The Plague Shawl The history of disease is filled with cases of contagion spread by textiles. Was the 1878-79 Russian Plague caused by an infected shawl? Could a smallpox survive a year in the folds of a shawl, then kill?
From the mid- to late-19th century it was said that a Munich inventor had created a new kind of lace made entirely by caterpillars. Other articles told of dresses made of Madagascar spider silk–from drunken spiders. Were these stories of insect industry true?