An Inspiring Craftsman

When I visited the Amish community of New Wilmington, Pennsylvania a few weeks ago with, I learned of a young Amish man who makes hand-loomed rugs, and who happens to have cerebral palsy. Over the past few days I was again in northwestern PA, thankful to have an opportunity to meet him and see his shop.

Sam is 37 years old. After he finished his schooling, his parents wanted him to find meaningful work that he could do despite his physical challenges. Operating a loom has allowed him to create beautiful rugs, table runners and placemats that he sells in his shop, at local fairs and in other Amish businesses.

Visiting Sam and his mother, Susan, was a delightful experience as they shared with me the process of rug weaving. Susan uses a floor loom that functions with foot pedals while Sam's loom allows him to use his hands and arm strength to weave. Both looms are complex devices threaded with myriad spools of white string that will eventually fringe the rugs. The little rug shop, heated by a substantial wood stove, is filled with warmth and color... shelves piled with soccer-sized balls of fluffy fabric ready to be woven along with neat, bright stacks of Sam's finished products. The family dog lay on the floor not far from Sam's feet warming himself by the stove. In one corner was an older model stationary bike that Sam rides for miles and miles to exercise when he's not weaving.

A sign on the wall near Sam's loom reads, "Don't just find a job. Find one that fits." What an inspiration to see how this sweet family has taken a difficult circumstance to meet a practical need (who doesn't need a rug or two?) and bring beauty to others' lives! I was thrilled to purchase a few of Sam's creations, and also to see some of his rugs for sale in an Amish donut shop that I patronized before leaving town this morning.

You can visit Sam Yoder, watch him work and buy his beautiful rugs at 368 Hollow Lane, New Wilmington, PA 16142. I promised him I'd tell my friends!