Subject: one man's story
From: "Andi Reynolds" <>

The winner of the Needlework category at the AQS Expo in Nashville this past
August was named Emerald. I had the delightful job of interviewing all of
the winners, and this was his story: His mother taught all of her children,
most of them boys and I don't recall how many but five or six, to do
needlework to while away the long Idaho winters on their farm. They didn't
know it as women's work, men's work or anything except a way to stay
occupied. He does embroidery in the winter and fine woodworking in the
summer. His wife is not a sewer or stitcher of any kind. I just realized
that didn't ask him whether he has children and if he's taught them to
follow suit. I believe he told me he's the only sibling who continues to

Andi in Paducah, KY


Subject: Eliza's Rail Tales - reviews
From: kyra hicks <>

Hello - I just could not keep silent on this topic and the notes I'm reading on this QHL list.

I have not yet read Eliza's Rail Tales yet. I have ordered a copy so that I
can read it and comment on this FICTION book intelligently. Howvever, I
have to say I HOPE those who have placed a 1 star review on from this list or have rated the comments on the reviews have actually READ the book.

I don't know the author. But, I suspect she worked hard on her FICTIONAL
book, she paid to have someone illustrate the book and photographed the quilt blocks, and studied which self-publisher she would use. She most likely invested +$5,000 for the illustrations, the photos,her website, and the review copies some on this QHL are ordering. The author PAYS for the reivewcopies on self-published books!

She probably saved her money to invest in her dream the same way many on this list have done to invest in their own dreams. HER dream happened to be to share her LOVE of quilting in print form.

Now, within a few days of her book being available, two folks have (within =
their rights), placed 1 star reviews on the book on, one of the =
most powerful online book sellers. I wonder if those who wrote the revie=
ws even read the book yet. Even if we disagree with the content of the b=
ook, was it well written? how were the illustrations? how was the qualit=
y of the quilt blocks? Was it a good story (good characters, dialog, pacing=
, etc.)? Do the reviews even comment on those aspects? (One
m reviewer gave a 1 star review on this book and had NEVER previously writt=
en an Amazon review.)

Now the family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, grandchildren of this self-=
published author - who just released this book she's emotionally and financ=
ially invested in sees these two 1 star reviews. She didn't even have on=
e week to celebrate that one of her dreams came true before we as quilt his=
torians tear her and her story down.

Some people really do NOT buy a book with 1-star reviews. So now, this woma=
n author, this sister quilter may not get money back from book sales given =
the very negative reviews.

This author, a long-time quilter, is NOT a college professor with a book ad=
vance from a traditional book publishing house or university press. She =
seems to be someone with a love of quilting who wanted to share her fiction=
al story and invested in her own dream.

She self-published - and there is NOTHING wrong with self-publishing.Pri=
nt-on-demand can be more expensive as the book is printed when it is ordere=
d. Books in color using POD can be expensive depending on the page count=
, which is why her price is $31.00 for this book.

I have not read references from the 1800s about quilts as map markers. T=
he references may exisit, but I haven't yet found them or read them. How=
ever, I will NOT bash someone's freedom of speech to publish a story about =
the UGRR, especially when positioned as fiction.

I will place a review on for this book - ONCE I've read it. I=
intend my review to be balanced about the topic and the quality of the boo=
k. I will also place my review in the context of a sister quilter who in=
vested in her own dream to bring this story to the public, even if I may no=
t agree with the historical accuracy of the topic. If I find that I do d=
isagree with the book's topic, I hope that I won't be disagreeable.

Best, Kyra E. Hicks
author, Black Threads: An African American Quilting Sourcebook.... and auth=
or of the self-published children's book, Martha Ann's Quilt for Queen Vict=


Subject: Re: Eliza's Rail Tales - reviews
From: "Lisa Evans" <>
Date: Sun, 2 Nov 2008 09:05:34 -0500
X-Message-Number: 3

As an author myself, and as someone who knows several people in the
publishing industry, here is my response to Ms. Hicks letter:

I am certain that the author of =Eliza's Rail Tales= put a lot of time,
money, and effort into her book. I'm sure that negative reviews hurt, a
lot - authors are sensitive, and criticism of one's work can feel like
criticism of one's child.

However - as has been said many, many times on this list, and as Kim
Wulfert, Pat Cummings, Leigh Fellner, and Barbara Brackman have shown in
their work, there is not one single scrap of evidence for a quilt code used
in the Underground Railroad. Ditto historians of the Underground Railroad
and African-American history like Giles Wright. There is nothing in the WPA
interviews with former slaves, nothing in the memoirs of former slaves like
Frederick Douglass or Harriet Jacobs, nothing in the books written after the
Civil War by abolitionists. Jacqueline Tobin, co-author of the infamous
=Hidden in Plain View=, has refused to publish her complete notes, research,
and footnotes, despite telling at least one person on this list by stating
that she would gladly answer questions and cite her sources besides Ozella
Williams (several years later and a couple of reminder e-mails later, and
I'm still waiting).

What it all comes down to is that whether or not =Eliza's Rail Tales= is
entertaining, whether or not it is well written, and whether or not the
author worked hard on the book and will be upset by negative reviews, =the
premise of the book is based on a hypothesis that has been shown repeatedly
to be untrue. Yes, it's historical fiction, but the authors of such books
are expected to do enough research to ensure that the book is plausible.
The quilt code has been debunked often enough, and by historians of enough
stature, that any author who deliberately goes ahead and uses this idea as
the basis for a book is rather like someone who writes a book defending the
flat earth and then is upset when reviewers find it amusing at best.

I am sorry if Ms. Scott's feelings have been hurt by negative reviews, but
reviews should not be based on whether or not the author will be upset.
They should be based on the work itself. Given that this one is based on an
invalid premise (not to mention a cover shot of a quilt using at least one
block that simply did not exist in the 19th century!), I can see why the
reviews to date have not been kind.

Lisa Evans
Easthampton, MA


Subject: Re: Eliza's Rail Tales - reviews
From: Kris Driessen <>
Date: Sun, 2 Nov 2008 06:38:14 -0800 (PST)
X-Message-Number: 4

The problem as I see it is that there is no description of the book on Amazon. I would guess by the word "tales" in the title that it is fictional, but that and the picture of a Negro girl is all there is. Just glancing at the cover, I would take it to be a childrens book.

I did find a review of the author at which indicated that this was a book in a series of "researched" books. And judging from the teaching supplies, this is not being marketing as a fictional book.

I think perhaps this is just a book by a retired teacher trying to make some money by selling interesting teaching programs. Historical accuracy doesn't matter as much as presenting a clever and interesting story with worksheets and answer keys to match.



Subject: Re: Eliza's Rail Tales - reviews
From: "Patricia Cummings" <>

Certainly, it is not fair to judge a book by its cover, and it is always
good not to pre-judge that which we do not know, whether it be a book or a
person. I am eager to receive a copy of the book and "fairly" review it.

I believe that we are all looking at the book as possibly "more of the
same," mainly because that it what it seems to be: a chance to make money at
the expense of the truth.

If the book is only, or just, geared toward children, it still does harm by
imparting false ideas. I assume that it does based on the quilt associated
with it.

I don't have small children, but I do have a grandson and great nieces and
nephews whom I would not want to be taught garbage in school, whether it is
fiction or non-fiction.

To my mind, even a children's book has the capacity to diminish and
undermine the true significance of the perils and punishments endured by
escaping slaves. To try to sanitize what happened by adding colorful quilt
blocks and lies to the mix is insane.

If there are spirits that see us from beyond the grave, I certainly hope
that Ozella is turning over in her grave with the guilt that should be felt
for the widespread use of her imagined code.

The truth will set us free. (Who first said that?)

Patricia Cummings


Subject: Re: Eliza's Rail Tales - reviews
From: xenia cord <>
Date: Sun, 2 Nov 2008 10:54:50 -0500
X-Message-Number: 6

<The truth will set us free. (Who first said that?)>

John 8:32.



Subject: Re: Eliza's Rail Tales - reviews - long
From: textique <>
X-Message-Number: 7

Dear listers;

My two cents which is really my two hundred dollars because of
inflation: If you know me, you understand that I read
HIPV when it was hot off the press and found the research to be full of
holes then and still do. I use the many good sources
out there now to bolster and add to what me, myself and I have analyzed
when I have the opportunity to discuss
Tobin/Dobard's theory-fact??? in public. If I don't know the author of
any of those sources to be a sound researcher, I don't refer
others to them for further information. I first determine if the
material is good by reading the content and references
myself. Since I have trust and lack-of-college-degree issues, I will
often review the references and the reference's references
too, ad nauseum, just to be sure. So, there you have it. I won't
condemn or praise anything until I've read it myself, no matter how
distasteful or exciting the subject. I had the same reaction Kyra had
at the thought of posting a critical review or opinion of a book
one hadn't even read. Plus, self-publishing has been around for a long
time. Some of my best source material has come from little-
known, limited quantity books published decades ago by a small town,
church or family as first person accounts of contemporary life.
Again, I don't judge it until I read it and I don't vote until I know
the core of an issue.

That being said, there are those who use historical fiction as their
emotional proof that HIPV is completely believable. Since it promotes
non-factual events that are a source of much discussion, I believe the
author has a duty to make that clear. That a book is fiction often
doesn't enter the readers' heads when it vindicates their gut feelings
that this fabulous story just has to be true. I think we sometimes,
unconsciously, put ourselves in the position of the triumphant underdog
- possibly because of our own life experiences.
And, who among us wouldn't want slaves to have had even a little more
control over their own lives right down to extending
communication among themselves to quilt patterns. The truth to date is
that it just didn't happen and that makes those episodes of
human bravery all the more real and heart-wrenching but sadly unknown to
the masses who believe anything in print, on the net or from
a television reporter or host.

I don't have much time to read historical fiction anymore like I used
to. I always, however, judged them by the accuracy of the facts
used in the background of the stories. I do the same thing for films
'based' on history as I sit there and think gosh it would have been so
much better if they'd portrayed the real story. Film makers use the
excuse too that we are too stupid to enjoy the real story because
it is dull, i.e., they don't care as long as the change makes more
money. If you're going to take poetic license then at least show that
at the beginning of the movie. I think they'd be surprised at how many
people would go home and look up the factual account.

I am an incest survivor. I don't have a problem writing that although
some would think that too much to disclose. I think back on all
the stages I went through to get to the point where the experience no
longer drove my life. I had times when I pictured all the things I
could have done - wished I had done - and thought I did do - to stop
it. But, it was what it was. I have reached a point where I don't
fear him and I no longer cling to the need to hate as only way I could
survive. Familiarity is comfortable. I don't need reparations
to make it better because I am finally free of it. I lifted the weight
of anger and powerlessness from myself and in doing so found a new
and wonderful me. It did take a long, horrible chunk out of my past though.

I wrote that because I view the African-American experience as a long
healing from rape. Is it possible that HIPV serves a purpose in that
healing? or for others who have been in powerless places in their
lives? I think it will eventually become a story that is no longer needed.
I know this is a big leap and I could be totally wrong. I am not
suggesting that we shouldn't continue to research it or speak up that is
isn't based on fact. You put your name on a book and you damned well
better be able to back it up - Tobin nor Dobard will debate it
and there are those who protect them both so I can only conclude their
ears are closed. Maybe they don't want to lose their cash cow.
I have not read Tobin's last book on slavery. I have read a very
unfavorable review of the scholarship written by someone I trust to have
done the homework..

I read an earlier post by someone who backed into discussions of this
subject using the context of other historical occurrences. I have
chosen to
use the same approach in the last few years and have found it to work
very well. Try not to be discouraged folks. Keep digging away and it'll
work itself out in the end.

Ok, your hour is up. I have no more patients for the day but there are
curtains to sew. Discussion of my learned opinions are welcomed but
pay my secretary on the way out in the form of 18th and 19th century
fabric first.

Dr. Jan from Colorado Springs- Today is my 40th wedding anniversary and
the office is still temporarily in OH.


Subject: Re: Eliza's Rail Tales - reviews - long
From: "Candace Perry" <>
Date: Sun, 2 Nov 2008 14:00:55 -0500
X-Message-Number: 8

Jan -- I apologize but I may have to disagree there. I think that it would
be over-generalizing that it is as you describe, a healing, and though I
understand where you are coming from, and can certainly see why you arrived
at that. I would hate to think that every single African American carries
this with him or her, this vast burden of their collective past.
In my Pennsylvania German world we have these dreaded objects called hex
signs, which still today a young scholar is trying to say have meaning.
Like the HIPV in a way, he is strictly relying on the visual culture and the
interpretation he can draw from it, not from any written source. Frankly, I
don't even think it's a dim possibility that these designs are to ensure
safety from hexes or whatever...I think they are simply DESIGNS. Yet still
today, because this enthralling, super-sexy interpretation captivates still lingers. It's sexy, it's glam.
I think HIPV is that way, also. Plus it gives something that seems very
tangible to a time when the people had no voice.
Candace Perry


Subject: Re gendered responses
From: Gaye Ingram <>
Date: Sun, 02 Nov 2008 17:16:28 -0600
X-Message-Number: 9

With respect to the role gender plays in the responses we give and receive
in groups of mainly women or mainly men, I suspect the type of group plays a
significant role, particularly today, when we've conditioned some reflexes.

A quilting or quilt history group is one thing. It is firmly associated with
women and domesticity. Such gatherings take on a predominately female
character because most members are predominantly female. I think the dynamic
might change if the group were an art quilt group and focused on the aspects
of creation, production, and perhaps sales or exhibitions of the work. In
such a context, quiltmaking would be more likely to seem more vocational
than avocational. And people respond differently in vocational groups,
something that I think separates Virginia's experience from Lori's.

In avocational groups, I have no doubt the responses of men to women in a
mainly male group and women to men in a mainly female group would differ
dramatically. Look on any playground, and you will see embryonic stages of
the adult expressions. I first noticed this when I taught in a classroom
that looked down on the university lab school's playground. A little boy
would walk up to a group of girls, and provided he was not a "scout" for
mischief-minded boys, the girls would usually take him in. They would find a
role for him in whatever they were doing. He could be a "daddy" if they were
playing house, or his strength and running skill might make him desirable in
other activities. But they would generally open their ranks to him and even
find him an acceptable role in the group.

Girls, on the other hand, were welcomed in male groups only if they had
significant athletic skills and only if they were willing to play the same
role boys played. Even then, their welcome generally was conditioned on the
need to balance out the warring groups or opposing teams---for boys' play
seemed ever oppositional.

At the time I assumed this pattern of behavior resulted mainly from cultural
stereotypes. Today we know better.

The brains and hormonal responses to basic experiences are significantly
different in men and women. Women are more sensitive to social signals, are
far better at creating cooperative social situations, are more flexible
about roles within the group. Seen on an fMRI, both lobes of their brains
show activity when they are performing any task, presented any problem.
Doctors know to trust a mother's instinct about her child's health. She
might not know what is wrong, but if she has a sense that something is wrong
with the child, pediatricians I know generally tend to look more carefully
at the child who presents no readily apparent symptoms. Yes, women sometimes
are unmerciful to other women, but their great natural abilities alert them
to signals that either ignite the opposition or that permit them to
manipulate it skillfully and more effectively than their male counterparts.

Men's brains, on the other hand, show signals primarily in one brain lobe.
They seem intently focused on the task at hand. It is far less likely that a
group of male woodworkers (hobbyists) would take any pains to welcome a
woman. And it is likely they would find her a vague threat to their male
situation. It's not that they would dislike the individual personally. It's
just that she would mix up the social dynamic and create a bother they
dislike. The testosterone that is generated by a threat would likely create
its usual chain reaction. A member of this list wrote me privately with a
story that recounted such an experience graphically. I had no problem
believing it.

A student who was a fine baseball pitcher once asked me to illustrate the
effect of these differences. I told him it meant that were I pitching, I
would be able to pick up the vibes from the other coaches and players and
pretty well tell the pitcher was reluctantly going to throw a slow inside
pitch. He, on the other hand, would be able to hit it.

In quilting groups, women are sensitive to the differentness of the men in
their midst and their biological natures lead them to allay any discomfort
by finding the man a suitable role, in making him comfortable. Their fawning
and "goofiness" is likely to be an excessive response generated by this

Don't wander into a male welding group expecting the same kind of attention
if you're a woman.

In the workplace, my experiences have been like Virginia's---any problems
have come from women.

And in all cases, the experience of the members of the specific groups can
counter or modify instinctive physiological tendencies.

I doubt most of us enjoy being fawned over, so however natural the behavior
might be, I doubt it is pleasant for those who receive it. Or those who
witness it.

All that said, I feel a little sorry for men and boys today. So many have no
male models. So few have real initiation experiences that show them clearly
what is expected of them as men in the world beyond home. We play like
gender doesn't matter anymore, and of course, it does matter.
Physiologically and psychologically, they don't handle such changes as we've
experienced in respect to gender models so easily as women handle them.



Subject: More Men
From: Joe Cunningham <>
Date: Sun, 2 Nov 2008 20:36:30 -0800
X-Message-Number: 1

I did not mean to strike a match in the hay loft. But before the topic
disappears I thought I should point out one last thing: I am a man who
feels more comfortable in a room full of women than in a room full of
men, generally. I don't have any problem being in a room full of men,
but I just feel my defenses relax and fade in a room full of women.
Therefore, on further reflection, it just may be that what I
experience as "welcomed and approved" might be more accurately
described as coming from within myself. If I had to give specific
examples of special treatment, I don't think I could come up with
many. And maybe women in quilt guilds just smile at and are friendly
to all their visitors.

So perhaps I was overstating the effect.

Joe the Quilter


Subject: Men as closet quilters
From: Kay Sorensen <>
Date: Sun, 2 Nov 2008 21:30:20 -0800
X-Message-Number: 2

I had a student, let's call her Rebecca.
Let's call her husband Felix.
Each night after dinner when she was tired from working all day and coming =
home and making dinner Felix would say "Let's quilt now Rebecca."
He would do all the cutting and she would sew.
He was brought up to think it wasn't manly to do any type of needlework.
So even though Rebecca was tired she'd sew so Felix could have his quilting=
I invited them to several quilt shows and Felix always made me promise ther=
e would be other men there. There always were and he was very relieved. I d=
on't know if they are still cutting and quilting but I would guess they are=
. I tried to encourage him to sew but he wouldn't do that part.
Kay Sorensen


Subject: Re Joe the Quilter
From: Gaye Ingram <>
Date: Mon, 03 Nov 2008 00:40:31 -0600
X-Message-Number: 3

Joe Cunningham wrote: I don't have any problem being in a room full of men,
but I just feel my defenses relax and fade in a room full of women.
Therefore, on further reflection, it just may be that what I
experience as "welcomed and approved" might be more accurately
described as coming from within myself.
So perhaps I was overstating the effect.

Joe, every study done everywhere, it would seem, (e.g., Dementh: Ohio State;
Hrdy, UCal Berkley; Niederle, Stanford; Vesterlund, UPittsburg) suggests
your defenses relaxed and faded because you were in a room full of women. An
anthropologist at University of Texas has written a doctoral dissertation in
which she views the quilt revival partly as a response to women's increased
need for non-competitive companionship (read: female companionship) in a
world where they spend most of their day in a competitive world of work,
where work models designed by men are most often in place.

Not that women are not competitive. There's the Texas Cheerleader Mom and
Martha Stewart, and anybody who has ever been to a Little League baseball
game or community soccer match has seen adult female competitiveness in
excelsis. But on balance, women do not prefer individual competition as a
motivation to success and satisfaction. And they are more willing to work in
teams, letting whatever "glory" accrues to be shared glory. They also appear
to be more selective in their goals than men.

There is a lot of discussion about the source of this response or
preference, but repeated studies have related it to the endocrine system and
the brain.

Culture can modify the response, though. Anthropologists like to point to
places like New Guinea where individual ambition and competitiveness as a
means toward its satisfaction are frowned upon. Farming and fishing are
activities where individualism does not always work best. The need for
cooperativeness as a survival skill seems to override individuality.

Joe, I'd say you had the good sense to seek out others who enjoyed doing
what you enjoy doing and that in this case, those others were mainly female.
I don't think you stirred up a wasp nest. I think you called attention to an
interesting phenomenon. I found your response interesting, anyway.



Subject: Eliza's Rail Tales
From: Pat Lyons <>
Date: Mon, 03 Nov 2008 01:41:40 -0700
X-Message-Number: 4

According to, the book is classified NK 9112.
NK is Decorative Arts and in NK 9112 are found many titles familiar to us.
The Material Type is Biography

If you're not familiar with WorldCat, this is the source from which
libraries get their cataloging for all types of media.
It may be the single largest bibliographic database in the world.
The cataloging comes from many sources, (and it is quality-controlled)
but in this case the Library of Congress provided the cataloging.

So, to add to the mix, the book is perceived by bibliographic
professionals as Biography and about the Decorative Arts.
There is no indication on the bib (bibliographic) record of the book
being Fiction.

Kyra, as always, your measured and thoughtful words are appreciated.

Pat Lyons
Once a librarian, always a librarian


Subject: Re: Men as closet quilters
From: "Shari Spires" <>
Date: Mon, 3 Nov 2008 08:43:39 -0500
X-Message-Number: 5

It seems so odd to me that men would find sewing or quilting to be a
feminine task when all the tailors were men. Women traditionally did
"sewing" and men who sewed were tailors and always paid more. Same with
cooking. Women were cooks; men were chefs and were paid more. But I
digress. LOL
Shari in NC


Subject: Re: qhl digest: November 02, 2008
From: "Force Majeure Quilt Restoration" <>
Date: Mon, 3 Nov 2008 09:56:14 -0600
X-Message-Number: 6

I am the author of an Amazon review of Eliza's Rail Tales, and I stand by

The promotional material supplied by the author via her website and
publishing company make it clear to me that she is leveraging this story off
the popularity of the UGRR quilt code myth. Since a simple Google search of
"underground railroad quilt" yields informative sites about the myth within
the first ten results, the author has either a singular lack of intellectual
curiousity (which I doubt) or she has conciously chosen to write a story
that perpetuates the myth. As a person who is interested in history, as a
published writer of educational materials, and as a parent, I am deeply
concerned that this book may find its way into libraries and schools. I did
not enjoy hurting Ms. Scott's feelings, but her freedom to swing her arm
ends where my nose begins.

As several of you pointed out, historical fiction reinforces popular
imagination about events and therefore accuracy is still important in any
serious fictional literature. Any book that is marketed to educators is
asking to be held to this standard. Accuracy is more important to me than
the quality of illustrations or photographs, and inaccuracy destroys the
entertainment value for me.

When I was in second grade, I received "Cotton In My Sack," a Newberry
Award-winning book about a family of sharecroppers. I was profoundly
affected by it, I read it many times, and it still has a place on my
bookshelf. Written in the 1940's, "Cotton In My Sack" is still used in
classrooms today. Once a book captures the imagination of educators, it can
remain in the system for a long, long time. It's in all of our interest to
help ensure that teachers are not misled. With two book exhibits coming up,
I admit to a sense of urgency about getting the review posted.

That is my opinion as just one Amazon reviewer. Not all Amazon reviewers
share these priorities. That's the great thing about such review sites --
when I'm deciding on a book, the opinions of reviewers with different
perspectives is usually much more valuable to me than the official blurb.
Kyra raised some other aspects of the book that are important to her and has
promised to post her own review. I look forward to reading it.

As an aside to Jan: I agree, there is nothing inherently wrong with
self-publishing. My point in noting this in an earlier post is that
self-published books do not necessarily go through the same level of
editorial rigor (including fact checking) as those printed by large
publishing houses. (Though, as an Amazon Vine reviewer, I'm beginning to
wonder whether editing standards have collapsed entirely.) As you pointed
out, self-published books can be a rich source of research material -- but
they must be vetted.



Subject: Re: Google News Archives
From: textique <>
Date: Mon, 03 Nov 2008 11:17:31 -0500
X-Message-Number: 7


I use all the google tools and think they are wonderful. I am not a
trained researcher so I have
developed my own best way to use the search portals.

Just an FYI to the listers who don't know which is probably 2 of you.
Thousands of repositories are making their collections - newspapers and
all - available in various
online digitized projects. Google - online digitized newspaper projects
- (or archives, images, etc.) and,
of course, the google projects will be listed first but the others will
be there too. Scramble the
order and type of your search terms and you'll find them. Most are free
but when you figure in
the cost of driving there, the pay sites don't look so bad and you can
always ask someone to copy
for you. I often go into Ancestry and put in the terms quilt, coverlet,
needlework, turkey red :),
etc and am very happy with what pops up. Interestingly it is not
necessarily their newspaper
selection from that is the most interesting. I
also like to play with researchgate
and zotero.

Happy hunting.



Subject: RE: Subject:: Women in a woodworking or welding class
From: "Greta VanDenBerg-Nestle" <>
Date: Mon, 3 Nov 2008 11:30:04 -0500
X-Message-Number: 8

Gaye and Louise, et al.,

I am one of those women; but the field I have found the most discrimination
in is mechanics, especially when we were newer members of our Model A Ford
clubs. My father was a mechanic and I started life 'helping' him at his
Flying A service station (remember those?). My entire life he shared his
interests in all things mechanical and electronic which provided me with a
very useful understanding of how things work. When our car clubs hold
workshops I always choose the mechanical stuff. I suspect to this day I am
one of the few women who can pour a babbitted bearing for an engine (my
father taught that seminar and apparently the technique so old I had to add
'babbitt' to my Word dictionary.) I've grown accustom to the strange looks
from both the men and women.

I still have many of my father's tools but one of my most prized possessions
is his red portable tool box which travels with me everywhere filled with
tools I might need for whatever car I am driving.

PC terminology taken into consideration I believe both men and women who
quilt are referred to as quilters - not quilters and quiltresses! <grin>

Greta VanDenBerg-Nestle
- wading through 3 days of emails since my studio has been a temporary
victim of renovation progress!


Subject: 2 corrections to item on Alliance for American Quilts auction
Date: Mon, 3 Nov 2008 11:27:47 EST
X-Message-Number: 9

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Dear QHL Friends--
I'm so sorry, but I need to fix two mistakes I made in Friday's
announcement about the eBay auction of contest quiilts for the nonprofit Alliance for
American Quilts.
To start with, the first week of the 3-part auction will end this
Thursday, November 6, at 9 pm Eastern Time. (I previously wrote that the auction
ended Wednesday, Nov. 5.) I would hate for somebody to miss getting one of this
small gems because they thought bidding was over and it wasn't.
Secondly, I said that John Flynn and his wife had each donated a quilt,
but it was actually John and his daughter Kate Flynn Nichols, not his wife
Brooke. Please, forgive me! Kate's quilt, "Sea Green Storm" will be auctioned
off in the second week of the fundraiser, and John's "Red Sampler" (which was
quilted on a Flynn frame, naturally) is included in the third week of the
Go to and check out these stunning quilts: the prices are
amazing, and the money goes to a great cause!
Meg Cox, vice president, Alliance for American Quilts


Subject: RE: Eliza's Rail Tales - reviews
From: "Robins-Morris, Laura A" <>
Date: Mon, 3 Nov 2008 10:03:42 -0800
X-Message-Number: 10

When I was first reading Kyra's comments, I began to agree. Until I
remembered that the book's author is selling school lessons to teachers.
That changes her fictional story into a historical lesson of fact.
(I admit I have not ordered nor read the lesson plans, and I am making
certain assumptions based on her own statements on the web site and waht
can be seen on the lesson plas page.)
Laura in Seattle


Subject: Re Eliza's Quilt
From: Gaye Ingram <>
Date: Mon, 03 Nov 2008 14:34:26 -0600
X-Message-Number: 11

I think one of the most effective things we could do was to have someone to
write an authoritative letter to the National Conference of Teachers of
English as well as the state branch (see web sites for same).

Also to Language Arts Directors in State Departments of Education. Perhaps
of Social Studies as well and to the school librarians' professional
organization. One thing state departments do not want is controversy over
book choices. They have enough based on other issues. They are cautious

These are the agencies that will determine whether the book will be adopted,
recommended to teachers for supplemental use, or purchased by school

It would be useful if we had a list of the major offenders in this category.
I would write something for either the English Journal or a similar
publication if I had examination copies. Couldn't guarantee acceptance, but
it is likely.

In any case, those are the people who make decisions re syllabus, and
someone who is versed in this matter should write them.

This quilt code issue has reached such standing that I wonder whether it
would not be good if AQSG made an official statement that could be sent on
such occasions?



Subject: trying to find someone who might be on this list
From: "Pepper Cory" <>
Date: Mon, 3 Nov 2008 16:01:57 -0500

Hello all,
Am trying to locate Jill Filo-Sutton (Roly Poly Quilt author). If someone on
this list knows how to contact her, I'd truly appreciate any information.
Jill-if you're reading this, I'd like to talk to you!
Many thanks from the rainy NC coast-

Pepper Cory

Teacher, author, designer, and quiltmaker
203 First Street
Beaufort, NC 28516
(252) 726-4117



Subject: Re: qhl digest: November 02, 2008
From: textique <>
Date: Mon, 03 Nov 2008 17:32:30 -0500
X-Message-Number: 13


OK, I really can't write my way out of a paper bag which is why none of
you will get to read about Margaret
Blosser's quilts anytime soon, but here goes. (I'm also a smart-a** but
please don't take it that way).

I will almost certainly stand by your review too, once I've read the
book. I will not give the author money but
will get it another way. Proper research methods and vetting of
self-published books aside, I couldn't begin
to give an honest review of anything I had not read first. I can't
explain it any other way than to say it would
offend my sense of right and wrong. You do what you want. I can
disagree but I won't sit around and stew about
it. Like you, I always look at the personal reviews before buying a
book. I just don't want to have to write the poster
to ask if he/she skipped step number one when writing it?

We get our panties in such a bunch about this and I think we just don't
see that our best weapon is our collective
research skills and intellectual honesty. I didn't go to college so do
they teach that last one? am I being naive? You use
them 'with' people; you don't hit them over the head with 'em. That is
why Leigh, Kim and Pat's sites are so persuasive.
The facts are there, with references, so it is obvious they have done
their homework. The reader then chooses to
hear the truth or not...or to think on it some more. My opinion is:
which they choose depends on why they believed
it in the first place.

I am picturing a person who was so concerned that I would be rude when
in the same room with Tobin that she asked
me not to bring up the other side of the story when meeting her. Being
a believer that a well-armed mind is much more
deadly than a sharp tongue, I couldn't wait for the meeting. Darn but
it was canceled. I still wonder if it really was because
of the amount of money Tobin wanted to charge - which I think was $500 -
or because I would have been there to be rude
as if you can't make the point any other way. What is it with Colorado
anyway! Aurora is a burb of Denver and I've toyed
with the idea of just deaccessioning it all. :)

We are on the same side of the railroad tracks in this debate so I count
you in my corner, Kim. Call me stupid but
I want to have my integrity intact when I get to the station. I'm
really not in the position to tell anyone how to live
their life. I can only tell how I want to live mine. I do like Gaye's
idea on who to target with our research though.
It can be an official AQSG opinion letter if that is an appropriate
function or one we make as a group of individuals
and can sign.

Now, excuse me, I stained a quilt on my wood deck and I have to go color
in the binding. I'll probably be awake all
night trying to figure out how to quilt it.

Jan, from the Springs but still in OH.

Force Majeure Quilt Restoration wrote:
> I am the author of an Amazon review of Eliza's Rail Tales, and I stand
> by it.



Subject: Joan Kiplinger's note about AQSG
From: Linda Hunter <>
Date: Sun, 12 Oct 2008 23:00:19 -0400
X-Message-Number: 1

This is sort of a reply to Joan Kiplinger's message regarding AQSG in
Columbus. She did speak correctly when she said how well everyone
treated those of us who have not been to as many of these seminars, and
how friendly and helpful everyone was. The ability to discuss similar
interests with such knowledgeable people is such a treat. I, too,
appreciate that. However, I must let those of you who were not in Joan
Kiplinger's Study Center of 20th Century Textiles know how much work she
did for all of us, and how much she knows about textiles. We were all
totally amazed at the amount of information we received, the beautiful
and informative displays she produced for us to learn from, the
wonderful booklet of fabrics she made for each one of us to use for
study and information. We received so much from her - I believe much
more than she realized. Joan, you brought so much to us as a
"non-quiltmaker". We value your expertise. We learned so much from
you. I am sure we certainly can learn from each other. Thank you, so
much, for making that Study Center filled with information and
"goodies". Linda Hunter

Linda Hunter
AQS Quilt Appraiser, Instructor and Lecturer


Subject: Re: Joan Kiplinger's note about AQSG
From: Joan Kiplinger <>

Joan Kiplinger wrote:Linda -- thank you for those kind words. You have
no idea how petrifying it is to talk DNA to quilters LOL.

Last year when I was asked to participate I told a sewing friend how I
was going to approach the subject of fabric through fibers. She told me
not to bother, that quilters don't know dietary fibers from textile
fibers. Would be a waste of time. Fortunately, after many years on this
list, I could refute that statement. Any group that can bring down the
UGRR certainly isn't going to be intimidated by a tad of nanotech.

I was privileged to have a warm and receptive study class.

Linda Hunter wrote:This is sort of a reply to Joan Kiplinger's message
regarding AQSG in Columbus. She did speak correctly when she said how
well everyone treated those of us who have not been to as many of these
seminars, and how friendly and helpful everyone was. The ability to
discuss similar interests with such knowledgeable people is such a
treat. I, too, appreciate that. However, I must let those of you who
were not in Joan Kiplinger's Study Center of 20th Century Textiles know
how much work she did for all of us, and how much she knows about
textiles. We were all totally amazed at the amount of information we
received, the beautiful and informative displays she produced for us to
learn from, the wonderful booklet of fabrics she made for each one of us
to use for study and information.




Subject: UGRR as fact-- grrrrrrr
From: "Tamara Quinn" <>
Date: Mon, 13 Oct 2008 10:01:16 -0400
X-Message-Number: 3

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---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Marsha MacDowell <>
Date: Sat, Oct 11, 2008 at 9:00 AM
Subject: Quilts and NEH Picturing America project

Date: Tue, 02 Sep 2008 16:19:49 -0400
From: Bob Shaw <>

Dear Friends,

This may not be news to some, but I just learned that the National Endowment
for the Humanities has launched a major educational program called
"Picturing America" ( that is disseminating
huge, high quality reproductions of 40 works of American art to schools
around the country. The images are accompanied by a resource guide, lesson
plans and other materials.

The good news is that, along with iconic works by the likes of Audubon,
Copley, Eakins, Homer, and Frank Llyod Wright, one of those images is a of
a group of eight quilts. The quilts are within image group 10b, "Quilts of
the 19th and 20th Centuries," which can be found at

The less good news is that while the quilts chosen -an African-American
crazy quilt, a crazy by Susan McCord, and six Lancaster Amish quilts
formerly in the Esprit Collection and now in the Lancaster Museum of Quilts
& Textiles-are outstanding, they represent only a segment of the rich
variety and history of American quiltmaking. The site also unfortunately
describes quilts as
originally "a thrifty way to make use of leftover fabric at a time when
fabric could be scarce and expensive."

The truly bad news is that the linked teaching resources promote Underground
Railroad quilts, which are presented as fact, not myth at Lesson 2
African-American Freedom Quilts.

According to info at, the NEH's own
resource guide dealing with quilts has not yet been published, so perhaps
some letters to the agency are in order.

Bob Shaw

Robert Shaw


Subject: Whims
From: Stephen Schreurs <>
Date: Mon, 13 Oct 2008 07:49:03 -0700 (PDT)
X-Message-Number: 4

Sharon, you've already gotten more out of your whim than I get out of most
of mine!!! Pretty cool!

How would it look with Christmas lights? Susan


Subject: Kudos to AQSG attendees
From: "Stephanie Whitson" <>
Date: Mon, 13 Oct 2008 10:36:46 -0500
X-Message-Number: 5

Because I'm an "american novelist" and she is doing her Ph.D. paper in
Germany on quilt imagery in the American novel, I had the pleasure of
meeting with the German student (and now I can't remember her lovely name)
here in Lincoln after the seminar.

I wanted to add a word of congratulations to the attendees at the AQSG
seminar, because this young woman who knew NO ONE in AQSG sang your praises
for how kind & hospitable the group was to a stranger.

She was especially appreciative of the fact that no one took offense at her
not "knowing who they were" when it came to some of the obviously (as she
learned later) very well known authors and scholars amongst you.

May the spirit of kindness continue!

Stephanie Higgins (who had the very same experience many many years ago at
her first AQSG conference)


Subject: Re: UGRR as fact-- grrrrrrr
From: Mitzioakes <>
Date: Mon, 13 Oct 2008 11:34:13 -0400
X-Message-Number: 6

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I was hoping I would not have to go back to the UGRR/quilt mess. I am a
volunteer at the Shelburne Museum in VT and have had a great summer talking
quilts and working on my own and for the first time in 6 years no one (no
one) has asked about the UGRR quilts. I was hoping that subject had been
resolved. Guess I am off to doing some more answering.
Mitzi Oakes
So. Burlington, Vermont


Subject: Question to the 'applique-nistas' in this group
From: Barbara Burnham <>
Date: Mon, 13 Oct 2008 08:48:38 -0700 (PDT)
X-Message-Number: 7


... to do broderie perse that looks old ...

The grape wreath Polly refers to is from Lovely Lane's 1847 Lipscomb quilt,
also on the cover of Katzenberg's Baltimore Album Quilts. Here is an extreme
closeup I took of that block (looks like wool? thread in several colors):

Polly wrote about the chintz cutout broderie perse, that the thread for the
tiny buttonhole stitch around the flowers blends into the background, yet
some just have the edges turned under, no fancy stitching. I have seen both
techniques on the early cutout chintz quilts. Here is a chintz cutout where
the edges are turned under. Note that the outer edges of the chintz fabric
closely match the background. That little margin (or thread embellishment to
match the background) is what makes this work, to achieve the intended look
of a whole cloth chintz quilt "inspired by the fashionable and very
expensive bedcoverings imported from India called palampores."

Here is an interesting example at Winterthur, where buttonhole stitched
thread colors change:

Finally, my 1848 red and green applique quilt with yellow contrasting
threads (edges are turned under AND buttonholed):

These are all old quilts. As Polly indicates, it all depends on what you
have to work with, what look you want to achieve, and what technique you
want to use ...

Barbara Burnham
Ellicott City, MD


Subject: Re: Question to the 'applique-nistas' in this group
From: "Stephanie Whitson" <>
Date: Mon, 13 Oct 2008 10:25:24 -0500
X-Message-Number: 8

At the Pojagi exhibit at the INternational Quilt Study Center in Lincoln one

of the docents mentioned that silk thread is very difficult to keep on a
needle. She said the Korean way has a little trick in the knotting that
helps it stay put. . . she had tried it and spoke highly of it. Of course I
can't begin to describe it, but perhaps a google of Korean patchwork
technique or maybe someone else here knows the trick.

Stephanie Higgins


Subject: Quilters in the city of New York
From: "Stephanie Whitson" <>

Some time ago one of the members was asking for information on NYC. . . =
. just thought I'd bring it to everyone's attention that this issue of =
American Quilter has an articled titled "Quilter Bite the Big Apple" has =
what appears to be great information (never having been to NYC I'm not =
the voice of experience, though).

At any rate. . . thought I'd mention it as I'm tearing it out for my =
"travels" file.

Stephanie Whitson Higgins


Subject: Applique
From: Sally Ward <>
Date: Mon, 13 Oct 2008 17:24:05 +0100
X-Message-Number: 10

In the one Baltimore Album I've seen in my life (this weekend at
Quilts In Common) some of the blocks had edges stitched down with
quite visible, small, straight stitches in red or green embroidery
floss which went at right angles to the applique edge. I *think* the
edge had been turned under (I was in danger of toppling onto the flat
plinth as I endeavoured to look closer <G>). This gave the effect
from a distance of leaves having the kind of 'prickle' edge you
sometimes see on rose leaves and was very effective.

Sally Ward


Subject: Cotton leavings and wool gathering
From: "Pepper Cory" <>
Date: Mon, 13 Oct 2008 13:51:04 -0400
X-Message-Number: 11

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When I was a kid in Barnwell, South Carolina, I remember when the cotton
fields were picked and cotton brought to the mills in large wire-sided
trucks, some of it would blow out the top and catch along wire fences next
to the highway. I saw women, both white and black, gathering the 'leavings'
and stuffing the cotton into paper grocery bags to take home for home-made
batting. I don't know if they washed it. They certainly carded it. I have
been told that the leaf debris is not hard to get out but leaving cotton
seeds in place (small and oily, hard little buggers to pluck out) can make
eventually for oily brown spots on the topside of your quilt. Carding combs
for cotton and wool tend to have different-size teeth and wool cards are
more curved than cotton.
More than you wanted to know: I have carded my own wool batting and while
it's tedious, the process is not complicated. After the wool fleece is
skirted (the dirty bits torn off and stuffed into the government wool box)
the fleece is washed and air-dryed. Then handfuls of the cleaned wool are
scraped across a left-hand card (I am right-handed) and the carder uses the
other (right to scrape it back-n-forth to straighten the fibers and let any
tiny debris fall out. Then the cards are gently scraped against each other
to form a big fluffy roll (rolag) of wool. The rolags are store in a big
basket where they won't be crushed. When making rolags for a wool quilt
batting, they're bigger than those used for spinning. It takes between 50
and 100 rolags to make a batt. When your backing is on the quilt frame, you
line up 6-10 rolags and unroll them gently, overlapping the wool sheets with
each other. How many rolags you use is your call. This YouTube clip is for
spinners but I liked the jazz background music!

Pepper Cory

Teacher, author, designer, and quiltmaker
203 First Street
Beaufort, NC 28516
(252) 726-4117




Subject: Re: Question to the 'applique-nistas' in this group
From: "Patricia L. Cummings" <>
Date: Mon, 13 Oct 2008 09:24:51 -0700 (PDT)
X-Message-Number: 12

As a matter of course, I make one knot that sets right at the top of the ne=
edle, when using a 36" strand of silk sewing thread for appliqu=E9.=0A=0APa=
tricia Cummings=0A [qhl] =
Re: Question to the 'applique-nistas' in this group=0A=0AAt the Pojagi exhi=
bit at the INternational Quilt Study Center in Lincoln one =0Aof the docent=
s mentioned that silk thread is very difficult to keep on a =0Aneedle. She =
said the Korean way has a little trick in the knotting that =0Ahelps it sta=
y put. . . she had tried it and spoke highly of it. Of course I =0Acan't be=
gin to describe it, but perhaps a google of Korean patchwork =0Atechnique o=
r maybe someone else here knows the trick.=0A=0AStephanie Higgins


Subject: question about a Martha Waner
From: Judy Schwender <>
Date: Mon, 13 Oct 2008 11:43:19 -0700 (PDT)
X-Message-Number: 13

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Hi all,
I received an email inquiry that I cannot answer. Does anyone know of
this Martha Waner?
Judy Schwender

About 4-5 years ago my mother saw a television show about the museum. She
thinks the name of the lady speaking was Barbara and that she may have been
a quilt appraiser. This lady was talking about quilts in the museum that
were made by a Martha Waner. The quilts were died black and my mother
remembers that it was said that Martha Waner was to have been depressed. Do
you have any information about the dates in which these quilts may have been
made? Or, perhaps where they may have been made? The dates that we would
be interested in are about 1860-1942.



Subject: cotton
From: Stephen Schreurs <>
Date: Mon, 13 Oct 2008 13:02:03 -0700 (PDT)
X-Message-Number: 14

Gaye, Pepper, and all, thank you for the longer description of cotton
production, and for the reference...I'll try to find it. What struck me in
Teddy's mention of her grandmother's cotton-growing was precisely what you
describe: a very labor intensive plant to grow, harvest, and use, not to
mention how it can deplete the soil. For that reason, I was curious about
an individual growing cotton specifically for home use, as the practical
economics of time and labor seemed daunting - unless reasonable small-scale
ways of carding, etc, such as described by Pepper, made it more practical
than I imagined. Somehow, I haven't pictured home production to the scale
Gandhi was touting in India!

This mental furniture - ideas you get so used to having (or not having) that
once in a while, you trip on one, right out in public! Always interesting
to re-examine.

And, Teddy, I am very interested to know what you find out from your Mom.

Best to all, Susan


Subject: A bit of qlt code humor?
From: "Kimberly Wulfert, PhD" <>
Date: Mon, 3 Nov 2008 23:05:24 -0800
X-Message-Number: 1

Hi all,

I had to laugh for a moment at the suggestion that the Eliza book is one
of fiction. My first reaction was- Duh- what does myth mean?? Fiction would
suffice as an answer, even if the author didn't mean it like that.

I'm with those who find this book to be a dangerous one because of its use
with children and in schools, because people, including adults, tend to
believe that if it's in writing and in a book, it must be true. An example.
When the movie about the shooting of JFK by Oliver Stone came out , I did
not see it, never have. Why, because he said he made the movie filling in
the blanks and unknowns with what HE thought might have happened. I did not
desire to hear what he, a movie maker, had to say about it. And I might pick
up and idea or two and think it's true and worse yet, incorporate it into
conversations in the future about the event. perpetuating the opinion of
Stone. It was unnerving to me that he would do this to an important event
for which we have many questions yet unanswered. People seeing the movie,
then and for years to come, may have missed hearing that it was historical
fiction, a product of his thoughts, and instead, believe it was telling the
non-fiction version.

Gaye, you can request a review copy, free of charge, from her. There is a
link in the original post I sent from WSJ. I hope you will get it and
follow up with an appropriate letter to the educational community from which
you have been a part for many years.


Kimberly Wulfert, PhD


Subject: Re Eliza's Quilt
From: "Laurel Horton" <>
Date: Tue, 4 Nov 2008 06:07:12 -0500
X-Message-Number: 2

textique wrote:

> I do like Gaye's
idea on who to target with our research though.
It can be an official AQSG opinion letter if that is an appropriate
function or one we make as a group of individuals
and can sign.

I remember, years ago when the Smithsonian quilts were being reproduced in
China, I suggested to Sally Garoutte that AQSG might write a letter of
protest. Sally wisely pointed out that the mission of AQSG is to promote and
publish quilt-related research, not to serve as a watchdog organization. I
didn't understand the importance of this stance at the time, but I do now.
I've now served on the boards of several nonprofit organizations, and I've
seen how they can become distracted from their most important goals and

As a former librarian, I oppose censorship of ideas. Libraries, and now the
internet, serve as an open marketplace of ideas. We live in a world that's
full of misinformation on all levels. The story of the Quilt Code has
embedded itself in our culture because it fills a need. We may not like it,
but it's going to be around for a long time.

I presented a series of papers on my own experience with this subject
between 2003 and 2007. One of them was recorded by the IQSC and offered as a
podcast from their website. The most recent--and the final one--was my
invited presentation at the 2007 AQSG seminar, which was published in *
Uncoverings*. I'm aware that the reason no one has mentioned it during the
recent discussion is because people are looking for "ammunition," and this
article doesn't offer that. Instead, it points out that this is not an issue
about "truth versus belief," it is a clash between two belief systems.

I started out, after I first read *HIPV*, to compile a catalog of the
historical and analytical inaccuracies with the idea of debunking the story.
I soon realized that this wasn't effective, and I started looking at the
reasons for this. I also recognized that the story and its acceptance made
me angry and indignant. I don't like feeling angry and indignant, so I
wanted to explore what it was about the story that fed these negative
emotions. Now that I've put all this together and published it, I'm pretty
much done with the subject. Except that I don't want to see AQSG distracted
from its mission to tilt at windmills.In the larger scheme of things, the
acceptance of the Quilt Code is annoying, but it's minor compared to the
misinformation we've been given recently about the nation's financial health
and efforts to combat "terrorism."

We all have to make our own choices about what's important in our lives.
Personally, instead of putting my energy in negative directions, I'm more
interested in my own positive efforts to pursue and write up my own research
and to get it vetted and published by a scholarly press.

So, do what feels right, but please allow AQSG to pursue its stated mission.

Laurel Horton
(AQSG member since 1982)



Subject: From the list mom
From: Kris Driessen <>
Date: Tue, 4 Nov 2008 05:20:29 -0800 (PST)
X-Message-Number: 3

Allow me to point out to those that don't know, AQSG is the American Quilt Study Group. You can find a link to them, and several other quilt research organizations, on our links page at

Membership in any specific organization or study group is not a requirement for belonging to this list. I am sure we all belong to one type of group or another, but since we don't all belong to the SAME one, there is probably no point in discussing the agenda of any specific one.



Subject: Re: qhl digest: November 03, 2008
From: "Force Majeure Quilt Restoration" <>
Date: Tue, 4 Nov 2008 08:48:15 -0600
X-Message-Number: 4

I appreciate, and largely agree with, the point you were trying to make.
However, I don't believe this is an integrity issue, nor an academic one.
You and I have both educated ourselves (thanks in large part to the
outstanding work of the other QHL list members you mentioned). The quilt
code myth is a simple story and it is easy to recognize when someone is
launching into a rehash of it.

The promotional material (located here: states, "Eliza
shares the stories of slavery, the Underground Railroad, and quilt patterns
used to send secret messages to escaping slaves. The tales she tells have
been passed down from the hearts of brave men and women, both black and
white, whose spirit of freedom and justice caused them to help those
following the North Star. Quilts held a significant role in these journeys."

This is, indeed, a story about the code.

The linked site goes on to state about the author: " ....inspired her to
research the Underground Railroad and Code of Quilts. The story and colorful
illustrations come together to make this history fun to share."

I spent twenty years on active duty with a significant percentage of that
time in intelligence assignments. Myths and urban legends persist in that
community as well. When a junior analyst started to go down some of those
well-trod roads, I stopped at the first paragraph (or subject line), drove a
red pen across the page, and directed them to existing literature on the
subject. If they came back and claimed they had new evidence, I looked at
it -- but that was a very rare occasion. Otherwise, it mattered not a whit
to me that the analysis was well written or whether the powerpoint slides
were entertaining -- it was bad information and had to be kept out of the
body of evidence.

Similarly, I am confident that I understand the quilt code problem well
enough to draw a red line and direct readers to other books and sites that
contain accurate information. If, on the other hand, a book was produced
that purported to contain new evidence to support the code, I would be very
interested in reading it.

I'm done discussing the review on this board. Moving back to the topic, I
think that Gaye's suggestion is an excellent idea. A quick Amazon search
yields a couple of other juvenile titles that reference the quilt code:
-- The Patchwork Path: A Quilt Map to Freedom
-- Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt
-- Under the Quilt of Night (companion to Sweet Clara)
-- The Secret to Freedom

Possible other candidates include:
-- The Mystery on the Underground Railroad (suspect -- blurb doesn't
directly mention the quilt code, but the story revolves around stolen
-- Secret Signs: Escape Through the Underground Railroad (story is primarily
focused on deaf sign language, but the Kirkus review mentions the use of a
quilt. I wonder what the deaf community thinks of this book.)

This list is by no means exhaustive. Perhaps Pat, our resident librarian,
could help us with this?



Subject: check new email address please
From: "Marcia Kaylakie" <>

HI All, forgive the overlap but this is quite important. My email of = was spoofed (picked up) yesterday and the most =
unbelievablely filthy porn has been arriving via it! So please use the = address for now. I have changed my passwords =
and bumped up my spam blockers to the high level for now. I am not =
getting all of my messages. I do urge you to change my email in your =
address books! Thanks, marcia
Marcia Kaylakie
AQS Certified Appraiser
Austin, TX


Subject: UGRR books
From: Joan Kiplinger <>

One might also refer interested readers who want a more accurate
accounting of the UGRR to Passages to Freedom, a collaboration of 13 or
so distinguished community leaders, professors and historians who
neither mention nor show quilts in this history of the UGRR. Book
coincided with the opening of the National Underground Railroad Freedom
Center in Cincinnati.


Subject: Re: UGRR books
From: textique <>
Date: Tue, 04 Nov 2008 11:00:10 -0500
X-Message-Number: 7

Excellent publication Joan.

Joan Kiplinger wrote:
> One might also refer interested readers who want a more accurate
> accounting of the UGRR to Passages to Freedom, a collaboration of 13
> or so distinguished community leaders, professors and historians who
> neither mention nor show quilts in this history of the UGRR. Book
> coincided with the opening of the National Underground Railroad
> Freedom Center in Cincinnati.


Subject: Dating Club
From: "Lucinda Cawley" <>
Date: Tue, 4 Nov 2008 11:14:54 -0500
X-Message-Number: 8

I know that I have way more fun than one person has any right to expect,
but honestly I deserve it; ask anyone who knows me (G). The Dating Club met
Sunday in Northern VA. The topic was the color purple. Quite a few of us
dressed to fit the theme. Hazel and Bunnie had done some research on the
purple dyes, a subject (dyes, not just purple) we all need to know more
about. Bunnie had a timeline "Dye History from 2600 BC to the 20th Century"
by Susan Druding from I just printed out a copy.
First up was an English Hexagon piece 1830-40 with a great variety of
prints; even a bit of purple counts. A purple toile illustrating the
Banishment of Hagar was delicious. Jumping forward 150 years was a 1960s
purple Bow Tie. There were lots of Depression Era purple prints in tops and
blocks, Grandmothers Flower Gardens, purple Morning Glories in a strip set,
even a flour sack summer spread with primitive purple appliqués and a
"purple work" embroidered spread "made by Xena 1935-36." A VerMehren
version of the Windblown Tulip was on a purple background with a green swag
border. A complex Star from the 1940s (Y-seams) in purple and yellow set
our heads spinning as did a tessellating purple and yellow Windmill Star.
Barb Garrett, the Feedsack Queen, brought a "V for Victory" egg mash bag
printed with the explanation that colored bags were not available because
the dyes were needed for the soldiers.
We were fascinated by an embellished silk handkerchief quilt with
monograms, grapes and flowers from the late 19th century. You can see a
similar piece in Quilts of VA, p. 108.
I loved the Berks Co. PA (c. 1880) Lone Star in the classic PA German
colors on a fugitive purple background with smaller stars between the blades
and a blue and purple dogtooth border. A 1930s embroidered Basket from the
same family had fiddlehead fern quilting in the border (a traditional motif
often used by the Amish but not what I'd expect to see on a quilt like
this). A Tree Everlasting pieced in purple and red/pink checks had
exquisite feather quilting (c. 1860).
Did you ever see an Oklahoma Snake Ring? It's a fan variation (14 small
blades per fan) with an undulating border pieced from additional blocks. A
Double T (1880) was very scrappy, lots of purples and browns, with a wild
red sashing fabric. There was a truly extraordinary Flying Geese (1840)
with red and yellow geese in the center surrounded by multicolored geese,
back to red and yellow on the edges, a tape binding, all the fabrics still
A Mountain Mist Ric Rac quilt (we saw one like it in the Armory exhibit
in Columbus) was dated 1941 in the quilting. It doesn't have to be a quilt
to be interesting; we were intrigued by the 360" of seamless purple binding
(c. 1860) cut from a 10 yard length of fabric.
Hazel showed us a kit quilt which she bought in 1960 and her mother
finished. It's a strip set of purple, lavender and baby blue flowers. A
giant Tulip kit (Paragon 01174 for American Home) was classic 1970s .
A Chimney Sweep from Delaware, green, madder, cheddar (1870) could
almost be mistaken for PA. A charming indigo and white Double T from Ohio
had a Flying Geese border. A c. 1840 Delectable Mountain from the
Shenandoah Valley was another blue and white beauty. A New York Beauty top
in red and green looked turn of the 20th century .
An Album top (c. 1880) made in Washington, DC by Catherine Milliken Lynch
was obviously inspired by the Baltimore quilts of a generation earlier. It
shows a wide variation in design and needle skills. Mary Lou McDonald
showed us the Baltimore Appliqué Society's quilt made to benefit the Howard
County (MD) Historical Society. It's an exact replica of the Mercer quilt
made in Ellicott City and like all the BAS projects you want to get raffle
tickets and pray really hard that you win. Contact Mary Lou for details.
I'm just realizing that we saw quite a few Double Ts (maybe the fact
that my wonderful new grandson is named Tommy has made me more aware of the
pattern--of course, I'm going to make one for him). The PA version (from
somewhere West of the River we all agreed, that's the Susquehanna) was
orange, green, brown, double pink, madder and chrome yellow with sashes and
cornerstones (1870). Doesn't that sound perfect! Speaking of what I'm
going to make, Polly's 1840s Stripy of 5" squares of luscious prints with
alternating strips of several different chintzes and a border of the blue
bird chintz has me already sorting through the stash. This can be quick and
beautiful for a daughter-in-law who does not like pastels.
The perfect ending (for me) to the day was when Polly produced an
inscribed Rolling Stone from Carlisle, PA (1860-70). It's not fraktur
lettering but it's the same genre. I asked her for a list of the names and
she said "Just give me what I paid for it and take it home. I only bought
it because I didn't see you at the show and I didn't want you to miss it."
Aren't our quilt friends just the best! I really do have to count how many
inscribed RS I have now (not enough).
Time to go vote and out for lunch. We always celebrate election day by
eating well.
Cinda on the Eastern Shore


Subject: UGRR Quilts Ride Again
From: "Patricia Cummings" <>
Date: Tue, 4 Nov 2008 11:44:58 -0500
X-Message-Number: 9

Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
Content-Disposition: inline

Dear Kim,

I am a little confused at being named in the last paragraph of your last
e-mail to the list, and called a librarian. Perhaps you confuse me with
Laurel who stated that she had been a librarian? I did work in a university
library for 1 1/2 years, when I was a student at same institution, but I do
not consider myself to be a librarian.

In driving to the election polls today to vote for our favorite candidates,
I mentioned to my husband, Jim, that the word "vetted" is one that is thrown
around a lot lately, in politics and elsewhere. I am not exactly sure of the
meaning, so I suppose I will look it up in my leisure time. To vet seems to
mean "to endorse," and it seems to mean checking someone out to either
approve or disapprove of what they say in order to validate the truth of
their words. The definition is my own, and is a stab in the dark, but the
best I can make of the verb "to vet." Now, sometimes, the word comes along
with a companion: "properly vetted," meaning perhaps "tested by fire."

I am just wondering when and why any one of us would have to have our ideas
and opinions approved by a consensus of other people who in reality may know
less than we do.

My point is simple. I am among the folks who were disturbed, angered, and
annoyed with the faulty information imparted about an important part of our
collective heritage: the role of quilts in the escape of slaves on the
Underground Railroad. I believe that I may have been the first to voice my
objections and opinions, in a print publication, when I wrote a more than
4,000 word essay that was published in a newspaper. I did not ask anyone's
permission to express my opinions. On a roll, I wrote the article in four

Since then, my words on the subject have been published in two or was it
three magazine articles, one of them 10 pages long. I, too, hate negativity.
I even hate giving up the time that it is taking me to write this letter,
but I believe in a cause that is greater than myself, and greater than any
of us.

If we do not speak out for what we believe, personally, in a true society,
that society will lose a little of its freedom and we will lose a little of
our freedom of speech. If we are afraid to express our beliefs because we
might become "unpopular," then we are cheating ourselves and others of the
feeling that is ok to trust our gut instincts, and we are buying into a
system where it is thought that we must be "vetted" before we can speak out.

The American Quilt Study Group is an important and growing force in today's
quilt world. Through several publications, the articles therein reach a
limited number of interested parties.

My writings, unvetted as they may be perceived to be, reach hundreds of
thousands of people, worldwide. In the almost ten years of writing quilt
columns for a major player in the international field of quilt magazines, I
can't even imagine how many people may have read my articles. I welcome the
opportunity to share quilt history and textile history in a broad venue. So
said, I will continue to #1, think, #2 research, #3 write, and God willing,
#4 continue to have my words heard (or read).

I cannot accept a sanitization of this egregious lie about the Underground
Railroad, that involves quilts, whether a supposedly educated woman has now
written a novel, or someone else takes it in their head to continue the
supposed history, the supposed "legacy" of the message.

Yes, the ideas for the "code" were planted, first in a seemingly benign way
with the ramblings of an old woman who was about to die and had nothing to
lose by engaging her own fantasies. The story has turned into an odious one
with no redeeming merit that I can ascertain. Furthermore, I'm not going to
roll over and accept that the status quo that wants to say that we are just
"stuck" with this situation, and that is just how it is. Some folks, after
all, do appreciate the truth, a word, by the way that has five letters, not

Patricia Cummings



Subject: Re: Re Eliza's Quilt
From: Gaye Ingram <>
Date: Tue, 04 Nov 2008 12:45:36 -0600
X-Message-Number: 10

Re Laurel Horton's reply to textique and Kim's posts and my passing remark
that it might be desirable for AQSG to write a position paper on the quilt
codes story.

I did not recommend that AQSG write such a paper. I suggested the
possibility "might" be "considered" by AQSG members, many who are
subscribers to this list---and even then, I mentioned it only as an
afterthought. A position paper, posted on a website for members or readily
available to members through in-house literature, is not an aggressive,
"watchdog" response. It is a statement for the benefit of members, something
to which they may refer for their own interest and enlightenment. It may be
as broad or as narrow as the writers desire, including a bibliography of all
relevant materials. And it generally comes in response to membership
request. Innocuous idea at worst. Certainly not a clarion call that would
justify such a narrow or defensive response.

Jan (aka textique) specifically qualified her remarks by saying "if such a
paper is appropriate." And that was the end of the matter so far as I could

Frankly, this was not a matter that interested me right now. I'm busy with
other things. And yet I saw that it interested others on our list, some who
have come to my aid with useful information in the past. Having spent my
life working in education, I knew the best way to clarify the historical
accuracy of the quilt code gibberish was to approach it from the top---the
professional organizations and agencies that establish curricula, present
workshops, and uphold professional standards and good practice. Otherwise,
one deals with a hydra. I shared that information without expressing any
feeling about the subject itself.

Kris is right: our list is not an organ of AQSG, AQS, or any other
organization. Had I made such a recommendation, I would have addressed my
remarks to the organization, which has a separate website, not to the QHL
membership. I trust my own intentions were clear to the disinterested.

I believe most consider Barbara Brackman's paper on the UGRR story to be the
classic statement on the quilt code fable. It presents a balanced,
researched, and closely reasoned response. Barbara addressed the story's
lack of factual and historical merit. Her address was neither negative nor
"debunking," but a clear-headed, temperate review of the facts bearing on a
question that had seized the imagination of many. It clarified the question
and provided a factual ground for evaluating the authenticity of the whole
idea of quilt codes. It has become a staple in quilt history.

That kind of response is helpful to students of quilt history as well as to
those who are not students of quilt history but who turn to an informed body
for information.

Whatever the reasons for the quilt codes' popularity, quilt historians are
trusted by others to produce the kind of research upon which people desiring
fact might rely.

To assume that list members have not mentioned Laurel's article on the
subject because "people were looking for 'ammunition,' and this article
doesn't offer that" impugns the motives of all who have spoken to this
issue. And it presumes far too much.

It neglects the possibility that members might find Laurel's article
unsatisfying or irrelevant as a response to the question at hand. I myself
find its basic characterization of the issue questionable and certainly find
its writer's characterization of those here who oppose the perpetuation of
clear falsehood even more questionable.

I do not think list members have posed the issue as "truth versus belief."
That is the author's characterization, and it is flawed: truth and error are
opposites; belief and disbelief are opposites; but truth and belief are in
separate categories and thus cannot be compared. The contrasts that have
been made on this list strike me as clear contrasts between historical fact
and historical error. The issue has been kept within the historical context,
as one might reasonably expect on a quilt history list.

The Aryan myth popularized by Wagner and Nietze and numerous others in late
19th- and early 20th-century Europe also grew out of a compensatory need and
might as easily be described away as an alternate "belief system." To the
historian, its elements were simply false.

The myth of the Old South was partly a perpetuation of a false
interpretation of reality meant to obviate the terrible fact of slavery.
Later, it also became a compensatory interpretation of history by a defeated
and poverty-ridden people. It took almost a century for historians to poke
around in that story for fact, and only within the past quarter-century have
we begun to get a full and realistic picture of society in the ante-bellum

In both cases, it strikes me, the constructed story was pernicious,
preventing a people from dealing responsibly with empirical reality.

Myth as understood by religion, psychology, and cultural anthropology is one
thing--- generally a narrative that embodies the worldview and sacred
beliefs of a cultural group. The events in that narrative usually antedate
recorded history and partake of the divine. It is a group's way of
understanding First Causes and articulating and passing on values. This is
the way psychologists and philosophers like Jung, Eliade, and Joseph
Campbell use the term. Symbol is the tool of myth (e.g., the great flood
that washes away a world gone wrong).

While I recognize there are narrower, minor myths, it is my understanding
that these arise informally from within a cultural group and are passed on
informally within that group. The folk tale is one example. This quilt code
story arose not from within a cultural group, but from a writer who
purported to be reporting empirical fact--- history--- and did a poor job of
verifying her sources. And it is not being passed along informally, but
formally, as fact. We are right not to forget that or to obscure that. I
think members are right to oppose that.

This is not an issue of censorship, and one need not have been a librarian
to support a free play of ideas. Jan took great pains to establish her
adamant support of intellectual responsibility and integrity. And Kim's
website offers multiple bibliographies and articles on the subject. But at
issue here are not concepts, but facts. So long as historical fact is
established and gets fair representation in the public school classrooms,
I'm sure no list member cares if people keep making money by churning out
peculiar stories. It struck me that some on the list did not feel fact was
getting fair representation.

While this quilt codes issue is not something that compels me right now, I
do not believe those members who wish to assure fact a place in classrooms
should be condemned for being "negative." I'm sure, however, they are
consoled by the writer's permission to "do what feels right" to them.

Gaye Ingram


Subject: Re: New book on quilt code
From: "Stephanie Whitson" <>
Date: Tue, 4 Nov 2008 16:08:18 -0600
X-Message-Number: 11

Is anyone keeping a "master list" of the mistaken UGRR books?
It might be helpful in the future to be able to supply educators/librarians
with a list of "they got it wrong" books.
Or it might be good fodder for a paper someday for someone.

Just a thought.
Stephanie Higgins


Subject: Re: Re Eliza's Quilt
From: "Patricia Cummings" <>

Great thoughts, Gaye, particularly from someone who doesn't have time to
deal with this issue, right now. We can all take lessons from the past, but
how often do we?

I have just one question and that is which "Kim" wrote the recent letter? I
did not think it was Kim Wulfert inasmuch as she usually signs her full
name. For the sake of clarity, can we all sign our full names from now on?
Is there another "Kim" with a website about this. The post left me feeling
confused. Thanks.

Patricia Cummings


Subject: Re: Re Eliza's Quilt
From: Gaye Ingram <>
Date: Tue, 04 Nov 2008 20:21:01 -0600
X-Message-Number: 13

From: "Patricia Cummings" <>

> which "Kim" wrote the recent letter? I
> did not think it was Kim Wulfert inasmuch as she usually signs her full
> name.

Pat, I might have been mistaken in assuming it was Kim W. Some internal
remarks in Jan's post led me to think of Kim Wulfert's website. And KW has a
special section on her site devoted to assorted treatments of the issue. But
you're right: Kim Wulfert usually signs her full name. I apologize if I

I simply thought it was unwarranted to assume base motives of any member who
seemed only to wish to assure factual accuracy a place at the table where
misrepresentation is dining sumptuously. Frankly, judging from the opening
and the complimentary closing, I think it was my remark re AQSG that
accounted for the tone of that response.

I think one would have had to be searching hard to find any of the exchanges
associated with the Eliza book more than routine for our list on the subject
matter. Yes, this misconstruction is likely to continue. But so are evil and
the poor likely to be with us throughout time. That does not mean we should
not strive to frustrate evil and to improve the condition of the poor. I see
no reason to discourage those who strive to establish truth in anything. I'm
always an optimist about the possibilities for learning.



Subject: American Presidents quilt
From: Laura Fisher <>

HI all- just found an AMERICAN PRESIDENTS quilt, containing all theguys =
up through Ronald Reagan when he began his term. I say that because above e=
ach embroidered (and pretty accurate) faceare the dates of their terms o=
f service - Reagan's says 1981--.

Below the presidentialheads are thenumber order they served (Reaga=
nwas the 40th) and their signatures, again lookinglike pretty accurat=
e facsimiles.

Interestingly, all the faces are machine embroidered in brown (think of the=
possibilities with the next President) with some stitching in white. I don=
't really sew or use a machine, but the look is like a dense overcast stitc=

The blocks are joined with blue vertical sashing and red horizontal sashing=
. There's an American flag in the lower right corner.

Can anyone identify what company produced this pattern, or was the entire q=
uilt or the blocks pre-embroideredby the manufacturerand sold? Any in=
fo would be most appreciated? Was a Presidential quilt produced by more tha=
n one company?


Laura Fisher


Subject: Presidents' quilts
From: <>
Date: Wed, 5 Nov 2008 12:29:47 -0800
X-Message-Number: 2

Presidents' quilts are pretty common in the marketplace. The presidential face patterns for embroidery or painting began around the turn on the 20th century thru to today. Aunt Martha's still has the patterns for sale. Most recently during the Bush II years, there was a book published by AQS. There was a version during the 1980s printed on double knit with black ink. If it is the one just sold on Ebay the faces are from the 1980s.

Sue Reich

Sue Reich
Washington Depot, Connecticut


Subject: ADV: President Quilt -- Obama Redwork Pattern
From: "Susan Wildemuth" <>
Date: Wed, 5 Nov 2008 17:20:13 -0600
X-Message-Number: 3

Presidents quilt --

Side Note:

Kyra Hicks offers a free Obama Redwork pattern.

Free Barack Obama Redwork Pattern:

Thank you Kyra!

Susan Wildemuth