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Log Cabin Washcloths

Knitting these washcloths has been the most crafting fun I've had in a long time. Making a log cabin pattern is easy, surprising and very meditative. You really get into the flow! I learned the technique from the always inspiring (and hilarious) ladies of Mason Dixon Knitting, Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne. They devote a whole chapter of their first book to the practice, writing so enthusiastically on the subject that knitting a log cabin something went straight to the top of my list.

While the log cabin pattern has a certain architectural genius, the even more fascinating aspect of the project for me is the way a color morphs depending on its size and neighbor. A small pink square surrounded by a field of cream, outlined by sherbet orange strangely becomes a glowing lavender. When the same pink surrounds a big square of watermelon, it fades to the color of an old ballet slipper.

All of this brought to mind the artist, colorist and influential teacher, Josef Albers, who spent his life exploring these ever evolving relationships. His beautifully subtle paintings of squares within squares may excite some unusual color choices! Check out his Foundation's web site for ideas.

I used Rowan's machine washable Handknit Cotton to make these two sets of washcloths. It's wonderfully soft and practical at the same time, gentle enough for the face and body, but durable enough to hold up to wear and tear. Other great cotton choices would be Rowan's Cotton Glace, Pima Cotton, or Purelife Organic Cotton DK or Blue Sky's Skinny Cotton. For all of these I would use a needle one size smaller and expect a slightly diminished finished size.

Whatever cotton you choose, you'll be happy to have these washcloths up your sleeve for weddings, baby showers, housewarmings and birthdays. With a gorgeous bar of soap, it's a wonderful present!

The Materials

  • 4 balls of Rowan's Handknit Cotton. These colors from the top right are #251 Ecru, #325 Primrose, #336 Sunflower, and #318 Seafarer.
  • A US #7 needle (circular or straight.)

  • I made a second set of washcloths using these colors: #251 Ecru, #310 Shell, #313 Slick and #337 Tangerine Dream.

The Pattern

Gauge

4 3/4 stitches = 1 inch in garter stitch

Finished Size

7 3/4 inches x 7 3/4 inches

Note: Here is one way I came up with to use each color in each place one time. If you first designate each color a letter A-D and then follow this diagram, you'll end up with four completely different washcloths and you won't run out of yarn.

In this case, I named the turquoise "A", the darker yellow "B", the lighter yellow "C" and the ecru "D".

The First Square

With the first color and US #7 needles, cast on 15 stitches.

Knit 27 rows.

Bind off, leaving the last stitch.

Cut the yarn.

The Second Square

Pull a loop of the second color through the remaining stitch.

Turn the piece 90 degrees, clockwise, and, picking up one stitch for each ridge, pick up 14 stitches to the next corner. (15 stitches total)

Knit 13 rows.

(Right side) Bind off, leaving the last stitch.

*Turn the work 90 degrees clockwise and pick up 21 stitches to the next corner. (22 stitches total)

Knit 13 rows.

(Right side) Bind off, leaving the last stitch.

Repeat from the * one time.

Turn the work 90 degrees clockwise and pick up 29 stitches to the next corner. (30 stitches total)

Knit 13 rows.

(Right side) Bind off, leaving the last stitch.

Cut the yarn.

The Third Square

Pull a loop of the third color through the remaining stitch.

Turn the piece 90 degrees, clockwise, and pick up 29 stitches to the next corner. (30 stitches total)

Knit 7 rows.

Bind off, leaving last stitch.

*Turn the work 90 degrees clockwise and pick up 32 stitches to the next corner. (33 stitches total)

Knit 7 rows.

(Right side) Bind off, leaving the last stitch.

Repeat from the * one time.

Turn the work 90 degrees clockwise and pick up 38 stitches to the next corner. (39 stitches total)

Knit 7 rows.

(Right side) Bind off. Cut the yarn and pull it through the last stitch.

Weave in the ends and start the next one!

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53 Responses to Log Cabin Washcloths


  1. Alex says:

    I feel stupid, but I don't understand this part:
    Pull a loop of the second color through the remaining stitch.
    THEN
    Turn the piece 90 degrees, clockwise, and, picking up one stitch for each ridge, pick up 14 stitches to the next corner. (15 stitches total)

    Okay, so I pull a loop of new yarn through that last stitch. Then I turn the piece the 90 degrees and pick up the stitches. Now I'm supposed to start knitting more rows. But the loop of yarn I put through the remaining stitch–where is that supposed to be at this point? Still stuck through that single stitch, at the bottom of the now-turned row of picked-up stitches? I can't knit with it down there. Or I supposed to do so anyway? If I do, then I end up with that strand of yarn awkwardly stretched across the back of my work. I AM SO CONFUSED.

  2. purl bee says:

    Hi Sue,

    There isn't a typo, but maybe you're confused with which text goes with which picture. In this pattern, the photos illustrate the text that comes right before it.

    Since the pattern doesn't mention a 4th (or 5th) square, I'm not exactly sure where you're getting hung up, but I think it's for the second, third and fourth sides of the second square. Both the second and third sides are 21-stitch pick ups, and the fourth side is a 29-stitch pick up.

    I hope this puts you on the right path. Please let us know if you have any more questions!

    Whitney

  3. purl bee says:

    Hi Alex,

    Ha! I'm confused too!

    Here's what should be happening… You should have pulled the loop of the new color onto the right needle, where it stays. Then, you turn the work and with the same right needle you pick up the stitches along the next side of the washcloth so that the stitches are lining up on the right needle next to the original picked-up-loop.

    I hope this illuminates things for you! Please let us know if you need more help; we'll be happy to sort it out!

    Whitney

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