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?