Lynette Richter demonstrates how to use a peg loom. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
Lynette Richter demonstrates how to use a peg loom. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
At the end of the day, Lynette Richter uses what's "weft."

She's been pegged as an upcycling "loominary."

"I don't make anything more than once. Everything's pretty unique and I love to upcycle things," said St. Charles crafter Richter, demonstrating how to weave rugs, scarves and purses on a peg loom using weft fibers that began as worn t-shirts, cast-off jeans, cotton and flannel sheets, yarn and cord.

Richter - whose husband Michael is originally from Chatfield, the son of Jerry and Nancy Richter - has demonstrated her peg looms at Gail Nixa's Country Roads Crafts & Gifts on Chatfield's Main Street.

Peg looms are comb-like looms which have holes drilled in the base of each dowel for the warp. Warp are long strands which are wound back and fourth on the loom and the weft, or weaving fiber, goes through those strands to create a pattern and woven item.

"I started using peg looms after my friend, Ann, saw them on the Internet and was home during a snowstorm," Richter explained. "She had limited resources, but she made one using a two by four and the rungs of a chair."

Richter continued to explain that when she saw the homemade model her friend had made, she felt she could improve upon the design. "So I did," she added. "I've made several models and a stand that you can clamp to the table. Each peg goes in a hole in the board, and each peg has a hole in it. The warp goes through the hole in the peg, and the weft goes around the pegs. When the pegs get full, you pull the pegs out and put them back in the hold, and the weaving moves onto the warp like magic."

Richter, a nutrition assistant at Saint Marys Hospital in Rochester, enjoyed creating the looms and numerous projects on them enough that she couldn't resist experimenting with found fibers, using things that might otherwise be deemed unusable. She did use them, however, to make rugs, scarves, purses, shawls, bags and more.

"For rugs, I use old flannel sheets and for shawls, I like to use yarn," she noted, winding a strand around a loom to add rows to the soft gray shawl she's currently weaving.

As the peg loom projects pile up, they've become just part of the numerous creative ventures Richter has tried.

"I've always been interested in so many things," she admitted. "My mom taught me to sew, I learned to crochet from my great aunt when I was probably eight, and I started sewing seriously in 1981 when I got married. In 1990, it really took off...and my first husband bought me the most gorgeous spinning wheel you've ever seen. I've never seen anyone who has one prettier."

Richter spins dog hair into yarn and also gardens, knits, paints, refurbishes furniture, makes wooden buttons, weaving tools such as shed sticks and shuttles, and collects spinning wheels and antique sewing machines.

She met her second husband, Michael, at the Root River Antique and Historical Power Association show in Racine, where he was a blacksmith and a steam engine driver and she was showing visitors how to spin roving into yarn. That meant, of course, she had to get her hobby boiler's license as a qualification of being his new wife...one who eventually would get the steam engine stuck in their farmyard after the couple's annual threshing bee.

Richter commented that she's not done learning how to use the peg loom to make everything imaginable, but she has other creative aspirations in progress.

"My next adventure is to learn how to use a sock knitting machine and do rosemaling. Every time I make something, I learn something new," she said. "It's kind of what keeps it going - everything is a learning experience, and I come away with a different perspective."