Country MagazineWeaving hammocks is an art that takes a sharp eye, a skilled hand and lots of patience. But in Lenwood Haddock’s case, being blind works to his advantage. His trained, sensitive hands are acutely aware of every step of the intricate process. Since beginning his craft in 1986, Lenwood has woven about 145,000 perfect hammocks.
Now 61, Lenwood lost his sight in 1973, at age 18, during a hunting accident. “My whole working career has been blind,” he says. He first found a job as a woodworker, but when that organization closed, the North Carolina Division of Services for the Blind connected him with Hatteras Hammocks.
On his first day of work, “I did a total of one hammock,” Lenwood recalls, laughing. “And then I came home and laid on the couch and went to sleep. I lift weights, but I wasn’t as tough as I thought until I started weaving. It takes a lot of energy, and you’re standing up all day.”
In time, however, Lenwood got into a good working rhythm and found he had a knack for the job. At first he worked on-site at the company, but after a year Lenwood moved his operation to the home workshop where he’d toiled for 10 years during his woodworking days.
Country MagazineThere, he creates dozens of hammocks each week from cotton, polyester and DuraCord rope in a variety of sizes. One day, he realized the step counter on his phone recorded him walking eight miles without ever leaving his shop.
The process of weaving a hammock involves making and catching hundreds of loops. A single missed stitch creates a hole that can widen and make the hammock uncomfortable or even dangerous to use. Experienced weavers miss loops sometimes, but to his company’s knowledge, Lenwood has never turned in a hammock with even one dropped stitch.
With his left thumb physically touching every loop of rope, Lenwood’s nimble fingers are quick to catch and fix any mistakes.
Since Lenwood began with Hatteras Hammocks 30 years ago, the company has acquired other brands and changed its name to The Hammock Source. Today, it is the world’s largest maker and seller of hammocks, all built by hand.
Through all the changes, Lenwood’s routine has altered little. He works his fingers back and forth across the rows, looping the rope and pulling it. He tightens each strand and creates a uniform product. With every hammock, Lenwood dedicates himself to producing perfection. “I’m not sure how sighted people do it,” he admits.