27 lap robes just one more activity for SH woman

Scott Swanson

Kate Waldroup is not someone to sit around watching grass grow.

After she moved to Sweet Home in 1965, when her husband Hoyt helped build Green Peter Dam, she settled down in a house near the river on Pleasant Valley Road and then decided to buy another one down the road. She fixed that one up, then decided to buy the one beyond it.

“They were junk holes,” she said. “I remodeled them for rentals.”

At 84, a widow for 15 years, she plants a garden every year – though she says it’s not as big as it once was – and she mows her own lawns, trims her own bushes, grows her own flowers, and hauls her own slash with her own Bobcat dozer, which her son got for her.

“When I get old, I’ll read and have nice fingernails,” Waldroup said.

She grew up in Cherokee County, N.C., just north of the Georgia border, and raised her children on Hoyt’s family’s farm, which abuts the John C. Campbell Folk School, which offers seminars for adults in arts and crafts such as art, music, dance, cooking, gardening, nature studies, photography and writing.

“I have a lot of family there,” she said in a rich Southern drawl. “When we came here we’d go home nearly every year, so I could refresh my accent.”

Waldroup said she has always been a hands-on kind of person. Her husband taught her to do plumbing and carpentry, which she used on the rental homes. She’s also adept in the fashion arts – sewing and crocheting in particular, in which she got an early start.

“I’m a professional seamstress, really,” she said. “I’ve learned on my own, more or less. I was making my own clothes before I was in high school. Back then, of course, you did things out of need.”

One of her hobbies is Swedish weaving, which she learned how to do one summer in North Carolina – taking fabric and weaving yarn through it. She also has refurbished the lampshades throughout her house.

“I guess I’m just a homebody,” she said.

Waldroup said she once worked as a supervisor for Levi Strauss in the South.

“You’d think if you’re a good seamstress, that you’d fit right in,” she said. “You might as well forget everything you know as a home seamstress. It’s completely different. It’s mass production.”

After moving to Sweet Home, she worked at J.C. Penney in Lebanon until she retired/it closed.

Her latest project rose out of her love of sewing and crocheting.

“I was complaining about not having much to do and my friend Wilma Coulter asked me if I could use some odds and ends of yarn. She told me how her mother, Estelle Plunkett, had a lap robe when she lived at Wiley Creek.”

That gave Waldroup an idea: make lap robes for the 25 residents of Twin Oaks Rehabiliation and Specialty Care Center in time for Christmas.

She started crocheting and sewing in October.

“I don’t sleep well, so I’ve been up at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning, working on these,” she said, gesturing at the 27 robes laid out on her couch and a chair, ready to be presented at Twin Oaks.

Waldroup said she actually made two extra “so they’d have some on hand to give to each resident who comes in.”

She says she’s slowing down a little now that she’s in her 80s. She used to play dominoes with “eight to 12” friends, but most are gone or unable to play now, she said.

“A lot of people read all the time and that’s great,” she said. “I feel if I’m doing something with my hands, I’m helping someone else.

“If anybody has odds and ends of yarns, that’s something I could put to good use.”