Log Cabin Quilt

Quilt Story 2: Log Cabin Quilt, 1976-1993

After finishing my first quilt, the Sunflower Sue quilt, I wanted to make another quilt. I was home for a couple of weeks during my first year of college, and saw a Log Cabin quilt in one of my mother’s magazines – McCalls, maybe. This was 1976, the bicentennial, and a period of revival of quilting in the national zeitgeist. The magazine quilt had a log cabin center, a piano key border, and was very scrappy. I made construction paper copies of the templates printed in the back of the magazine, and raided my Mom’s and neighbor Sally’s scrap fabric boxes again. Over the next year or so I cut out with scissors up to three log sets of different sizes from each fabric. I may have sewn one or two blocks together at this time, but mostly I left them stashed for the next few years as college activities took over my time.


I still have the original templates with my pattern files.

One summer (1982?) I was staying in San Francisco with Danny (future husband) while he was in medical school. I pulled out my log cabin strips and sewed them into blocks, one block a day. When I tried to put the blocks together, I realized that they weren’t exactly square – there was up to a half inch difference in some of the blocks, due to both inaccurate cutting out with scissors and templates, and variably estimated quarter inch seam allowances. So that was a problem waiting to be solved. The blocks got tucked away again for a few years while I finished grad school, got married, moved to the Portland, Oregon area, and had our first child. My poor baby was rather colicky, so poor us, it was nearly impossible to imagine leaving him with a babysitter. At this point, we realized we might never leave the house again so we bought a television and VCR to watch movies in the evening. We hadn’t had a TV for years. One day, while home with the baby I noticed a quilting program on the Public Television channel. I watched in fascination while Eleanor Burns of Quilt in A Day started slicing up fabric with what looked like pizza cutter. Squaring up blocks! Based on my son’s age, this would have been 1990 or 1991. I was amazed, enchanted, and immediately called the number on my screen to order a rotary cutter, a mat, and acrylic rulers!


I still have these original Quilt in a Day tools.

I squared up my blocks! I played with the layout, finally deciding on a color wash/barn raising setting, with the light and dark value halves of blocks creating concentric squares.


Log Cabin, 1993, 66″ x 86″, by Margaret Klute

Around this time we moved to our current home in Portland, and I remember laying the blocks out, piecing them, then going to the nearby Fabricland store to buy border and backing fabric and batting. I basted with safety pins, as modeled by Eleanor Burns, and then I minimally quilted the quilt by machine stitching in the ditch along the block seams.


Upper left


Upper right


Lower left


Lower right

I made the binding by pulling the backing fabric to the front.


The backing was turned to the front and machine stitched down to create the binding.


Close up of hand stitched signature.

I was very happy with the final quilt. I had used a thin cotton batting this time, so the quilting was easier. I learned by my experience, and by watching Eleanor Burns, the importance of consistent seam allowances. I still loved the idea of scrappy quilts, but I was beginning to get the concept of controlling the color palette. My next quilts would be made from a more limited fabric selection, with guidance from taking a few classes and using pattern books.

The Log Cabin quilt kept us warm for many years, and I was able to retire the now worn Sunbonnet Sue quilt. These two quilts share many fabrics in common, so I was able to continue to enjoy the scraps from my past as I used this quilt.


Hamilton Mountain, WA, and first knit socks of 2020

January 3, 2020 – Our first hike of the New Year was to Hamilton Mountain in Beacon Rock State Park on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge. We’ve been many times, usually to see the cliffs become hanging gardens in the spring. Today we had perfect winter hiking conditions – not too cold, a bit muddy, full waterfalls, clear views from the top.


The first summit of Hamilton Mountain, as seen from the power line cut on the lower trail.


Approaching the upper cliffs, eastern gorge beyond.


Bonneville Dam, with Mt Hood appearing to the south.


First view from the summit- Mt Adams glowing in winter white beyond Table Mountain.


Wide view from the summit.


Mt Hood to the south, in low winter light.

After lunch at the summit we continued the trail to the northern saddle/plateau –


A last look back at Mt Hood.


Western gorge, filling with mist and a painterly sky.


Columbian lewisia foliage in the saddle.


Crossing over a very full Rodney Falls on the return hike.

Hike #1 for 2020, 8.2 miles, 2250 feet.



First knit finish in 2020 – traveling socks that I started last May.

2019 review/2020 preview

High points for 2019 were two weddings, a reunion, and a graduation that gave us multiple opportunities for connecting with family and friends. We travelled to San Francisco, southern Connecticut, Brooklyn, Baltimore, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Colorado,and twice to Los Angeles.

I look at my intentions set for 2019, and I completed about half of them.  I have kept up with this blog (58 posts), though I know it is occupying time I might have previously spent quilting during late night inspiration sessions.

Hiking – 58 hikes, 289 miles, 51180 feet in elevation. Snowshoeing at Crater Lake, and hiking through the lush wildflower meadows of Mt Rainier were among our amazing experiences last year.

Knitting- According to Ravelry I knit 3353 yards in 17 projects. I made a spectrum of items – hats, a headband, a shawl, a cowl, socks, slippers, fingerless mitts, washcloths, a bib, a cup cozy, a peach and an acorn. I have found a weekly knit group, and I am so enjoying getting to know the other knitters.

Reading- According to Goodreads I read 75 books.

Quilting/sewing- Quilting is mostly in hibernation mode. I mended a lot of hiking pants and altered clothing that were no longer fitting well.

Health update- My health is good. My body has adapted to the acromegaly medications, and I have managed to beat back some of the metabolic issues that the excess growth hormone was amplifying before my diagnosis and surgery. I am maintaining a healthy weight, and hope to keep up with my husband as he heads into retirement.

2020 Plans- Retirement will bring more travel – I am pre-exhausted with the planning, but also looking forward to our upcoming adventures! We have New Zealand, Washington DC, and Italy on our calendar for next year.

I plan to keep up with this blog, though it may have gaps during travel times.

Crafting-  I hope to finish some of those languishing quilts, sew some clothing, set up my embroidery frame, and finish some scrap books that are done but for the writing.  And I have new yarn for three different knitting projects:


Lows – I like to celebrate high points and the beauty in the world on my blog. There have been private losses this year as well. The low I feel it important to acknowledge is the dementor-like gloom of the political climate, the constantly ratcheted upward incivility and threats to democracy, my fear of impulsive ignorance and that someone wants to be the one to start world war three or some facsimile thereof. I return to this poem, found on a neighborhood poetry post last year, that expresses the optimism I try to feel going forward.




Colorful holidays, and a visit to Eugene

Christmas week, 2019

Various Christmas trees, lights, candles and sweets:

We drove to Eugene for a day to visit family and walk along the Willamette River.


Leaving Portland via the Macadam Bridge.


Dense fog in the Willamette Valley.


Sunny skies and lunch at the Public Market in Eugene.


View upriver from the Peter DeFazio Bridge.


Downstream view- a heron, and the Ferry Street Bridge.

Four of the twenty four American Nobel Peace Prize Laureates that are honored in the Peace Plaza at Alton Baker Park.


Downstream view from the Ferry Street Bridge.



I  finished the Rafa’s Hat for my son after he tried it on – thankfully it fit and he wore it for the rest of the day.


I unsuccessfully searched my button collection for buttons for the Meris cardigan.