Okehampton prides itself on having some of the most impressive Christmas lights in the area. They are very expensive to put on every year with 120 lighted Christmas trees alone.
And so it came to pass that at the beginning of 2020 Ockment Quilters decided to make their very first group quilt to help raise money for the lights.
As it was their first attempt at a group quilt we decided on Log Cabin and plunged into our stashes to find suitable fabrics. Autumn colours seemed the most abundant and so the decision was made. We cut out 1 ½ “ strips in lights and darks and put them into packs along with the centre squares.
Everyone that wanted to join in took at least one pack and hey presto 64 x 10” blocks appeared. We had a lovely time laying them all out in the many designs that can be made with this block but decided on “Barn Raising”.
The blocks were joined into rows and the rows put together as a whole but kept in two separate parts to aid quilting. Then the first lockdown hit. I had taken the quilt home with me between meetings. We could no longer meet. What to do?
The wadding had been donated (I had it), the backing had been bought from Sooz in Okey, who very kindly gave us a good discount, (I had it). What to do?
Well, after making scrubs and masks and lockdown still continuing I thought I might as well get stuck in with the quilt. So I layered it up and machine quilted it with thread I had put by for a different project but which matched perfectly. I thoroughly enjoyed doing it and kept the girls informed of progress by email and on Whatsapp. As restrictions eased I handed it over to Linden to do the binding, label and the most odious job – sewing in the threads on the back of which there are many when you machine quilt a project.
Meanwhile, Everything Okehampton who arrange the lights every year had printed 2,000 tickets announcing that the draw would take place on 19th December. How were we to sell tickets if we couldn’t take it anywhere?
As the restrictions were eased and the tier system came in we joined the outdoor market in Red Lion Yard in Okehampton twice a week with the quilt on show and tickets for sale. We had a rota, two people on at a time for two hours each, one each side of the quilt, two meters apart. We took all necessary precautions; hand gel, wipes, wore masks and we filled in the tickets. Many shops in town sold tickets and everyone in the group sold to family and friends. The people of Okehampton love their Christmas lights and were very generous. The draw took place as arranged on 19th December and a local lady, Jeanne Carter, won the quilt. She was over the moon at winning and told us that she had made two quilts herself “but only hexagons”, the very rock of patchwork we told her.
Amazingly we made £1102 which under the circumstances we were very pleased with and it made the whole at times trying experience worth it.
There follows the explanation that accompanied the quilt when it was on show in local shop windows in the run up to the draw.
Susan Enderson for Ockment Quilters.
This quilt was made by Ockment Quilters during the summer of lockdown. The block pattern is called Log Cabin and the layout of blocks is called Barn Raising. It is a very old American patchwork block said to have been designed in the time of Abraham Lincoln.
The small square in the middle of the block denotes the fireplace in the cabin. The light half is the cabin in sunshine and the dark half, the cabin in shade. Traditionally the centre square was red showing the fire, but around the time of the civil war escaping slaves were making their way to Canada via the Underground Railroad which was a series of safe houses along different routes. Many of these houses would hang quilts over their veranda containing a code that only the slaves and the maker were aware of. Thus it was with Log Cabin quilts. If the quilt had red centres it was not safe to stop but if the centre was yellow then they could safely rest and recuperate on their hazardous journey.