Wilma Hatchett McNabb was a native of Cherokee County, North Carolina, and a master of overshot pattern weaving. This type of artistic weaving is performed on a large wooden loom and requires a great deal of technical knowledge, skill, and time to practice. The art was once very common throughout the Southern Appalachian mountains but is rarely found today.
McNabb was born and raised on a farm in the Bellview section of Cherokee County. Her grandmother’s family were professional weavers and moved to the area in 1939. McNabb learned this specific type of weaving by watching and helping her mother, Sarah Hatchett. McNabb did not actually begin to weave in earnest, however, until a revival of interest in handicrafts was spurred by a group of outside missionaries, home extension agents, and educators who came to the area in the 1930s and 1940s to promote traditional mountain arts such as weaving, to help improve the economic situation of mountain residents.
In 1950, McNabb was awarded a scholarship by the Southern Highland Craft Guild to attend the Penland School of Craft and develop her skills further. In the years following, McNabb completed several dozen coverlets and a variety of other weavings. McNabb began with the “Whig Rose” pattern and the “Chariot Wheel,” but she also favored “Governor’s Garden,” “Young Lover’s Knot,” “Honeysuckle Twill,” and “Star of Bethlehem” designs. Wilma Hatchett McNabb continued to teach younger weavers the art of overshot pattern weaving until her death in 1991.