Modular knitting requires first, that you knit a shape—let’s say, a rectangle—and second, that you enlarge the shape. To enlarge, you pick up stitches along an edge, and knit out from them. You could accomplish this enlargement by knitting separate pieces and sewing them together like patchwork, but it’s easier, faster, and seamless when you do it the modular way. The initial shape you create can be considered the module that starts the process, or the module could be the finished shape that connects to other modular shapes—like one block of a patchwork quilt.
A classic modular pattern is the Log Cabin—most likely inspired by the quilt block pattern of the same name. The Lion Brand Pattern Database contains many knitted and crocheted modular patterns, and more than half of those are for Log Cabin designs. Different yarns and colors create great variety and visual interest; the wealth of Log Cabin styles guarantees infinite novelty. I began knitting Log Cabins years ago and have never tired of them.
Log Cabins can be used for very basic items, like a single Log Cabin square knitted from cotton yarn to make a washcloth, or for larger pieces constructed of multiple Log Cabins, such as blankets or pillows. A Log Cabin module can also be used alone, connected to more conventionally-knitted surrounds, to form a striking visual motif on the front (or back) of a sweater or the panels of a tote bag.
No matter how they’re used, singly or in groups, Log Cabin squares are all about color. How you arrange the colors draws the eye to different parts of the square, and when attached to each other, the squares create distinctive overall patterns. I love the way a Log Cabin square looks when its center is bright and the surrounding colors provide a frame.
Using the Autumn color palette of Lion Brand’s New Basic yarn—Olive (muted green), Espresso (rich brown), Camel (light brown), Brick (cherry red), Pumpkin (bright coral)—and number 9 needles, I followed an excellent free pattern by Sarah Bradberry on Ravelry (https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/log-cabin-square). My square began with a Pumpkin and Camel center. Colors were then added in consecutive attached rectangles until the finished square of nine panels, was achieved.
As the photo shows, the bright center of this square captures the eye. When combining Log Cabins to make pillow covers or blankets, you can use squares of entirely different color-block arrangements, identical arrangements, or varying arrangements of the same colors. The choice is yours.
My Log Cabin was knitted from Lion Brand’s New Basic Yarn, a worsted whose gently plied fibers offer loftiness and warmth without excessive weight. The completed pattern measured 13 inches square–almost large enough to cover one side of a standard 16 by 16 inch throw pillow form. So, by picking up more stitches and adding just a few more logs to the edges of the cabin, I can—and will!—easily make a pillow from only two squares, one for the front, the other for the back. The modules are sewn together, then closed with buttons and loops or simple ties. It’s a fast and engaging project, good for a holiday gift with classic appeal.