Ruth MacGregor

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Ruth is terribly fond of silk in all its forms. A longtime handspinner and inveterate band weaver, she is fascinated by textile history and participates in the annual European Textile Forum, a gathering of textile archaeologists, historians and curators. She has authored several articles and two books (Learn to Spin Silk, and Getting Started with Tablet Weaving) and maintains a website chronicling her spinning, weaving and dyeing experiments (www.spinningforth.com). She leads workshops at fiber and craft shows in the UK and Ireland, and teaches occasionally in the US.

Silken Pursuits

102, Friday AM

Silk is the only textile material to have a mystique. Its history is colorfully illustrated with fables and myths; but the true history, backed by archaeological findings, holds even more wonders. A thousand years before Marco Polo’s famous journey, centuries before talk of “the Silk Road,” silk was known, valued, and widely traded. This is a seminar about a material: silk. After lifting the veil of history, it explores sericulture (silk production) in varied climates and cultures, and in different time settings: the Iron Age, medieval times, and now. Silken topics include moths, mulberry trees, degumming, reeling, and spinning, all leading to a new understanding of the silks on modern suppliers’ lists. The show-and-tell portion presents results of different processes, and cocoons for the intrepid.