Hula Hoops and Old T-shirts

by | Nov 5, 2021 | Weekly Prompt

Recently, I started reading a sweet little book called How To Not Always Be Working by artist and dancer Marlee Grace (affiliate link), and in it she describes what she does (besides sleep) between 10pm and 10am, which are the hours she keeps strictly screen-free. This bullet point of her morning ritual sent me into a funny little spiral:

Roll out of bed onto a sweet little carpet my friend Megan made and say my prayers (to the spirit of the universe/eternal goddess of the earth) and express gratitude for my life.

It was the handmade carpet part that got me. Immediately I thought, how do you make a carpet? Then I thought, can you make a carpet out of old clothes? I have a lot of old clothes that I haven’t gotten around to donating, and lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how to buy fewer things, and keep fewer things unless they are exceedingly useful or exceedingly beautiful. So I googled it, and sure enough, you can make YARN out of OLD TSHIRTS and then from there, you can make a rug out of that yarn in a number of different ways. 

I have no loom, and no special skills like crocheting, and my sewing machine is broken, so at first I thought I would braid the yarn and then ask my mom to sew it up for me. I started making yarn, which my 3-year-old found very interesting. She helped me stretch some of the yarn, and then she started doing her own thing with some of the scraps. She said she was making a costume. Meanwhile, I kept stretching yarn. 

Then, with a little more googling, I found a video about how to make a loom out of a HULA HOOP!–a loom that just so happens to be perfect for making a circular rug out of tshirt yarn. I have a hula hoop, which means now I have a loom. And thus I’ve begun weaving my rug. 

So how is this a writing prompt? Bit of a curveball. 


First you make the loom. It’s made out of materials you already have that you will repurpose. Your materials are softened by time and use. Their stains and imperfections will not be visible except as flecks that add dimension to the composition. My hula hoop loom has six bands, so let’s start with six materials: a memory, a fear, a wish, an image, a dream, a ghost. At the center, they all connect. That’s the kernel, the seed, the core of your writing. Tie your knot. 

From there, you weave in a spiral, under and over the spokes. You need an odd number (now there are 12 radii), so you’ll have to split one. Choose wisely. 

What does it mean to write in a spiral? You start on the inside, at the heart of things. Bit by bit, you broaden the perspective. Your words touch the materials of the loom as they weave in and out, making sentences and meaning. 

I don’t know exactly what it means. When you finish a ball of yarn and start a new one, is it a new paragraph or chapter? What does it mean to go over a strand every other rotation, and under the next? 

The first several times you circle the center, you whip around fast. It takes more and more yarn as you circle outward. More words to get back to the same spoke. You are further from the core, but you are more expansive, closer to the edge of things. More vulnerable, maybe.

I think it’s worth thinking about more. I recommend making a hula hoop loom, cutting and stretching a t-shirt into yarn, and thinking about this with me. Please let me know what you figure out.