The skirt in my mind is picture perfect in style and fit. If I could snap my fingers and make the skirt appear, I would. Instead, I find my way to a workable sewing pattern by trial and error—agonizing over every small step. The sewing part doesn’t scare me. But I’m in over my head in the garment design arena.
A not-as-simple layered tiered skirt replaces my original idea of a simple three-tiered skirt. The new design has a fitted yoke at the top of the skirt (and a zipper) instead of a super-simple elastic gathered waist. All this, so the distinctive borders of each tier will flutter freely, and not be trapped in seams. The trouble is worth it. I can see the finished skirt in my mind’s eye. It is phenomenal! The fabric is handwoven, made for a purpose. This is a skirt worth waiting for.
You were skillfully made for a purpose. Through many trials and errors, lessons in success and failure, we discover why we are here. God created you for this very time. Trust him to guide you, especially through agonizing moments. By his grace, he forms us into the phenomenal masterpiece that he has always had in mind.
The monksbelt piece that adorns our entry is my favorite from all the projects in The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell. This current narrower version on the Standard is another heirloom monksbelt piece in the making. The ground cloth is weft rep.
This is snail’s-pace weaving, with 2 picks of 16/2 cotton for the ground weave between every 6/1 Fårö wool pattern pick.
“To weave [weft rep]…the weft must be longer than the width of the warp and so the weft has to arc across the shed. There are two ways to do this: with many small waves across the width or with a large and high arc…The tiniest bit of unevenness can quickly build into hills and valleys across the weft line…”
The Big Book of Weaving, p. 236
Weft Rep in Three Steps
1. Make a Mountain.
After throwing the shuttle, increase the length of the weft by making it into a large arc in the open shed. Put one finger through the warp to form the peak while keeping enough tension on the thread with your other hand to maintain a good selvedge.
2. Make Hills and Valleys.
Keeping the shed open, push the mountain down into hills and valleys to evenly distribute the extra weft.
Turn the mountain into hills and valleys with your finger.
Simply drag your spread-out fingers lightly through the weft.
TIMESAVER – Slowly pull the beater toward you (shed open), smooshing the weft into a wavy line. Stop two or three inches away from the fell line.
3. Flatten the Hills
Treadle for the next shed. On the closed shed beat in the weft. Two short pulses with the beater distribute the weft more effectively than a single squeeze with the beater.
Watch for little loops that may form in places where there is a bit too much weft. To correct, open the shed, pull that portion of the weft back into a little hill and redo.
TIMESAVER – Draw the back of your fingernail across the warp where you see excess weft. This is often enough to even out little bumps.
Slower weaving develops into a rhythmic pace that is comfortable. And the cloth grows, line by line.
Even through randomwarp stripes you can see an ordered pattern in the cloth. Linen sitting on the shelf is begging to be used, even though the tubes are partly emptied. So, why not make some linen wash cloths to use every day?
The weave structure is a classic two-block broken twill, symmetrically threaded across the warp. The asymmetry of the warp stripes is out of sync with the precise threading symmetry in the block weave structure. And, asymmetrical patches of weft are out of step with a strict treadling sequence. The chaos of leftover-linen warp and weft threads has me holding my breath, wondering how this will turn out. Yet, as I weave, the surprise after surprise that appears on the loom fills me with delight. These humble linen wash cloths will yield textile pleasure for years to come.
The Grand Weaver breaks through chaos to reveal his beautiful plan. Despite the hardships we endure in this world, the structure threaded into the Grand Weaver’s fabric holds it all together. He brings our random stripes of emptiness into harmony with his project plan. We find continual delight as we see the surprising glory of his master plan. Jesus, with his deliberate stripes, comes to wash us clean.
Steve and I assembled another loom recently. This 40 cm (15 3/4”) Glimakra Siru Rigid Heddle Loom is going camping with me. It folds and opens effortlessly, even with a warp on it. The Siru loom has built-in support for two heddles. This gives me the perfect excuse to dip my toes into two-heddle weaving on the rigid heddle loom.
As with any loom assembly, Steve and I first lay out all the parts and pieces, putting like things and sizes together. We then mark off the supply list in the instructions to make sure no parts are missing. That prep work simplifies the whole assembly process. The written instructions that come with the loom are sparse, but I found this online video that shows clear assembly steps for the Siru: Siru Assembly
I am impressed with the Siru for its sturdy construction, ease of folding, and smoothly operating ratchets. I will write more on two-heddle weaving on the rigid heddle loom in the future, as I gain experience…
And here is our one-minute version of assembling and weaving on the Glimåkra Siru Rigid Heddle Loom:
The jumble of yarn looks like a random play of colors. But if you look a little closer, and push the yarn butterflies out of the way, you can tell that the color choices are deliberate. You see only a hint of the image, though, until you look through the back end of the monocular, or step up on the step stool to have a look from up above the weaving. That’s when you get an overview of what’s on the loom.
This warp is a study project. I want to test some tapestry techniques to help me develop my style. I made the cartoon by cropping and enlarging a photograph I took years ago. The butterfly had just emerged from its chrysalis! The subject for my study: the butterfly’s intricate wing.
Who designed the butterfly wing? A stained-glass artist may conceive it. A tapestry weaver may copy it. A silk dyer may imagine it. But only our Creator could bring it to life. God makes himself known. Push the obstacles out of the way. Look for design. Gain a higher perspective. With each woven row, the image becomes more and more clear. When the butterfly wing begins to flutter you know you are witnessing something from the mind of God.