A COMMUNITY UPCYCLE WEAVING PROJECT is underway this winter at the Cooperstown Farmers’ Market, beginning January 4. You are invited to come down and join in the fun. Try your hand at cutting the strips of fabric, stitching the strips together, or weaving on the 1923 Union Custom Loom from the Union Loom Works in Boonville, NY. The goal is to create ten 3’x4’ rugs for the silent auction at the 2nd Annual Local Foods, Local Spirits Cocktail Party, August 7, 2014. The proceeds will benefit Otsego 2000’s agricultural initiatives.
Don’t know what to do with all those old worn out T-shirts and jeans? Donate them! Fabrics that are best-suited for rug making are cotton t-shirts, any blankets, towels, cotton or fleece sweatshirts and sweatpants, as well as denim blue jeans. Donated rags may be stained or have holes but must be clean. Donations can be dropped off starting January 4 at the Cooperstown Farmers’ Market from10am-2pm. The project will continue every Saturday until April 19 or until we meet our goal. So let the fun begin!
Making a rag rug takes old useless fabrics out of the waste stream and puts them to good use. It recycles a waste item into a new upcycled product. You are welcome to participate in any and all the steps of making a rug. Local weavers are invited to sign up for a market Saturday, 10-2, from January to April to bring samples of their wares and talk to the public about their favorite fiber topic, whether its fiber farming, spinning, weaving, felting, looms, loom restoration, or the beautiful end products. Weaving is a cottage industry with a long history in our area, come learn more.
The loom has been loaned to us by local fiber farmer, weaver, and teacher Dawn Helstrom. Her enthusiasm for this project has turned an idea into a reality in quick time. When asked about the history of the loom Ms. Helstrom replied, “This Union Works Loom was first purchased new by Mr. Charles Bennett for his wife in 1923. Then in 1941, after Mr. Bennett’s wife passed, he sold this two shaft, 45 inch weave loom to Mrs. Viola Madorno. The loom was used to create literally hundreds of rugs. After many years of disuse, I received it, and restored the loom to full use which is truly a labor of love. I appreciate the fact that the loom was made locally, in Boonville.” Advertising from the 1930’s touts this loom as the manufacturer’s best loom, the product of many years of experience. It was designed to do ‘considerable weaving,’ thought of as a professional grade loom in its time, and was sold nationwide.
The raw ingredient for weaving in our area is animal fiber. Fiber farmers raise goats, sheep, alpacas, llamas, and angora rabbits. Spinners turn the furry fibers into yarn – the yarns are knitted, crocheted, felted, or woven into a variety of products. Currently at the market we have four fiber farmers. Dutchayr Farm raises sheep for their wool fiber to create supplies like yarns, as well as finished knitwear, and felted items. Mimikis also in the wool business specializes in soft toys and teddy bears. Glimmerglass Alpacas uses the fiber from their herd of alpacas to create ladies’ hats, socks and more. Goat Sheep Shop, as their name indicates, has a variety of fibers which they use to create woven blankets, clothing and accessories. If you Google these businesses on the internet or stop by the market you may see for yourself the diversity of products offered by these incredibly creative farmers.
Informational YouTube video “Cooperstown Farmers’ Market Rag Rug Project”