International Quilt Museum
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Global Perspective: Log Cabin Designs
The origin of popular quilt patterns is often difficult to pinpoint. Log Cabin designs, created by blocks built from the center out and surrounded by strips of light and dark, are considered classically American. Yet the graphic pattern has been seen in the wrappings of mummified cats in ancient Egypt and in tile work in the Middle East. So does that mean this quilt, a log cabin variation known as Streak of Lightening, was a part of the textile tradition of Norway, the country in which it was stitched?
Although Norway has a rich tradition of woven coverlets, quilting was not part of its textile heritage. The Norwegian quilter Mathilde Schjander, who stitched this vibrant silk quilt as a gift for the marriage of her daughter Fredrikke to Ole Larsen sometime around 1870-1880, likely learned of the log cabin block in America. Schjander was one of the 25 percent of Norwegian immigrants in the 19th century who left the U.S. and returned to their homeland, carrying quilts and quiltmaking with them.
Photo courtesy of International Quilt Study Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2005.015.0001.