Cave City woman crafts rugs, gives most away

CAVE CITY, Ky. (AP) — Bertha Hogan likes to crochet while she watches television. Occasionally, she gets caught up in the activity and forgets the time, sometimes staying up until the wee hours of the morning.

Hogan, of Cave City, is known for crocheting brightly colored rugs made of cotton fabric.

"I can’t exactly tell how long I’ve been making them," Hogan, 91, said recently. "Most of them I’ve made in the last six years."

A lot goes into making one rug. Hogan likes using bed sheets because they are easily torn into strips.

The older the sheets, the easier they are to use, so she visits yard sales looking for sheets she can use.

At one time, she bought them from the VA Hospital in Louisville at $1 per sheet.

"People think there’s nothing to making them," she said. "They don’t think about all the work."

Once she has the sheets torn into strips, she ties them together and then rolls them into a ball. She carefully makes sure the knots are small enough to not be visible when crocheting the rug.

"The best I can figure out is, if you use sheets, it takes about five to make one rug," she said.

Hogan recently began using hospital gowns to make her rugs.

"Crocheting is the easiest part," she said, demonstrating how it is done.

Hogan has crocheted her entire life.

"It helps my arthritis. It keeps my hands straight," she said.

Hogan has also sewn for a majority of her life.

"I’ve made just about everything you can imagine," she said. "There hasn’t been much I haven’t done."

Through the years, she’s made items ranging from bed covers to purses to clothes and beyond, "I have never gone to any class or anything like that (to learn how to sew)," she said.

She has also been asked to do alterations in the past.

Looking back, she said, "Now I just wonder how in the heck I did all of that."

Hogan seldom sells the rugs she makes. Instead, she typically gives the rugs away.

"These rugs are all the way from Florida to Kuwait," she said.

The rugs that ended up in Kuwait were ones a close friend, Janice Olds, took with her when traveling there.

One of Hogan’s friends, Carol Ford, who is a member of the Cave City Council, has two of her rugs.

"I think they are wonderful. She puts so much hard work into them. I’ve watched her make them. It’s not an easy task," Ford said.

On several occasions, Hogan would either sew or crochet while sitting up with the sick and the elderly.

"I’ve taken care of old people all of my life," including her husband, Ellis, and her sister, Doris, until their deaths, she said.

At one time, she worked as a nurse’s aide at a nursing home in Louisville, but mostly she has done private care.

"She’s got a bigger heart than anybody," Ford said. "She thinks about the less fortunate. I think it’s just wonderful at her age how much she puts in to helping others."

Hogan doesn’t let her age slow her down. She is a regular attendee at city council meetings and she is a member of the Cave City Chamber of Commerce. "I don’t see how she does it," said her stepson Gary Hogan, also a member of the city council. "She’s an amazing woman. I don’t ever see her miss a city council meeting."

He recalled seeing her walking down Broadway Street recently in Cave City on her way to attend the annual Proud Days Festival.

He pointed out she could have called him and asked for a ride, but instead she chose to walk. He also noticed she stayed all day at the festival and listened to the music.

"It’s amazing that a person at that age can get around and do things," he said.


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