Log cabin knitting is based on a well known quilting pattern. It is usually worked from the middle out so lends itself well to square items such as coasters, pillows and throws. It is most often seen square, but rectangles can also be achieved by altering the pattern. It is generally done in garter stitch, but variations are possible with stitch patterns as well.
Log cabin knitting is a great way to add color without the labor involved with color techniques such as intarsia or fairisle. Because small sections are worked at a time, it’s also a great way to use up those odd bits of yarn from your stash.
It is necessary to know how to pick up stitches in log cabin knitting, something many new knitters shy away from. Picking up stitches is not difficult, but consistency is important for good results.
Start with a garter stitch square
You can cast on any number of stitches for the center square. For a coaster, try 10 stitches or 16 for a pillow top. When you have worked far enough that you have a square, bind off on the right side all but the last stitch.
Now rotate the square clockwise to pick up and knit across the garter ridges:
To pick up and knit: insert the needle at the top of the first ridge from front to back. Wrap the yarn (you will want to change colors here for the full effect of log cabin knitting) around the needle and pull it through to the front. You have just picked up one stitch.
There is really no need to count the stitches. Just pick up and knit one stitch for each ridge. When you have picked up all along the side, work 4 garter ridges or 7 more rows (one row has already been completed).
Bind off all stitches as before on the right side, leaving the last stitch on the needle. Turning clockwise again, pick up one stitch for each garter ridge, then one stitch for each of the previously cast on stitches. Work 7 rows as before.
Again, bind off all stitches as before on the right side, leaving the last stitch on the needle. Turning clockwise again, pick up one stitch for each garter ridge. Work 7 rows as each time before and bind off as before.
Turn work clockwise again and pick up and knit one stitch for each ridge, then one for each stitch, then one for each ridge. Work 7 rows and bind off as before.
At this point you have enclosed the beginning square.
You can continue in this manner for as large a piece as you would like. You can also change the number of ridges or pick up more randomly to alter the pattern to a rectangular shape.
Try casting on 8 and just working 2 ridges (3 rows) after picking up stitches for the coasters below. You can also slightly offset the effect by not picking up on every side evenly. The photo below shows this. When you look closely, you will see that some sides have 3 colors added and some only 2.