It is with open arms we welcome 2021! 

The Rotary Club of Gympie is looking forward (again) to presenting the Gympie Rotary Quilt & Craft Spectacular, together with the “Ancient Crafts, Rare Trades” Expo! October 30-31, 2021 – just over 8 months to go… and that will fly. We will be sending a newsletter out at the end of every month from now on to keep you in the loop.

I will attempt to be brief… and am trialling a new format, so bear with me, and tell me what you think!
There are two parts to this update, below:

Part 1: Event Highlights – The event highlight pictures below are “live” so just click on each image to read more – the link will take you to the website (I hope). I’ll update each month with news.

Part 2: Item of Special Interest & Inspiration – Each update will feature an “Item of Special Interest & Inspiration” – not necessarily related to the Quilt & Craft Spectacular, but something interesting, quirky, curious… Recently I found an amazing story I’d love to share with you, regarding a cryptic use for common quilters blocks in relation to the slave trade in the 1800s… scroll down! 

If you have a quirky, historic or “Item of Special Interest & Inspiration”, relevant to any craft, or have projects you’ve been working on – or are currently working on – for this year’s Quilt & Craft Spectacular that you’d like to share in our upcoming Updates – I’ll do my best to include them! 

So – skim through the highlights, click on whatever catches your eye, and see the “Item of Special Interest” below our highlights! Hope you enjoy…and make sure to join us, October 30-31, 2021, one of South East Queensland’s largest quilt and craft event!


1. A brief preview of the Gympie Rotary Quilt & Craft Spectacular, October 30-31,  2021:


– meet the makers of over 40 heritage crafts!! www.ancientcrafts.org

+ CRAFT BEER OPEN DOOR – Discover, Experience… Enjoy!

2. Item of Interest & Inspiration:

While researching something quite unrelated, I stumbled upon a stunning artwork (pictured below) by US artist Stephanie Wilde (http://www.stephaniewildeart.com – entitled “Look, Listen, Follow”). It is not a quilt, it’s a painting, inspired by the beauty and the story of African American slave quilts. I had to share it with you – amazingly inspirational for quilters, such wonderful and meaningful graphics, colours and patterns…. what superb (and challenging) quilts this could inspire!! 

Underground Railroad Quilt Codes (or Freedom Quilt Codes):

The “Underground Railroad”, used in the mid-1800s in the United States, was a network of secret routes and safe houses established to assist slaves, fleeing from cruel owners in southern plantations, to find freedom in the north. Along the way, through hostile territory, important information and directions were communicated to the runaways through secret codes and symbols – slaves on the run, having committed the meanings of these symbols and codes to memory, could read the coded directions, “hidden” in plain view – undetectable and unknown to anti-abolitionists and slave hunters.
Oral history, passed down through generations, claims that quilts played a role in the Underground Railroad – these secret codes and symbols would be sewn into quilts as part of the design, each quilt signalling a specific action for a slave to take at the time the quilt was on view. The seamstress would place a quilt on display – hung out of a window, or airing on a fence – signalling “this is a safe house”, “take the bear’s trail’”, “cut a zigzag path to avoid pursuers” etc and also gave clues and indicated directions for the onward Underground Railroad journey on the flight to freedom. 
Today’s quilters use many of these blocks regularly – but how many of us know this history? 
Here’s some meanings (in theory) of the secret codes:

Wagon Wheel Quilt Block – a quilt, placed in view airing on a fence, showing this pattern told slaves to pack their belongings and get ready to go

Tumbling Block Quilt Block – displayed when conditions were right, signalling it’s time to go i.e. there was an Underground Railroad agent in the area

Bear’s Paw Quilt Block– letting runaways know that they were on the right track

Log Cabin Quilt Block – hanging in a window, the quilted block with a black centre for the chimney hole indicated that this was a safe houseSailboat Block – a signal that either a body of water was nearby and/or that boats were available 

Drunkards Path Block – a warning signal to take a zigzag route to confuse pursuing slave hunters that were in the area

Fascinating, hey? Many of these symbols are used in the painting below, based on Underground Railway codes – I’m sure you will recognise many of them.
Please send pics of projects you’ve been working on, or Items of Special Interest & Inspiration, we would love to share if we can!


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