the skein (in my case it was the tan) do the next section with 5 garter ridges, and continue all the way around, but when you bind off and turn, don't cut and change colors, continue with the same color, until your blanket has a border of 5 garter ridges on each side. On the final side with right side facing you bind off looser than ever, in fact, I would suggest using a needle the next size up in your right hand for the bind off to ensure less wonkiness along that side. Turn your blanket over and weave in the 4-6" tails that are at all of your color changes, and you're done! For further clarity, I've provided a picture of the blanket with the blocks numbered in the order they were completed. The 6 bullet points above tie directly to the beginning of the first 6 blocks on the photo below. Now go make your own!
*copyright 2009 Julia Murtha: You may use my pattern to make items for charity or for personal use, but do not use it for profit. Please do not reproduce this pattern in entirety, but instead link to this page.

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Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States
This is my place to talk about crafting, what I make, and maybe even why I make it.