Emma Krentz doesn't let age deter her from a lifelong habit of industriousness, nor does she ever find herself bored.
At age 87, this resident of Herron continues to weave highly-prized rugs on an old-time loom and sew colorful quilts on an antique treadle sewing machine. In between those two activities, she also makes doll clothes, creates crafts for her church bazaar, raises chickens and gathers eggs, pampers her house plants, bakes goodies to share, tends a vegetable garden and cans produce.
"She's always figuring out what she can do next. Her mind is always working," said Emma's younger sister, Helen Hemmingson, who lives nearby.
News Photos by Diane Speer
Emma Krentz holds up two of the many rugs she weaves on an old loom she has been using for the past 50 years. The durable rugs are made from cotton fabric that she works into strips for weaving. She bought the loom from a friend for $100, then made and sold rugs to pay the purchase fee.
Emma still resides on the same farm and in the same house she shared for many years with her now deceased husband, Adolph. The cozy brick home was constructed in 1962 by her husband and his cousin.
Emma's loom, which she has used for the past 50 years, is kept in the basement. A self-taught weaver, she spends about three months each year making lengths of cloth for her rugs. She is able to weave about 150 yards in a six-week period.
"I use all good cotton material nothing that is junk," said Emma. "It's good exercise. If I go down and work 20 minutes in the basement, I can make a yard of rug, and then I've got my exercise for the day."
During the remainder of the year, she prepares cloth for weaving, often working with hand-me-down clothing items such overalls that she disassembles and works into weavable strips of fabric. Determining the color combinations for her rugs is a key component of the process, she said.
In the early days, Emma's rugs provided supplemental income for the family. She has made many for friends and relatives, and is happy to know they are gaining in popularity again with the current trend of using hardwood floors in homes. As a testament to their durability, some of the rugs in her own home are ones she made many years ago and that still appear in topnotch condition.
Emma also has made many quilts for others, using such familiar patterns as shoo-fly, lover's knot and bow tie.
"I've been making them for 25 years," she said. "I've given lots away for wedding presents. Last summer I gave away three as wedding presents."
The treadle machine she uses to stitch up quilt squares was purchased at a garage sale for $5. Her husband's cousin made her a new cabinet for the machine and she's been using it ever since.
Emma also does embroidery and crochets. In July, she made pin cushions and hats out of plastic jugs for a bazaar at her church, St. Paul Lutheran Church in Herron.
"I've gone there all my life," Emma said. "We were born into that church. Our parents belonged there."
When her husband was alive, they raised dairy cows and grew hay, straw and corn. She also raised chickens, a practice she continues today, though this year has proven challenging since a weasel got in her hen house and killed nearly 20 of her 30 chickens. Emma is happy to report, however, that a neighbor's cat ultimately put an end to the weasel.
Last year was a bumper crop for apples, so she made lots of pies, although she also is known for her applesauce.
"I did apple pies because there were so many apples," Emma said. "Everyone got apple pies till they were coming out of their ears."
Emma's two children, Myra Boboltz and Raymond Krentz, keep an eye on her these days. She has six grandchildren (all boys), plus five great-grandsons and two great-granddaughters. Her sister's son, Todd, currently farms her land.
Emma doesn't see herself slowing down anytime soon. Just last week she decided to wash the outfits on several dolls she displays in a small crib. The clothing didn't hold up well to the washing, so she immediately set about making new outfits for the dolls, which include her own doll from childhood, her daughter's doll and a great-granddaughter's doll.
Occasionally she finds time to sit in a chair and gaze out the window overlooking her yard and neighboring farmland, but mostly she remains an inspiration to all those who know of her homemaking diligence and skills.