Getting Ready for the Festival Of Quilts

Part 5  – Politics in the New World – more English Laws and the PEI block

If the textile politics in England were not bad enough for quilters, the colonies in the new world had additional problems obtaining textiles. Settlers in North America were expected to be exporters of raw goods to England and import consumer goods such as textiles monopolized by England. Strict laws were passed to control the ports and import duties were charged, which all ensured that English dealers made large profits as the middlemen.

It should be no surprise that imported textiles were afforded mainly by the wealthier classes. Settlers depended on finding their own raw material and fabrics especially as they moved far inland from ports. To further complicate the issue laws went so far as to prohibit the manufacture of any textiles. I am pretty sure it had nothing to do with protecting sleeping beauty but the English government went so far as to ban ownership of spinning wheels. The penalty of having a spinning wheel was to have your hand cut off! To make this more complicated in 1640 Massachusetts and Connecticut law required every family grow a quality of flax and spin 3 lbs on wool, flax or cotton per week!

In addition to banning exportation of machines from Britain for manufacturing cotton, wool, linen or silk, even textile workers were also prohibited from immigrating to the colonies, or even its former colonies. It was fortunate  in 1789 Samuel_Slater , a textile worker in England, disguised himself and came to America with plans for a spinning machine in his head. Four years later the 1st cotton spinning mill opened and there was no turning back. From 8000 spindles in 1807 to 800,000 in 1825 and a calico factory in 1823, for the 1st time sewers had access to new world calico and other textiles for clothing and quilts.

Prince Edward Island


So what province did this remind me of? Well this blog was about politics, Britain is an island and in 1864 the 1st political discussion that eventually brings about confederation occurred in Charlottetown. So of course Prince Edward Island was my next choice to pick a block for.

I have been to every province and territory in Canada but this is the least familiar province to me. I have spent time in every capital in Canada except Charlottetown, so it is a must on my travel bucket list!  I have only had time to across the Confederation Bridge and have lunch at Timmies at the end of the bridge. But what an amazing engineering feat!! Must be the 1st time since the ice age this island has been connected to the mainland. Is there a traditional bridge like block?? My 1st imagine of PEI of course is Anne of Green Gables and potatoes. This island is also known as the “Garden of the Gulf” and of course the “Cradle of Confederation”. All these inspired images of traditional basket block! Much better I have been told than the Snowball block I thought could pass as a potato.

PEI Block (Basket block)



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