Log Cabin Pattern – How to

A Complicated-Looking Pattern Made Simple

If your eyes haven’t crossed while looking at the intro photo, I’d like to welcome you to my Log Cabin weaving tutorial. What a fun, crazy, and complicated-looking pattern it is, but with some direction and tips, you’ll be able to weave it in no time!

I must admit that I was not introduced to the Log Cabin woven pattern until I saw it in weaving literature.  However, as soon as I saw it while browsing through weaving websites, I knew I had to find out more about it. I looked for an explanation of the pattern, but the only understandable explanation I found was in a weaving magazine online forum. I combined that explanation with some tips from my beginner weaving book to try out the pattern. I took pictures along the way so that I’d be able to share the Log Cabin pattern with you in a much easier format. I hope you find it as fun of a pattern to weave as I did!

I am using my rigid heddle loom in this tutorial; however, the Log Cabin pattern may be created in the same way on other types of looms. You should only need to adapt it to your loom’s particular warping method.

I have written this tutorial with the assumption that the reader will have a basic knowledge of warping and plain weaving. If any part of the tutorial is unclear, please leave a question in the comments, and I will try to help you out. 

All photos are mine. All rights reserved.

 The Log Cabin Pattern Explained

Explanation Photo

(I’m not an expert, so I hope it makes sense.)

The Log Cabin pattern is a color-and-weave pattern which basically means that the way the warp and weft strand colors interlock creates the pattern rather than the structure of the fabric itself. After all, the whole pattern is done in plain weave which is a single flat layer.

So, if the pattern is created by the way the warp and weft strand colors interlock, how does that happen? Well, when the warp (vertical) strands are crossed over by the same color weft (horizontal) strands, a vertical line of that color is created. However, when a warp strand is crossed over by the contrasting color, a horizontal stripe is formed. If you examine each stripe closely, you can see bumps and dips. The bumps are the weft strands and the dips are the warp strands.

Are you still with me? Yes? Okay, hang in there. It’s a bit confusing for me to explain as well.

Now, let’s discuss how the crisscross blocks are formed. For a moment, let’s say that I had warped my loom left to right with the two colors alternating one-by-one (all the purples in slots, all the aquas in holes). Then, I wove my weft in the exact same pattern – purple, aqua, purple, aqua, and so on starting with the heddle in the up position. If this was the case, all of the stripes in the scarf would be vertical. This is due to the fact that the purple weft would be under the aqua warp and vice versa. Now, if I had warped my loom in the same way as above, but instead had started my weft with the aqua rather than purple, all of the stripes would be horizontal. This is because the aqua weft would cover up the purple warp and vice versa. Now for the fun part.

In order to have both vertical and horizontal stripes in the same row and column of blocks, the pattern of warp and weft color strands must be changed. Basically, we need to have alternating stripes of each color when the heddle is in the up position and when it is in the down position. But how do we do this? It’s actually quite simple.

Think about the heddle for a moment. It has slots and holes. When the heddle is in the up position, all the strands in the holes are up and all the strands in the slots are down. When the heddle in the down position, all the strands in the holes are down and all the strands in the slots are up. Therefore, to make the changes we need, the holes and slots must contain both colors. The pattern cannot have all of one color in the slots and all of the other color in the holes.

For example, let’s divide the warp into five 8-strand sections (which measure 1 inch each on an 8-dent heddle like mine). The first 8 strands would be warped in my original purple, aqua, purple, aqua, purple, aqua, purple, aqua pattern (or ABABABAB). The second 8 strands would be the exact opposite – aqua, purple, aqua, purple, aqua, purple, aqua, purple (or BABABABA). The third 8 strands would go back to the first purple, aqua pattern. The fourth 8 strands would begin with aqua. Finally, the fifth 8 strands would start with purple. In total, my color pattern with purple represented as A and aqua represented as B would be as follows:


The bolded letters represent the places where two warp strands of the same color are next to each other. These are the horizontal barriers of the blocks in the pattern. They cannot be changed during weaving.

Moving onto the weft, all we need to do is follow the above pattern in exactly the same way by alternating ABABABAB rows with BABABABA rows. This process will give us square blocks.

For some additional fun, we can change the height of the blocks simply by extending one section of our pattern. For example, instead of stopping after 8 strands (ABABABAB), why not do like I did and double that to 16 strands (ABABABABABABABAB)? Then, continue on with your pattern. The block height can be as short or tall as you would like, but keep in mind that the width is fixed at warping. If you want wider or narrower blocks, make those adjustments while warping.

Variations: The fun of this pattern is that it could easily be made into a very abstract pattern by varying the width and height of the blocks in a semi-random way. Have fun with it!

So, now that I’ve explained how the Log Cabin pattern works, let’s move on to the fun part with the pictures – the weaving of the pattern and some tips to help you along.

Let me know if any part of this explanation was as clear as mud in the comments. I’ll try to make it clearer if I can.

Click on the Photos for a Larger View

(Photo Size Reduced for Better Page Loading)

1. Preparing the Warp


Log Cabin 1

 (b)Log Cabin 2

  2. Beginning to Weave & Changing Colors and Pattern


Log Cabin 4


Log Cabin 5 Wrong Starting Side

(e)Log Cabin 6 Right Starting Side

(f)Log Cabin 7 Securing Purple Yarn Left Side Under

(g)Log Cabin 7.5 Left Side Catching Yarn

(h)Log Cabin 8 Wrong Way

(i)Log Cabin 9 Securing Aqua Yarn Right Side Over

(j)Log Cabin 9.5 Catching Yarn on Right Side

(k)Log Cabin 9.75 Catching Yarn on Right Side

(l)Log Cabin 9.76 Color Change

(m)Log Cabin 10 First Section Done

(n)Log Cabin 11 Changing Pattern and Catching Yarn

(o)Log Cabin 11.5 Catching Yarn at a Color Change

(p)Log Cabin 11.75 Catching Yarn at Color Change

(q)Log Cabin 12 Close Up of Color Change

(r)Log Cabin 12.5 Close  Up of Color Change

(s)Log Cabin 13 Not Catching Yarn Right Side

(t)Log Cabin 14 Not Catching Yarn Right Result

3. Making Progress

(u)Log Cabin 15 Two Rows Done

(v)Log Cabin 16 Three Rows Done

( w )Log Cabin 17 Four Rows Done

(x)Log Cabin 18 Pattern Scale

4. Vary the Pattern

(y)Log Cabin 19 Changing Pattern Height

(z)Log Cabin 20 Continuing Pattern

 5. Finished Product!

Log Cabin 21 Finished Pattern

Log Cabin Scarf

What do you think of the Log Cabin Pattern?

Click here to read about my loom!


3 thoughts on “Log Cabin Pattern – How to

  1. Dr. Crystal Howe says:

    I’m totally blind, and I understand your explanation well enough to weave this! I love log cabin, because it reminds me of a real log cabin I got to touch as a child. Another way to vary the pattern is texture – using one thinner and one thicker yarn. Say your aqua is thin, and purple is thicker. It works as long as the yarns have similar properties and both fit through the heddle. Thanks for your explanation! 🙂

    • Elizabeth - Lili and Mum's says:

      I’m so glad my explanation was clear for you. Thank you for letting me know! I love your idea of the different thicknesses. That would really bump the look and feel of the fabric to a whole new level!

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