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Tobin’s book is based on the report of an African American quilter who remembered a history of using quilt patterns as a way to escape slavery; according to some, the quiltmaker was hounded by Tobin for “meaning in her quilts” and by others that her “quilt code” was given freely.This matters b/c it goes to the credibility of the account and the role of informant as possible trickster; unfortunately, Tobin’s source died before the book went to print.Due to the nature of the intersection of women’s and colonial histories, ie what documents were kept as “worthy” and what was discarded, the reality is far more complicated.



My mother avoids needle and thread as toil, her memories are of big hands pushing needle through fabric to give to someone else, to keep the farm afloat. So today I quilt this post in honor of my grandmother and the amazing gift she gave us all: While quilting in Africa was largely done by men, quilting in N. As slaves, African American women were charged with sewing, mending, and other textile work as part of household chores.Today’s black herstory month post is an ode to my grandmother, who lovingly made quilts her entire life.Her quilts followed a tradition of rag quilting she learned in the waning days of slavery and they adorn each of our beds with the love of a powerful matriarch who taught us all to value education and ourselves.The patterns in question, some of which are pictured in the GLAAQN quilt to the rt, include “Bear’s Paw” to follow animal tracks north through the Appalachians, “Flying Geese” as other escapees, “Drunkard’s Path” is the erratic route, and other patterns meaning wheels, cabins, crossroads, etc.