There have been a couple of questions about how to apply log cabin to crochet, which I honestly hadn’t anticipated! I think that’s because, to me, log cabin seems like knitting emulating crochet. I grew up making granny squares, where you pick up stitches in your previous work, work your way around and around, change colors, add on as much as you like, until it’s however big you want it to be! So crochet feels inherently modular and freeform and adaptive to me, and log cabin seems like you’d just be filling in the strips/shapes with crochet stitches instead of knit stitches. But since I am not a seasoned crocheter (much less log cabin-er), and the questions got me wondering whether there’s more to consider than I realize, I put it to the official crocheter on our Log Cabin Make-along panel, Cal Patch:
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Log Cabin — in its strictest form — is about creating strips of color one after another. You knit a square, then knit another square, then knit a strip alongside them the same length and width as the two squares together. Then continue adding strips (laying logs) around and around and around, each one the width of the edge you’re working off of and always the same height. In knitting, it’s typically done in garter stitch because (as Ann pointed out to me the other day) stitch and row gauge even out in garter — 10 stitches wide will equal 10 ridges tall, or 7×7 or 30×30 or whatever scale you want to work with. So you can make a square 10 sts by 10 ridges, for instance, then another 10×10, then each strip is a multiple of 10 sts wide and always 10 ridges tall. How does that correspond in crochet as far as how to calculate how many stitches and rows to work along each edge. Is it important to stick with single crochet?
Well, my immediate thought is that I never assumed the height of the logs needed to be consistent! I should note that I’ve never read or learned any actual official guidelines of Log Cabin-ing; my main influences would be the Gee’s Bend school of improv quilting (example here or here) and Denyse Schmidt (example), who is also an improv quilter. That said, whether one wants their logs to be of consistent height is a separate decision from the stitch to be used, and its dimensions. I’m actually using Half Double Crochet for my project, which isn’t square at all, but it’s true that Single Crochet would be closer to square, though not exact. I tend to not concern myself with the actual number of stitches or rows, but rather work to a measurement. My rectangles will need to finish at certain dimensions to fit together properly.
Of course, there’s no reason you have to stick to those 1×1 dimensions, either — you can make narrower or wider strips or blocks, get all creative or improvisational with it, which starts to make sense once you’re doing it. True for knitting and quilting alike — and for crochet, yeah?
YES!!! That’s what I’m talkin’ about! I have always seen log cabin as a very loose, scrappy, improvisational technique. Clearly I’m not an architect! Did I mention that Wonky is my middle name?
Is there anything else you think people need to know before they try their hand at a crochet log cabin block? Or any particular resources you would recommend?
I would just dive in and play, at least to make a swatch, and then it will make much more sense (if it’s not already). The basic principles of log cabin knitting will apply to crochet as well, with the exception of actual stitch counts. Many knit patterns could probably be translated stitch for stitch into single crochet. One can definitely sketch and plan in advance, and map it all out, if that’s what makes one’s heart sing. But having taken a class with Denyse Schmidt in which you have to blindly grab your next strip out of a bag and use it whether you love or hate it, I prefer a more serendipitous approach (aka “winging it”).
One idea for actually fitting your crocheted squares/rectangles into something like a sweater, vest, hat or other type of project is to look at patterns designed for granny squares, since they are also blocks! That might get those wheels turning. (Examples here and here)
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Thanks, Cal! I’m sure there will be others with additional or differing opinions, so please do leave your thoughts below!
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