Log Cabin Cloths

Here is a collection of eight cute cotton dishcloths (see my project on Ravelry)! The patterns for six of them are in Modern Daily Knitting Field Guide No. 4: Log Cabin, and the last two I improvised. When I first heard of log cabin, I had no idea what it meant. It is a construction method (originally from quilting) where you start with one section and then modularly add on additional sections, gradually shaping the piece into its final form. For example, let’s look at the first cloth.

This one starts in the middle section. You work all the white rows, then bind off, leaving the last stitch live. Then you turn the piece and pick up stitches along the edge, knitting the blue square on the right. Next comes the smaller gray section on top. You just keep adding on sections of stitches until it’s the right size. But how do you know what is a good size to make each section?

Here is the second cloth, called Courthouse Steps. All these cloths are made with garter stitch, which has the useful property that one stitch is the same size as two rows, or one garter ridge. With this very simple ratio, you can figure out how many rows and stitches to do. In this cloth, the squares are each 12 stitches by 12 ridges (24 rows), and the rectangles are 36 stitches by 12 ridges. Notice that there are squares with both vertical and horizontal ridges, which is easy to make work in garter stitch. So with a little simple math, you can figure out a reasonable size for each section.

As we move on to cloth #3, the L-Shape (the simplest pattern in the bunch with only three blocks), let’s talk about the yarn. I used Rowan Handknit Cotton in six colors: Cloud 345, Slate 347, Ecru 251, Thunder 335, Raspberry 356, and Linen 205. These colors came in the Log Cabin Cloths Kit from MDK, in the Betty Colorway. They have recently added some amazing new colorways that I would also love to use.

Cloth #4, U-Shape, was fun to make because its thinner rectangles were distinct from the squares and large rectangles on the other cloths.

Cloth #5 is called Ninepatch with Miters, which takes inspiration from the classic ninepatch quilt pattern. The construction starts with the three dark blue and tan squares in the middle, then the pink squares are added onto the sides to make a cross shape. The light blue corner squares are made by picking up stitches along both a dark blue square and a pink square, then decreasing in the center of each row to create a miter line.

The last cloth in the Field Guide is the Three-Needle Bind Off. This one is different from all the others in that each of its blocks is made separately. Two blocks are joined by picking up stitches along one edge of each block, then working a three-needle (or joinery) bind-off and finishing with an applied I-cord edging. Using a contrasting color for the joining and edging is a nice touch.

Now we get to my improvisations. I wanted to keep the same 36×36 size as the rest of the cloths, and use all six colors. I decided to do six blocks of 12×18. First I did the middle two blocks, which were straightforward 12 stitches by 18 ridges. Next I did the gray and dark blue blocks as 18 stitches by 12 ridges. The light blue and white were where it got interesting. For the light blue block, I picked up 12 stitches from the side of the gray block. I worked 18 ridges, and on the last stitch of each RS row, I picked up and knit together with one stitch on the side of the tan block. This connected the blue and tan blocks without needing to seam.

Finally, for the eighth cloth, I did a simple pattern of garter stitch stripes. For visual interest, I varied the number of ridges per stripe in accordance with how much yarn I had left of each color. This isn’t strictly a log cabin cloth, but I think it is a nice addition to the set.

This project was a fun introduction to the log cabin knitting approach. It was nice to try a sampling of different log cabin patterns without committing to a large project. Now that I have tried it, though, I have my eye on some beautiful larger projects like the Fussy Cuts Blanket, which uses the amazing multicolor Noro Silk Garden yarn. Maybe next year?

Buying Yarn From Goodwill

Where do you buy your yarn? I have a few favorite online shops (Brooklyn Tweed, Quince and Co., and Modern Daily Knitting), and of course it’s always nice to support local yarn shops. I’ve also seen yarn in thrift stores before, but it was never quite what I was looking for. Thrift stores tend to be hit or miss on most items, but especially for yarn since it depends completely on what donations they have received. I recently learned of a way around this: Goodwill has online auctions!

You can find auctions for all kinds of goods at shopgoodwill.com. Right at the top of the page you can search for whatever you’re looking for, and you get a list of current auctions. If you search for yarn, there are typically at least 20 auctions going on at a time, from Goodwill branches all over the U.S. Most of these auctions are for bulk quantities of yarn, and they tend to be a grab bag of different yarns. The majority I’ve seen consist mostly of low-cost acrylic yarns. Some lots include high-quality yarns made from natural fibers, which I strongly prefer. Whatever you’re looking for, you have the opportunity to get a great deal on a large quantity of yarn.

I think you know where this is going. Yes, I bid on an auction, and I won! My auction was titled “Assorted Cashmerino Aran Silk and More Yarn Skeins”. Hmm, ok, I am familiar with Debbie Bliss Cashmerino. So I browsed the pictures for the auction to see what else was included. I could make out a few skeins of Baby Cashmerino, a couple balls of KnitPicks sock yarn, 17 balls of Rowan Silk Aran (which I looked up and discovered is discontinued), a bunch of balls with no label, and the best part: at least 7 skeins of Brooklyn Tweed Shelter!The Shelter was enough to convince me to bid. I won the auction at $142, which seemed reasonable for the Shelter and Silk Aran alone. Read on to see what was in the box!

Here’s what the box looked like when I opened it up. Mmm, look at all that yarn!

First, there were five balls of Baby Cashmerino.

Next there were two balls of KnitPicks Felici Sport. These would make some nice socks. (And it’s machine washable!)

Then an assortment of unlabeled, partially used balls. I have no idea what these are, but the way they are wound makes me think they could be Rowan. I wonder what project they were used for!

These are definitely Rowan. As I guessed from the auction pictures, there are 17 balls of Silk Aran. This will be enough for a great project…maybe a sweater?

And finally, I was thrilled to discover that there were actually 11 skeins of Brooklyn Tweed Shelter! This is enough to make a gorgeous cardigan I have had my eye on for a while. And this much Shelter by itself would cost more than I paid for the whole lot of yarn.

Overall I think Goodwill can be a great place to buy yarn, if you know what you’re looking for. It also helps to be patient, because new auctions are added all the time. Have you ever bought yarn from an auction? I would love to see what you found.

What I’m Working On: May 2021

Bodhi Leaf Washcloths

FINISHED – See my post here. These linen washcloths are addictive. I have made 15 so far and will definitely be making more.

Isler Hat and Mitts

FINISHED – See my post here. This lightweight hat and mitts set is the perfect warmth for spring! It has been raining lately, so it was cool enough to wear these yesterday.

Mood Cardigan

IN PROGRESS – I’m about halfway done with this beautiful garment (pattern on Ravelry), which is from MDK Field Guide No. 15. It goes pretty fast because it mostly consists of two rectangles made with an easy to memorize lace pattern. It will really get interesting when I’m ready to assemble the pieces and finish it off! I’m using La Bien Aimee Helix yarn in the stunning dark pink Lise colorway.

Mini Clerestory Shrug

FINISHED – I am really taken with all five of Jeanette Sloan’s designs in MDK Field Guide No. 15, and I plan to knit them all eventually. I have too many other projects ongoing to start on the Clerestory Shawl yet, but I realized it might be a good pattern to adapt as a quick little shrug for my three year old daughter. It’s a nice way to practice the two lace patterns that make up the shawl. I just finished this, so I didn’t have time yet to write a post or take good pictures, so the above photo shows how it looked after blocking.

Far Hills Scarf

IN PROGRESS – I got a lot farther with this scarf this month. I’m now over halfway done! I have 3 pattern repeats left to do, then the ribbing and finishing. Here is the pattern on Ravelry.

Garter Stripe Shawl

IN PROGRESS – This shawl is really more like a blanket…it will end up being about 3.5 feet wide by 6 feet long! From MDK Field Guide No. 13, it is a glorious meditation on color, designed by Kaffe Fassett and worked in Rowan Felted Tweed. It is going to take a long time to make, and so far I’m about 7% done.

Log Cabin Cloths

IN PROGRESS – Do you ever feel like you have to knit a certain thing right now and your other projects will justhave to wait? I got that feeling the other day, and dug into my backlog of yarn kits to start on these washcloths. The patterns are from MDK Field Guide No. 4, and the yarn is Rowan Handknit Cotton. These are fun and easy, and get the imagination going. What other combinations of squares and rectangles could I make?

Quince Quarterly Spring 2021

If you’re new to Quince Quarterly, take a look at the enrollment info here: https://quinceandco.com/collections/subscription. I’m currently doing the Level 1 subscription, which costs $50 and tends to be a smaller project. So far, all of the Level 1 boxes I’ve received have been hat and mittens.

This quarter’s project is the Isler Hat and Mitts, by Diana Walla (here’s my Ravelry project). Both the hat and the mitts feature a lace and cable panel, with garter ridges on stockinette making up the rest of the stitches. The mitts are worked at 7 sts/in gauge, which nicely defines the cables and lace. The hat is knit at a looser 6 sts/in gauge, which makes for a looser, more open fabric. I used a US 2 needle for the mitts and a US 4 for the hat.

The yarn is the newish Owlet lace weight wool/alpaca blend from Quince and Co. It is available in 4 lovely undyed shades; I got the medium brown Papuan in my box. I really enjoyed working with this yarn. It’s soft to hold and has a nice depth of color from the mix of wool and alpaca fibers. I normally prefer brighter colors, but that isn’t an option for this undyed yarn, and I ended up loving the neutral brown, which will coordinate well with lots of colors in my wardrobe.

There were a few details I particularly liked about this pattern. First, the lace panel does not always have the same number of stitches; it varies by 2-3 stitches as one row has more decreases and the next has more yarn overs. I had in my mind that lace patterns should always keep a consistent number of stitches unless there is overall shaping happening, but clearly that isn’t true! Second, the garter stitch ridges add visual interest to the stockinette sections, and also help with counting rows and pattern repeats! Finally, the thumb gussets on the mitts are worked with a single increase per round, instead of symmetric increases on both sides of the gussets. Maybe this is common, but I hadn’t encountered many patterns with this approach, and I like the way it turned out.

This project is perfect for spring, since the lightweight yarn lends warmth without being too bulky. Unfortunately, I finished these right when it got too warm to wear them where I live! I wish I had started a month earlier. I’m sure they will be nice to have in the fall, though!

Bodhi Leaf Washcloths

These adorable little garter stitch washcloths (my Ravelry project) are from the Modern Daily Knitting Field Guide No. 7: Ease. The design uses a sport weight linen yarn, Euroflax Sport Weight from Lofty Fiber. MDK has an exclusive collection of mini-skeins in delightful color combinations. I loved them so much I bought all 8 colorways! This is enough to make at least 40 washcloths.

St. Lucia colorway

These little beauties are quick to knit, with each one clocking in at about 45 minutes for me. Although there is a lot of shaping, the pattern is easy to memorize. I had it down pat by my third washcloth. It starts with an I-cord, then there is an increase section with a tiny bit of lace. Next you knit straight for several rows, and finally the tip of the leaf is shaped with decreases.

Santa Fe colorway

Finishing is easy, too – you attach the I-cord to make a little loop, weave in just two ends, and wet block to shape. The blocking step is key if you want the washcloth to lie flat. As it comes off the needles, it has a rounded part in the center that flattens out easily once it gets wet. The linen yarn starts out a little scratchy, but it’s supposed to soften up with use.

Sea colorway

I gave these three sets away for Mother’s Day, along with some lovely hand soaps. I have five more colorways left in my Euroflax stash, and I’m debating which of them to make into more washcloths and which I will use to try other patterns. I’m sure I will be making more of these snack-size projects in between some of my larger projects!

What I’m Working On: April 2021

Most of my knitting time this month was spent on projects in Lettlopi yarn from the Modern Daily Knitting Field Guide No. 17. I really went on a tear, completing 5 projects and starting one more. I find it easy to do a lot of knitting when I love the projects I’m working on! It helps to have a few things going at once so I can switch around what I’m working on, depending on my mood. I also learned that it’s good to have an easy project going – something in simple stockinette or garter stitch – to work on while waiting for things like daycare pickup. I get a lot more knitting done when I can squeeze it into small chunks of time. Let’s see what I got done this month.

Daytripper Cardigan

FINISHED – See my post here. This was a fun, fast, accessible project and I am thrilled with the result. The colors are great, and when I wear it I feel brighter.

Destination Scarf

FINISHED – See my post here. This is a gift for my husband. It turns out he didn’t have a scarf before! Blue is his favorite color, so this will be a good fit for him…next winter. It’s too warm for it right now!

Trinket Mittens

FINISHED – See my post here. I am going to love seeing these pink and black mittens on my hands.

Dalleray Cowl

FINISHED – See my post here. This cabled cowl uses the limited edition Ranch 03 yarn from Brooklyn Tweed.

Swirl Hat

FINISHED – I adapted the Swirl Hat pattern in Field Guide No. 5 for DK weight yarn (Brooklyn Tweed Dapple, a merino/cotton blend) and a smaller finished size so it would fit a preschooler. This meant I cast on only 90 stitches and did fewer pattern repeats. It looks pretty cute!

Far Hills Scarf

IN PROGRESS – This is the only project I started this month that I didn’t finish. I’m making this out of the limited edition Ranch 01 yarn from Brooklyn Tweed, which I managed to get last year before it sold out. It is dyed with natural indigo, so it stains skin, at least while knitting with it. I have to pick times to work on with this yarn when I know I’ll have time to wash my hands really well! I’m about 15% done with this scarf so far. It’s a gorgeous cable pattern that looks great in this yarn.

And that’s a wrap for April! I have a lot of great projects in the pipeline for May. We’ll see if I’m able to keep up this pace!

Dalleray Cowl

This lovely cowl (pattern, my Ravelry project) was designed for the limited edition Brooklyn Tweed yarn Ranch 03: Campbell-Hansmire. The yarn was released in March and is already almost sold out. (I got the last skein of Reef when I thought I was going to run out for this project, though I ultimately didn’t need it.) It is a squishy, soft, sport weight merino that is dyed some really fun colors.

Ranch 03 in Sorbet, Fathom, and Reef

The pattern is pretty straightforward, and like all Brooklyn Tweed patterns it includes careful finishing details. It starts from an optional tubular cast on. Right after the cast on rounds, you rearrange the stitches from 1×1 into a 2×2 ribbing arrangement. I found this to be the most challenging part because there were so many stitches on my needle that it was hard to manipulate them.

Next there were a few decrease rounds to get to the number of stitches required for the main pattern. And then the the cables began! I made the smaller size cowl, which repeats the cable pattern 15 times per round. Most rounds of the pattern are pretty easy, but there is a set of rounds where 14 out of every 15 stitches are involved in cables, so it gets a little tight.

Ready for kitchener stitch grafting

You repeat the entire chart only 3 times, and then there are a few increase rounds and a tubular bind off, and you’re done! The tubular bind off is kind of cool; you separate the knit stitches from the purl stitches on two needles, then do kitchener stitch. It matches the look of the tubular cast on well. I had to look at the cable direction to tell the top from the bottom!

It looks great after blocking!

This is a great project if you want to practice cables that are a step up from the most basic. I recommend trying to cable without a cable needle, since all the cables are only 2-3 stitches. It doesn’t work for all cable patterns, but this is a good one for it. This technique speeds up the work since you don’t have to switch between the main needle and the cable needle.

The yarn is delightfully squishy, and this comes through in the finished fabric. I’m glad I chose the smaller size since I prefer to keep my cowl close to my neck. I’ll definitely be adding this to my wardrobe for chilly mornings/evenings. I highly recommend the Ranch 03 yarn – if you can get any!

Destination Scarf & Trinket Mittens

This post covers two projects I recently made from the Modern Daily Knitting Field Guide No. 17, which exclusively uses Lettlopi yarn. In addition to my beautiful Daytripper Cardigan, I completed both the Destination Scarf (Ravelry) and the Trinket Mittens (Ravelry) this month.

Destination Scarf

For this project, I used Lettlopi in the following colors: Air Blue, Fjord Blue, Stone Blue Heather, Ocean Blue, and Blue. This scarf is primarily a stockinette tube, which means it knits up very fast. It incorporates a colorwork stitch motif in the transitions between colors; the Field Guide includes five stitch motifs to choose from. I picked the Sparkle motif, which kind of softens the lines between the colors but isn’t as graphically pronounced as some of the other motifs.

This scarf is a great comfort knit: most of the time is spent doing knit stitches, and you only have to pay close attention at the color transitions. It is a nice way to explore different shades of a color, like I did in blue using a kit from MDK, or you could use contrasting colors for a bolder effect. The ends of the scarf are finished with kitchener stitch for a polished look.

Trinket Mittens

I have always loved the combination of black and pink, so I used Lettlopi in Black Heather, Royal Fuchsia, and Pink Heather for this project, leftover from my Daytripper Cardigan. These mittens are made in a Nordic style, with pointy tips and no thumb gusset.

The cuffs are cleverly constructed: after working the stranded colorwork portion, the mitten is turned inside out and knitting proceeds in the opposite direction for the rest of the mitten. Then the cuff is folded over to reveal its right side. It is cool that this hides the floats from the colorwork so they won’t get caught when pulling the mittens on and off.

The colorwork cuff is inside out on the left

Of course, I had to add extra colorwork to the hand (Sparkle motif) because I needed more pink, so I lost some of the benefit of hiding the floats in the cuff. I didn’t quite have enough black yarn to finish. No problem – I just made the thumb tips pink!

More pink = more fun!

I will definitely be making more of these mittens with my remaining Lettlopi, including some Tiny Trinkets for the kids! But for now, it is spring and I am moving on to some projects with yarns that are more suited to warmer weather – linen, anyone?

Daytripper Cardigan

I am very excited to share my latest completed project, the Daytripper Cardigan (pattern on Ravelry, my project on Ravelry). The pattern was released last month as part of the Modern Daily Knitting Field Guide No. 17: Lopi, which focuses on the Icelandic wool yarn Lettlopi. When I received my copy of the Field Guide, I thought all the patterns looked fun, but I was particularly taken with the beautiful yoke of the Daytripper. I quickly chose my Lettlopi colors: Dark Gray for the main color, Heaven Blue Heather for the ribbing, and Ash, Black Heather, Pink Heather, Royal Fuchsia, and Lapis Blue Heather for the remaining contrast colors.

Lettlopi yarn, waiting to be turned into a sweater

The cardigan came together quickly, as advertised. The yarn is worsted weight, but the pattern calls for US 10 needles, a couple sizes larger than would typically be used. This results in a fast knit and a lightweight fabric. My swatch taught me that I needed to use size US 10.5 needles to make gauge. I decided not to increase the needle size for the ribbing, sticking with the pattern-recommended US 9.

Daytripper is worked in the round from the top down. There is a burst of colorwork throughout the yoke, with simple M1 increases embedded in the pattern. There are two sections of short row shaping for the back using the German short row method. I had not used this technique before, but I found it easy to do and I liked the resulting look better than the wrap-and-turn method.

Colorwork yoke is done, ready to divide for sleeves and body

After the yoke is done, the sleeve stitches are held while the body is worked straight in stockinette. This part was really fast for me because it just consisted of knit stitches around until it was long enough. Then there is a short colorwork section to finish off the body. The sleeves are picked up and worked in the round, with simple decrease shaping every couple inches. The sleeves end with a colorwork border to match the body.

Blocking really evens out the stitches

I’ve left out the best detail until now. To turn this into a cardigan, you have to cut a steek! The steek consists of six extra knit stitches in the center front of each round. (See the stitches that look kind of funky in the photo above? That’s the steek section.) The steek stitches need to be secured, which you can do by hand stitching, machine stitching, or the method I used, slip stitch crochet. Then you cut between the two middle steek stitches. I used gray Jamieson & Smith 2-ply jumper weight wool to secure my steek.

Eek! It’s my first steek!

After cutting the steek, the button bands are picked up and worked in 2×2 ribbing. Since the length of the cardigan didn’t exactly match the pattern specification, I made a little 2×2 ribbing swatch to figure out how many stitches to pick up. It needed to be a multiple of 4, so I ended up with 92 stitches, picking up about 7 out of every 8 stitches. I applied 8 buttons, evenly spaced, and used a simple yo, k2tog method for the buttonholes (as specified in the pattern).

Picking up for the buttonhole band

After the button bands were done, all that was left was to sew on the buttons and sew down the steek edge. I used some rustic-looking buttons that I found at Michael’s.

It’s finished!

I’m really happy with how this turned out. I’ve worn it a couple times already, and it is cozy and hardy without being too heavy. I highly recommend this pattern for your first steek, first colorwork circular yoke, and first project with Lettlopi yarn. I love how easy it is to customize the colors of this pattern; I can imagine making several more as gifts!

I’m a happy Daytripper owner

What I’m Working On: March 2021

Watercolor Cowl

FINISHED – I used some of the Rowan Felted Tweed I had leftover from my Cityscape Scarf to make a Watercolor Cowl (my Ravelry project). I had 13 colors, so I used one for the center squares and the edging, and the other 12 for the large squares. I didn’t follow a predetermined color ordering, but I made sure to use each of the 12 colors in every two pattern repeats. I also made sure to only use each pairing of colors once, so every square is unique.

The construction of this cowl is simple but effective. It is knit as a long rectangle, then the cast on edge is sewed onto the side. This results in a pretty point in front and not too much bulk in the back. It kind of looks like a bandanna. The edging is worked in applied I-cord around the top and bottom circumferences. It really ties the whole look together!

Novae Hat and Mittens

FINISHED – See my post about Quince Quarterly Winter 2021.

Daytripper Cardigan

IN PROGRESS – This one is so much fun! It is part of the Modern Daily Knitting Field Guide 17: Lopi, which is full of designs using the Icelandic yarn Lettlopi. I am late to the party and had never heard of this yarn, but I love it. It is very sturdy and it comes in lots of gorgeous colors. The Daytripper Cardigan uses 7 colors in a stranded colorwork circular yoke and a steek for the front opening. A big part of the fun is deciding what colors to use and in which order. MDK shared a coloring template that I used to try out several combinations. Here is the one I settled on (left half of the sketch).

And here is what it looks like so far! I’m done with the colorwork yoke and just divided the sleeves and body. You can see the steek stitches in the middle; these will be hidden by the button band.

Yarn Purchases

I have been letting myself buy any yarn I want lately. Part of me is planning ahead for all the things I want to make, and part of me doesn’t want to miss out on limited edition yarns. Plus, the sentiment on my new favorite shirt really says it all 😆.

In particular, I’ve decided that I want to try all the yarns Brooklyn Tweed has ever produced. I’ve been a fan since they came out with their first yarn, the worsted weight Shelter. Now they have something like six core yarns, and continue to produce special limited runs of new yarns every year or so. They just released their latest, Ranch 03, a sport weight merino from a ranch in Colorado, which comes in some amazing bright colors. I ordered two skeins each of three colors: Sorbet, Fathom, and Reef (left to right in picture below).

The first limited edition yarn Brooklyn Tweed made, a few years ago, was the lace weight Plains. It has been sold out for a while. I realized in order to meet my goal I would need to find it somewhere, so I found a yarn store online that still had a few skeins in stock and ordered them right away. I think I’ll use them for one of the patterns that was designed specifically for Plains when it was released.

Finally, I saw that Purl Soho had released a brand new baby camel yarn, Simply Camel. It looked interesting so I scooped up one skein. Good thing, since it’s out of stock now! This will just be enough to make a hat or some hand warmers. I love the natural warm caramel color, and it’s very soft.