I have a small pile of craft books growing in my house that were mailed to me here at the YDR office. Some are about beading, some are about making cool new sweaters out of your old sweater and some of them are about whipping out a blowtorch and making glass things.
The real downer of it all is simply not having the time to create all of the lovely, lovely things in the wonderful new books. As much as I would love to make a cross-stitched tattoo design from Ed Hardy or a knitted letter from Dani Church, there just aren’t enough hours in the day.
Anyway, enough whining! I recently read a book that was sent to me called “You Did What in the Ditch?: Folklore of the American Quilter” by John L. Oldani, Ph. D. There was no crafting required with said book. A majority of the book wasn’t so much “quilting folklore” as it was “quilting inside jokes” or “quilting bumper stickers.” There were pages of cliches such as, “When life throws you scraps, make a quilt!” or “Families are stitched together with memories!” You know, the things you would see written on some sort of lawn ornament that you stick in your garden.
The book also included lists of quilting superstitions such as, “If you drop your scissors, someone close to you has been unfaithful.” or “The pattern of a wedding quilt should never be made into the pattern of ‘wandering foot’ or ‘turkey tracks’ or the husband will stray from the marriage bed.” There wasn’t really an explanation as to where the superstitions came from or why, or if they were even true, they were just there to share.
Overall it was a cute book, though it would have been fun to read a more detailed history of American quilting. There are so many lovely regional quilting styles in America, but the author instead decided to focus on the style of the Kuna women on some remote island close to Panama and try to connect it to American quilting tradition. There wasn’t even a mention of the quilts from Gee’s Bend, which have been featured in museums and are still being made and sold today.
Anyway, the quilting “folklore” reminded me of some knitting superstitions such as, “If you knit your boyfriend a sweater, he’ll break up with you” “If you stab your knitting with your knitting needles, ill luck will befall the person who receives it,” or “If you knit your man a pair of socks, he’ll walk away from you.” (for the record, my husband has two pairs of socks that I knit for him (one was made while we were *gasp* still dating… gutsy, I know.))
I guess we all have our own jokes and superstitions in regard to our own craft, but they’re second nature to the people who practice the craft. Oldani, the author of the book and presumably not a quilter, seemed to find the quilting culture and its cutesy sayings fascinating. What kind of craft do you do, and what are some of its superstitions and “folklore”?
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