Shirley Gragg was born in 1945 in Mitchell County, but she has lived in Avery County for forty years, and she learned to weave at the Crossnore Weaving School where she has worked for twenty-seven years. She came to work at the Crossnore Weaving Room when her youngest child started school. “I enjoy it,” she says. “It’s a lot of fun.”
Shirley learned to weave from Ossie Phillips, a North Carolina Folk Heritage Award recipient, who learned to weave as a child from her mother and worked in the Weaving School from the time she was about twelve years old. Shirley began making linen placemats and napkins when she started working, and today she makes ponchos, afghans, and baby blankets.
Shirley is currently the only full-time weaver at the Crossnore Weaving Room. The hand-woven rugs, scarves, shawls, linens, coverlets, blankets, and numerous other items made in the room have brought international recognition to the school. “The afghans are probably my favorite,” says Shirley.
Shirley Gragg has not done public demonstrations, but she has taught some basic weaving classes at the school. She is interested in doing more.