CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Twice a week, the Lucy Quarrier Weavers gather in two second floor rooms in an office building on Lee Street. Wooden floor looms line the walls. The women chat and laugh as they settle into the benches behind their looms on Mondays and Fridays.
On a typical day, Ruth Hendrix, the group's matriarch and a founding member of the Quarrier Weavers, moves her shuttle across a delicate pattern on the tea towels she's making. Fran Moore lives up to her reputation for incorporating unusual materials as she weaves a nubby rug made from "sock caps," or the scraps of sock tops salvaged from a sock mill.
In the other room, Joy Kleeman weaves richly hued and textured yarn into narrow strip to make a scarf, a project she'll finish that day. Beside her, Lynn Meyer weaves row after brightly colored row of what will be a 10-foot rug, as she's been doing for many weeks.
"I could come here all the time and be happy," said Meyer. The women teasingly vie for her promise that she'll leave the rug to them in her will because it's so lovely.
They exclaim and celebrate with weavers who pull a completed project off her loom, as Mary Helen Pelurie did recently when she finished a sequined shawl.
Their conversations are punctuated by the booming clack made when a weaver slams the loom's beater on a newly woven row to tighten the threads. The women talk around the interruptions.
Some are newcomers, drawn to the group by a current member's invitation or just an interest in weaving. Because there is no weaving store in the area, the group provides a unique opportunity to exchange weaving tips and to discuss materials and techniques with knowledgeable weavers.
Members own some of the looms, but some are also available for rental. The women welcome new members, both experienced and novice weavers. Others, like Hendrix, have been serenely weaving at their looms for decades.
Hendrix knows the group's history, having lived it, and tells the story of the group's namesake. Lucy Quarrier, known to them as "Miss Lucy," lived in Glenwood in Edgewood with her prominent family. She learned to weave at an early age, possibly on the loom her ancestors brought on a wagon when they settled here.
She first taught weaving to women during the Depression so they could earn a little income. Later she taught adult education students at Garnet Career Center. Hendrix learned to weave in 1973 when her children were young. She knew "Miss Lucy," but someone else was teaching the class when she learned to weave.
Weaving quickly became very important to Hendrix. She and several other women decided they wanted to weave all the time, not only during class time.