Salvaging wool for "The Hidden Stone"

Until fairly recently all of the rugs I hooked were from wool that I had salvaged from rummage sales and garage sales. Half of the fun was finding the wool and half of the art was figuring out what I could do with what I had found.

In my first week of rug hooking in May 1995, my mother and I spent a couple of days scouring church basements and yarn sales buying up every piece of wool clothing we could find. For the next few months, Mom and I would get the Friday paper and plan out our routes over tea at breakfast. Off we would go early in the morning to the places we thought would have the most clothing, and what a hoot when we found a bright colored garment that I didn't already have. I remember finding a gorgeous turquoise textured jacket and a big red wool coat our first week out, both of which I hooked into The Hidden Stone.

We would load my car down with bags of wool clothing that I had bought for a couple of dollars, and head to my apartment where I would disassemble the garments and launder them immediately. Knowing that old wool clothing can harbor moth eggs, I never brought salvaged wool into my home before putting it through a hot wash and dry cycle. It didn't take long before I had boxes of wool under my bed and lined along my bedroom wall since I had no storage to speak of in my one bedroom apartment. And who can't love the fantastic old buttons I collected. I don't know what happened to that jar of buttons, but I wish I still had it. I also wish I had known to collect the button-up front panels of men's shirts since they make great strip organizers.

I remember those days with fondness, sharing rummage-day Fridays with my mom, who since passed away in 1999. Those days were filled with our anticipation, with our laughter, with our shared joy over a find, with our wonderment about what I might create with the found wool, how it might be given a new glorious life.

In these recent days of recession, salvaged wool is a wonderful option for those who are creating rugs that don't require careful shading. Salvaged wool can give your rug a very unique look because you will be able to incorporate wool that is not available to other hookers by the yard. Although it is a time commitment, and does require quite a bit of hands-on work taking apart the garments and laundering the wool, who can say no to yards and yards of wool for two dollars or less, much less the buttons and memories you will collect!