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You Did What in the Ditch? Book Review

”You did What in the Ditch?” by Dr. John L. Oldani.

There’s a new quilt book on the block and it’s a beauty! Not your usual book of quilt block and quilts and instructions but a very well researched publication on the folklore of the American Quilter.

The title of the book is “You did what in the ditch?” which I find hilarious. So many quilters’ husbands out there would probably say something similar, I know mine would! The author of this publication is none other than Dr. John L. Oldani, a professor for 30 years, primarily at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, and is an inductee of the Great Professor Hall of Fame. To learn more about Dr OldaniClick here

Dr Jack as he prefers to be called, had a syndicated newspaper column, American Folksay, and served as the only writer for Johnny Cash’s radio program, American Folklore, producing over 500 scripts. So it is fair to say that Dr Jack is a folklorist and to achieve the high quality of data in this publication, he conducted extensive fieldwork with quilters. Through questionnaires, interviews and most importantly by establishing a research archive for scholars and collectors to investigate the lore of the American quilter.

In this publication the vocabulary, sayings, folk beliefs, superstitions, folk poetry and even graffiti of the American quilter is discussed at length and with great humor. While many historic books about American Quilters are available, this publication touches on the very interesting and absorbing facet of quilting – the folklore behind why we do what we do.

I have found this publication to be very interesting, stimulating and has prompted a curiosity in my favorite craft, that after all these years of doing and creating with quilting, I now have a clearer understanding of how this wonderful craft has arrived in its current form today.

I thoroughly recommend this publication. It’s a great read and leaves one feeling uplifted.


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