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Stitching Through Canadian Fiction, History, and Quilting

October 21, 2011

I’m just beginning this blog, as you can see…

I have no affiliation to the book Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood. I have been a fan of her writing since high school, when my history teacher ‘assigned’ her to me for homework. He thought it would be a hoot to give a mousy girl the packet with the Queen of the Man Haters to deal with. He was wrong. Not only did the articles make it clear to me she was a feminist and not anti-male, I got hooked on her attitude and books. I also wrote a kick-ass essay that changed his mind on that ‘mousy’ idea. Over the years (and I won’t tell you how many but it’s at least one decade) I’ve bought several of her books and then literally read the covers off of them. Several book passages have inspired my classical instrumentals, and I’ve composed songs for characters and phrases including an epic 4-movement, 8-minute piece called Celebrated Murderess. Which is, of course, about the character behind the story in the book Alias Grace.

Reproduction Fabric from the 1800s (photo by Michelle Southern)

Reproduction Fabric from the 1800s (photo by Michelle Southern)

The other major character in that novel, for me at least, wasn’t a character in the typical sense. It was the textiles. The chapters were all named after quilts and included sketches. In the book, Grace herself stitches away on quilt blocks while speaking with her doctor in the parlour, who asks her questions about the quilt patterns and their meanings. The stories she tells him cover every quilt she had come across in her time as a servant and she considers quilt tops she would make for herself. The whole book centres on Grace, but while she’s only in our thoughts because of that pesky double murder her entire life seems to be surrounded entirely by quilts and fabrics.

I’ve been quilting for many years now, not as many years as I’ve been an Atwood fan, but close. I’m from a quilting family and I’ve been fascinated by quilts and patterns long before I started sewing them up myself. Reading Alias Grace and trying to track down some actual history on Canadian quilts has inspired me to delve into this novel in a different way, a way that someone who doesn’t quilt might not appreciate. I’m going to stitch through Alias Grace and I hope that others will find my journey interesting enough to tag along. If you don’t quilt, this whole idea might seem a bit obsessive – if you do quilt, you’re probably wondering what took me so long.

Thanks for joining me, and should anything interest you please feel free to share your questions, comments, and resources. I promise to do the same. For more information about this blog, read the About page.

  1. mds permalink
    December 31, 2011 6:36 pm

    Thanks quarkee 🙂

  2. December 30, 2011 1:16 pm

    What a great idea. I’ve thought about doing the same but never got to it. I’ll follow w interest….

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