'Hookers' gather in White Castle to trade secrets, swap techniques

Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

WHITE CASTLE, LA (WAFB) - It's not hobby most women would brag about. Hooking. But on a chilly Wednesday afternoon, more than 80 hookers gathered at Nottaway Plantation in White Castle to swap secrets and trade techniques.

"I don't strip!" Barbara Bonds is adamant. She traveled all the way from Wyoming to be here. "There aren't any hookers in Wyoming, not that do what I do."

Portia Loper is a former music teacher. She took to hooking just like her grandmother, "I inherited hooker genes," she says.

And 79-year-old Naomi Brister started last year. "It's very relaxing," she says. "It tends to get you off of the things going on around the world."

They are all celebrating the art of pulling a strip of wool through burlap backing with a hook, called stripping and hooking to those in the craft, and called rug-making to everyone else. Their work is art. "Every loop you pull gets you one step closer to finishing a masterpiece."

They travel from show to show all across the country, lugging bolts of wool, baskets of strips, and their specially designed hooks to learn new techniques, share stories, and show their wares, so to speak. Gayle Soileau is the director of the Red Stick Rug Hookers, who organized the rug show. "Every teacher, every person who makes rugs, they have their own technique, their own color scheme that they like. It makes every rug different," she says.

While all these hookers enjoy browsing through the works of their peers, most admit they attend these shows for the friendships that they've formed through the years and the love of fabrics. And of course, there is always a bawdy story floating around. "I was at a camp one year," Bonds chuckles, "and a gentleman called and said he understood there were a number of hookers there and wanted to make an appointment."

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