“What I do best is the rug hooking,” says Evanell Trivette Thomas. Evanell grew up in the Beech Mountain community of Watauga and Avery Counties, and she has been involved with traditional crafts since she was a young girl. “I’ve been doing this more than sixty years,” she says.
Evanell’s mother, Elsie Trivette, a North Carolina Heritage Award recipient, was a traditional mountain craftswoman who practiced a variety of skills that were handed down to her from her mother and grandmother. Elsie was skilled at making knotted bedspreads with hand-tied fringe and handmade rugs and quilts with her own processed fibers and natural dyes.
Growing up, Evanell and her sister Leniavell both helped their mother, learning the crafts in the process. When they were young girls, their mother would pay them five cents to unravel a burlap sac for rug hooking. Today, Evanell purchases commercial dyes, but the process is very much the same. Evanell even uses her mother’s old tool with a wooden handle worn smooth and an old nail for a hook. “It’s the best one we have,” she says.
Like their mother, Evanell and Leniavell create their own designs. Evanell is particularly found of rug hooking, but she is also enjoys quilting. She and Leniavell each think the other is a better seamstress. “My sister says my stitches are better than hers,” Evanell says. “But Leniavell is the quilter.”
Evanell shows her work at various festivals and shows throughout the year, but her children receive most of the finished products. Evanell does not practice her craft for the profit. “I guess it’s therapy,” she says. “It’s just something you enjoy doing.”
Evanell Trivette Thomas is available for demonstrations and workshops in quilting and rug hooking, and to give classroom programs.