Ruth McClung never learned to knit or crochet, but she is nonetheless an integral member of the Appalachian Baby Design team, working behind the scenes to wash, block and tag models of ABD designs destined for knit shops and photo shoots.
A native of Ronceverte, West Virginia, Ruth met her husband at church and they married in 1962. He was a Navy aviation electrician, so they lived in locations across the United States, moving about every three years. During a stint in in Hawaii, their daughter was born on December 7, Pearl Harbor Day. They also have a son.
The family returned to Greenbrier County in 1982 and built a house on land owned by her husband’s parents. She spent many years providing child care for working families, including the son and daughter of ABD founder Diane Browning. When Diane’s children outgrew her, Ruth offered to help out at the studio. Diane took her up on it, and she has been with ABD since 2007.
Ruth is a jack of all trades, helping out with everything from fulfilling orders to refilling the yarn bins. She takes great care when preparing the models, taking them home to hand wash them in cool water with no bleach and then block them.
Although she once told Diane Browning that she thought she should quit at age 80, Ruth, who will soon turn 81, is having too much fun to give it up. “I only work 15-16 hours every two weeks,” she says. “I just like to help keep things going.”