Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

April 22, 2011

Hoopla over weaving

An old children’s toy – the Hula Hoop – is being put to good use by area crafters, for a new form of fabric art.

TAHLEQUAH — Hula Hoops have a new artistic purpose – as frames for making a fabric rug.

That’s what 14 Oklahoma Home and Community Education club members learned Thursday morning from member and librarian Michelle Parnell.

The women all agreed they enjoy learning something new and visiting with their friends at the same time.

“This is a new project I can enter in the county fair,” said Ann Lamons. “I enjoy learning something new; it’s a challenge.”

At first, Lamons was unsure about her success in the venture.

“I’m getting it, it’s not as hard as I thought it would be,” she said.

Parnell learned about the rug project from a magazine.

“I saw one in Branson selling for $50 or $60,” said Parnell. “This is a good project, because people can take their own paths to do it.”

While some used smaller frames of embroidery or quilt hoops, the outcome was to make something usable from an item they had on hand, material or T-shirts cut into 1-inch-wide loops. The smaller frames were used to create potholders just the right size for a tea kettle.

To begin, weavers first must know about warp and weft. The warp is the material strung on the hoops, and the weft is the material used to weave.

For the warp, participants cut 1-inch-wide loops from the bodies of one or two T-shirts. To make a rug, approximately 11 loops are required. For the weft, at least 50 loops are needed from the remaining shirts. Warp loops are stretched over the hula hoop, from top to bottom. Additional warp loops are added at perpendicular angles, until all 11 loops are in place and the Hula Hoop looks more like a wagon wheel with spokes.

The first weft loop is secured to the center of one of the warp spokes by wrapping it around the warp, then looping it back through itself. Weft loops are then woven over and under the warp spokes forming a tight spiral. The process is repeated until weft loops reach the frame of the hoop.

A basket weaver, Launa Erskin was enjoying the project.

“It’s similar to weaving baskets,” Erskin said. “I’m going to give it to a friend; it would cheer somebody up to get this.”

Glenda McCollum was using a quilt hoop.

“Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?” she said. “I’m enjoying visiting with Mildred [Fain]. I like learning new things, but I’m bad to start a project, and then it ends up in the sewing room, but this is fun, once you get it started.”

Oklaoma Cooperative Extension Service Educator Heather Winn plans to give her rug to her mom for Mothers’ Day.

“Don’t you think she’ll love it?” Winn asked.

She also visited with the women about it being a good project for the summer sewing camp they do for 4-H and other youth.

OSU Cooperative Extension Service secretary Fran Ridenhour said she and Winn found seven categories in the county fair book in which this project qualified for entry.

“This is something you can do on your own, make your own design and work at your own pace,” Ridenhour said. “You don’t need to buy supplies, you can use what you have at home.”

Thursday is $1 bag day at Encore Resale Shop, a used clothing store, said Ridenhour.

“We’ll have to get more T-shirts,” she said.

It takes about 33 shirts to make a rug.

Using the scissors she earned as OHCE Member of the Year, Ridenhour cut T-shirts into strips with ease for herself and her mom, Bonnie Moss.

“After I sat down, I figured this out,” Moss said, “I like to keep my mind busy so I don’t think about the five exhibits for the county fair that are sitting on my sewing machine. I plan to put my rug at the foot of my bed or in the utility room.”

The morning workshop was appealing to Violet Chambers in lieu of housework.

“I had ironing to do if I stayed home,” Chambers said. “This is interesting. Michelle [Parnell] is my great-niece.”

The project fits with Chambers’ philosophy of learning something new every day.

“This is easy; I may not be doing it just right, but it’s easy,” she said. “We used to braid rugs out of old clothes; that’s all we had for rugs.”

Carol Trevier said they do all kinds of projects at the Tahlequah Public Library on Monday mornings at 10.

“We make dolls and rugs; they’ll teach anybody to knit or crochet,” Trevier said. “I use old sheets to crochet rugs.”

Carol Clark had a purse she made of material strips she crocheted everyone admired.

“I crochet rugs, but this is a lot faster,” Clark said. “My purse is made out of old curtains.”

This is therapy, said Bonnie Smith, who plans to put the washable rug in her entryway.

“We all need a little therapy. You don’t have to think about anything while you do this,” Smith said. “It’s a good project to do in the wintertime when you don’t want to go outside.”

Parnell said the Park Hill OHCE Club she belongs to provides a workshop every year, so she was looking for something everyone could do and enjoy.

“Weaving is kind of therapeutic, and the over-and-under [motion] doesn’t take much thinking,” she said. “One lady works at the School for the Blind, and she’s going to teach her students to do it.”

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