Connected by Threads

Linda Ligon, Interweave’s founder, started Piecework in 1993 to honor handwork and explore the personal stories of traditional makers, what they made, and how they made their creations. Every other month, Handwoven’s sister magazine, Piecework, gathers near-forgotten threads of textile history and brings them to life through outstanding research and unique projects.  (The September/October issue, with the intriguing lead What Would Miss Marple Knit?, will become a classic, mark my words.) Here’s editor Jeane Hutchins to share some highlights from PieceWork’s November/December 2010 issue, celebrating a subject near and dear to our weaverly hearts.


One of Beatrix Potter’s beloved
Herdwick sheep
(Photo by Deborah Robson)

Can you even imagine a world without thread? I can’t. I think I’m safe in stating that anyone who is reading this is “connected by threads” in some fashion. And the November/December issue is our tribute to thread.


I’m a huge fan of Beatrix Potter. I gave my niece a Beatrix Potter book with the appropriate stuffed animal for each of her first seven or eight Christmases. But I was unaware of Beatrix’s other life—her efforts to preserve England’s Lake District, including saving a breed of sheep essential to the area’s landscape. Of course, Beatrix also championed the wool that the Herdwick sheep produce.


Kings and emperors knew the

magic of Bombyx Mori.

(Photo © Michale Cook)

Corticelli was part of the American
“Silk Road.”
(Photo by Joe Coca)

“The Story of Silk” provides the background for this glorious fiber. The history of silk is long and intriguing, and the ways in which it reflects light provide a magical quality not lost on centuries of kings and queens, emperors, sultans, and other wealthy patrons. Did you know that America had her own Silk Road on which “silk trains” sped from West to East? From the late 1800s to the 1930s, silk was the third most-valued commodity in America, right behind gold and silver bullion.


While putting this issue of PieceWork together, I took some time to think about my own personal thread connections. They brought back very poignant memories of the work done by the hands of my mother and grandmother. I hope the same is true for you.


As we begin to look forward to the holidays, I send my very best wishes to you and yours for a season filled with magic, laughter, and an abundance of connecting threads.


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