Part 10: Log Cabin and the Yukon block
The Log Cabin design has been popular since the 1850’s reflecting the log cabin structure and its central importance to home on the frontier. The design represented the struggle of conquering the wilderness. The small central typically red square symbolized the stove or fireplace of the home. Yellow was sometimes used to symbolize light in the wilderness. African slaves were known to use black (or more likely indigo cloth) in the centre.
Unlike the grid pattern often used to draft blocks, the log cabin typically has an arrangement, around a central square, strips of fabrics in various widths and colours. Lights and dark’s create endless options for designs as variations are created through the positioning of colour as the block are built up.The traditional log cabin block design was built by sewing clockwise around the centre square. Courthouse Steps required that two sides are built in pairs on opposite sides of the centre. The beauty of this design was the strips could be made in true frontier style without even using scissors. Other variations common included the half square and pineapple log cabin block.But really there are endless versions of what can be done!
Wild Goose Log Cabin Block
Log cabin blocks were than arranged in a quilt top. We still recognize and use patterns such as Barn Raising, Fields and Furrows, Zigzag, , Light and Dark (Shade and Shadows) and Chevron.
The precursor of the Log Cabin was likely the Rail Fence design (or Roman Stripe) where 4 to 5 rectangles are sewn together lengthwise into a block. For interest, alternate blocks were typically reversed in direction when pieced together.
Barn Raising Quilt
The 9th region to join confederation in 1898 became know as the Yukon Territory. Canada purchased Rupert’s Land and the North-Western Territory from the HBC and brought the vast area into confederation as a federally administered area….. two years after gold was 1st discovered in Klondike.
The 1st time I had the pleasure of visiting the Yukon was in the late winter of 1980. The great thing about flying in a DC3 plane built in 1944 is that they fly low and slow so there was a lot of opportunity to view the endless landscape that showed little sign of humans. The next visit would have to wait till the early summer of 2009 with endless summer and now a paved highway that took me to the quilt shop in Skagway Alaska.
When I think log cabin for a provincial block I have to think Yukon. Imagine the miner or trapper in their log cabin in the deep of winter. Yellow and red certainly would have to be used to symbolize the warm hearth and gold they sought. Other images are of northern lights, silent woods and high mountains come to mind. The Robert Services Cremation of Sam McGrew, and stories of Jack London however keep bringing me back to the symbol of the log cabin. I picked a log cabin design that has an off centered pattern.