Here’s a secret: Two threads are better than one. To measure a warp, I always, without exception, wind the warp with two or more threads together. A warp that is wound with a single thread is prone to tangle as threads twist around each other. A warp wound with pairs of threads won’t do that.
I am particular about this warp. It’s linen, so consistency matters. Tangles would disrupt the even tension the linen needs. I have dräll in five-shaftsatin in mind as I take each careful step to dress the loom. I expanded the loom to ten shafts to be able to weave this! Expect happy weaving, to be sure, but imagine how pleasant it will be to hold this dreamed-of cloth in my hand. That future cloth gives meaning to my present efforts at the loom.
There must be meaning beyond this life for us to find meaning in this life. The end of the weaving is the beginning of the life of the cloth. There is purposeful preparation by the Grand Weaver, with a precisely measured warp. The back-and-forth shuttle is like the ticking of a clock, or the passing of years. The end is the beginning. Can you imagine the splendid setting the Grand Weaver has in mind for his hand-woven cloth?
There is a unique and special weaving place I have been privileged to enjoy on a few occasions. Homestead Fiber Crafts in Waco, Texas. You can immerse yourself in weaving there, in a setting that is entirely peaceful and pleasant. A rare find. And the people there are an important part of the treasure. Plus, tea and fresh biscotti from the bakery. And sometimes, homemade chocolate chip cookies, too.
(Don’t miss my little slideshow at the end of this post. Watch all the way to the end to see my favorite side of the finished piece.)
Last year, I heard about Fiber Crafts’ Weaving Extravaganza, where looms are dressed for various projects and you can reserve a loom for the day (or half day). And their big, beautiful drawloom was included. Sign me up! I wove a towel with chicks and “EGGS.” Sure, there are some pattern mistakes. But that doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of this learning experience.
Now, this week I am at the drawloom again, relishing every moment. A black warp sets the stage for elegance, and I choose a poinsettia pattern that has been drawn on a piece of graph paper. Red and blue linen weft become brilliant in the black warp. I learn how easy it is to make an error in the pattern. And how hard it is to undo an error. But skill comes with practice. Finally, on my fifth (and sixth, and seventh) row of poinsettias, I complete the pattern without errors. And, the pattern mistakes on those first four rows only serve to prove the adage, “Practice makes perfect.”
Here’s a short Instagram clip of the sights and sounds of sitting at the drawloom in a room with other active weaving looms.
I enjoy making it up as I go—changing blocks and switching colors. That’s what I did for the first quarter of this long rug. Then, I made notes of what I did so I could reverse the pattern to the middle of the rug. The entire sequence, then, is repeated for the second half. And now, there are only six more inches to weave on this autumn-toned rug.
Because of experience I gained by weaving towels with thick and thin threads, I am quite comfortable designing this rug on the loom. Fabric strips and rug warp = thick and thin. I understand it. On the other hand, for every weaving concept I understand, I realize how much more I don’t know at all. Who can be good at it all?
I am pretty good at being “good.” But I’m far from perfect. We know that Jesus went about doing good and helping people. So, yes, we can follow his example. But there’s a problem. Being good is not good enough. Our good will never reach perfection. Fortunately, Jesus gave us more than a good example. He gave his life so that we could receive forgiveness for everything in us that is not good. And that is what we call good news!
This little tapestry has been almost finished for a very long time. I stopped short of completion months ago. I’ve missed my small tapestry weaving, so I’m back at it. Only a few steps remain with this one. Soon this little color gradation sweetheart will be on the wall, to be enjoyed.
The finishing steps are not difficult. (Rebecca Mezoff gives excellent instructions in Weaving Tapestry on Little Looms.) After the piece is removed from the loom, it is steamed. Then, weft tails are sewn in and/or trimmed on the back. Half Damascus knots secure the warpends. The hems will be folded under and stitched down. Then, this little masterpiece will be ready for mounting and display.
Here is an ancient description of an interesting woman, as told by another woman.
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future.
She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
—from Solomon’s book of Proverbs
This is the type of woman I admire. Wear the best clothes that money can’t buy—strength and dignity. She has optimism. No anger. She speaks with wisdom and kindness. These are finishing touches I ask my Maker to work in me. To be a woman ready for what she was made for.
This is a series of learning experiences—some easy, and some quite challenging. I am near the end of the first panel of the tapestry/inlay sampler. All along the way, I encounter obstacles. Like a broken warpend. Again. That broken warp end is discouraging. Surely, I should be able to keep that from happening by now.
Meanwhile, a simple line of soumak makes a pleasing border for this curve. It defines the shape with a slightly raised line. Over three, around one…all the way across. This part is nice and easy.
Daily life is not always easy. Put your eyes on God, not on the obstacles you face. And don’t worry about your own inability to navigate the circumstances. Trust God to carry you. He has carried you this far, and will continue to show himself strong on your behalf. Those broken warp ends are spliced, and the weaving continues. The selvedge may show some evidence of having had trouble, but the soumak outlines and other woven features will draw the eye. There is victory in advancing the warp to continue the sampler to the end.